Blue Ridge Parkway – Top 22 Best Stops for Fall Color

Fall color along the Blue Ridge Parkway is an event that everyone should see.  The mixture of vibrant colors with some of the most beautiful scenic vistas in the world, is truly magical.  

Below are 22 of the best stops along the Parkway to see Fall Color.  Of course there are numerous other wonderful spots as well, but these are our personal favorites.  

 We've also included a few extras like places for food, places of interest, and other things to do while traveling.

When is the best time to see Fall Colors on the Blue Ridge Parkway?

Fall on the Blue Ridge Parkway

The best times to see peak colors along the Blue Ridge Parkway vary by elevation.  Color at the highest elevations peaks around the first week in October, and peak at lower elevations is towards the end of October.

Our 2019 Fall Forecast and Color guide provides all the dates for you, including maps, tips, photos, and even weekly updates!  

Top 22 Best Stops on the Blue Ridge Parkway for Fall Color

Peaks of Otter

Photo by VaMedia

1 - Sharp Top Mountain and Peaks of Otter

MP 85.6

See the historic Peaks of Otter Lodge, enjoy Abbott Lake, and hike one of the trails at this scenic and historic area.

The views of the pointy Sharp Top mountain surrounded by the lake, especially with Fall colors is amazing!

2 - Purgatory Mountain Overlook

MP 92.1

This beautiful high elevation overlook provides a fantastic view of Purgatory Mountain ind Virginia, and the nearby town of Buchanan at it's base.  On a clear day, you can also see the James River.

The mountains explode with Fall colors, making this a wonderful stop during the Fall, and the first along our top Parkway Stops.

3 - Mabry Mill

MP 176.2

One of the most scenic and iconic places on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Mabry Mill never disappoints, especially in the Fall.

This historic and active mill provides one of the most photogenic scenes on the Parkway.

4 - Wildcat Rocks Overlook

MP 238.6

This historic overlook, located in Doughton Park, is an easy hike, and provides stunning, distant views of the surrounding mountains.  

The overlook is a wonderful place to see fall colors, and enjoy a beautiful sunrise. This overlook is consistantly rated one of the best on the Parkway.

Nearby: Doughton Park is a beautiful area, and worth a visit.  Doughton Park offers beautiful scenary, wildlife, hiking, and historic buildings.  If you're a photographer, you won't want to miss all of the exceptional photo opportunities here!

5 - Price Lake

MP 297

Price Lake is a very popular Parkway destination that offers hiking, fishing, canoeing and kayaking, camping and picnicing.

You can just sit, relax, and enjoy the stunning views and water.   The lake is exceptionally beautiful in the fall when surrounded by Fall colors, that reflect on Price Lake.

Nearby: Visit nearby Blowing Rock, NC and in particular the historic down area, full of shops and restaurants. 

The mountain town of Boone, NC is also nearby, and provides exceptional restaurants, breweries, shops, and Appalachian State University.   Visit Tweetsie Railroad while you're there.

6 - Grandfather Mountain

MP 305

One of the most popular and stunning destinations on the Parkway is the iconic Grandfather Mountain.  

Enjoy the miles of hiking trails, walk the "mile high swining bridge", visit the zoo, and enjoy the amazing views from one of the tallest mountains in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Grandfather Mountain Fall

7 - Rough Ridge

MP 302.8

This 2.2 mile hike is very popular, and offers some of the best long range scenic views on the Blue Ridge Parkway, including views of the nearby Linn Cove Viaduct.

The views of the Fall Colors from the various overlooks at the top of Rough Ridge are some of the best you can find.  Defintiely worth moderate hike up.

8 - Linn Cove Viaduct

MP 304.4

When people think of the Parkway, visions of the amazing Linn Cove Viaduct often come to mind.   The Viaduct is an engineering marvel, as it wraps around Grandfather Mountain.

Drive over the Viaduct for incredible views, or stop at the visitors center where you learn more about it, and take a short hike up under it.  A must see stop on the Blue Ridge Parkway, especially during the Fall.

Fall Linn Cove Viaduct

9 - Linville Falls

MP 316

One of the most popular and photographed waterfalls on the Parkway, Linville Falls overs hiking, gorgeous and unique waterfalls, and beautiful views of the Fall Colors in Linville Gorge.

Enjoy the multiple overlooks, and mulitple views of the 45-foot tall, and heavy flowing waterfall that begins the incredible Linville Gorge.

Nearby: We highly recommend the short drive town the mountain to visit Linville Caverns.  This historic underground cavern is simply gorgoues, and the tours are excellent and inexpensive.

If your camping, be sure to camp at Bear Den Campground, right off the Parkway.

10 - Crabtree Falls

MP 339.5

The Crabtree Falls area offers camping, picnicing, hiking, and of course the popular Crabtree Falls itself.

This 70-foot waterfall is stunning surrounded by fall colors. Crabtree Falls is very popular, and is one of the most photogenic waterfalls on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

11 - Mt. Mitchell

MP 339.5

Mount Mitchell is the highest peak east of the Mississippi.  The summit provides dramatic and long range views, and wonderful views of Fall foliage in October.

Access to the summit is by car or hike.  There is an observation tower, and concession stand.

12 - Craggy Gardens

MP 364.6

Just a short drive from Asheville on the Parkway, will take you to Craggy Gardens at over 5,500 feet in elevation with incredible scenic vistas of Asheville and the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains.

"Craggy" provides a visitor's center, scenic overlooks, hiking trails, and a very nice picnic area.  

During the Fall, the surrounding mountains are full of color.

​​​Nearby: Be sure to spend some time in Asheville NC, maybe even a few days if you can.  The artsy city in the mountains is full of amazing one of kind restaurants, historic hotels and Bed & Breakfasts Breweries, and exciting and fun events.  

Biltmore Estate is a must see while in the area, and you'll want to allocate a whole day for it.

13 - Pisgah Inn and Mt Pisgah

MP 408.6

One of the most popular destinations on the Blue Ridge Parkway is the Pisgah Inn, located near Mount Pisgah.

Mount Pisgah provides high elevation scenic views, and hiking trails.   

The Pisgah Inn provides overnight accomodations with incredible views from the rooms, along with great food.

14 - Looking Glass Rock

MP 417

One of the notable sights you'll see while traveling the Parkway from Asheville, west to Cherokee NC is Looking Glass Rock.

This large rock, located in Pisgah National Forest, stands out due to it's large, foliage free rock face.   It can be scene from a number of overlooks, but it best scene from Looking Glass Rock Overlook.

Looking Glass Rock Blue Ridge Parkway

Nearby: Also located at this overlook is the trailhead for Skinny Dip Falls.   The waterfall is definitely worth the moderate and short hike down to see it.   During the summer, it's also a very popular swimming hole.

Fall Graveyard Fields Blue Ridge Parkway

15 - Graveyard Fields

MP 418.8

One of our most favorite places on the Parkway, Graveyard Fields offers hiking trails, two waterfalls, unique foliage, and a beautiul and peaceful creek.

During the Fall, Graveyard Fields is one of the first areas on the Parkway to peak, and is gorgeous, with a predominant color of red.  One of the waterfalls, Lower Falls, is simply gorgeous and one of the most photogenic waterfalls on the Parkway.

16 - Black Balsam

MP 420.2

Just up from Graveyard Fields, is the Black Balsam area.  If you like hiking along mountain tops with 360 degree scenic views, this is the area for you.

The famous Art Leob trail goes through here, and will take you to the top of Black Balsam Knob.   Also nearby is Sam's Knob, which also provides gorgeous views, especially during the Fall.

Black Balsam Blue Ridge Parkway

17 - Devil's Courthouse

MP 420.2

A popular stop along the Parkway is Devil's Courthouse.   This tall rock covered peak is very pretty from the Parking area, and provides pretty scenic and long distant reviews.

You can take a short by steep hike up to the top, to the observation area, where the views are even more stunning.

Nearby: The junction of Highway 215 is close by.  215 is a very scenic and beautiful drive, full of waterfalls.  The road is gorgeous any time of the year, but exceptionally beautiful in the Fall.  If you go North you'll go to Bethal and Canton NC, if you go South it will take you towards Cashiers.   If you want to take a little side excurision, be sure to take this beautiful road.

18 - Cowee Mountain Overlook

MP 430

Cowee Mountain Overlook is our personal favorite for getting that breathtaking long distant and scenic photograph.   

Cowee often has interesting weather conditions that make photos far more dramatic as well.  You'll definitely want to here to get some amazing Fall photos.

Just after Cowee Mountain Overlook, is Richland Balsam Overlook at MP431.4, also known as "Highest Point on the Parkway".  While the view isn't stunning, it is pretty.  But you'll want stop and get your picture taken here next to the sign to remember your adventure!

Nearby: At Milepost 443.1, is the exit to Waynesville, NC - A wonderful small mountain town with a historic downtown area full or unique local art, restaurants, and shops.   Be sure to stop, fill up your tank, and get some food.   For a real treat, grab lunch or dinner at The Sweet Onion Restaurant.

19 - Waterrock Knob

MP 451.2

Waterrock Knob isn't an overlook, but a large parking area at the end of a short road off the Parkway.   The Parking lot itself provides nearly 360 degree views, and is positioned for viewing both sunrises and sunsets.

You can hike to the top via the short but steep trail up, for even more stunning views.

Fall Waterrock Knob Blue Ridge Parkway

Nearby: Take a quick excursions to Soco Falls at the Maggie Valley NC exit, MP455.7.  A very beautiful waterfall, just a mile or so off the Parkway.

Also nearby is the wonderful, Cherokee NC full of things to do, access to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and home to Harrah's Casino.

You'll also want to visit Maggie Valley NC, a wonderful small mountain town with lots to do and see, and also our home base!

Thunder Struck Overlook Blue Ridge Parkway

By Tracy Miller

20 - Thunder Struck Overlook

MP 454.4

Just down from Waterrock is a hidden gem, Thunder Struck overlook.

This small overlook provides views on par with Waterrock, but with far less people.  If Waterrock Knob is fogged in, Thunder Struck often isn't.

21 - Mile High Overlook

MP 458.2

At MP458.2, Balsam Mountain Road bears off the Parkway.  Just a little ways down is one of the most stunning views on the Parkway, Mile High Overlook.

This overlook is even more rewarding during the Fall, and peak colors.   Elk are often in this area, and other neaby overlooks provide views of Maggie Valley and Lake Junaluska.

Fall Bunches Bald Overlook Blue Ridge Parkway

22 - Big Witch Overlook

MP 461.

Just after Big Witch tunnel, is Big Witch Overlook.   This overlook provides beautiful long range scenic views looking towards Cherokee NC.

During the Fall, the distant mountains, and mountains surround the overlook are full of color.

About the author

Larry Deane is co-owner of Blue Ridge Mountain Life. He has spent more than 20 years exploring the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and has a deep passion for nature, history, storytelling, and adventure. Along with his wife Jenn, they combined these passions to create Blue Ridge Mountain Life, a travel guide to these stunning mountains they are fortunate to call home.

Larry has more than 20 years of experience as a writer and journalist, and has established himself as a leading voice and expert for Blue Ridge Mountains. He is also an avid hiker, photographer, and videographer. He loves sharing his mountain adventures and knowledge with more than 500,000 people per month on Blue Ridge Mountain Life.


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