Sept. 24, 2012. The cooler turn of weather has placed fall on the minds of many and the question of what the season will bring in terms of leaf change is a common one at Grandfather Mountain. Director of Education and Natural Resources Jesse Pope has been keeping a close watch on the trees and more importantly the weather.
“The weather in September is very important to how vibrant fall colors will be,” said Pope. “Sunny days and cool nights are important, as well as not getting too much wind and rain that could potentially bring the leaves down prematurely.”
The plants that typically turn early such as yellow buckeyes, maples, sourwood, huckleberries and Fraser magnolias have already changed color or are in the process right now.
Pope believes that fall color opportunities will be nice at Grandfather Mountain though they may be just a little bit early this year. The transition to fall colors is just beginning on Grandfather with the best colors expected around the first or second weekend in October.
“It’s impossible to precisely predict when the peak color will be,” said Pope. “But one of the great things about Grandfather is that even if you miss it on the Mountain, the high vantage point is a great way to view the color as it works its way to the valleys below.”
The Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation’s Education Staff is offering the “Colors of Grandfather” guided walks at 1 p.m. on October 13, 14, 20 and 21. The walk is included in park admission and gives visitors the opportunity to learn more about how and why leaves change color in the fall. The staff member leading the program can answer questions about the season and identify specific trees along the walk.
The Mountain is open every day in the fall, weather permitting. From September 24 through October 21, ticket sales last from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. with the park closing at 6:30 p.m. The hours of operation from October 22 through October 31 are 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. with ticket sales ending at 4:30 p.m. For current weather conditions, phone the Entrance gate at 828-733-4337.
The Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation established to preserve Grandfather Mountain, operate the nature park sustainably in the public interest, provide an exceptional experience for guests, and inspire them to be good stewards of the earth’s resources. For more information, visit www.grandfather.com or call 800-468-7325.