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Fall Colors on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Beautiful fall leaves

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.)

Blue Ridge Parkway sign vertical

Blue Ridge Parkway- old bridge 3

Blue Ridge Parkway- taking photos

Blue Ridge Parkway- overlook 3

Blue Ridge Treetops

Mabry Mill 3

Mabry Mill, at mile post 176, is a restored watermill and the most photographed landmarks on the parkway.

Blue Ridge Parkway sign 3

At the end of the weekend, as we went to drive the return route, we noticed that the leaves in Meadows of Dan had started to disappear… we caught it just in time!

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11 Responses to Fall Colors on the Blue Ridge Parkway

  1. Christina S. November 12, 2013 at 5:53 pm #

    WOW – these are gorgeous! I need to get down to that area of the country more often.

  2. InnkeeperVA November 13, 2013 at 1:23 pm #

    If you do wish to travel America’s Favorite Road in the fall or any season (Spring is almost as pretty with new life bursting forth all over) please consider starting in Rocky Mount, VA which is the gateway to the Crooked Road: Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail. The Claiborne House B&B is within walking distance to the new Harvester Performance Hall, and centrally located for plenty of down home wing-dings in Franklin County.

    The Blue Ridge Institute is the next stop on this music trail…and up into Floyd VA after crossing The Blue Ridge Parkway.

    See our page for hikes and fall on our website for the Claiborne House B&B of Virginia. ISN’T IT TIME FOR A BLUE RIDGE DAY Y’ALL? Hope to see you soon…we’ll keep the porch light on!

    • Christina Ricchiuti November 19, 2013 at 8:34 pm #

      I do wish I would have planned a little more time… next time! The small bit of the Crooked Road I was able to explore was so special. I’ll definitely be back again. Plus, your B&B looks lovely. I’d like to spend an evening on your porch, rocking away and slowing things down!

  3. Alison Sandilands November 19, 2013 at 10:26 am #

    I love Autumn colours. This looks like a beautiful drive.

    • Christina Ricchiuti November 19, 2013 at 8:26 pm #

      Thanks, Alison! It was one of the prettiest autumn’s I’ve seen in awhile. Lots of vivid colors this year.

  4. Marine@Green Global Travel December 10, 2013 at 3:22 am #

    I understand why Lonely Planet raked it one of the top 10 scenic drives in the US. It time to roll down the car windows and appreciate the journey! Thanks for sharing this Christina

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