Fall Foliage 2022 Forecast and Guide

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.

Updated: 7/21/2022

To skip over our current updates and jump straight to our 2022 forecast, click here!

Fall Color at Linn Cove Viaduct

25 Best Places to see Fall Color

See our top picks to see Fall Colors in the Blue Ridge Mountains

Fall Foliage 2022 Forecast and Guide

Fall Graveyard Fields

Fall Color at Lower Falls, Graveyard Fields off the Blue Ridge Parkway

This 2022 Fall Foliage guide for the Blue Ridge Mountains will:

  • Tell you when the peak times are for various elevations and locations
  • Provide weekly updates for you on the current status of the leaf color
  • Links to lots of photos from prior years, with links to great places to see the fall colors
  • Share tips for fall foliage watching that will help you have the best experience and get the best beautiful photos.  One of the most import?  Book your reservations early.  Hotels, motels, and cabins are filling up fast and many are already fully booked.

Top 22 Best Stops for Fall Colors on The Blue Ridge Parkway

Check out our top 22 picks for the THE best stops along the Blue Ridge Parkway to see Fall Colors in 2022

Maybe you're wondering what makes us an authority?  Well, we live here, and specifically in Maggie Valley NC.  As Fall 2022 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.

Fall Colors Blue Ridge Mountains

2022 Fall Color Updates

One of the key features of our 2022 Fall Forecast & Guide is that each year, we begin providing weekly updates on Fall Color here in the Blue Ridge Mountains.   We use this information to make tweaks and adjustments to our 2022 Forecast to help insure you see peak colors when you visit.

We will begin providing weekly updates on 2022 Fall Color, including written updates, photos and video in September of 2022.  Stay tuned!

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Blue Ridge Mountains Fall Foliage 2022 Forecast

Fall Colors Soco Falls

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:

  • The type of plant
  • Amount of rainfall
  • Temperatures

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 our 2022 Fall Color Forecast for the Blue Ridge Mountains, by week, starting in late September:

September 25 - October 2

At the highest elevations, at and above 6,000 feet,  spotty and muted color will begin to appear.  The views from these locations will be mostly green at this time, due to the areas viewed from here are at lower elevations.  

Areas that turn early in this date and elevation range include primarily Graveyard Fields and Rough Ridge, both located off The Blue Ridge Parkway.

October 2 - 9

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). 

Also included are the higher elevations of The Blue Ridge Parkway (between Asheville NC and Cherokee) and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

October 9 - 16

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 NC and Blowing Rock NC areas.  

Be sure to visit Tweetsie Railroad for beautiful Fall Color fun.

October 16 - 23 

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 FallsDill FallsWildcat Falls, and many other waterfalls.  Other ares include Linville Gorge, Nantahala Gorge, Maggie Valley, and Cataloochee Valley.

Also included is the upper elevations of Skyline Drive in the Virginia Blue Ridge Mountains.

October 23 - 30

Peak time for elevations from 2,000 feet - 3,000 feet.  This would include: The cities of Asheville NC,  Brevard NC, Waynesville NC, Cherokee,  and many others.  

Places of interest include Dupont State Forest and Biltmore Estate, and Cades Cove.  Also, areas surrounding Helen GA are included in this date range, like the beautiful Russell Brasstown Scenic Byway.

October 30 - November 6

Peak time for remaining elevations, including Gatlinburg, TN, Chimney Rock State Park, Lake Lure NC, Helen GA and other remaining lower elevation mountains.  

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.

Fall Videos

Here are some of our latest Fall videos from our YouTube channel:

2022 Fall Elk Rut Season

One of the highlights of Fall for us is Elk Rut Season, where Bulls put on a show, and often battle with other bulls over female Elk and territory.   The "show" includes bugling, sparring with other Elk, and herding their "harems" or groups of cows.

Elk Rut Season begins in mid-September, and ends in mid to late October.   See our Elk Guide for all the details including photos and videos!

2022 Fall Foliage Maps

The following maps will help you determine the best Fall Foliage times for various areas in the Blue Ridge Mountains.s

Western North Carolina Fall Foliage Map 2022

The following Fall Color Map is for Western North Carolina, and provided by the Biology Department at Appalachian State University:

From: https://biology.appstate.edu/fall-color-report/fall-color-map-north-carolina

Virginia 2022 Fall Foliage Map

The following Virginia Fall Foliage Map is from Virginia Department of Forestry:

Virginia Fall Foliage Map

Virginia Peak Periods:

  • October 10 - 20 (Left Side of Map)
  • October 15 - 25 (Center of Map)
  • October 20-31 (Right Side of Map)

Tips for 2022 Fall Foliage Viewing and Photography:

Fall Foliage Blue Ridge Mountains
  1. Book reservations early.   Hotels, Motels and Bed & Breakfasts will be filling up fast.
  2. Be patient.  There are lots of people here during the fall, and having a little patience will go a long way to making your visit far more enjoyable.
  3. Bring your digital camera at all times.  You never know when the perfect photo opportunity will present itself, be prepared.
  4. Be prepared for weather changes.  Weather in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains changes quickly, so don't be upset if you can't get any photos due to the fog or rain.  Just hang out for a bit and be patient.  Chances are it will blow by and the sun may even come out.  We've found that some of our best photos are just after a storm.  Oh, and if you're coming in late October/Early November, you might just get some snow too!  
  5. Stay on the roads.  We see lots of people stuck trying to venture down some narrow mountain road, or trying to drive through grass they think is dry in order to get that "unique" photo.  Unless you have 4-wheel drive, stay on paved or well maintained roads.
  6. Polarized sun glasses and a polarizing filter for your camera enhance Fall colors and reduce glare.
  7. Travel on the Parkway.  If you are traveling the parkway, read over our Parkway Travel Tips.
  8. Wear layers of clothing or bring a few extra jackets or sweaters.  Temperatures here in the Blue Ridge can vary greatly base on weather conditions and altitude.
  9. Mornings and evenings are the best times for photos.  Mid day sunlight is often too harsh.  The benefit of getting out early or very late is that you'll avoid most of the crowd too and get great photos too!
  10. Avoid thick clouds and fog in your photos.  If the sky is very cloudy and/or foggy, try to keep the fog and clouds out of your photos.  The white of the clouds and fog is overwhelming, and will just make your photo look smaller.  As an example, see the waterfall photo below.  Graveyard fields was completely clouded over that day, so when I framed the picture, I kept the sky out as much as possible.
  11. Make sure you have plenty of gas.  Some areas, especially on the parkway and in the national parks, are a long way from the nearest gas station.
Fall Color Graveyard Fields

Fall Color Graveyard Fields

Things to do in the Blue Ridge during the Fall

Fall Colors Photo Gallery

Just a few of our favorite Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountain Fall photos we've taken over the years.

Want to learn more?

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