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Spring Colors Climb

This week's Color Report will cover the section from Waterrock Knob to Richland Balsam Overlook. After several weeks of spotty closures due to lingering ice, maintenance, or slides, the Southern Section of the Parkway is fully open for the time this season! It was closed for a brief time yesterday (April 12th) for snow, where several inches fell at Waterrock Knob according to the Park Ranger. The pictures below were taken before yesterday's brief closure (it seems to be back open this morning) and we included a few at the end from our quick run up the mountain to see another spring snow.

For those entering the Southern Section from Asheville (see below map) you'll come across the highest concentration of color as you start your cruise, lessening as you head up the mountain toward Mt Pisgah. The other entrances are coming online, but are still behind the French Broad Overlook/Brevard Rd entrance by about a week.

map designed by Parkway Colors

Balsam Gap (3370') in particular has changed noticeably, with numerous trees showing bright spring colors and a soft greening up of the surrounding hillside.

taken 4/10/24

As you head up the mountain you'll notice a line between 3800 - 4100' that seems to be the cutoff mark between flowering trees and emerging buds. As we head further up above 5500' it remains clear that spring has yet to arrive, although signs of reddening branches indicate bud emergence is around the corner.

taken 4/10 at 4050'

Standing Rock Overlook as head you to head up to Richland Balsam Overlook is where the cuttoff can be seen. Park anywhere at the overlook and walk 50 - 100' up the road to a better vantage point and you can see the transition zone as you look down into the valley, as well as across the valley along the Plott Balsams.

Another notable elevation marker is 3800'. This line down to the valley floor seems to hold the best wildflower action currently, with numerous species flowering and many more showing buds. See below for a quick sampling where all four pictures were taken at the same pull off (shortly before Standing Rock Overlook).

taken 4/8 heading to Waterrock Knob

a common sight below 4000'

The weather this weekend will be much warmer than this week, with temps in the low - mid 60's across the valley Saturday under sunny skies, followed by temps soaring to the upper 70's Sunday afternoon (low 80's by Monday) under more sunshine. Saturday is likely to have better views as NW winds linger, while hazy conditions begin to creep back into the area Sunday afternoon.

We added three 360° views with this update, at Scott Creek Overlook (5500'), a pulloff at 5700', and Standing Rock Overlook (3915'). Click here to check them out.

Slight scheduling change. I will circle back next Friday (April 19th) with our next Color Report. Enjoy the warm weekend!

Below are some pictures of the snow that fell yesterday late afternoon.


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