The High Country is a very different place in the autumn, as the vibrant green recedes and in comes a wash of oranges, yellows and reds. What was once a warm, verdant landscape is annual replaced by a fiery palette that draws eyes from far and wide.

There are many reasons for people to visit the High Country and leaf season has become a top draw for many.

While Mother Nature may be painting a beautiful landscape to put on display, she can also be the one who ruins it. The timing is never a perfect date, varying from year to year depending on the weather leading up to autumn.

Too much rain in a given year can dampen the leaves or simply knock them off, turning crisp reds into soggy shades of purple. For seasonal updates, visit www.highcountrync.com and the region’s tourism information center, High Country Host at www.highcountryhost.com/home.

Then there is the wind, especially potent in the mountains. Strong gales can knock leaves clean off the branches, and the orange hues do not look as special lying in the road.

When planning a trip to look at leaves, there are many spots in the High Country that give excellent views while giving the option for an adventure in nature.

Elk Knob State Park features a two-mile hike, providing some vigorous activity surrounded by changing leaves.

If a drive is more your style, head onto the famous Blue Ridge Parkway, which has multiple access points in Watauga, Ashe and Avery County. The historic road features dozens of stops, each with a spectacular view of the surrounding area.

One of the stops on the parkway is Doughton Park. Located in Traphill, it is usually not as crowded as some other spots can be and features a hiking trail to go with it.

One of the many famous geographic features of the High Country is also a great place to see the leaves and explore the nature they paint. Grandfather Mountain and the state park surrounding it house some of the most beautiful nature in the state, and it is a must-visit for any High Country trip.

A trip up to the swinging bridge will give plenty of incredible views, with the top offering miles of sightlines.

Of course, one of the beautiful things about the fall foliage is that it is everywhere in the area. While a day-trip is a memorable experience for all involved, the High Country will not let any visitors miss out on the sights of a lifetime.

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