The graphic above is an averaged representation of fall color along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Read the full report below for specific milepost locations.
Where to Find the Best Fall Color on the Blue Ridge Parkway
Blue Ridge Parkway Daily’s “Fall Colors Tracker” is a great way to keep up with Autumn leaf changes. The Parkway stretches almost 500 miles north to south, meanders from the east- to west-facing slopes, and most importantly, varies in elevation from just under 650 feet at James River in Virginia to over 6,000 feet south of Mt. Pisgah in North Carolina.
Many visitors have been frustrated trying to go to one spot on one day in the fall, hoping to find the leaves in full color. A far better plan is to drive some distance on the Parkway, changing elevations and north-south orientation. Anyone who does this from the end of September until mid- to late-October will catch at least some of the pretty color that we’re famous for.
Also remember that weather conditions, like wind and rain, can accelerate the rate at which the leaves fall off the trees. Bad weather usually means that we lose our color quicker, so get out and see the color while it’s there.
Quick Summary Update – October 10, 2015
Past Peak (but offering long-range views of valleys below)
- Craggy Gardens area
At Peak ( 75% & up ) <= THIS weekend’s best outlook
- Graveyard Fields
- Higher peaks of the Southern Region south of Mt Pisgah.
- Most elevations above 5,500′.
Near Peak, but very colorful ( 50% to 75% ) <= NEXT weekend’s best outlook
- Boone / Blowing Rock area including Price Lake and Moses Cone Manor.
- Grandfather Mountain
- Linn Cove Viaduct south to Crabtree Falls
- North of Asheville to Craggy Gardens
- South of Asheville to Mt Pisgah
- Most elevations in the range from 3,500′ to 5,500′.
Patchy, but not green ( 10% – 50% )
- Most of the Parkway in Virginia
- North of Boone / Blowing Rock area traveling into Virginia.
- Asheville and the French Broad River Valley
- Valleys of the Southern region south of Mt Pisgah.
- Most elevations in the range from 2,500′ to 3,500′.
Unchanged ( less than 10% color )
- Roanoke & James River Areas
- Long range views off the eastern and western escarpment.
- Most elevations below 2,500′.
Complete details are in the full report below. As we get additional reports we will continue to update this page, so check back often. Really often.
Full Report Details – October 10, 2015
We are heading into mid-October and fall is upon us. The mountain foliage, right on cue, is making the stunning transition to the color that brings so much attention here in the fall.
Virginia, Milepost 0-50
In Virginia at the northernmost part of the Parkway, there are full color dogwoods, sourwoods, and a few other species mixed into a still mostly green backdrop. There are some nice colors along Highway 43 coming up from Buchanan to the Parkway, with full color birches, sourwoods, dogwoods, red maples, and tulip trees just starting to change.
James River Area, around Milepost 60
The James River area is starting to change as well, and the slopes around Milepost 53 have a nice mix of species that change to a brilliant red color.
North Carolina, Mileposts 294-331
In North Carolina, from Moses Cone to the Minerals Museum, the fall color is really beginning to show along the Parkway. From Flat Rock north towards Grandfather Mountain, the maples and the dogwoods are turning red, and the Virginia creeper vines are vibrantly scarlet. The white oaks, chestnut oaks, poplars, birch, and yellow buckeyes are all showing a predominately yellow color. Gentian, some goldenrod, and a variety of aster are still in bloom along the Parkway.
While the Grandfather Mountain area has by far the most vivid color at the moment, Price Lake and Moses Cone are not too far behind. Rich red sourwood leaves are out in force and accompany the yellowish blooms that can be seen throughout the park. There is also a good showing of maples along Price Lake, with beautiful red colors. At Price Picnic area, some yellow, orange, and red maple leaves are presenting a limited through striking display.
The most striking view on the Cone Estate is looking through the maples at Bass Lake, which are presenting lots of yellow and red and some orange coloration, up the fields still covered in purple aster towards the house. Goldenrod is also still blooming at the Estate.
The Linn Cove Visitor Center, Milepost 304
Around the Linn Cove Visitor Center, Fraser magnolia leaves are brownish-yellow, dogwood leaves have turned red, red and sugar maple foliage is showing a reddish hue, silver maple leaves are showing yellow, brown, and red, mountain maples have been showing a brownish color, striped maple leaves are yellowish-brown, and American beech leaves are showing yellow and brown.
Grandfather Mountain, Milepost 305
On Grandfather Mountain fall colors have become more widespread and have increased in intensity and variety, and are increasing daily with new splashes of reds, yellow, and oranges.
Linville Falls, Milepost 316
Linville Falls is also showing good color. It has reached 40-50% of its peak display with a number of oranges, yellows, and red. Looking down from Erwin’s View at the falls and into the gorge, there are very prevalent patches of color.
Craggy Gardens, near Milepost 364
The high elevation of Craggy Gardens has already reached its peak for fall foliage, and some of the trees are now bare after being hit with some significant wind and rain. Just below Craggy Gardens, from 3,000 feet to 5,000 feet, the color change is between 50% and 75% depending on where you are viewing. Any of the overlooks in the Craggy Gardens area should give you some spectacular views of the surrounding colors.
Asheville Area – Milepost 375-400
The lower elevation of Asheville is still predominately green, with about 20-30% color change. Aster and goldenrod blooms are still common in this area.
Mt. Pisgah, near Milepost 408
Driving south from Asheville towards Mt. Pisgah, fall color is really coming on in the changing red oaks, tulip poplar, dogwoods, maples, sassafras, poison ivy, and Virginia creeper. The deep red to scarlet colors of the changing sourwood trees are stunning. The mid elevations are at 50-75% color change, while the higher elevation of Mt. Pisgah is approaching its peak of color.
The Southern Sections – Mileposts 418-469
At the southern end of the Parkway, Graveyard Fields is at its peak and simply spectacular with stunning reds, rusts, and yellow dominating. The rest of the southern end of the Parkway is also looking good, with the highest points almost at their peak, and the mid elevations at about 50% color change. Waterrock KnobVisitor Center is a great place to see the colors down south right now.
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Other Fall Color Reports We Recommend
- Nationwide Fall Foliage Prediction Map
A national map that can be used to predict the timing of fall colors throughout the United States. Very useful tool for those wanting to plan trips to see fall leaf color.
- Fall Color Forecaster Map at Appalachian State University
Slide the leaf along the dates at the bottom. As you move through the dates, the map will highlight those parts of the state coming into peak color, followed by a browning, which indicates they are past their peak.
- Fall Color Guy at Appalachian State University
A page from ASU biology professor Howard Neufeld who posts a weekly report on western North Carolina.
- Explore Asheville Visitor Center
The “Official Source” for the 2014 fall color forecast in Asheville and western North Carolina.
- Fall Color in the Smokies
This is the official fall color site for Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It contains information about when and where to see fall colors in the Park.
- Fall Color on Blue Ridge Parkway
A really great website for fall foliage color reports can be found at the Blue Ridge Parkway Guide by Virtual Blue Ridge. They update frequently, and have archived reports from the past and they cover the entire 470 miles of the Parkway.
- The Foliage Network
This is a New England based fall foliage site that provides information on the progression of fall foliage color throughout the eastern, southern and midwestern United States.
- Webcams of North Carolina
One way to see fall colors without actually driving somewhere is to view the many webcams that are situated throughout the state. This webpage has links to many webcams in western North Carolina, and in other states. Note that some cameras are of higher quality and provide a better image than others. Also, the time of day you view the webcams can affect your perception of the intensity of the fall colors. Nonetheless, this is a useful site.
- Weekly Fall Color Reports for NC
Presented by the North Carolina Department of Commerce, Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development.
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