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This fall color season is turning out to be one of the best in years! A look at foliage really emphasizes our state's diverse biogeography. Starting in the high mountain areas of southwestern Virginia, many areas have lost about half their leaves, with the rusty browns of oaks predominating among patches of remaining gold and red tones. As you travel north and east, and lower in elevation, trees are reaching their peak coloration. These areas include most of the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Shenandoah Valley. This coming weekend should provide the year's best foliage viewing in those areas.
The Piedmont ranges from 50% to patchy, with great variety in color. Most notable are the hickories' brilliant gold tones, and the red maples' grading from yellow to orange to red. The predominant oaks lend subtlety to the palette, with their maroon to rich brown tones.
Eastern Virginia's trees are waving a few colorful leaves or branches, but the the overall color there is still green. Watch for changes soon in eastern oaks, maples, and sweet gums.
As the October colors kindle, so too can wildfires. For information about the fall wildfire season and safe disposal of fallen leaves, please visit www.dof.virginia.gov.
If you come to Shenandoah National Park anytime in the next week, you might be surprised by how the colors of fall in the Blue Ridge help bring a sense of accord – with nature, with the world, with yourself. Gazing out onto hillsides coated in the splendid golds, oranges, and scarlets of autumn is good for the blood pressure, a great stress reliever, a bringer of peace of mind.
Although it might seem like an easy thing to do, predicting a fall color peak is almost impossible – at least it’s impossible to do expertly or well. Colors peak in different places – different elevations, different temperatures, different forest types – at different times. When the color is at peak at mile 42 along Skyline Drive, around Stony Man, it might still be very green at mile 10, at Compton Gap. A hillside that faces north, like the one you can see from Eaton Hollow Overlook at mile 70.3, can still be vivid green, even as the southwest-facing hillside directly across from it is flocked with the colors of a Thanksgiving Day buffet table. The color at Hawksbill, in the park’s highest elevation, will peak long before that at Low Gap in the north district. Like meringue swirled and spun with a pie-maker’s spatula and popped into a blazing hot oven, high points color first. Read More
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