Above: Visitors enjoy the colorful tree leaves at Tallulah Gorge Overlook. Photos courtesy of the Parks, Recreation and Historic Sites Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
It’s one of the great pleasures that comes from living in north Georgia: Every fall, the leaves on the trees change colors. The reds, golds, yellows and oranges of the leaves can look so spectacular that during the peak of their annual display, tens of thousands of people flock to the Georgia mountains to check out the brightly colored landscape.
The state park system has learned to expect big crowds during “leaf season,” which generally runs from the first of October to mid-November.
“You can imagine that in summer, the state parks are very busy,” said Jack Becker, manager of Vogel State Park near Blairsville. “Leaf season is just as busy.”
Vogel, located near the Chattahoochee National Forest, attracted 25,461 visitors last October, down a bit from the 41,658 visiting during October 2016 and the 32,481 in October 2015, Becker said.
More Parks with More Color
Other parks pull in even more fall color fans, who often are referred to as “leaf peepers” or “leaf lookers.” Tallulah Gorge State Park, for instance, attracted nearly 50,000 visitors last October, or about 15 percent of the total number who visited the park during the year, according to figures from the Parks, Recreation and Historic Sites Division of the Department of Natural Resources. Cloudland Canyon State Park pulled in about 35,000 visitors last October, about 18 percent of the total for the year.
To help fall color fans decide where to look for the best views, the state parks system maintains a “leaf watch” webpage and a Facebook page. This year, the parks division also is ramping up its Instagram and other social media so parks visitors can post their own photos for others to see, providing real-time surveys of which parks are peaking. “People are looking for that peak, when [the leaves] are really vibrant and really bright,” Becker said.
So what’s Becker expect from the leaves this year? “We’ve had a lot of rain this year,” he said, “so I’m expecting it to be pretty nice this year, with high visitation and pretty nice colors.”
To spread the word on which park is at its fall leaf-color peak on any given weekend during leaf-viewing season, the state parks service operates the “leaf watch” web page at gastateparks.org/leafwatch and a Facebook page at facebook.com/georgiastateparks.