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Fall in Asheville: Color Forecast 2023

While summer gently fades away, Asheville, North Carolina, prepares to unveil its annual masterpiece of nature: the breathtaking fall color leaf change. The biodiversity of tree species in the Blue Ridge Mountains ensures a visual symphony of crimson, gold, and amber hues, while variations in elevation grant leaf-peepers one of the longest fall color seasons in the nation.

Expert Forecasts: Local experts share their fall color predictions and favorite spots to witness nature’s vibrant display.

Warm weather could delay peak color this year, extending the overall leaf season.

“NOAA's long-range forecast predicts slightly warmer weather in the Southeast through November. Warmer temperatures, especially in the latter half of September, could delay peak color,” said Dr. Howie Neufeld, professor of plant eco-physiology at Appalachian State University. “If only a minor warming occurs, colors would be delayed 3-5 days. If more significant, it could be a week or two, depending on the magnitude of the warming.” Neufeld continues, “If it gets warm in the early fall, some trees will delay their color, but those cuing in mainly on day-length will continue to color up on schedule and the color season will become extended.”

Dr. Beverly Collins, former professor of biology at Western Carolina University, agrees. “If we return to more ‘normal’ cooler temperatures with moderate rainfall, colors should be vibrant, as they were last year. If it stays warm, fall color will be later and more spread out. This will result in a longer leaf season,” she said.

Current conditions are favorable for fall color.

In addition to day-length and temperature, factors such as precipitation and insects can influence the quality of fall color. In 2023, current conditions have been favorable, noted Neufeld. “We are not in a drought situation which means trees won’t be losing their leaves prematurely.” He added that moderate rain along with the absence of major tree diseases and insect infestations “point to a good fall color season.”

Fun Fact: While scientists know how trees turn red, the reason why remains a mystery. One theory suggests it’s a protective mechanism shielding leaves from intense light, while another proposes the red color acts as a deterrent to predators.

Venture beyond the popular areas while respecting nature.

Neufeld provides advice for those eager to experience the fall color transformation. He recommends getting outdoors early to avoid crowds and to plan weekday visits for a more serene experience. Exploring less popular areas and taking scenic drives beyond the iconic Blue Ridge Parkway is also advised. He emphasizes being prepared for weather changes and respecting nature while taking in the breathtaking scenery.

Explore peak color in Asheville – beyond the leaves!

A world of color awaits travelers to Asheville now through fall, In addition to nature’s symphony of hues, this season offers colorful art, lodging, culinary and festival experiences that invite visitors into painted landscapes and imagined worlds.

An artful feast, for all senses | Krafthouse: Forest of the New Trees is a new immersive art experience at the Center for Craft. The first-of-its-kind installation, created by local multidisciplinary artists, invites visitors into an imaginary realm, inspired by Appalachian craft traditions, indigenous wisdom, and the ancient wildness of the Blue Ridge Mountains

Sound and color take center stage | Amazing works of art come to life in Artrageous at the Wortham Center for the Performing Arts. This fusion of art, music, puppetry and dance has been described as “Picasso meets Blue Man Group”. Show runs on Sep. 23.

Sweet dreamscapes | Joining the River Arts District this fall is The Radical, a daring new boutique hotel and living art installation that breathes new life into a once abandoned building. The hotel’s richly layered design features original street art, both past and present. Now accepting reservations for stays beginning Oct. 8, 2023.

On the heels of The Radical, Lark Hotels and Hatteras Sky will also introduce an artful love letter to Asheville with the opening of Zelda Dearest, a 20-room boutique hotel inspired by the intoxicating style of Zelda Fitzgerald.

Other recent and upcoming luxury boutique openings include The Restoration Asheville, Blind Tiger Guest House and the Flat Iron Hotel.

A colorful palate | James Beard Award-winning restaurant group Chai Pani has debuted its fast-casual concept Botiwalla in West Asheville. Botiwalla is owner and chef Meherwan Irani’s homage to the colorful cafés and savory kabobs of the late-night Indian food scene.

Asheville’s “Lovely” tapestry | The Lovely Asheville Annual Fall Festival (Oct. 14-15) provides travelers an opportunity to engage with the city's tapestry of diverse cultures. The theme of this year's festival centers on the shared love for nature, humanity, and art, promising a vibrant medley of art exhibitions, culinary delights, and live performances that epitomize Asheville’s exuberant spirit of inclusivity.

For more information on Asheville fall travel, including weekly color reports, a fall foliage tracking map, and autumn adventure ideas, visit

Photo by Leslie Restivo


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