Where to View 2012 Fall Colors: Scientists Target Western North Carolina

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I Love Asheville, N.C., in Spring and Can't Wait to See it with Fall Color

I Love Asheville, N.C., in Spring and Can't Wait to See it with Fall Color

Planning your 2012 vacation around the best place to view fall colors? Climate scientists have targeted Western North Carolina as the best bet for vibrant fall foliage.

As a Western New York transplant living in Southwest Florida, the thing I miss most about Northern living is fall. Specifically, I miss the leaves changing color as cooler temperatures ease in. But lucky me! I’ll be traveling to Asheville, N.C., later this September and fingers are crossed I’ll be able to enjoy some leaf peeping during my quick trip.

Science Used to Target Western North Carolina for Leaf Peeping

While most of the country experienced record-high temperatures, a scorching heat wave and drought conditions this summer, the Blue Ridge Mountains and Asheville has benefited from a wet weather pattern, putting it at the top of the optimum fall foliage viewing list.

One Part Rain…

“While much of the country continues to suffer through drought, including parts of the Northeast, … Western N.C. has enjoyed plentiful rainfall this year (but not too much!), setting us up for what should be a great fall color season,” said Pamela McCown, coordinator for the A-B Tech Institute for Climate Education.

“The ridge of high pressure that plagued much of the central U.S. … produced conditions here in Western N.C. that led to almost daily afternoon showers and thunderstorms. As a result, the trees are not stressed from lack of rain and should be ready to put on a beautiful display,” McCown said.

One Part Temperature…

“In terms of temperature, Western N.C. has experienced warmer-than-average conditions this summer, along with the rest of the nation,” said Jake Crouch, climate scientist at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville. “However, above-average rainfall has kept us out of the drought that is impacting nearly two-thirds of the contiguous United States. Conditions are favorable for healthy trees and, thus, a vibrant palette of fall colors, but the weeks ahead will be the deciding factor.”

“Other areas known for fall color, such as New England and the Great Lakes, have been dry this year with drought impacting a large percentage of the region. The hot and dry summer will have placed stress on the trees and could potentially dull the color display,” Crouch said.

Apply Heat and Cool for Vibrant Colors

Scientists have stated summer rains and temperatures are only part of the prediction formula. Late summer and early fall temperatures play an important role for optimal fall colors.

“The good news is that one of the key conditions is already in place because we’ve had a good growing year,” McCown said., “The next key step will be related to the temperatures as we move into late summer and early fall. Cool, crisp temperatures at night and sunny, warm days without significant rain or early freezes in late September and early October are important for the development of vibrant color.”

Fall Travel Tips for Visiting Asheville, N.C.

The Asheville Convention & Visitors Bureau offers fall travel tips to assist leaf peepers make the most of the autumn travel season.

Avoid the Red, Yellow & Gold Rush. Want tickets to the big fall color show? Accommodations fill up quickly during the popular fall travel season. Book early to avoid the rush. FallintheMountains.com and the Asheville Concierge can guide you to a suite with a view, a mountain cabin or a cozy B&B that fits your budget.

Concerned about Missing the Color Peak? Travelers are surprised to learn there isn’t one specific week to see peak fall colors. The North Carolina Mountains are unique. Extreme elevation variations and more than 100 species of leaf-shedding trees offer the longest and most colorful foliage season in the nation. From late September into early November, travelers can easily locate sweeping views of fall colors, especially if they follow expert advice…

Follow the Weekly Color Reports. To help visitors locate where the autumn color is peaking from week-to-week, the Asheville Convention & Visitors Bureau is working with park officials, biologists, climate experts and attractions around the region to compile weekly fall foliage reports for the North Carolina mountains at FallintheMountains.com. Asheville’s fall color experts will also be tweeting up-to-the-minute color updates, travel tips and travel deals at @FallColorHunter on Twitter and Facebook/Asheville.

I totally love the weekly fall foliage reports and will be checking them before my trip. Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @jenniferhuber for my adventures later this month.

Heading to Western North Carolina for leaf peeping, too? Enjoy a meal at one of these three tasty Asheville restaurants.

Author: Solo Travel Girl

Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led Jennifer Huber, aka: Solo Travel Girl, to a career path in tourism. She has worked in the tourism industry for more than 20 years including 10 years with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley and Everglades National Park. She currently lives in Southwest Florida, and maintains this travel blog with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely.

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1 Comment

  1. Eek – wish I would have known this! I booked a fall leaf tour for Seattle and Portland…hopefully we get SOME good viewing. Have fun!!

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