I feel blessed to live near some beautiful landscape photography opportunities that are within a few hours of my front door. I love to travel and explore new places, but I also enjoy spending time near home capturing as much of the awesome beauty as possible. This fall I decided to stay relatively close to home and focus on some of my favorite spots in the North Carolina and Tennessee mountains. I took a quick trip up to the western North Carolina mountains in early October and to the Tennessee side of the Smokies in late October. Both trips were productive and I’m looking forward to sharing some images with you from both locations.
This image was taken during the western North Carolina trip. The mountains from the Georgia border up through the Boone area are some of the highest east of the Mississippi. The two highest are Mount Mitchell and Clingmans Dome. Both mountains are over 6,000 feet. There are dozens of other peaks that reach 5,000 feet. Consequently, the whole area has a later spring bloom cycle and an earlier autumn foliage change. I was counting on this as I drove up to the mountains for a long weekend because the color change at home had barely begun.
One of my favorite places in western North Carolina is the Boone/Blowing Rock area. There is a ton to see and do there, plenty of restaurant and hotel choices, and access to the high mountain areas is easy from there. One of the peaks near Boone that turns earlier than the surrounding area due to its height is Grandfather Mountain. Fortunately, that area is only about a twenty-minute drive from Boone. I focused on being in that area at sunrise and sunset to take advantage of the long-range views and the foliage that would likely be turning at that elevation.
The Blue Ridge Parkway runs along the eastern flank of Grandfather Mountain and gives several different access points to photograph the sunrise. The road is a winding one but there are formal and informal pullouts scattered generously all along the route. During the fall, however, the sun has started its shift toward rising more from the north rather than due east. There were relatively few pullouts that allowed an unobstructed view of the sun rising over the horizon.
This was one of the best I could find. Even so, I had to wait for a few minutes for the sun to rise over the shoulder of Grandfather Mountain that you see in the left foreground. The previous day had been sunny and clear so I was a bit concerned about the conditions at sunrise on this day. I was grateful to find that a weak front was moving through the area and bringing some high clouds with it. I love the long thin cloud that is draped across the sky and is catching some of the warm, pinkish glow of the rising sun. I wish that this image could do the actual scene justice. It was a glorious sunrise and I felt incredibly blessed to be able to witness it.
I’m looking forward to sharing more from this trip. Stay tuned and I’ll share some more images soon. Enjoy.