The amber sunlight came streaming through the waning trees, hitting my face with a staccato rhythm.
As we drove a 60-odd mile stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway between Roanoke and Meadows of Dan, Virginia, the sun felt closer than normal, the shadows more defined… a reminder that autumn has nearly come to a close.
This time of year — the first weekend of November — is typically past prime leave-spotting season on this part of the parkway, which spans nearly 470 picturesque miles from North Carolina’s Smoky Mountains to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. But this year’s late fall warmth kept the leaves vivid just long enough for us to enjoy them.
On this drive, named by Lonely Planet as of the top 10 scenic drives in the US, we were treated to an endless display of trees, all displaying a palette of bold harvest tones: persimmon, golden rod, cranberry. But mostly fiery yellows… at times, when the amber sun hit it just right, it seemed as though all the treetops were ablaze with flames.
Even more than the leaves, I was surprised to find that the parkway is more than just endless rows of trees and forests. It’s a journey through Virginia’s past, where each curve of the road unveils something new: from mountaintops with views of rolling hills, to farmland sprinkled with white-topped silos and neatly rolled bails of hay, to small graveyards that looks like they’ve been there, untouched, for generations.
For the entire route, I was overcome by the beauty of the nature and local culture that surrounded us.
Here are some of my favorite pictures from the journey. (You can find a map of our trip here.)