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

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

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 opens in a new windowWestern 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 opens in a new windowAsheville 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. opens in a new windowFallintheMountains.com and the opens in a new windowAsheville 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 opens in a new windowweekly fall foliage reports for the North Carolina mountains at opens in a new windowFallintheMountains.com. Asheville’s fall color experts will also be tweeting up-to-the-minute color updates, travel tips and travel deals at opens in a new windowFacebook/Asheville.

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


Author: Solo Travel Girl Admin

Jennifer A. Huber is an award-winning travel and outdoor blogger and writer in Southwest Florida. Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led her to a career path in the tourism industry for more than 30 years. She spent a decade with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley, and Everglades National Parks. She founded the travel blog, SoloTravelGirl.com with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely. The unexpected death of her former husband in 2008 reminded her how short life is. His passing was a catalyst for sharing her experiences with the goal of inspiring and empowering others to travel solo. Jennifer holds a Travel Marketing Professional certification from the Southeast Tourism Society, is a certified food judge, member of the NASA Social community, and alum of the FBI Citizens Academy. When not traveling, she is either in the kitchen, practicing her photography skills, or road tripping with her dog, Radcliff.

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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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