Posted on August 15, 2015

Plan Ahead: Fall Leaf Peeping in the NC Mountains

Of course, summer still has some fight left in it, but savvy North Carolina “leaf peepers” know that this is the time to select which B&B to call home base for viewing fall foliage in the North Carolina mountains.

Making reservations now means when the floor shows start in October into early November, you’ll have a front row seat.

Fall Leaf Color Forecast 2015

Our NC Bed and Breakfast innkeepers in the western part of the state hear some variation of this question all year round: “When is the best time to visit if we want to catch the colors at their peak?”

The answer depends on which part of NC you’re planning to visit. There are over 200 species of trees and their leaves begin to change to rich shades of red, orange and amber in mid-October in the higher elevations like Craggy Gardens and Grandfather Mountain. In the weeks.. to follow, the color cascade trickles down through the foothills and mountain valleys into early November.

Fun Distraction:  For an interesting insight into the science of how and why leaves change color, this is a great article.

Update 8/21/2015: WCU professor predicts a stunning 2015 fall season of color in the NC mountains. Article here.

NC Innkeepers Are Your Local Experts

Innkeepers are excellent sources of insider scoop on where to go for the best viewing of peak fall colors, so be sure to ask. Most folks pick a member inn where they spend evenings and wake up to enjoy amazing breakfasts. Then during the day, they head for the hills.

Some prefer driving tours (cars or motorbikes), others prefer hiking into the thick of it and we know of other visitors who swear there’s no better way to experience the changing fall mountain colors than by zipline!

What everyone knows is to bring a camera. It’s hard to take a bad picture of the fall foliage in all its glory. Here’s a video produced by Hummingbird Aerial Imaging to whet your appetite:

Now that most of the destination sites have social media, follow them. That will keep you updated on peak fall colors in the NC mountains and plan your itinerary accordingly.

Quick Links to Popular Vista Points


Great Smoky Mountains

Great Smoky Mountains National State Park
Website:     nps.gov/grsm/index.htm
Facebook:  facebook.com/GreatSmokyMountainsNPS
Twitter:       @GreatSmokyNPS

Clingmans Dome – half in NC and half in TN
Website:    clingmansdome.com
Twitter:       @Clingmansdome

Blue Ridge Parkway

Website:    nps.gov/blri/index.htm
Facebook:  facebook.com/BlueRidgeNPS
Twitter:       @BlueRidgeNPS

Chimney Rock Park
Website:    chimneyrockpark.com
Facebook:  facebook.com/ChimneyRockParkNC
Twitter:       @ChimneyRockPark

Grandfather Mountain 
Website:    grandfather.com
Facebook:  facebook.com/GrandfatherMtn
Twitter:       @grandfathermtn
–>  Don’t miss the Mile High Swinging Bridge

Mount Mitchell (highest point east of the Mississippi)
Website:    hikewnc.info/trailheads/mount-mitchell-state-park

Craggy Gardens — About 24 miles from Asheville
Website:    blueridgeheritage.com/attractions-destinations/craggy-gardens

Plan ahead and take your pick of a member NC Bed and Breakfast in the mountain region so you won’t miss the kaleidoscope of nature’s autumn beauty. Find an NC Bed and Breakfast Inn here. You will be richly rewarded.