Goldenrod heralds fall near Marys Rock Tunnel, near mile 32
“Autumn is the mellower season, and what we lose in flowers we more than gain in fruits.” – Samuel Butler
Autumn is here now, and things are getting mellow in Shenandoah National Park.
The biggest change is at Big Meadows. Big Meadows’ higher elevation makes it one of the first places autumn transforms, and she has – right on schedule – activated her alchemy in the Meadow again this year. The shrubs and grasses that were the green of summer last week are just beginning to turn green-gold and yellow-green, brushing the Meadow the citrusy tones of a big, shallow bowl of lemons and limes. Along Skyline Drive you’ll see polka-dots of color – a spot of apple-red here, a speck of ripe tangerine there – among the mostly still-verdant trees and shrubs. But on the ground, where the flora grows closer to the earth, you can see for sure that fall has not forgotten Shenandoah; the goldenrods and asters have splashed their vivid lemon and purple tones generously – like a late-year spring – and summer flowers like black-eyed Susans and coreopsis that bloomed for you already in July and August provide a solemn but lovely golden-brown drop cloth for goldenrods’ and asters’ just-now-coming-into-their-own ludicrous hues.
As you gaze out from overlooks along Skyline Drive and summits in the Park’s backcountry, you’ll see sparse polka-dotting that mimics that along roadsides – freckles of peach-toned beeches and tomato-red maples, just here, just there. But the mountainsides are still mostly the apt forest green and eponymous navy-green of summer in this part of the Blue Ridge.
There’s one vine, though – Virginia creeper – that seems to want to accommodate the autumn-craving visitor. Virginia creeper doesn’t creep up tree trunks at all – it rushes, like an energetic child sprinting up a spiral staircase – and where you see the vine this week in Shenandoah, it does not hide its cherry-red self. It practically shouts for your attention from trunks of ash trees, hickories, and oaks. You don’t even have to get out of your car; Virginia creeper puts on its show right beside the road.
Like Virginia creeper, autumn rushes her arrival. Each day she pulls more color from her palette and dabs it on throughout Shenandoah. Come see her artistry for yourself, as soon as you can.
The fall color report will be updated next Friday, September 30, 2016. Check back to see how charmingly fall is making her way through Shenandoah.
Plan a Shenandoah National Park Fall Getaway:
Last Updated: 09/26/2016
Find out what's going on around Virginia. Subscribe to the Virginia eNewsletter.
PLEASE SELECT AS MANY OPTIONS AS YOU ARE INTERESTED IN.