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Great Smoky Mountains National Park Celebrates 75 Years Ablaze in Autumn Color



Longtime natives of the Asheville area in the Blue Ridge Mountains, known for its extended fall foliage season, will tell you that the best color displays come later -- toward the end of October. Celebrating the 75th anniversaries of Smoky Mountains National Park in 2009 and Blue Ridge Parkway in 2010, mountain families like Steve Woody's were moved from their homesteads in the 1930s for the creation of the park and are proud of the natural legacy they have left to us all.

Great Smoky Mountains. Photo by Mike Burton.

Great Smoky Mountains. Photo by Mike Burton.

Mountain Heritage Remembered

"If you talk to families from the area, there's a peace about the creation of Smoky Mountains National Park," says Woody, whose family was moved from their land in Cataloochee in Western North Carolina. "There was great sacrifice. They had to move from their forbearers' homesteads and livelihoods. But, today they wonder, had the Park not come, what would have happened to the land? You just have to look at other places to get an idea. Now, it is a pristine and wooded place that everyone can enjoy."

PBS Presents "America's Best Idea"

Stories like those of the Woody family are the kind that famed filmmaker Ken Burns had in mind when he began his latest documentary The National Parks: America's Best Idea, a six-part series coming to PBS this fall, beginning September 27. The documentary, regional anniversary celebrations and predictions of a healthy leaf season round-out an opportune time to appreciate and experience our natural history in full autumn glory.

Fall Color Predictions

"Every year is a good year for autumn color, depending on where you are in Western North Carolina. We finally had a normal rainfall year. As of September 1, the Asheville airport reports only one inch above 'normal' precipitation. With good growth on the trees, we have all the foliage we need for great fall color. As long as autumn develops normally with cool nights and dry days -- and October is typically one of our driest months -- it should be a colorful season." -- Biltmore Director of Horticulture, Parker Andes

"Drought-stressed trees show more color and turn, more or less, simultaneously. So, our wetter year could make the colors appear more gradually. We don't know what the weather will bring, but fronts that give us cold nights and bright sunny days will start the process in a couple weeks at high elevations, which will be vibrant very soon, and continue down to the low elevations. The later color from oaks and hickories will be nice at the end of October and early November." -- University of North Carolina Asheville Associate Professor of Biology, David Clarke

"Compared to when I was growing up, I think it tends to stay warmer and we see the color later in the season. This was a more typical summer, like the kind I remember as a kid... cooler and wetter." --Steve Woody, Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Gateway City Getaway

Located just outside Great Smoky Mountains National Park and along the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Asheville area is steeped in natural history and full of fall adventures. Extreme elevation variations and hundreds of deciduous tree species (the largest number in North America) combine to give Western North Carolina one of most extended and colorful leaf seasons in the country.

Online Resources

Fall Value Packages

Photo by Mike Burton


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  2. Top 10 Holiday Outings in Asheville, North Carolina for 2009
  3. Experience Michigan’s Fall Color Season
  4. Learn To Surf This Winter In The Mountains of Tennessee
  5. Win The Ultimate Family Road Trip With Virginia’s Blue Ridge Parkway Sweepstakes

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