Wondering how foliage season in the Great Smokies is shaping up?

foliageSummer 2013 Update: Record rainfall in the North Carolina mountains have created very green and lush forests. (Sometimes a very dry summer will cause the leaves to fall early and have very little color.) If we get a lot of sun and dry days in September and October, this fall color will be fantastic. This will dry out the leaves and bring out the rich colors

See the best bed and breakfasts, cabin rentals and hotels in the mountains! Looking for a deal? See our vacation packages and specials.


The number one question is: “When is the peak color?” No matter when you plan an autumn visit in October or early November, you can take a short drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway to find the best color of fall leaves. Elevation and weather are the biggest factors in the color show. Leaves begin their color change on the highest peaks and gradually work down to the lowest elevations. An early frost speeds up the show and warm weather prolongs it. Below is our best guess of the progression of the color show:

Blue Ridge Parkway Fall
See our mile-by-mile Blue Ridge Parkway Guide..

Zip Line Canopy Tours
Ride zip lines on canopy tours through the colorful trees! Or play in the trees at the new Treetops Adventure Park in Asheville.

Asheville Haunted Tour
Take the LaZoom Haunted Comedy Tour on the big purple bus.

Fall at Biltmore House
Fall at Biltmore Estate

Whitewater Rafting
Whitewater rafting offers a unique experience for viewing autumn leaves deep within river gorges that flow through national forests. See our Asheville Whitewater Rafting Guide.

Fall Waterfall
Hike to DuPont State Forest waterfalls.
See our Top 40 Waterfalls.

Shadow of the Bear
See the Shadow of the Bear!

October 3-12: Highest elevations north of Asheville above 5,000 feet show the most color, especially in the Mount Mitchell, Craggy Gardens, Grandfather Mountain, Beech Mountain and Rough Ridge areas.
October 9-18: Color will increase in elevations greater than 4,000 feet, including the Mount Pisgah, Black Balsam, Devil’s Courthouse, Waterrock Knob and Graveyard Fields, 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, including hikes to Alum Cave and Chimney Tops.
October 15-23: Many of the surrounding mountains around Asheville show plenty of color, especially in the 3,000-4,000 foot elevation range. Take the Parkway north or south from Asheville. 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 20-29: 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.

About Chef Kaighn

A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Executive Chef Kaighn Raymond has over 16 years of experience with the last 13 in the Atlanta fine dining scene. Coming to Atlanta directly from the Culinary Institute of America, Kaighn had already reached sous chef level at a beloved Connecticut bistro recognized by the New York Times and still flourishing today. Chef Kaighn worked his way through CIA gaining exposure to the industry in multiple capacities including catering with Market Basket, and on the line at popular restaurants in New York like The Riverview in near bye Cold Springs. Upon graduation from CIA with Dean's List Honors and a high pass on his 5th term practical Kaighn was recruited to the 5th group in Atlanta. Chef Kaighn has diverse skills and as a highly celebrated Chef, he has worked at several of the cities most notable establishments, including Brasserie le Coze, Alon’s, Atlantic Seafood Company, Horseradish Grill, Food 101, La Tavola, The River Room, The Vinings Inn, Pastis and The French American Brasserie. When Chef Kaighn was ready to return to Sous Chef level, he chose to join the slow food movement with the opening of Food 101 and after a year with Chef Scott Crawford moved over to the widely acclaimed Horseradish Grill at Chastain where he was exposed to locally focused traditional and modern southern cuisine. Chosen as Chef de Cuisine for the new location in Alpharetta, he opened to high reviews and strong sales. Following 9/11 and a downturn in the economy, Chef Kaighn spent the next year re-exploring his early love of French cuisine, temporarily elevating the cuisine at Pastis in Roswell. When the opportunity arose to work at the beloved Atlanta Patisserie, Alon's, writing the recipes for the grand opening of the prepared foods department, Kaighn jumped at the chance to do new things and spent the next few months doing recipe R&D, making fresh pastas, refreshing his pastry skills and then opening the deli. After experiencing the pace of in a gourmet deli bakery & patisserie, Kaighn longed for a return to the pressure and creativity he loved in restaurant kitchens. Returning to restaurants as the Executive Chef at Brasserie Le Coze, his flawless integration of creative, unpretentious cuisine coupled with inspired presentations re-elevated the reputation of the restaurant to one of the hottest in the city. Following three years at the helm, BLC was forced to leave their Lenox location. During construction of their new home downtown Chef Kaighn spent his time fine tuning his skills under world renowned Chef Eric Ripert at Le Bernardin in New York City and running his own catering/consulting firm Essential Flavor LLC. Re-inspired by the New York restaurant scene Chef Kaighn used all his experiences to design a menu concept and create new dishes that earned The French American Brasserie 4 star reviews and international recognition upon opening. After a long career at the top of the Atlanta dining scene, Chef Kaighn has followed his dream to Waynesville, NC where he is opening his first self owned restaurant: Frogs Leap Public House at 44 Church Street.
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