By Tim Lee
The North Carolina Arboretum is breathtaking right now. Director of Horticulture Alison Arnold notes that many colors are brightening the landscape, including brilliant reds from dogwood and maple trees, blazing oranges from black gum and persimmon trees, and glittering gold from a variety of shrubs and perennials. Maples are showing a full spectrum of reds, yellows and oranges. The beautyberry shrubs have turned royal purple, basking in the bronze orange of the dawn redwood and bald cypress.
Hickory Nut Gorge
Find your way to Hickory Nut Gorge, where fall is rolling in right on schedule. Foliage peaks here later in the season due to the lower elevation. The biggest change this week has been in the oak and hickory trees. Scarlet oaks are burgundy red, while chestnut oaks are golden yellow. Hickories are also showing some pleasant yellows. Sourwoods and dogwoods continue to boast beautiful red leaves. Peak colors are estimated to arrive at Chimney Rock Park in the next two weeks.
The Lower Lakes
From Hickory Nut Gorge you can see majestic Lake Lure and Bills Mountain, both full of fall color. Lake James, also set at the foot of the mountains, is another great place to view the foliage.
America's Favorite Drive
Although leaf season is past its peak at higher elevations in Western North Carolina, the Blue Ridge Parkway continues to offer excellent vantage points as the leaves give way to views. Right now, the best color along the Parkway is in the Asheville corridor, which has been slower to peak, extending this year's color viewing season. Another area to find vibrant foliage is between mileposts 299 and 304, north of Asheville on your way to Grandfather Mountain.
Foliage experts and attractions from around the region are providing weekly updates for leaf peepers. Check back soon for updates on where to find the best color in Western North Carolina. And, as you’re out this fall in the Asheville area, share your fall photos with us.
Fall Harvest Tailgate Flavors of the Week: At the markets this week you will find fresh squashes, potatoes, mixed greens, broccoli, tomatoes, beans, okra, eggplant, sweet peppers, beets, mushrooms, turnips, kohlrabi, radishes, onions, garlic, herbs, pastured pork and lamb, free-range chicken, grass-fed beef, and farm-raised rainbow trout.
Budget Tip: Enjoy a fun fall getaway and treat your vehicle to some free gas in the Asheville area when you book one of several available Gas Promotions, which will stretch even further with dropping prices at the pump.