Asheville Area Fall Foliage Getaways and Color Change Timeline
October's fall foliage changes are a beautiful sight as trees' leaves change from green to vibrant orange, yellow and red. The Asheville area has one of the longest (and varied) fall color seasons on the globe, which spans from the beginning of October, and sometimes even the end of September, through early November.
Guests frequently ask when peak season is for fall color, and the answer is... essentially the whole month of October (and early November)!
Peak fall color typically occurs at the highest elevations first and then works its way down the mountain, so no matter where you're staying in the Asheville area, fall color is likely within a quick drive if not right out your bedroom window.
The month of color is sped and slowed by temperatures, as the combination of shorter days and cool temperatures are really the harbingers for these color changes to begin with as the trees prepare for winter. Interested in learning more about the science behind fall color? ExploreAsheville.com has a great page on the science behind fall color that discusses why and how leaves change colors, area's of the world where leaf color changes occur, and a fly-over map of color progression by elevation.
Fall foliage forecasts are typically released a month or so out from the month of October to take weather into consideration, however, here is a general example of past year's timelines for fall color change below. Keep in mind, that fall color schedules can really vary year by year depending on a variety of factors so the information below is simply a general guide based on what we've seen throughout the years.
Fall Foliage Timeline
- Late September-first week to week and a half of October: In Western North Carolina, fall color typically begins at about 5,000 feet and higher elevations at areas like Grandfather Mountain, Craggy Gardens, Mt. Mitchell, and Beacon Heights off the Blue Ridge Parkway.
- Beginning of 2nd week of October through the 3rd week of October: Areas like Black Balsam, Mount Pisgah, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park -- 4000 + feet -- show fall color.
- Last two full weeks of October: Linville Gorge, Blue Ridge Parkway drives, Looking Glass Rock have peak color at elevations between 3000-4000 feet.
- Late Middle-October to the last full week October: Asheville and Black Mountain showing vibrant colors. Dupont waterfalls and Brevard area too. 2000 feet elevation.
- Last few days of October into the first week of November: Lake Lure, Lake James, Chimney Rock and Hickory Nut Gorge (1000-1500 feet) show nice color.
The best ways to experience fall in the mountains
There are a variety of great ways to celebrate the fall color season. Here are some ways that we especially enjoy.
- Take a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Just try to keep your eyes on the road!
- Enjoy a seasonal fall beer at one of our local Asheville area breweries.
- Stay tuned to weekly fall color reports on ExploreAsheville.com or RomanticAsheville.com, pick out a hike or two, and then hit the trail.
- Go apple picking. Learn all about Asheville's apple orchard harvest.
- See the Biltmore Estate while fall is in the air.
- Schedule a zipline tour, and see the fall color from an entirely different vantage point!
The following sites have some helpful info about specific season fall color schedules and fall activities: RomanticAsheville.com, ExploreAsheville.com. Weekly fall color reports are available on this page.