Sept. 23, 2021, 1:37 p.m.

Top Adventures to See Fall Color in the Blue Ridge Mountains

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Fall in the mountains is a magical season, and there’s no better place in the world to explore summits, trails, waterfalls and mountain towns than in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains.

Thanks to an impressive biodiversity of tree species and the dramatic elevation changes of the surrounding peaks, this region has one of the most colorful fall color shows — and it lasts the whole season long!

Good news — the weather forecast for the first week of fall calls for bright sunny days and cool nights dipping down into the 40s, which is the perfect recipe for brilliant fall color.

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Where to Find Fall Color

From late September through mid-October, we’ll see oranges, golds and reds peeking out at the highest elevations around Grandfather Mountain, Linville Falls and Little Switzerland. Later in October the fall color will reach the towns of Old Fort and Marion. And there will still be plenty of fall to enjoy into early November when the leaves change around Lake James, Lake Lure and Chimney Rock.

And while there won’t be any fall color at the top of Mount Mitchell — the highest peak in the Eastern U.S. is surrounded by an alpine forest of spruce and fir trees — it is a great time of year to visit and take in a 360-degree view of color in the valleys all around.

Crabtree Falls

Top Fall Adventures

  1. Take a scenic drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Pack a picnic to enjoy at one of the overlooks, and be sure to bring your camera. The Chestoa View Overlook (milepost 320.8) is particularly spectacular in mid to late October. Other great drives include the Lake James Loop Drive that includes a variety of points of interest, and The Diamondback, a favorite among motorcyclists and sports car enthusiasts.
  2. Go for a hike on one of the area’s countless trails. Whether the trail you choose offers a sweeping view or a meandering trek through the colorful forest, it will be a fall adventure to remember. Check out our guide to area hiking trails.
  3. Find a waterfall framed by fall color. Crabtree Falls, located on the Blue Ridge Parkway, is awe-inspiring when it’s surrounded by golden leaves fluttering in the sunlight. See what makes Linville Falls one of the most photographed sites along the Blue Ridge Parkway, especially in fall.
  4. Go apple picking at the historic Orchard at Altapass. Enjoy exploring the 100-year-old orchards and sampling several apple varieties. Order apple pie a la mode and enjoy the authentic sounds of mountain music played on Saturdays and Sundays through October.
  5. Find local flavors and creative craftsmanship at a fall market. Check out the Historic Marion Tailgate Market on Tuesdays and the MGM Farmer’s Market in Old Fort on Thursdays through October to find a selection of local produce, flowers, baked goods and other artisan items.
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