Fall is Here!

October is here!  In the Great Smoky Mountains this means the leafs are starting to change colors.  This is the time of year where visitors come from all over to view and photograph the beauty the Smoky Mountains can bring.

Why are fall colors so remarkable in the Great Smoky Mountains?  The first reason is the parks diversity of trees.  One hundred species of native trees live in the Great Smoky Mountains and the majority of these are deciduous.

How do colors change? According to the National Park Service, as the summer comes to an end, the green pigments in leaves deteriorate, giving other colors a chance to shine.  The pigment that makes carrots orange and leaves yellow, carotenoids, are exposed as the green fades.  the reds and purples come from a pigment that is formed when sugars in leaves break down in bright autumn sunlight.

The Great Smoky Mountains usually experience an autumn leaf season of seven weeks as the fall colors travel down the mountain sides from higher elevations to lower elevations.  The exact dates of the fall color change are near impossible to predict in advanced because the change depends on several variables.

Elevation profoundly affects when fall colors change in the park.  At higher elevations color displays start as early as mid-September with the turning of yellow birch, American beech, mountain maple, hobblebush, and pin cherry.

From early to mid-October, fall colors develop above 4,000 feet. The fall foliage usually reaches peak at mid and lower elevations between mid-October and early November.  This is the park's most spectacular display as it includes such a kaleidoscope of autumn colors.  The colorful trees include sugar maple, scarlet oak, sweet gum, red maple and the hickories.

Fall is both a beautiful and a very busy time in the Smoky Mountains.  The annual show of fall colors attracts thousands of sightseers.


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