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.
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
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.
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.
10/25/2022 - Areas of the Blue Ridge Below 2,000 feet are peaking
Now is a wonderful time to visit the Blue Ridge Mountains to see Fall colors. The temperatures and weather are just wonderful. While leaves and colors in the upper elevations are mostly gone, areas below 4,000 still have some beautiful late Fall colors.
While the leaves turned early, and many leaves above 5,000 feet fell to the ground quickly, low elevations seem to be holding onto their leaves a bit longer, extending the Fall season. Out home here in Maggie Valley NC is right at 4,000, and is surrounded by deep and rich late Fall color right now. Some photos from our home, taken this morning (10/25) are included below.
We visited Dupont State Forest over the weekend, near Brevard NC, and while there was color, it was past peak, and a good portion of the leaves had dropped off. It was still beautiful though, and we included some photos below.
For peak colors, this week, you'll want to visit lower elevations. Areas such as Chimney Rock, Lake Lure NC, Blue Ridge GA, Helen GA, and surrounding areas should be beautiful and at peak this week.
Get out there, find some color, and enjoy this beautiful weather!
10/18/2022 Update - Leaves above 4,000 are mostly gone
We spent the weekend in various elevations of the Blue Ridge Parkway, and in Cataloochee Valley. We're seeing very cold temperatures this week, and over the past few days, high winds. The winds have blown a number of the leaves down. Here is our summary:
Above 5,000 Feet - Colors are mainly gone and trees are bare. You'll still find spots of late Fall color.
4,000 - 5,000 feet - Past peak, but pretty color is still around to see for the next few days.
3,000 - 4,000 feet - These areas are peaking now and full of yellows, golds, and some reds.
Below 3,000 - These areas are also full of color, but most areas are not peaking yet, but should later this week and into the weekend.
Overall colors this year have been some of the best in many years. Colors are very vivid, but lasted only a short amount of time this year, and peaked very quickly, and early in most areas. But still lots of color to see out there. Based on what we are seeing, we would expect most leaves to be gone by the end of October.
Here are some current photos:
10/10/2022 Update - Leaves are peaking early
Overall Status: Areas above 4,000 feet are peaking now, and sooner than predicted. The cold temperatures have really kicked things into high gear in the past week.
Now is the time to get out there folks, the next few weeks are going to be just amazing! With the cold temperatures we've had, the leaves are turning in high gear. They seem to be progressing almost overnight.
We spent time up on the Blue Ridge Parkway yesterday, and were just amazing at how much color there is above 4500 feet. Peak time for 5,000 foot or so is now, and peak times for 4,000 - 5,000 feet will be over the next week.
Colors are very vivid this year, with lots of reds, yellows, golds, and oranges.
Peaking Now: Highest elevations of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Highest Elevations of the Blue Ridge Parkway, including Graveyard Fields. Grandfather Mountain is also gorgeous right now, and at peak, as well as areas around Beech Mountain. The Boone area seems to be peaking earlier than others. Areas around Boone and Blowing Rock NC, Linn Cove Viaduct, and Rough Ridge are peaking now.
Remember, colors peak at at different times by elevation, so you're bound to find color in all of the highest elevations of the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains right now!
Here are some photos taken on Saturday, 10/9/2022 on the Blue Ridge Parkway between Waynesville NC and Asheville NC - Namely Graveyard Fields, Highway 215, and Lake Logan. All photos edited but done so to reflect what our eyes saw. These are real colors you can expect to see.
Overall Status: Fall Colors are on track, and 2022 looks to be an exceptional Fall Color Season!
We continue to see significant progress in the upper elevations, above 5,000ft. Graveyard Fields and the Highway 215 areas near the Parkway, or gorgeous right now, and will peak this week. Grandfather Mountain and the Linn Cove Viaduct area is also very pretty, and will peak in the next week as well.
At this point Fall is on schedule, per our forecast below. The combination of warm sunny days and crisp cool nights have really kick started the color progression. Given the amount of rain we've had this year in the Blue Ridge Mountains, we're already seeing some very vivid color and would expect that trend to continue. This is looking to be an absolutely stunning Fall color season.
Fall color will continue to progress down the mountains through October and into early November. Also remember, that colors are often very pretty prior to peak and will persist for a week or more after peak. So don't panic if you aren't there during the peak dates, you'll still see beautiful color. After all, "peak" is a bit subjective.
Time to get out there folks! The colors are just beautiful! Jenn and our daughter took off yesterday to get an update for me (I had to work). Here are some photos Jenn captured of the colors yesterday (10/4/2022) at Graveyard Fields and the Upper elevations of Highway 215 near Devil's Courthouse.
Be sure to join our Facebook Group, people are posting lots of photos of the current Fall colors all around the Blue Ridge Mountains.
9/27/2022 Fall Update
We visited Linn Cove Viaduct and Graveyard Fields on the Blue Ridge Parkway this past weekend, as these are generally the areas of the Parkway that begin turning first. We're seeing really good colors and color progression above 5,000 feet in elevation, and even some spotty color in the 4,000 - 5,000 range.
Here is our video update for this week:
Here are some photos we took during our adventures. These are from Moses Cone Memorial Park, Price Lake, and Graveyard Fields. Definitely some color starting to show out there, get out there folks!
9/20/2022 Fall Update
Signs of Fall's arrival and Fall Colors are here, especially at elevations above 5,000 feet. We spent the weekend in Beech Mountain NC, and signs of Fall's arrival where all around us. We saw numerous maples, sourwoods, and Buckeye trees turning, some significantly. We also saw tons of Golden Rod as well, and it was beautiful! Some maples were a beautiful shades or oranges and reds.
Now, this is all normal, and the change we would expect at the highest elevations here in the Blue Ridge Mountains. We still feel at this time our forecast below is on track and accurate. These colors will continue to progress, and peak in he next 1-2 weeks, and then progress downwards through October.
Based on our personal experience this past weekend, we think color progression is as follows:
- Above 5,000 - 10% Progression - So still mainly green
- Below 5,000 Feet - Less than 1% progression, and still very much green, although you can find spots of color on individual trees.
We've also heard multiple reports that colors at Graveyard Fields are progressing as well.
We expect the progression to continue on track at this point! Here our some Fall Color photos from Beech Mountain, we took this past weekend (click the thumbnail for a bigger image). Hope you enjoy, and we'll update you more next week!
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Blue Ridge Mountains Fall Foliage 2022 Forecast
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
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 Falls, Dill Falls, Wildcat 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.
11 Top Waterfalls to Visit for Fall Colors
See our top picks for the best Fall waterfalls in the Blue Ridge Mountains
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:
Virginia 2022 Fall Foliage Map
The following Virginia Fall Foliage Map is from Virginia Department of Forestry:
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:
- Book reservations early. Hotels, Motels and Bed & Breakfasts will be filling up fast.
- 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.
- Bring your digital camera at all times. You never know when the perfect photo opportunity will present itself, be prepared.
- 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!
- 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.
- Polarized sun glasses and a polarizing filter for your camera enhance Fall colors and reduce glare.
- Travel on the Parkway. If you are traveling the parkway, read over our Parkway Travel Tips.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
Things to do in the Blue Ridge during the Fall
- Visit Apple Orchards - The Blue Ridge Mountains are famous for some of the best tasting apples you can find anywhere. Apple Orchards in the Blue Ridge make for a fun family adventure, especially in the fall. You can ride hayrides, play games, pick your own apples, enjoy hot and fresh baked apple products, hot cider, and more! See our Guides to find the Best Apple Orchards: 11 Best Apple Orchards in Western North Carolina and Top 10 Apple Orchards in the Blue Ridge Mountains
- Go Hiking! Check out our Blue Ridge family favorite hiking trails, and our favorite trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There are tons of other trails too.
- Visit some Waterfalls - Waterfalls and fall colors make a great combination. Here's our list of our favorite Waterfalls.
- Go Ziplining - Navitat in Asheville NC is just awesome, and there is great zip-lining available at the NOC near Bryson City NC
- See the Elk - Be sure and visit Cataloochee Valley, which is not only beautiful in the Fall, but full of Elk as well.
- Visit Maggie Valley NC - Next to both the Blue Ridge Parkway and Great Smoky Mountains National Park - It's the perfect mountain small town in Western NC.
- Visit Asheville NC, Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg TN - These towns all have tons to do and are right in the middle of all the fall color.
- 25 Best Places to see Fall Colors! - See our guide to the very best places to see gorgeous Fall Colors.
Fall Colors Photo Gallery
Just a few of our favorite Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountain Fall photos we've taken over the years.