Ranger: Foliage ‘less vibrant’ at park

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Leaf peepers hoping for vibrant vistas in Shenandoah National Park will be in for a less-than-stellar foliage season this year, according to park ranger Woody Searles.

“Due to the weather, peak won’t be as vibrant as past years. It’s safe to say that there is some color out there. It’s not all that vibrant. People will see a lot of yellows and oranges. … Not that its ugly, it’s just not as vibrant and pretty as it has been in past years.”

Searles blamed weather for the lack of ideal foliage change, saying that peak color for most of the park still has yet to happen.

“Because of the windstorm we had a week and a half ago, that wind took down a lot of the trees that did have color on them. We’ve got some places that are past peak, a few places that are at peak and probably about a third of the park hasn’t reached peak yet.

I would say the areas that have not peaked yet are probably going to be peaking in the next week but peak color this year is not going to be as colorful as some past years. May was really cold and wet and the summertime, we’d either have colossal thunderstorms or it wouldn’t rain for three weeks.”

Searles said that while much of the park is displaying mostly yellows, more colorful views can be had by those willing to work a bit for them.

“People are frequently driving and looking at the forest,” he said. “If people stop at overlooks or walk a little way from the overlooks, we’ve got some really nice red vines. They tend to be things you’re not going to notice or you’ll just notice a flash of. If you’re willing to walk a little bit, you’re going to see some things. We don’t have big areas of maple trees, which would be red. There are some pockets of red.”

He said that some overlooks that offer these kind of opportunities are Rocky Top, Stony Man and Loft Mountain.

Searles did say that despite the delays caused by weather, peak color is approaching. He predicted it will occur sometime between this weekend and next weekend.

Contact staff writer Nathan Budryk at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or nbudryk@nvdaily.com

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