Peak Fall Color Timing in Tucker County, West VirginiaSeptember 15, 2020
Here at the Tucker County CVB, we are accustomed to fielding questions about when Mother Nature is going to cooperate and show her fall colors. Obviously, this is an impossible feat. The number one question on the list of inquires is when will the leaves reach their peak fall color. In this blog I will attempt to inform everyone of the most reliable and accurate way to witness the West Virginia fall color at it’s finest.
First, an overview about Tucker County, West Virginia and our unique mountain setting. Elevation has everything to do with life here. There is a 2,000 foot elevation difference between the top of Dolly Sods and the river valleys around Parsons, West Virginia. Therefore, I venture to say there is a two week peak fall color window to work with. For 2021, I am going out on a limb to say you will see peak fall colors between October 5th and October 19th.
I am here to do my best in helping you plan! As an active outdoorsmen and enthusiastic photographer, I am acutely aware of when and where the leaves change every year. I am going to share with you some of those details so that you can decide for yourself on when to plan a visit.
The best resource you have for current updates as October unfolds are our social media platforms. You do not have to be a member to access Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram on our web site home page. Simply go to canaanvalley.org and on the top left of our home page are icons to click. Real time pictures and information can be found every day until winter’s grey silhouette takes over.
2019 was a great year for color. Let’s dive into how fall peak color unfolded here in Tucker County, West Virginia. On September 26th enough color is beginning to pop in select tree types like Black Cherry in Canaan Valley, elevation 3,200 feet. Higher elevations will have a bit more color but not much. The best colors are still two weeks away.
Jumping ahead to October 2, 2019 I made my first trip to Bear Rocks Preserve and Dolly Sods. At this time you are guaranteed to find fall colors have taken hold. There is still green in the sea of red blueberry bushes before turning scarlet red. On October 5th the day was again spent in Dolly Sods, hiking 8 miles. There was certainly a difference at 4,400 feet. In General October 1st through the 10th is when I would be planning a trip for Dolly Sods or Roaring Plains Wilderness.
Watch the temperature. Cold nights with frost seem to accelerate the progression toward peak fall color. This is exactly what occurred leading up to October 14th. A glorious day for peak leaf peeping along Cortland Rd. in Canaan Valley. The trees were ablaze from valley floor clear to the top of the surrounding mountains.
West Virginia’s most visited state park is Blackwater Falls State Park and for good reason. Blackwater Falls and the Blackwater Canyon are an awesome natural wonder and spectacular during fall. The elevation here is lower still, providing a perfect lag in peak fall color time behind Canaan Valley only by days. You can see the daily changes in color as fall colors move down the Blackwater Canyon. This transformation takes about a week. There is actually a big difference between the parks two favorite attractions, Blackwater Falls at the upper end of the canyon and Lindy Point, only a few miles away.
As the show comes to a close by late October and the first week of November, one can still catch good fall peak color around Parsons, Otter Creek Wilderness, and the Dry Fork River. A simple 12 mile drive from Davis down the mountain will reveal a whole other climate for those chasing late fall colors.
From my experience and many years of living in the town of Davis, October delivers peak fall color from one location to another. If you are planning ahead I would aim around the date of October 15th. If Mother Nature fails to deliver in 2020, my name is Brian Sarfino and I will be happy to field complaints.