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Autumn is the shortest season, a grand finale of vibrant colors marking the season’s end, when leaves fall to earth as a blanket for the winter months. Unlike spring, there is no visual promise of creation to come. It’s nature’s final show of the year…and it’s a grand one.

Old Barn Sits in a Meadow near Black Mountain, NC (Click on image for larger view)

Living at sea level on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, we decided to extend our appreciation of autumn days by traveling to the mountains, where nature’s fall colors were unfolding in the high elevations. Katie and I and our two Westies, Julep and Derby, drove along Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley into the Appalachians and the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina, staying in a home nestled among the steep hills surrounding Asheville.  This area, rich in culture and the arts, is an ideal setting for a vacation, but there was far too much to see and photograph than we could possibly handle in a week. We will be back. The following images include some of the changing autumn scenery of this beautiful region as nature’s colors approached their peak season, a grand finale before the winter months.

Click on any image for full size view.

Autumn Colors of the Blue Ridge from the Top of Grandfather Mountain, at 5,946 feet

A Splash of Living Color in the Weathered Mountain Brush

The Rocky Crest of Grandfather Mountain

Rugged Beauty in the Misty High Elevations

A Winding Mountain Road Captures Autumn's Morning Light

The Biltmore Estate, in the Mountains Outside of Asheville

A "Monarch" Rests on a Butterfly Bush in Blue Ridge Country

Bee Collecting Pollen from a Cone Flower in the Biltmore Gardens

Mountain Railroad Tracks Curve Through the Blue Ridge High Country

Katie Walking Julep and Derby at a Rest Stop

Driving Along the Blue Ridge Mountains

Julep Enjoying the Drive Home