Peak Fall Color Weeks and Weekends are Here…
The highways and byways of each mountain community that also serves as a home to the sixteen ski resorts of the Southeast and mid-Atlantic were crowded this weekend with “leaf peepers”, “leaf gawkers”, or whatever term you favor for those of us who love the annual trek to our favorite mountains to view the spectacular Autumn color.
My wife and I moved to Seven Devils, North Carolina from Columbia, South Carolina on October 26th of 1990. Fall color had come in a bit late that year and on this particular move-in day the roads were wet and covered with a patchwork of fall leaves that seemed to include every color under the sun. I had always shared that Autumn is my favorite time of year – and that was even before seeing the kind of awe-inspiring display that nature puts on in the mountains. I remember stepping out onto the huge front porch of the long term rental we had acquired on Devil’s Lake Road and actually praying that no matter how long I was blessed to live in the mountains – that I would never lose that feeling that I had in that moment, that first Autumn day in the High Country.
Every Autumn season since, nature never disappoints. The leaves begin to turn in September – first with the Sugar Maples – and then a myriad of flowers join in like Goldenrod, White Aster, Ironweed and more. Then seemingly a couple of weeks pass where nothing much seems to happen. As if perfectly timed, we get a burst of really cold nights, where temps dive down into the low 30s and then seemingly in a blink – Fall Color manifests itself.
This Autumn has been no different.
I have paid attention to fall-color-reports from up and down the east coast and every one of them have reported good color bursting through above 4000′ in elevation. As of yesterday, SOME of the highest elevations were already slightly PAST peak – but all in all, peak color season is probably going to hit over the NEXT 5-7 days – landing within that (usual) October 12-15th timeframe – with a few exceptions.
Remember that peak color has EVERYTHING to do with elevation, so even the highest elevations, like at the top of Beech, Sugar, Snowshoe, Canaan Valley, etc. might have some areas past peak, but also a lot of good color can still be found by driving around a couple of curves and down in elevation.
Editor’s Note: I don’t want to offend any photographer, fall-leaf reporter or ski area with this comment, but unlike MANY of those that I have monitored this season – NONE of the videos or photos shared in this report have been enhanced in anyway. ALSO, while this post is long – you’ll want to scroll to some of the Sugar Mountain videos, etc.
While still gorgeous and rustic, here is a shot of Beech showing color being PAST peak on October 9th.
Your COMPLETE Southeast & mid-Atlantic Ski Area Fall-Color Report for October 9, 2022
Let’s take things Alphabetically today:
Appalachian Ski Mountain – North Carolina
Most of Blowing Rock, Hwy 321 towards Grandfather Mountain and Appalachian Ski Mountain itself is looking gorgeous right now. Brilliant colors are popping and we are close to peak color here and especially if you drive TO Grandfather Mountain. However, at App itself, there is still some green to change and we’re thinking that by mid this week and certainly by NEXT weekend (October 14th-16th) things will be a PEAK color.
Check out the photos and LIVE CAM – Appalachian Ski Mountain WebCam
Beech Mountain Resort – North Carolina
As I already shared, the HIGHEST elevations on top of Beech Mountain (above 4500′) are already past peak color. However, if you travel Beech Mountain Parkway from Banner Elk up, there is still plenty of vibrant color. The same is true if you want to drive past the ski resort on Beech Mountain Parkway and to Buckeye Lake and Pinnacle Ridge Road. Even the rustic orange and brown color mixes are beautiful and definitely worth a drive up if you are planning on visiting the Woolly Worm Festival in Banner Elk.
Another reason to drive UP to Beech is that views from up there STILL boast great color in the valley below as this awesome photo from Terilyn Bradbury shows from the chairlift on Saturday!
Bryce Resort – Virginia
I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY wish we could get a new webcam up at Bryce as that old one has lost all of its resolution. Peak color is still a week or perhaps two away, but there IS some color popping out. Bryce Resort celebrated their own version of Oktoberfest on Saturday, October 8th, and John Fischgrund shared, “Gorgeous out there today!” There will be plenty of Autumn color from now through October 20th here in beautiful Basye, VA.
Canaan Valley Resort – West Virginia
Hats off to Canaan Valley Resort marketing department as they’ve been doing perhaps the best job of sharing daily fall color reports for a couple of weeks now. We highly recommend a visit to their Facebook page.
A few of their photos are over-saturated – needlessly I might add – but the videos share some awesome color. Things are close to PEAK there right now, but according to reports they will probably see enhanced color by mid this week and next weekend – October 13-16.
Check out the LIVE CANAAN VALLEY RESORT WEBCAM
Cataloochee Ski Area – North Carolina
Be sure to check out the LIVE WEBCAM earlier in the day as there is plenty of fall-color to be seen and enjoyed in Maggie Valley and Cataloochee. Some of the higher elevations (like atop Cataloochee) still has a ways to go to peak color. However, as you can see below, things are looking quite beautiful. Locals tell us that peak color is probably one week away – and perfect for a mid-October drive to Maggie.
Massanutten Resort – Virginia
Massanutten Resort ALWAYS has something going on to celebrate EVERY season and Fall seasons are special here. We highly recommend visiting their Facebook page as they share a lot.
They just put the wraps on another awesome Fall Festival this weekend (Oct 8th) but there’s something happening every weekend and the fall colors are awesome right now. As you can see in the photos and captures shared below, there are places around the area where peak color has already hit (October 9th) and there are plenty of spots where peak colors are about 5-7 days away. A trip to Massanutten next weekend would be well-timed.
Check out the Massanutten Resort Webcam
Ober Gatlinburg – Tennessee
Ober Gatlinburg is located in the most traveled, National Park system in the United States – The Great Smoky Mountain National Park. The area offers dramatic mountain views that seem to indicate that elevations are higher than what they are. While there ARE some high elevations, like Mount Le Conte, where it is 6,593′. However, Ober itself, and much of the area is at 3,000′ and thus you can see a wide range of fall color going on right now.
Reports share that Ober is seeing SOME fall color right now, but peak color is probably still a week to ten days away. A trek to Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and the Great Smokies is always a favorite and any trip from NOW through October 20th will be rewarded with great color.
Crazy timing: As I was pulling captures of Gatlinburg I saw this smoke/cloud and wondered what it was from. (Gatlinburg has had too much in the way of bad luck with fires in the last decade.) However, according to news sources:
Gatlinburg Fire Department was dispatched to a structure fire at 6:39 a.m. on Sunday morning. Pigeon Forge Fire Department was also on scene. No injuries were reported and the fire was brought under control, but we are still seeing smoke from the Summit cam.
Gatlinburg Summit Cam – see the colors and the smoke
Omni Homestead – Hot Springs, Virginia
Omni is a special place and they’ve ALWAYS got something going on there. Their LIVE cam is down right now and we’ll make the connections to rectify that, but according to their Facebook page, Fall Color season is JUST beginning to hit the mountain resort. While Sugar Maples and some oaks are beginning to show color, peak leaf season is probably 7-14 days away. If this capture from October 7th is accurate – they may be further out than that!
While doing my outreach, I did receive this email about the Shenandoah Valley:
“Mike, according to most of the weather forecasts and experts, it appears that we will be experiencing peak fall color mid-to-late October through early November. That bodes well for those of us who can’t get enough fall color. Hit up the higher elevations of North Carolina and West Virginia NOW, and then plan another getaway around the first of November for the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia!
Snowshoe Mountain Resort – West Virginia
We don’t know what’s happening with Snowshoe’s LIVE cams (we share them, we don’t host these), however, according to their Facebook page PEAK FALL COLORS HAVE ARRIVED October 7-9th. We checked their website as well and the Basin, Skidder and Silver Creek cams were all down. The boathouse cam is fixed/static at the base and does show some color.
Here is a nice video that Snowshoe published today:
Sugar Mountain Resort – North Carolina
This report on Sugar Mountain is going to LOOK like we have heavily weighted the reporting and imagery for Sugar. That may be true, but only because I tend to always attend the Sugar Mountain Oktoberfest annually. I take in the crafts (spent around $2k yesterday!), and we do the chairlift ride to the top AND we partake in more than a few brews, some knockwurst and more.
I and twelve of my office crew enjoyed a team-building day at Sugar Mountain Golf Course on Friday, as well as runs down the Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster. We flew the drone – thanks to the approval of the Sugar Mountain Town Hall and captured these amazing photos and videos.
By the way – the fall colors are AT PEAK around most of the higher elevations of Sugar Mountain and Banner Elk. However, there is still PLENTY of green trees, which means that some of the lower locations around Banner Elk, Boone, Valle Crucis and High Country will enjoy peak colors for another week or so. The Woolly Worm visitors will enjoy the colors.
I will share some photo and video compilations in a day or two, but for NOW, here’s a tease:
The 5K version of the video MAY still be processing, but check out some of the color as we turn the drone toward Sugar Mountain Ski Resort.
Timberline Resort – West Virginia
Timberline’s crew does a nice job of marketing their mountain and keeping fans informed. I highly recommend visiting their Facebook page.
Timberline and fans are reporting the PEAK color has hit their mountain October 7-9. However, without question most of that color can be enjoyed for another 7-14 days.
Here’s a nice video that they shared:
Wintergreen Resort – Virginia
Autumn IS bursting out all over Wintergreen Resort. Depending on where you are in the area, things are anywhere from 7-14 days away from PEAK color. With 27° temps hitting this morning, fall color will peak quickly.
Check out the Wintergreen Resort Webcam
Winterplace Resort – West Virginia
Let’s talk fall-color first. While things have yet to hit peak color, there IS a lot of color bursting out all over the ski resort and Ghent, WV. They enjoyed a good crowd of leaf lookers this weekend and we think that PEAK color will hit from mid-week to the weekend – October 13-20th.
For MORE of what’s happening at Winterplace – check out:
Also HERE is a link to the newest LIVE WEBCAM at Winterplace!
Wisp Resort – Maryland
Peak Fall Color is probably still 7-10 days away here at the Garrett County, Maryland ski resort and community. There is a LOT of color that can be enjoyed currently as you can see via the LIVE CAM, but there’s still a lot of color to come in. We’re thinking PEAK color will be around October 15th…but really anytime from NOW through the end of the month should be gorgeous up there.
Wisp just put the wraps on their own Oktoberfest yesterday. Check out this video.
That will do it for today. Whew. We will provide more photos, videos and leaf reports over the upcoming week. Be sure to check back often.
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