Blue Ridge Parkway Fall Colors Tracker

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Blue Ridge Parkway Fall Colors Tracker October 16th, 2014

NOTE: The graphic above is an averaged representation. See below for specific milepost reports.

2014 Blue Ridge Parkway Fall Color Report

This Blue Ridge Parkway Fall Colors Tracker is a great way to keep up with Autumn leaf changes. The Parkway stretches over 469 miles and two states with thousands of feet in elevation difference, so there will be a wide range of color reports from different sections of the Parkway. Weather such as high wind, rain, snow, and frost can affect specific locations along the Parkway and not others in very close proximity.

Quick Summary Update – 10/16/2014

Past Peak (but offering long-range views of valleys below)

  • Southern region of the Blue Ridge Parkway near and below Graveyard Fields.
  • Mt Mitchell and Graggy Gardens area from around Little Switzerland to just north of Asheville.
  • Most elevations above 4500′.

At (or very close to) Peak ( 75% & up ) <= This weekend’s best outlook

  • Boone / Blowing Rock area including Price Lake and Moses Cone Manor.
  • Grandfather Mountain & Linn Cove Viaduct areas
  • North Carolina Mineral Museum north of Little Switzerland.
  • North of the Boone / Blowing Rock area to the Mabry Mill area.
  • Most elevations in the range from 3250′ to 4500′.

Near Peak, but very colorful ( 60% to 75% )

  • Asheville area near the Blue Ridge Parkway Destination Center south to the area just before Mt. Pisgah.
  • Northern end of the Parkway from Skyline Drive (MP 0) to Milepost 101.  Bright colors in this area.
  • Mabry Mill area north to Roanoke.
  • Most elevations in the range from 2250′ to 3200′.

Patchy, but not green (  10% – 50% )

  • Central Virginia area around James River and Roanoke River Valleys.
  • Long range views off the eastern and western escarpment.
  • Most elevations below 2200′.

See below for more details.  As we get additional reports we will continue to update this page so check back often… really, often.

October 14th Report Details

A Better Approach to Fall Color on the Blue Ridge Parkway

It’s the middle of October and the mountain foliage is making the striking transitions to the color that brings so much attention here in the fall. Typically, the Blue Ridge Parkway experiences the much-anticipated change in fall foliage around the middle of October. Many factors, however, contribute to variations in when and where colors will peak. 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 October 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 now until late October will catch at least some of the pretty color that we’re famous for.

Virginia Update

In Virginia the northern district of the Parkway is just about to reach its peak for this autumn. Many species of trees are in full color at various elevations, and a few leaves have already been blown or rained down. Tree species displaying color include Sourwood, Dogwood, several Hickory species, Tulip Poplar, Birch, Red Maple, Striped Maple, Oaks, Cucumber Tree, Virginia Creeper, Sassafras, Pawpaw, and Black Walnut.

The James River area shows about 50% of the trees with color right now, while the Montaballo area is probably closer to 80% color in the trees.

The Peaks of Otter area is showing really nice color as well.

North Carolina Update

In North Carolina there are good colors from the Boone/Blowing Rock area at Milepost 292 through the Minerals Museum at Milepost 331.

Looking at the Blue Ridge Parkway from US 321 S outside of Blowing Rock NC.  Photo by Sarah C Photography

Looking at the Blue Ridge Parkway from US 321 S outside of Blowing Rock NC. Photo by Sarah C Photography

Near the Moses Cone Manor House, there are views of gold, yellow, burnt orange, and orange-red colors, along with green. Oaks, Maples, and Fraser Magnolia are providing much of the color, and late-blooming Purple Aster, Goldenrod, Hyrangea, and Smartwood can still be seen.

A little south at Price Lake, 60%-75% of the leaves have turned, with a good display of bright red, yellow, orange, orange-pink, and contrasting green colors.

The Linn Cove Viaduct area is presenting a stunning palette of fall colors with Fraser Magnolia showing a brownish-yellow color, Dogwood a deep red, Red and Sugar Maple a reddish hue, Silver Maples yellow, brown, and red, Oaks are red, yellow, brown, and green, and Striped Maple, Moutain Maple, Witch Hazel, and American Beech all predominately yellow and brown.

On Grandfather Mountain the colors are out in force and are near peak, and have increased in intensity, variety, and breadth of coverage.

From Linville Falls to the Minerals Museum, the colors are also starting to peak. Colors showing are red from the Maples and Dogwoods, yellow from the White Oaks, Chestnut Oaks, Poplars, Buckeye, and Birches. The Virginia Creeper vines are vibrantly scarlet, and the Sourwood leaves are showing a deep red to burgundy color.

North of Asheville, Craggy Gardens has already passed its peak of color, but the high elevation overlooks are beautiful right now, as you can look out at the changing colors below you. Peak color can be found between 3,500 and 5,000 feet in places like the Craggy Gardens Picnic area and Lane Pinnacle Overlook. There are nice, vibrant red and yellow colors with the Dogwood and Sourwood trees in particular putting on a good display.

From Asheville to about 3,500 feet, the color change is between 50% and 75%. Driving from Asheville south to the Mount Pisgah area, fall color can be seen in the changing Maple, Dogwood, Sourwood, Sassafras, and Oak trees.

The mid elevations are at 50% color change; the higher mountain areas are at peak or just past peak for color.

At the southern end of the Parkway, the higher elevations have generally passed their peak and lost their leaves, but the long-range views still have nice color, with the valleys below at 50%-75%.

Milepost 305 – Grandfather Mountain

As the final rain clouds pass out of the High Country on Thursday, the forecast looks spectacular for the weekend ahead.

Fall View From Beacon Heights.  Photograph by Skip Sickler

Fall View From Beacon Heights. Photograph by Skip Sickler

Vivid red blueberry bushes, dark green rhododendrons and the oranges and yellows of autumn trees provide a kaleidoscope of color at Beacon Heights off the Blue Ridge Parkway.

At Grandfather Mountain, naturalists will offer one final weekend of the guided walk series “Colors of Grandfather” on Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m. These short jaunts, included with regular park admission, showcase the autumn colors while allowing guests to learn about the color change process and ask questions about the nature around us.

October 14th Reporting Stations

Other area reports

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.

Leave A Comment With Your Report

If you have visited the Parkway in the last few days, please leave a comment letting us know the location (with Mileposts if possible) and one of the five color categories.

  1. Unchanged
  2. Patchy (10 – 50%)
  3. Near Peak (50 – 75%)
  4. Peak (75 – 100%)
  5. Past Peak

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Trackbacks

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