Asheville Fall Color Updates

Asheville Fall Color Updates


Fall color will blanket the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina in the Asheville area during October and early November. The first places to see color are the highest ridges, including Mt. Mitchell, Grandfather Mountain and Mt. Pisgah – with the most color throughout the area during the second and third week of October.

For a week-by-week fall foliage forecast, go to www.romanticasheville.com/fall.htm. Also, see frequent photo reports at www.romanticasheville.com/fall-color-report.

blue-ridge-parkway

The fall color season along the Blue Ridge Parkway will last about 4-5 weeks. While the highest sections of the Parkway will peak in early October, the views down into the valleys will last much of the month. The color show will conclude in the lowest valleys, including the Lake Lure and Chimney Rock areas and the foothills of Rutherford County.

Favorite things to do during the autumn season including hiking, waterfalls and scenic drives. There are many state and national parks to explore, including Pisgah National Forest, Nantahala National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gorges State Park and DuPont State Forest. Get outdoors and enjoy!

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Asheville, NC

Asheville, NC


Looking for free things to do in Asheville, NC? With a 5,000-foot elevation change, our area of the lush Blue Ridge Mountains has one of the longest-running fall color displays in the country. You don’t have to spend a bundle to enjoy the beautiful scenery. Here are ten vacation getaway ideas for all of us on a tight budget:

  1. Cruise the Blue Ridge Parkway, one of the top scenic drives in the country with breathtaking views from overlooks, walking trails, and great spots for picnics.
  1. Take a hike with trails for all fitness levels, from short walks in the woods to strenuous hikes up to mountain peaks. Find hundreds of trails along the Parkway, and in the Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests.
  1. Experience Downtown Asheville with hundreds of locally-owned boutiques and art galleries. Enjoy street entertainers, great people watching and the Friday night Drum Circle.
  1. Drive to the top of Mt. Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Rockies, and enjoy panoramic views from the observation deck. Take a jacket! It’s always 15-20 degrees cooler up top.
  1. Discover lots of art since this is one of the top arts destinations in the country. Galleries abound in downtown Asheville and in Biltmore Village, along with artist studios in the River Arts District. The Folk Art Center has galleries and daily craft demonstrations.
  1. Find waterfalls in free state and federal parks. At Dupont State Forest, take a short hike to see three waterfalls. Other waterfalls include Looking Glass Falls, Rainbow Falls and Linville Falls. We have guides to our 60 favorites.
  1. Watch elk graze a short distance away from your car in the Cataloochee Valley section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There are two additional entrances to the park within 50 miles of Asheville with many free historic sites, hiking trails and more.
  1. Tour the Estes-Winn Antique Automobile Museum with collection of 20 classics, just a few miles from downtown.
  1. Explore architecture, art and history on downtown Asheville’s Urban Trail, a 1.7-mile walking tour.
  1. Enjoy the fall foliage from your bicycle on many mountain bike trails in Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests.

For more details on these and the fall foliage forecast and reports, go to our 700-page free online Asheville NC travel guide.

Top 10 Fall NC Mountain Views near Asheville


Peak Fall Color at Graveyard Fields is usually the second week of October

Peak Fall Color at Graveyard Fields is usually the second week of October

Fall foliage color this year should be absolutely beautiful in the North Carolina mountains near Asheville. And with our 5,000-foot elevation range in the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains, we will have one of the longest fall shows in the country. Peak color begins in early October in the highest mountains and ends in the lowest valleys by early November. See the complete Asheville Fall Foliage Forecast. Then, plan your vacation to come of our top 10 places for fall views and when to expect the most color:

  1. See the first autumn colors in early October on Mt. Mitchell, the highest peak in eastern America, with panoramic mountain views from the top. Grandfather Mountain is another top spot for views.
  2. Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway, one of top scenic drives in the United States. Stop at many overlooks, picnic and hike. Best color is the last three weeks of October, varying with elevation. So if you don’t immediately see color, keep driving!
  3. Stop at Graveyard Fields along the Blue Ridge Parkway (pic above) in mid October for the some of the most brilliant color in the mountains. Relax by the waterfall or walk through the highland valley. Nearby, hike across mountain balds at Black Balsam Knob for endless views.
  4. Capture the most photographed waterfall in North Carolina, Linville Falls, surrounded by fall color in mid October. Nearby, see stunning views of Linville Gorge with easy hikes to the top of Table Rock and Hawksbill Mountain.
  5. Visit two areas of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in mid October. Watch elk graze in the Cataloochee Valley as the male elk make their legendary mating bugling calls, walk woodland trails and explore historic buildings. From Newfound Gap, hike on the Appalachian Trail to Charlies Bunion for spectacular views. And an early morning view from Clingmans Dome is hard to top.
  6. Raft down the Nantahala River or take a zip line canopy tour through the colorful woodlands of the Nantahala National Forest in mid October.
  7. Drive the Forest Heritage National Scenic Byway from Brevard in mid October with great stops such as Looking Glass Falls and hikes in the Pisgah National Forest.
  8. Take a short hike in DuPont State Forest to see three waterfalls, or hike to Cedar Rock for mountain views in late October.
  9. Explore the 8,000-acre Biltmore Estate in late October by foot, bike, car, river raft, horse or Segway. See fall gardens, mountain views and colorful forests.
  10. Ride the elevator or hike to the famous Chimney Rock with 75-mile views across Lake Lure. The peak fall color show here usually extends into early November.

There are many Fall events and festivals near Asheville to enjoy as well!

Top 20 Places for Fall Color near Asheville


Fall Mt. MitchellBeautiful fall mountain scenery abounds in North Carolina in October. The fall color season is a long one with the 5,000-foot elevation range in the Asheville area. In fact,  the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains have one of the longest-running fall leaf shows in the USA. Here are our top places to go and things to do to enjoy the colors. For more information on these and more things to do, go to RomanticAsheville.com Travel Guide.

  1. See the first autumn colors the first week of October on Mt. Mitchell, the highest peak in eastern America, with panoramic mountain views from the observation deck. Colorful views into the valleys from the top extend into mid October. Take a jacket! It’s always cooler on the summit and there is often snow there by late October.
  2. The other spot for early fall color is Grandfather Mountain and the Rough Ridge hiking trail on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
  3. Cruise the Blue Ridge Parkway, one of top scenic drives in the United States. Stop at many overlooks, have a picnic and take a hike. The best color varies with elevation throughout the month. So if you don’t immediately see color, keep driving!
  4. Watch the sunrise from atop Craggy Pinnacle at Craggy Gardens.
  5. Drive the Forest Heritage National Scenic Byway from Brevard to the Blue Ridge Parkway in mid-October with great stops such as Looking Glass Falls and hikes to many other waterfalls in the Pisgah National Forest.
  6. Stop at Graveyard Fields along the Blue Ridge Parkway the second week of October for the some of the most brilliant color in the mountains. Relax by the waterfall or walk through the mile-high valley.
  7. Near Graveyard Fields on the Parkway, walk across mountain balds at Black Balsam Knob for endless views.
  8. Drive US Highway 64 from Brevard to Highlands. Stop to walk behind Dry Falls and drive behind Bridal Veil Falls.
  9. Watch the Shadow of the Bear immerge from behind Whiteside Mountain near Cashiers just before sunset.
  10. Capture the most photographed waterfall in North Carolina, Linville Falls, surrounded by fall color in mid October.
  11. Speaking of Linville Gorge, see stunning views of the canyon with easy hikes to the top of Table Rock and Hawksbill Mountain in Pisgah National Forest.
  12. Watch elk graze in the Cataloochee Valley in the Great Smoky Mountains as the male elk make their legendary mating bugling calls, walk woodland trails and explore historic buildings.
  13. Also in the Great Smoky Mountains, enjoy views from Newfound Gap gap road and hike on the Appalachian Trail to Charlies Bunion for spectacular views.
  14. Raft down the Nantahala River or French Broad River in early October for warmer temperatures!
  15. Take a zip line canopy tour through the colorful woodlands throughout October.
  16. Ride the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad along Fontana Lake and Nantahala River on a train excursion.
  17. Take a short hike in DuPont State Forest to see three waterfalls, or hike to Cedar Rock for mountain views in late October.
  18. Explore the 8,000-acre Biltmore Estate by foot, bike, car, river raft, horse or Segway. See colorful fall gardens, mountain views and colorful forests.
  19. Stroll through the gardens and see the tiniest fall color show with their bonsai collection.
  20. Ride the elevator or hike to the famous Chimney Rock with 75-mile views across Lake Lure. The peak fall color show there extends into early November.

For more details on these and the latest fall foliage week-by-week forecast for western North Carolina, events and festivals and many photos, visit the free 600-page online travel guide at www.romanticasheville.com/fall.htm.

Fall Events at Chimney Rock Park


Chimney Rock FallFall is definitely a great time to explore Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park! In addition to the beautiful fall colors that peak in late October into early November, they have some very fun events. Not to mention, soak in the spectacular 75-mile views from atop the Chimney and hike to the 400-foot Hickory Nut Falls. Speaking of hiking, they have guided hikes every Saturday. After a day of adventure, relax and enjoy craft beer and burgers along with live, local music at Beats, Burgers & Brews at the Old Rock Café, Friday and Saturday evenings.

Annual Passholder Fall Sunrise Breakfast
Saturday, October 4; gate opens 6:15am for 7:25am sunrise
Few sights in Western North Carolina are as spectacular as watching the sunrise over Lake Lure! The Park opens early for Annual Passholders with a continental breakfast and the best seats in the area. To RSVP, please call 800-277-9611 by October 1. If you are not a Passholder, you can become one for this event.
Cost: $5 Annual Passholder, free for kids under 5. Advance registration required.

Rockin’ Naturalist Guided Hikes
Saturdays, October 4, 11, 18, 25; 11am-noon
Explore Chimney Rock’s trails with a park naturalist or state park ranger to learn about plants, wildlife, geology and more along the way. Or, head “off the beaten path” to discover less-traveled areas of the park. Topics vary. Limited to the first 15 people.
Cost: Included with Park admission

Grady’s Wildlife of WNC
Every Saturday & Sunday in October; 4-5, 11-12, 18-19, 25-26; 2pm
Meet some of Grady the Groundhog’s live woodland friends or possibly our birds of prey, a Red-tailed hawk and Great Horned Owl. Their resident education animals are the stars of the program, which explains each animal’s role in our ecosystem, how they came to live at the park and lessons on what we can do to help protect wildlife. Held in the Outdoor Classroom on the Meadows, weather permitting.
Cost: Included with Park admission

Naturalist Niche Series: Fall Big Basswood Hike
Saturday, October 11; 9:30-11:30am
Up and down a bit of slope, between a few boulders and shrubs and weaving beneath towering fall foliage, hike into a hidden forest cove. Renowned naturalist Ron Lance will guide you to where the state’s largest basswood tree lives, with a circumference of more than 13 feet! Several other large trees are its neighbors and wildflowers carpet the forest floor. This two-hour-plus hike is moderately-strenuous and not suitable for children under 12. Limited to 15; advance registration required.
Cost: $22 Adult (includes Park admission), $10 Annual Passholder

Naturalist Niche Series: Fall Ridge Hike with Ron Lance
Saturday, October 25; 9:30-12:30pm
Soak up fall colors on the most scenic hike all year long at the park! Venture high atop the ridges 1,500 feet above the valley floor, and enjoy dramatic views surrounded in a sea of fall leaf colors. Led by renowned naturalist Ron Lance, this three-hour hike is moderately strenuous. Limited to 15; advance registration required.
Cost: $22 Adult (includes Park admission), $10 Annual Passholder

For more information, see our Chimney Rock Park Guide and our NC Mountain Fall Color Guide.

Asheville Fall Color & Parkway Update


Current Fall Color on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Current Fall Color on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Great news for fall color seekers in the North Carolina mountains near Asheville. The entire stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina is open. While its visitor centers, campgrounds, picnic areas and other facilities are closed, places like the Folk Art Center and Pisgah Inn & Restaurant has reopened. The small section of the Parkway in Asheville that was recently closed due to erosion has been repaired. To plan a drive, go to our Blue Ridge Parkway guide at http://www.romanticasheville.com/BlueRidgeParkway.htm.

Fall color is picking up speed. The best color is still in the highest elevations – typically 4,000 feet elevation and above. During the next two weeks, color will progress to the lower elevations.

Second falls at Graveyard Fields on the Parkway

Second falls at Graveyard Fields on the Parkway

October 12-19: Color is increasing in elevations greater than 4,000 feet, including the Mount Pisgah, Black Balsam, Devil’s Courthouse and Waterrock Knob, southwest of Asheville on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It will also be peak color in the Highlands area, including Whiteside Mountain, with plenty of waterfalls to enjoy, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Current fall color at Mt. Pisgah from the Parkway

Current fall color at Mt. Pisgah from the Parkway

October 17-25: Many of the surrounding mountains around Asheville show plenty of color, especially in the 3,000-4,000 foot elevation range. A great hike in Pisgah National Forest would be Looking Glass Rock or Cradle of Forestry. North of Asheville, head to Linville Gorge with hikes to the top of Table Rock and Hawksbill Mountain.

October 22-30: The city of Asheville (2,000 feet elevation) shows the brightest colors, along with areas around Hendersonville and Brevard. This is the perfect time for a waterfall hike in DuPont State Forest or leisurely walk at the NC Arboretum. This is also the peak leaf color for Biltmore Estate.

October 25-November 4: The color show concludes in the Chimney Rock area (elevation of 1,300 feet). Ride to the top of Chimney Rock or take a boat tour on Lake Lure

There are many upcoming fall events and festivals – see a complete list, along with the latest fall color report at http://www.romanticasheville.com/fall.htm.

 

What NC Mountain Parks Shut Down due to Shutdown?


Graveyard Fields

Fall in the mountains surrounding Asheville, North Carolina, is the busiest time of year for this area. While the Federal Government Shutdown will close some facilities, there is still much to see and do in the great outdoors!

Here’s the latest on places closed (and not closed) by the shutdown:

  • The Blue Ridge Parkway is OPEN. However, all of its facilities, campgrounds, picnic areas, Folk Art Center and visitor centers are closed.  Hiking trails along the Parkway are open. See our Blue Ridge Parkway Guide!
  • In the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the very scenic US Highway 441 (Newfound Gap Road) remains open. All other roads, along with campgrounds, visitor centers, and picnic areas are closed.
  • The Appalachian Trial is closed.
  • In Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests, fee areas and visitor centers are closed. Hiking trails and most waterfalls are open!  Visitors may still hike, fish and use undeveloped recreational areas of the national forests during the closure period. No restrooms or trash collection will be available at trailheads, and visitors are encouraged to practice Leave No Trace ethics.
  • State parks and forests (including Mt. Mitchell, DuPont State Forest, North Carolina Arboretum and Gorges State Park) remain open.

See our Top 100 Things to Do outdoors in the NC Mountains to plan your fall trip. And see the latest on fall colors and events.