It's getting closer.... a noticeable chill in the air cutting through the afternoon warmth. A slight crunch beneath your feet and - most excitingly - a new hue tinting the foliage in our mountains. One look at our fall leaves and it's no wonder that this is a most popular time of the year to visit.

 There are a couple rules of thumb to follow when trying to guage the best time to visit Asheville for peak leaf season. Unfortunately, and this cannot be stressed enough, it is impossible to predict with 100% accuracy when the leaves will change. So many factors are at play - from average temperature to rainfall amounts. It can occur in mid-October, or it can peak in early November! It can last almost a month, or the leaves can drop a week after turning. Here is a good timeline to follow for typical leaf change by elevation.

*First Week of October: Highest elevations (5,000 and above) will start to change. This will be noticeable at Mount Mitchell, Grandfather Mountain, Graveyard Fields and Craggy Gardens.

*Second Week of October: Dropping down to 4,000 ft, with the Great Smoky Mountains, Devil's Courthouse and Mount Pisgah showing color this week.

*Third Week of October:  Elevations of 3000-4000 ft will likely become brilliant with color this week. Visit Looking Glass Falls, it is beautiful year round but in October it is even more breath-taking.

*Fourth Week: It's time for our area to show off! Asheville leaves tend to hit their peak the last week of October. Hop on the Blue Ridge Parkway to get the best views.

*Into November: The lower elevation areas such as Chimney Rock turn last, so you can catch a little color even if you can't visit in October.

Our weekends in October are already booked, but consider a weekday stay. Asheville can be hectic the month of October, and weekends mean more traffic on the Blue Ridge Parkway and pretty much everywhere. Weekdays allow for a more relaxed pace, and that's what vacations are all about!

A couple of tips: Bring a jacket, as the temperature drops drastically when the elevation goes up. Also, bring your camera!