Blog for Zip line Attraction in the Smoky Mountains
Located in Pigeon Forge, TN and near Gatlinburg and Sevierville.
By Ross Bodhi Ogle
Posted on October 15, 2019
Most years in the Smokies, a drive through the mountains in mid-October would reveal a wondrous palette of color already emerging in the treetops. Even in the lower elevations, you'd see signs that the annual transformation of the area foliage was well under way, and in the higher elevations, the leaves might already be nearing their peak colors for fall.
This year, however, it's a different story. A long, dry summer that extended well into early October has inhibited the color-change process, so most predictions are that the fall of 2019 won't be quite as spectacular as it has been in years past. But don't despair; if you're planning a trip to the national park or a visit to our Smoky Mountain zip lines, there will still be some beautiful colors to see. You may just have to adjust your timing a little bit.
Right now, we're seeing minimal colors changing in the valley and patchy changes in the mountains. By late October, look for partial transformation in the valley and near peak colors in the elevations. Colors are expected to peak in the mountains by early November and be near peak in the lowlands. By the end of the first week of November, most lower elevations of the Smokies should be as colorful as they're going to get, although because of the lack of rainfall, the colors may not be as bright and vivid as usual.
We all know that the fall foliage is a natural result of the changing of seasons each year. When the temperatures start to dip, the leaves turn and then eventually fall. But have you ever wondered exactly how or why those things happen? It starts with chlorophyll, which is what keeps our leaves green all spring and summer. But as the days shorten in early autumn, the production of chlorophyll slows, and compounds called carotenoids and anthocyanins, which are also present in leaves, begin to take over. Carotenoids like beta-carotene give leaves more of an orange hue, anthocyanins result in reddish leaves, and a protein called flavonols helps leaves become more of a yellowish color.
As for why leaves ultimately fall, think of it as self-preservation. If they didn't, they would surely freeze during the winter months and cause damage to or possibly even kill their host trees. However, in autumn, the trees slowly cut off the supply of nutrients to their leaves, causing them to change color, die and then fall to the ground.
At that point, they form a colorful carpet on the forest floor and also act as a compost of sorts, helping to absorb dew and rainfall and providing nutrients and water for nearby vegetation. So even though trees need to shed their leaves for self-preservation, the leaves actually continue to help keep their parent trees alive, even after they wind up on the ground. Of course, those of us who live in cities don't usually have the option of leaving them alone, so that's where our rakes and leaf blowers come in handy.
But that's still several weeks away. In the meantime, just consider taking part in one of our canopy tours in the foothills of the Smokies, and if you time it right, you'll be able to zip your way through dense forests of colorful foliage. It will make a fantastic backdrop for your photos, and with daytime temperatures in the 60s and 70s, you're in for quite an experience. Call or visit us online today to schedule your next great adventure in the Smokies.