As the Blue Ridge Mountains begin to burst with a cacophony of fall color, Grandfather Mountain is the optimum location for leaf-lookers to see the brilliant change from one of the best leaf-looking destinations in the South.
Grandfather Mountain is home to myriad species of plants and hardwood trees that range from pumpkin-colored beech trees to blood-red sourwoods and rusty red oaks.
For a surefire glimpse of the autumnal brilliance, leaf-lookers can partake in Grandfather’s Fall Color Ramble, a series of guided walks through the mountain’s most colorful locations. These easy going rambles, led by members of the park’s naturalist staff, give guests an opportunity to learn more about color change and explore the species of plants and trees native to Grandfather Mountain.
Participants will become more familiar with tree identification and will be able to ask questions about the annual color-changing phenomenon.
“Our goal is to inspire inquiry,” said Amy Renfranz, director of education and natural resources for the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, the nonprofit organization that owns and operates the park. “During the ramble, we want our guests to explore more and learn more, so they can fully appreciate the beauty they’re seeing.”
From Oct. 1 to 11, guests can enjoy 20-minute guided walks that highlight Grandfather Mountain’s fall colors. The walks culminate on from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Oct. 12, as guests can meet the park’s naturalists at the Nature Museum to obtain a map and information on where to find the most beautiful fall color. Plus, special programming throughout the day will allow families to explore the natural phenomenon.
“If you’re interested in learning about the natural phenomenon of fall colors and the changing of leaves, you’re in luck,” Renfranz said. “The ramble will help bring to light why fall color is such a spectacular time of year.”
Those unable to attend the ramble needn’t worry, though. All throughout October and possibly beyond, the mountain will offer an ample display of fall color — even after the local leaves have peaked.
“You’re essentially able to see the entire season unfold before your eyes,” said Frank Ruggiero, director of marketing and communications for the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation. “Autumn always look spectacular from a mile high.”
In addition to the programs offered inside the park in October, fresh fall color photos are posted daily throughout the month on the mountain’s website and social media, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Across the state of North Carolina, explaining where one lives locally in proximity to Grandfather Mountain is a surefire way for inquirers to pinpoint what part of the world you are from.
Throughout the years, Grandfather has always been a point of reference and one of the state and region’s most precious and sought-after attractions.
The great spectacle of Grandfather’s landscape, joined with the chance to come face to face with the fascinating native animals of the Blue Ridge region, is a one-of-a-kind experience.
Although Grandfather Mountain is always a great four-season destination for families or outdoor enthusiasts, the mountain always seems to beckon greatest with its splendor of color during autumn. During the fall season, the staff of Grandfather Mountain offers special programming and events that highlight the mountain’s fall features, including its dynamic palette of reds, oranges, yellows and browns that signal the changing of seasons and cooling of climate.
Grandfather Mountain is considered one of the greatest destinations from which to view fall colors due to its amazing diversity of plant life on the mountain. As the climate cools, chlorophyll starts to fade from the leaves, allowing the yellow and red pigments that lay beneath the chlorophyll to start showing through. Each of the various species of trees has a subtly different shade of pigment beneath the green, resulting in the range of colors that paints the landscape.
One of the reasons that Grandfather’s colors are so magnificent is the diversity of hardwood trees, which tend to produce the most vibrant colors. Yellow cottonwoods, golden poplar, pumpkin-colored beeches, orange sugar maples, red sourwoods, rusty red oaks, crimson huckleberries, wine-colored sweetgums and purple dogwoods all create vivid contrast against the stark, stony face of the mountain.
While the fall leaf season lasts only a few weeks throughout the majority of the region, Grandfather’s elevation relative to the surrounding terrain makes it an ideal vantage point to view the changing leaves throughout the entire season. Throughout the season, the view from Grandfather’s peak will reveal the fall colors’ gradual descent from the mountaintops down the slopes and into the valleys and out into the lower elevations to the east.