Nature’s Autumn Display is Within Easy Distance of Main Street
The professional fall color prognosticators are predicting an average season upcoming in Western North Carolina. But there’s nothing average about fall color in, around and within short travel distance of Blowing Rock. The elevation differences and biodiversity on display nearby offer viewing experiences that make the High Country a special place to be when the leaves turn.
Amanda Lugenbell at the Blowing Rock TDA knows that better than almost anyone: She’s been finding and photographing the best of fall color since 2009 for the TDA’s daily foliage reports, which evolved into the Blowing Rock Fall Color Blog in 2011. The blog focuses on tracking fall color as it progresses through local elevations.
“From nearby Grandfather Mountain (over a mile high) to the Globe area (elevation 1870 ft.), the elevation variation is drastic in a fairly small area,” Lugenbell said. “This section of the Blue Ridge Parkway is full of attractions and overlooks, and is more open and easier to drive than many sections.”
Lugenbell pointed out that Bass Lake and the miles of carriage trails at Cone Park are only a half-mile from Main Street, bringing largely undeveloped areas in close proximity to hotels, shops, and restaurants. “The meandering routes offer visitors the opportunity to immerse themselves in the quiet of nature and the blaze of fall color without even leaving town limits. So fall color might as well be called an amenity of Blowing Rock,” she said.
Adding their own endorsement, Tasting Table just listed Blowing Rock as one of the nine best small towns nationwide to visit this fall (tastingtable.com/travel/national/best-towns-fall-travel)
Dr. Howard Neufeld, professor of biology at Appalachian State University, aka the Fall Color Guy, said, ”There are over 130 species of trees in the Southern Appalachians, so we get quite a diversity of color. You’ll hear people say New England has the best fall color, but three species comprise most of their color – birch, beech and maple. We have dozens more species here, and the elevation range combined with the rich diversity of tree species allows us to have a long and diverse display of color.”
Beverly Collins, biology professor at Western Carolina University, agreed: “I’m predicting good color this year, with peak color between the second and third week in October, depending on elevation. Peak color in Western North Carolina has the longest season in the country, about eight weeks. In New England their peak only lasts one to two weeks. Because color starts at high elevation first and moves downhill, if you miss it in one place, you can follow it down the mountains.”
Quotes from Neufeld and Collins both first reported in the Asheville Citizen-Times.
Blowing Rock’s Fall Color Blog starts when the first hints of color appear or on the first day of fall, which is Friday, September 22. “If the color is thin at that time, we post one about every three days until it gets more consistent,” Lugenbell said. Find the fall color blog with images and activities at blowingrock.com/fall.
Visitors to Blowing Rock will find almost daily events and activities that add enjoyment to the scenic beauty of the surroundings and the charm of the town’s picturesque Main Street. For a full listing of events, go to blowingrock.com/events.