Blue Ridge Parkway/ Shutterstock Image

Blue Ridge Parkway/ Shutterstock Image

Fall Colors on the Blue Ridge Parkway


blue ridge parkway road with yellow and orang trees besideShutterstock Image

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)

bridge with lake on the side along with autumn treesImage from Flickr by 

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)

Mill with trees around itEsperanza 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 pathwayAerial 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)

autumn trees along the roadShutterstock Image

The picturesque viaduct floating around Grandfather Mountain is one of the most popular places to photograph fall colors on the Parkway. 

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6. Linville Falls (MP 316)

falls in autumnShutterstock Image

The brilliant autumn colors make a stunning backdrop for this photogenic waterfall.

7. Pisgah Inn and Mount Pisgah (MP 408.6)

overview of mountains with orange trees during autumnImage from Flickr by 

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)

overview of mountains covered with orange trees during autumnImage from Flickr by 

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)

overview of parking lot with yellow and orange treesImage from Flickr by 

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)

overview of a roadShutterstock Image

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.

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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 aloha@shakaguide.com.

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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aerial view of blue ridge parkway in autumn


Know Before You Go, Blue Ridge Parkway Asheville

Know Before You Go, Blue Ridge Parkway South

Know Before You Go, Blue Ridge Parkway Virginia

Blue Ridge Parkway Asheville Itinerary

Blue Ridge Parkway South Itinerary

Blue Ridge Parkway Virginia Itinerary


29 Best Blue Ridge Parkway Hikes

The Story of the Blue Ridge Parkway

A Guide to Blue Ridge Parkway Entrances

Blue Ridge Parkway Asheville: The Ultimate Tourist's Guide

Blue Ridge Parkway Virginia: Ultimate Travel Guide

List of Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks from VA to NC


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