September 20, 2016
N.C. mountain fall leaf color keeps peaking
By: Dan Ward
One of the oddest questions we get this time of year is, "When do you expect the leaf color to peak?"
It's tempting to be a smart guy and say, "Oct. 12 at 5 p.m.," but we usually offer the short course in leaf color instead.
Leaf color times shift some from year to year based on weather conditions, timing of the first heavy frost and, most important, elevation. Colors change first at the higher elevations and the peak progresses down the mountains to the Piedmont over the next few weeks. Conventional wisdom is that the leaf peak at Asheville's elevation is the middle of October, but our experience the past few years is that the brightest days are near the end of the month. Colors on the Blue Ridge Parkway are up to two weeks earlier.
This year, the experts are predicting an exceptionally long leaf season. I can attest to that. We drove up to Altapass, at almost 4000 feet, last week and saw some color changes already. To see the leaf news as it develops, see https://www.exploreasheville.com/trip-ideas/seasonal-fun/fall/fall-forecast-and-weekly-fall-color-report/