Summer 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
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NORTH CAROLINA MOUNTAINS FALL LEAF COLOR FORECAST 2013
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 offers a unique experience for viewing autumn leaves deep within river gorges that flow through national forests. See our Asheville Whitewater Rafting Guide.
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.