Asheville, N.C. 2018 Fall Foliage Report and New Fall Adventures
Asheville, N.C., in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, is known for having one of the longest and most colorful fall foliage seasons in the world.
Thanks to a large variation in elevation and unmatched biodiversity in the Asheville area, that long color season extends from late September (at the highest locations like Grandfather Mountain and Mount Mitchell) to early November (lower elevation spots like Chimney Rock State Park).
Throughout the season, see our guide to fall in Asheville for weekly color reports, a fall color map and leaf schedule, and interactive 360-degree views showing where to find the most colorful fall leaves.
In 2018, Asheville offers you new ways to experience fall including the "oldest" new hotel in Asheville, restaurant openings by four James Beard chefs, falconry at Biltmore and new gin, saké and cider tasting rooms.
2018 Fall Foliage Report: Conditions are Favorable for a Colorful Asheville, N.C. Fall Season
A warm and wet 2018 has biologists and fall color experts reporting that the Blue Ridge is well-positioned for a colorful autumn with plenty of healthy leaves and no drought.
“The idea that heavy spring or summer rain dilutes fall color is false,” said Dr. Howard S. Neufeld, professor of biology and “fall color guy” at Appalachian State University. “The trees along the Blue Ridge won’t be stressed heading into September.”
“September is the key time frame that determines the vibrancy of fall color,” said Dr. Beverly Collins, a biology professor and fall foliage forecaster at Western Carolina University. “Sunny days and cool nights are what create a beautiful fall show across the Blue Ridge.”
With the area primed for a long and healthy fall color season, Asheville, N.C. offers a slate of new adventures.
What's New For Fall 2018 in Asheville
Adventures and Tours:
- The FEI World Equestrian Games, the largest sporting event in the United States in 2018, takes place in nearby Tryon (45 minutes southeast of Asheville) September 11-23. The games include competitions such as jumping, dressage, endurance, vaulting and reining. More info.
- NEW Outdoor Adventures at Biltmore this fall: Ride the remote trails and roads of America’s Largest Home via electric recumbent tricycle on the Outrider Tour, experience the thrill of a raptor flying to your hand with a new falconry offering or fly fish from a kayak.
- A museum illuminating the legend of iconoclastic Black Mountain College (1933-1957) moves to the heart of downtown Asheville this September. Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center will reopen along the greenery and Art Deco architecture of Pack Square Park.
- Many NEW tours have debuted for fall:
- The Art & Agriculture Tour -- a collaboration between Art Connections and Asheville Farm to Table Tours that visits local artists and farms in one afternoon.
- The Family Fun Detour scavenger hunt -- exploring the local culinary and makers scene, by new company Asheville Detours.
- Asheville Rooftop Bar Tours -- offering a bird’s-eye view from some of the city’s newest scenic venues.
- Asheville Food Tour’s West Asheville Tour -- focusing on a hip, expanding culinary community.
- Dog City Tour -- Sit, stay and explore starting at Asheville’s Dog Welcome Center (the first of its kind in the country) with stops at local shops and breweries catering to pups, plus a special dining experience for people and their canine companions.
- The Western North Carolina Nature Center’s Prehistoric Appalachia Project comes to life with a new red panda exhibit. An ancient ancestor of the endangered animal, the Bristol’s Panda, was once prevalent in the region. The first red panda arrives late this fall and the center will eventually host a breeding pair.
- Five-time James Beard semifinalist Chef John Fleer’s newest venture Iron & Clay will pay homage to its historic Eagle Street neighborhood known as “The Block” and the often-overlooked contributions of African-American cooks to Appalachian and Southern food. Fleer is a supporter and partner of the local Green Opportunities Kitchen Ready Program, helping trainees overcome employment barriers and infusing diversity and cultural identities into the culinary scene.
- “Oldest” New Hotel in Asheville: The restaurant opens this fall inside the NEW Asheville Foundry Hotel, part of Hilton’s Curio Collection, in the city’s historical African-American business district. These Eagle Street buildings were also once home to the foundry that forged the steel for Biltmore and many other iconic Asheville buildings. Hood Huggers International will offer special tours for hotel guests highlighting food and entertainment central to The Block and local historic sites, including the YMI Cultural Center, opened in 1893 to provide social, cultural and business opportunities for the African-American construction workers building Biltmore Estate.
- More James Beard Chef News:
- Coming off the honor of having Food & Wine name Cúrate as one of the “40 Most Important Restaurants of the Past 40 Years,” Chef Katie Button will open Button & Co. Bagels, an Appalachian-inspired bagel and sandwich shop, beneath her Asheville small-plates restaurant, Nightbell.
- Burial Beer Co. has joined forces with Brian Canipelli, chef and owner of Cucina 24, for a new food menu focusing on creative, seasonal dishes and elevated bar food – think gruyere grilled cheese served French-dip-style. Canipelli will also oversee the restaurant at Forestry Camp, Burial’s soon-to-open second location set in historical buildings that once housed members of the New Deal-era Civilian Conservation Corps.
- Asheville’s first James Beard semifinalist and a godfather of the city’s food scene, Chef Jacob Sessoms reopens his beloved Montford neighborhood diner with a new name, healthier concept and a few old favorites.
- Tupelo Honey Café’s iconic flagship location in downtown Asheville has opened a new bar that adds more seating space to this beloved Southern favorite, as well as a new food and drink menu that includes the chain’s famous honey-dusted fried chicken served eight different ways.
- Head to West Asheville for Beer: One World Brewery’s recent expansion to West Asheville has upped the neighborhood’s count to eight of Asheville’s 33 breweries. Drastically different from the brewery’s downtown underground location, the West Asheville outpost is open with a spaceship bar and a backyard for live music and yoga. Check out fall offerings like the Nectar of the Gourds Pumpkin Ale, Cinnamon Coffee Stout and Blackberry Alt Bier.
- TIP: Also visit the new Nantahala Brewing taproom and restaurant this fall in West Asheville. Headquartered in nearby Bryson City, the brewery is known for its App Trail Extra Pale Ale and seasonals based on the dam releases of local rivers.
- Wood-Fired Beer? Recently opened Brouwerïj Cursus Kĕmē honors historic brewing traditions with custom-made equipment including a wooden mash tun and a wood-fired brew kettle. The unusual name pulls from multiple sources: Flemish, Latin and the historic mysteries related to brewing, while the beer garden and brewery was originally an old tractor-trailer repair shop.
- Grand Cru Luxury Beer Tour (with Chauffeur): Wicked Weed Brewing is now offering an afternoon tour that includes behind-the-scenes experiences at all four Asheville-area facilities. The Grand Cru Experience is a chauffeured tour that offers demonstrations of the brewing process, generous samples and tastings of rare batches poured straight from the barrels.
The Beverage Scene:
- Recently celebrating five years, Ben’s Tune-Up is focusing on its special American saké, hiring brewer Patrick Shearer, formerly of the famed Saké One in Portland, Ore., and opening a saké tasting room.
- Asheville cider powerhouse, Urban Orchard, with more than 80 cider styles in its first four years of operation, is expanding to a second location set to open this September. The new space will double production overnight, feature 30 taps and serve up an Old Europe vibe.
- Plēb Urban Winery, set in the River Arts District’s street-art-covered Foundation buildings, is not a typical winery. The 10,000-square-foot space is a tasting room and a fermentation laboratory where winemakers experiment with what grows locally, working almost exclusively with North Carolina farmers, to make white, rosé, red and sparkling wines. District Wine Bar also recently opened nearby among the artist studios.
- Part of Asheville’s recent craft-spirit boom, The Chemist, is a South Slope gin distillery with a tasting room outfitted as a Prohibition-era apothecary. With plans to eventually make rye whiskey and other products, the distillery’s gin has flavor profiles riffing off local Appalachian medicinal herbs and foods. An adjoining private cocktail bar, Antidote, opens this fall.
- Beer & Cider Spirits: The Chemist’s bierbrand collaboration with Burial Beer Co. will be unveiled Nov. 3 at Burial’s Burnpile event. With origins in Germany and a relatively new concept in the United States, this spirit-beer collaboration is unique in that the beer used is fully finished, it is made with corn in the mash bill and aged in former bourbon barrels. Chemist Eau De Vie, an apple brandy, is from the distillery’s current collaboration with cidermaker Urban Orchard.
- Set in the rolling mountain landscape of nearby Leicester, Addison Farms Vineyard now offers elevated tastings with select wines paired with local charcuterie and cheese. TIP: Sample Alchemy Herbal Wine, made on-site by fermenting honey with a blend of herbs and spices meant to restore and invigorate systems in the body.
- Asheville Tea Company (with a Tea CSA, Cooking with Tea classes and products used in local spa treatments) has opened a pop-in shop with Asheville Goods in West Asheville. Known for varieties like Mountain Mint, Echinacea Elderflower and Asheville Grey, owner Jessie Dean is using local herbs and plants like the yaupon, a wild-crafted Southeastern plant good for making spring tonics.
Photo Credits: Top photo and fall color photo near Looking Glass Rock by Jason Tarr. Equestrian photo courtesy of World Equestrian Games. Rooftop, Urban Orchard and Addison Farms Vineyard photos by Jared Kay. John Fleer photo by Cole Rian. Tupelo Honey photo by Emily Chaplin. Wicked Weed photo by Art Meripol.