Experiencing the Blue Ridge Parkway Fall Foliage
LEAF-PEEPING ON THE BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY Fall Foliage
Autumn in Virginia is a spectacle of nature, with fall colors on brilliant display for over a month, starting with the higher elevations in early October and stretching into November in the valleys below. The Blue Ridge Parkway fall foliage is particularly memorable, showcasing Virginia’s nearly 100 varieties of trees, their vibrant hues combining to create tapestries of autumnal beauty.
Start by hiking the trails on our property, accessible right from your Blue Ridge Parkway cabin, where you’ll get your first look at the area’s magnificent autumn scenery. And within just a short drive of our Shenandoah Valley lodging, you have easy access to fall foliage at dozens of overlooks and breathtaking vistas, a trail to the Blue Ridge Parkway’s most scenic and largest waterfall, and spectacular views from Skyline Drive in nearby Shenandoah National Park.
A Timeline for Fall Colors Near Love Ridge
and Live Webcam Updates
Predicting when Virginia’s fall colors will peak is always a guessing game – many variables play a part, from the level of drought to current fall temperatures. In 2023, less rainfall means that drought-stressed trees have a shorter period when their colors are brightest, turning brown more quickly. And because daily temps are still warmer, the best window for leaf-viewing near Love Ridge will likely be from October 15-31 into early November. But in general, this handy Virginia fall foliage map shows the overall progression of fall colors across the state – the western third of Virginia peaks first, followed by the middle portion of the state – including Love Ridge and the Blue Ridge Parkway, and finally, the eastern seaboard.
Whether you head north or south from Love Ridge, the Blue Ridge Parkway fall views are awe-inspiring due to the variety of trees, ranging from sourwoods, poplars, and hickories to classics like maples and oak. Each tree variety peaks at a slightly different time, sometimes varying by a week or two, an intricate function of biology – as chlorophyll fades, it unmasks the colors beneath while trapped sugars in leaves break down under the bright autumn sunshine. One great way to keep tabs on up-to-date foliage is through various webcams in the area. From Wintergreen Resort’s webcam, you’ll see trees starting to change colors on the edges of their world-class ski runs. Meanwhile, the National Park Service Mountain View webcam will give you a sense of the current colors from Skyline Drive within Shenandoah National Park.
South to a Waterfall, North to Skyline Drive
Equally Spectacular Autumn Views in Both Directions
Start by heading south from Love Ridge on the Blue Ridge Parkway to Crabtree Falls, famously the highest waterfall east of the Mississippi River and one of our favorite hikes. The 2.5-mile loop is steep, with stairs built into the trail, so wear solid hiking or trail shoes – but the challenging ascent is well worth the effort once you get to the falls cascading over 60 feet above. It’s gorgeous during every season, but in the fall, you’ll get the added benefit of less humidity, fewer crowds, and autumn leaves en route, adding to the already serene setting. On the drive back to Love Ridge, pull over at the Big Spy Mountain Overlook – it offers incredible views and trees near here should hit their peak a bit earlier than other overlooks due to its slightly lower elevation (leaves generally peak first at higher elevations and gradually move down through lower elevations throughout October).
In the opposite direction, you’ll find some of the best leaf-gazing anywhere in the world within Shenandoah National Park. Skyline Drive – often referred to as “America’s Favorite Drive” and one of the most scenic roads in any of the national parks – cuts right through the middle of Shenandoah’s massive 200,000-acre expanse. Take the Blue Ridge Parkway 16 miles north of Love Ridge, where it meets Skyline Drive at the southern tip of the Shenandoah. In addition to being the actual starting point of the Blue Ridge Parkway, this section has more overlooks than just about any other stretch along the Parkway’s winding 469-mile path down through Virginia and North Carolina. Pull over at spots like Shenandoah Valley Viewpoint, which looks out over the basin below, blanketed with miles-wide swaths of leaves changing colors. Head into Shenandoah National Park (to save time, purchase your Shenandoah NPS pass online beforehand) on Skyline Drive, which has 75 overlooks of its own – several, like Calf Mountain and Sawmill Run, are within a few miles after entering the southern end of the park. If you’re in the mood for a hike, you can quickly jump on a portion of the Appalachian Trail at the Sawmill Run Overlook, as it connects from there to Turk Mountain.
Blue Ridge Parkway fall Events Near Love Ridge
Local Art, Fresh Apples, and More
October is full of fun events in towns near Love Ridge, like Waynesboro and Crozet, where everyone celebrates the arrival of autumn – it’s easy to wrap them into your leaf-peeping day trip(s).
Waynesboro, a neighboring town along the ridge and just 16 miles away, celebrates all things art, food, and music during the Fall Foliage Art Show. The festival celebrates its 51st year and takes place during the weekend of October 14-15, 2023. Downtown streets are closed to traffic as over 150 artists set up tents and exhibits ranging from painting and nature photography to glasswork, sculpture, and jewelry. Check out the art on display while listening to local musicians performing and grabbing tasty bites from various food vendors.
In nearby Crozet, just 30 miles away and easily incorporated into your day trip on Skyline Drive, take a detour to check out Henley’s Orchard and try some of their 25 varieties of apples fresh off the tree. In October, choose from apples like Rome, York (great for cooking and baking pies and crisps), Henley Gold (richly-flavored and perfect for eating or cider-making), and Winesap (known for its “spicy” bite). Few scenes are more fitting for an autumn afternoon than touring an apple orchard, tasting apple cider donuts, and sipping hard apple ciders as the sun sets, surrounded by the bright and vibrant colors of fall in every direction you look.
Stay with us in Love Ridge, where the best Blue Ridge Parkway fall foliage sightseeing is just a short hike or drive away!