Tens of thousands of people visit the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and North Georgia each year to see the beautiful Fall foliage and Fall colors. The Blue Ridge Mountains offer one of the most colorful and longest running fall leaf seasons in the world.
One of the many reasons for this is due to the varied elevations, which show prime fall colors for more than a month. Fall colors begin at the highest elevations in early October, and work their way down to the lower elevations in early November.
See our top picks for 2019 to see Fall Colors in the Blue Ridge Mountains
This 2019 Fall Foliage guide for the Blue Ridge Mountains will:
Check out our top 22 picks for the THE best stops along the Blue Ridge Parkway to see Fall Colors in 2019
Maybe you're wondering what makes us an authority? Well, we live here, and specifically in Maggie Valley NC. As Fall 2019 approaches, we'll be out and about taking photos and reporting on current conditions.
We also stay in touch with regional experts to get the latest information on current conditions and Fall predictions.
You'll find our dates and photos to be some of the most accurate available, and we always provide frequent updates WITH photos.
Here are our weekly Fall 2019 Updates, beginning September 3rd!
The past week has shown more progression, in particular at the higher elevations. Nothing major, but you can certainly see the dark green foliage color beginning to lighten.
Primary Color: GREEN
The photo below was taken from the base of the mountain we live under, near Maggie Valley NC, which is slight over 5,100 feet. So the color change at higher elevations is definitely beginning. Look to the left side of the peak, and you can see a lightly lighter color of green than the rest of the mountain. This is how it begins each year, and it's right on time.
At lower elevations, there is also some color change, in particular yellows, but that is NOT due to Fall Colors, it's due to drought, as we have not had any significant rainfall in weeks. The dry ground combined with warm temperatures, is causing some trees to color and lose some their leaves early.
We do not think this is going to have a large impact on the Fall Colors.
We also mentioned on Social Media about maybe adjusting out our 2019 forecast, due to warm temperatures. But we're going to hold off at this point, as rain is in the forecast as well as cooler night time temperatures. So it's still a bit of a guessing game right now, and even our experts are disagreeing!
ALSO, Elk Rut season has begun - You can learn more in our brand new Elk Guide.
While the primary color is still very much GREEN, we're definitely beginning to see a little progression in the higher elevations, and it various spots at lower elevations as well.
Further progression on trees that turn early is very evident now. Trees that brown quickly (like Locust) are browning out pretty quickly. You can see that in the photo we took just a few minutes ago from our home near Maggie Valley, NC.
But trees that color early are beginning to do so as well. If you look at the nearest peak in the photo (the one to the left of the bald), you'll see some early color. This is normal, as some trees generally turn early for various reasons.
Temperatures are right in line with the the long term Fall Forecast, and we're still very much on track for a normal Fall Schedule, but this year should be significantly better than last! So the vibrant colors are on their way!
Another big sign that Fall is almost here, is when Rut begins for the Elk! We were out at Cataloochee Valley this past week, and while Rut hasn't officially begun yet, the Bulls are definitely ready, and practicing their skills, including bugling, and herding females.
Hi, and welcome to our first 2019 Fall Color Update! If you're looking for our 2019 Forecast, you'll find it here.
Fall Color right now is still a few weeks off, and trees here in Western NC at all elevations are still primarily GREEN. However, some trees, as usually are beginning to turn early, showing some small spots of yellow here and there, but very few and far between.
Here is a photo from out front deck, near Maggie Vally NC this morning to show you what we're currently seeing. If you look close in the center, you can see some leaves beginning to lighten just a tad, which is expected. So far, we're right on schedule!
Also, Locust and Buckeye trees are beginning to brown and yellow, as they do each year. Locust trees brown, due to a worm that eats the leaves around the this time each year. Buckeyes just mainly turn and brown early, once the fruit is produced.
This week does bring some encouraging news from our local Fall Color experts:
Leaves are expected to be exceptionally vibrant this year due to the all of the rain we've had. If the temperatures continue, with warm days and cool nights, color all over the Blue Ridge Mountains this year should be exceptional, and very vibrant with lots of bring yellows, oranges and reds.
The current trend of warm temperatures, may push 2019 Fall Colors out a a bit, so that is something we'll have to keep an eye on. But as of today, it's too soon to tell. If we get to a point where we feel we need to push our dates out a few days, we'll let you know ASAP.
Welcome to September and Fall colors are now only 4 weeks away! Yay!
Share your Fall Color Photos and to see photos from more than 25,000 others happy members!
One of the most common questions we get asked in our Facebook Group this time of year is: When is the best time to visit to see the the fall foliage ??
The problem is that leaf color varies year to year, elevation to elevation and even by the direction the mountain side is facing.
To complicate matters even more, the intensity of the color is determined by a number of very complex factors including:
Leaves begin changing color at higher elevations, and the color change works its way down in elevation.
This is something you'll want to factor in, when on the Parkway, as you'll generally be viewing elevations below you.
The good news is that all of these variations don't really throw off the normal schedule a great deal.
Here is the Fall Color Forecast for the Blue Ridge Mountains, by week, starting in October:
September 27 - October 7 - At the highest elevations, close to 6,000 feet there is some color, but it's often very spotty and muted. The views from these locations will be mostly green, since the areas viewed are lower elevations. Areas that turn early in this date and elevation range include Graveyard Fields and Rough Ridge.
October 1 - 10 - Peak time for areas above 5,000 feet. This would include: Clingmans Dome, Grandfather Mountain, Mount Mitchell, Waterrock Knob and Graveyard fields (the first location on the Parkway to turn) and higher elevations of The Blue Ridge Parkway (between Asheville and Cherokee) and Great Smoky Mountains National Park
October 10 - 20 - Peak time for elevations from 4,000 - 5,000 feet. This would include almost all Blue Ridge Parkway locations and the majority of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as well. Included in this elevation are the Boone and Blowing Rock areas.
October 18 - 26 - Peak time for lower elevations, from 3,000 - 4,000 feet. This would include places like: Pisgah National Forest which includes Sliding Rock and Looking Glass Falls, Dill Falls, Wildcat Falls, and many other waterfalls. Other ares include Linville Gorge, Nantahala Gorge, Maggie Valley, and Cataloochee Valley.
October 24 - 31 - Peak time for elevations below 2,000 feet. This would include: The cities of Asheville, Brevard, Waynesville, Cherokee, and many others. Places of interest include Dupont State Forest and Biltmore Estate, and Cades Cove.
October 26 - November 8 - Peak time for remaining elevations, including Gatlinburg, TN, Chimney Rock NC, Lake Lure and remaining lower elevation mountains. This includes Chimney Rock as well, a great place to see Fall color.
Please note, these timeframes are estimates based on prior years and current weather and soil conditions. Actual peak times may vary some from this forecast.
We have a number of Fall Themed Photo Galleries, full of photos from us and many other photographers
The following maps will help you determine the best Fall Foliage times for various areas in the Blue Ridge Mountains.s
The following Fall Color Map is for Western North Carolina, and provided by the Biology Department at Appalachian State University:
The following Virginia Fall Foliage Map is from Virginia Department of Forestry:
Virginia Peak Periods: