Brilliant fall colors in Hot Springs and Madison County develop during September, as the nighttime temperatures in the mountains dip into the cooler digits. The vibrant display of color lasts for over a month into early November. The higher elevations become colorful earlier in the season. It is fascinating to watch the changes travel from the top of the mountains down to the river valley.
The sunset in Hot Springs amplifies leaf color with a “reverse sunset” – the sun sets behind us and as it goes down behind Deer Park Mountain it creates a shadow which starts at the bottom of Round Top Mountain and moves up to the top. When it reaches the top – lights out. As this process happens, the colors of the mountain foliage are amplified from the diffusion of the setting sun providing the brightest of reds, yellows and oranges which contrast to the evergreen interspersed in between.
Hot Springs Voted Favorite Small Mountain Town
There is much to enjoy here in fall foliage season. Perhaps that’s why Blue Ridge Outdoors recently named Hot Springs, North Carolina, the favorite small mountain town in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. Whether you are interested in some relaxing fall color experiences or more adventurous color viewing, Hot Springs has much to offer. Or, you can plan a romantic fall foliage getaway.
- For a relaxing colorful getaway, we have several gentle walks you can take along the French Broad River or the Laurel River. And, while the Blue Ridge Parkway is only 30 minutes away and beautiful in the fall, there are some scenic mountain drives which are equally beautiful, much less crowded, and offer a taste of Appalachian culture with old tobacco barns, beautiful farms, scenic overlooks, and tumbling waterfalls. After a relaxing day you can enjoy a massage or a soak in a hot mineral bath and have dinner at one of the restaurants in town.
- For the more adventuresome fall color seekers, a rafting trip down the French Broad River can be arranged where the scintillating water and glorious color is awesome. Horseback riding at Sandy Bottom Trail Rides in the fall season offers spectacular ridge top views with bright colors in addition to rides through dense forests. The hiking is exceptional whether you hike on a section of the Appalachian Trail, Jack Branch with it’s long views of the French Broad River from 300-feet above, or Lovers Leap Trail overlooking Hot Springs.
- If a romantic fall getaway is what you have in mind, Hot Springs is the place. A romantic picnic lunch on 5000-foot Max Patch with its incredible, as-far-as-the-eye-can-see fall color views is a great starter. Or perhaps a leisurely stroll along the Laurel River. A soak in hot mineral springs is certain to bring out the romance followed by a couples massage. Then a leisurely dinner at one of our several eateries.
Shopping for Crafts and Gifts in Hot Springs
The local art emporium at the ArtiSUN Gallery is a must for area crafts, a warm latte or delicious handcrafted ice cream. Inside the gallery is a wine shop, Mountain Vino, with an impressive selection. Round the corner onto Bridge Street to find the fun and eclectic Bluff Mountain Outfitters. Continue up the street to Gentry Hardware where Keith Gentry sells hardware, old fashioned candy, and select household items. Stop by the Welcome Center and check out the exhibits of local history and things to do in the area. Don’t forget to swing by Hazelwood House Gift Shop on S. Spring St.
Take in the Fall Color with a Short Day-Trip
There is really no reason to roam far from Hot Springs with all there is to do here. But if you are here for a few days and want to venture out into surrounding areas, there are plenty of great day-trips. A drive to Waynesville on Scenic Highway 209 will be well worth the time. Along the way be sure and stop at St. Jude Chapel of Hope in Trust NC. Once in Waynesville you will find some nice shops and several cafes for lunch.
Asheville is 35 miles from Hot Springs and the Biltmore Estate is full of fall color this time of the year. Lunch on the terrace of the Grove Park Inn is spectacular on a crisp fall day.
If you want to stay closer to your home base and still get out, there are numerous drives in Madison County in the direction of Marshall or Mars Hill which will display great color.