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Fall is here! In Western North Carolina (WNC) that means it’s leaf peeping season. Nature’s tapestry changes first in the higher elevations like Mount Mitchell before steadily making its way into the valleys. This year’s color forecast from Michael Denslow and Howard Neufeld at Appalachian State University predicts the highest elevations are currently at peak color with the season extending into the second week in November.

Fall in WNC

It’s leaf peeping season in WNC!

There are many iconic drives to view all of the colors and here are a couple of our suggestions starting with the earliest to the latest timing: 

Mount Mitchell Scenic Byway

Starting at the top of Mt. Mitchell, drive 52 miles among the peaks and valleys of Yancey and Madison counties, through the Toe River Valley and Burnsville. This area is a mecca for artists with many galleries and artist studios. Along the drive, pass 46 Western NC Quilt Trails blocks. 

Cherohala Skyway

Lots of scenic overlooks on North Carolina’s most expensive highway that took 34 years to build! You wind up and over 5,400-foot mountains for 15 miles, from Robbinsville through the Nantahala National Forest and descending another 21 miles into the Cherokee National Forest of Tennessee. This 36-mile National Scenic Byway shows little evidence of civilization, so make sure to prepare and pack accordingly.

Visit for custom driving maps.

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