Fall Colors Map

Credits for Graphic: Michael Denslow of the Department of Biology at Appalachian State University

Western North Carolina is quickly approaching the fall season! – a time of cooler temperatures, colorful leaves, and seasonal treats. One of the area’s biggest draws is our incredible ombre of fire toned shades making their way across the mountains and foothills from now until November! Although many of the colors don’t peak until October, now is the time to plan your leaf peeping tours and book rooms before they fill up for the season!


Here’s a handy map produced by the Appalachian State University Dept of Biology to get us thinking about the changes to come. 

SEPT 12-19th:

The word is: green! Nearly all of the western mountains are still quite green. There is a hint of color on the way, with red and sugar maples starting to show some color on isolated branches and branch tips.


SEPT 25th - OCT 2nd:
At the highest elevations, close to 6,000 feet there is some color, but it's often very spotty and muted.  The views from these locations will be mostly green, since the areas viewed are lower elevations.  Areas that turn early in this date and elevation range include Graveyard Fields and Rough Ridge.

OCT 2nd - 9th:
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) and higher elevations of The Blue Ridge Parkway (between Asheville and Cherokee) and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

OCT 9th - 16th:

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 and Blowing Rock areas.

OCT 16th - 23rd:

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 areas include Linville Gorge, Nantahala Gorge, Maggie Valley, and Cataloochee Valley.

OCT 23rd - 30th:

Peak time for elevations from 2,000 feet - 3,000 feet.  This would include: The cities of Asheville, Brevard, Waynesville, Cherokee, and many others.  Places of interest include Dupont State Forest and Biltmore Estate, and Cades Cove.

OCT 30th - NOV 6th:

Peak time for remaining elevations, including Chimney Rock NC, Lake Lure and remaining lower elevation mountains.  This includes Chimney Rock as well, a great place to see Fall color.

For those of you who would like a short summary of the state of fall leaf colors as they progress here in the mountains of Western North Carolina during the season, they also post their weekly observations for you to follow along here