Fall Colors on the Blue Ridge Parkway
Early to mid-October is the perfect time to head to the Blue Ridge Parkway. That’s when the mountain air turns crisp and the trees begin their magical transformation.
Leaves start changing in the higher elevations first, lighting the mountain peaks on fire with brilliant reds, yellows, and oranges. By late October, the trees in the lower elevations conclude the show.
Elevation Shifts and the Unpredictability of Colors
Because of the changing elevations along the Blue Ridge Parkway, chances are you’ll find at least some sections along the parkway aflame with autumn hues sometime in October. But it’s not a perfect science.
The timing and intensity of the colors depend on the weather, environmental factors, and the genetic makeup of the plants. Bright, sunny, and cool weather with adequate rainfall tends to mean more vibrant colors. If the days are wet, cloudy, warm, or even too cold, the colors may not be as intense.
If you’re thinking about taking a Leaf-Peeping trip to the Parkway this fall, you’re in good company. The Blue Ridge Parkway is a popular destination, especially in October when the colors peak, so you’ll want to make reservations early if you plan to stay overnight.
What are the prettiest parts of Blue Ridge Parkway during Fall?
The 469-mile parkway offers beautiful views from numerous lookouts, but there are a few places where the fall colors are truly spectacular. Check out these top leaf-peeping destinations when planning your trip:
1. Peaks of Otter (MP 85.6)
Image from Flickr by Nicolas Raymond
The historic Peaks of Otter Lodge is the perfect place to catch the color display on nearby Sharp Top Mountain and Abbott Lake.
2. Mabry Mill (MP 176)
Esperanza Doronila/ Unsplash Image
Scenic Mabry Mill, one of the most photographed places on the parkway, is a photographer’s delight–especially in the fall.
3. Wildcat Rocks Overlook (MP 236.6)
Rated one of the best overlooks on the Parkway, Wildcat Rocks is stunning in the fall and worth an early hike to catch the sunrise.
4. Rough Ridge (MP 302.8)
Aerial View of Rough Ridge/ Shutterstock Image
Climb on one of the large rock outcrops at Rough Ridge and soak in the spectacular long-distance views.
5. Linn Cove Viaduct (MP 304.4)
The picturesque viaduct floating around Grandfather Mountain is one of the most popular places to photograph fall colors on the Parkway.
6. Linville Falls (MP 316)
The brilliant autumn colors make a stunning backdrop for this photogenic waterfall.
7. Pisgah Inn and Mount Pisgah (MP 408.6)
Image from Flickr by Michael Sprague
Stop at the popular Pisgah Inn for incredible views of the valley from their observation deck. While you’re there, grab a bite to eat or hike the trails at nearby Mount Pisgah.
8. Black Balsam (MP 420.2)
Image from Flickr by Josh Tremper
The Black Balsam area offers stunning 360-degree mountain-top views. Check out the famous Art Loeb trail to the top of Black Balsam Knob for spectacular views from this grassy, open meadow.
9. Devil’s Courthouse (MP 420.2)
Image from Flickr by Jared
Enjoy the view from the overlook, or hike up to the summit of Devil’s Courthouse. From this picturesque peak with rocky outcrops, you can see five states. Complete your visit with a scenic drive along nearby Highway 215, full of waterfalls and brilliant fall colors.
10. Waterrock Knob (MP 451.2)
Catch an early morning sunrise or evening sunset from Waterrock Knob, a picnic area with breathtaking panoramic views. Hike up the short, steep trail for a more elevated experience.
Explore Blue Ridge Parkway with Shaka Guide ?
Ready to hit the road? Find out the current color status by checking webcams along the parkway or following a weekly Fall Color Update. Then, grab your camera, head for the hills, and enjoy nature’s spectacular display with Shaka Guides's Blue Ridge Parkway Tour Bundle - get all three Blue Ridge Parkway Tours: Virginia, Asheville, and South.
We hope that we’ve given you all the information you need to make the most of your day. Your vacation is extremely important to us so if you have any questions feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more detailed information to help you plan, check out our Blue Ridge Parkway itineraries and Know Before You Go articles.
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