Without a doubt, Autumn in the High Country can be summed up by two major attractions: spectacular leaves and Woolly Worms.
We always like to encourage guests to visit Avery County early and often in autumn, because fall color arrives earlier in Ocotber at our elevation than most people realize. Trees will begin to turn at the intersection of NC 105 and NC 184 (across the street from our Chamber welcome center) as early as the first weekend in October. Travelers will discover lots of turning trees along the Blue Ridge Parkway in the Grandfather Mountain area in early October as well.
The Annual Woolly Worm Festival always falls on the third weekend of October and typically coincides with the peak leaf-viewing weekend in the High Country. The Festival is held in the field in front of Banner Elk Elementary School. Woolly Bear caterpillars race for glory along their strings on the festival stage in hopes of becoming the champion of the festival. The champ's 13 brown and black stripes are then interpreted to predict the forecast for the coming 13 weeks of winter. For more information on the other aspects of the festival, visit our events page and click on the Woolly Worm Festival.
Breathtaking views of the fall colors can be found virtually anywhere in the county, but few can compare to the overwhelming character of Wiseman's view in the Linville Falls community. Take the Blue Ridge Parkway or Hwy. 221 South to Linville Falls, and then turn left on Hwy. 183 from 221 South. The entrance to Wiseman's view is less than a mile on the right.
For the most brilliant color you need to be looking for hillsides covered in maple trees. Trees in this species turn a range of colors from yellow to orange to crimson, depending on how much sunlight reaches each leaf after the green pigments begin to fade. Excellent locations for these bright color are beneath the Linn Cove Viaduct on the Blue Ridge Parkway (photo upper left) and at Sugar Mountain, a summit named for its forest full of sugar maples.
The hectic pace of summer slows markedly in the fall as the area prepares for the coming snows, but one of the last explosions of excitement before the Woolly Worm is the Avery County Agricultural and Horticultural Fair in mid-September. An old-fashioned county fair, the Avery A&H has all the midway rides, livestock and produce judging, and arts and crafts ribbons you could ask for. The Fair is held in the tiny community of Cranberry near the intersection of Hwy. 19-E and NC 194 between Newland and Elk Park.
We recommend that you have lodging reservations lined up in advance when visiting Avery County during the leaf-looking season. Please refer to the homepage of our website for lodging recommendations and the 2015 Vacation Guide.