You something that's totally crazy? The idea that summer is over after Labor Day and the river is "closed" 'til next summer.
For some reason there's a long-standing myth that the river "shuts down" once the calendar starts to creep toward the middle of September. The truth is that fall is actually the best season to go paddleboarding in Asheville, and we stay open through October 31 to enjoy this glorious season.
If you're planning on making a trip up to Asheville from mid-September-October, check out these reasons why you might want to put the French Broad River on your list:
1. Fall Colors!
Do you know why Asheville is one of the world's best places for viewing fall leaves? Because the "leaf-peeping" seasons lasts over 6 weeks, thanks to the fact the surrounding region has 5,000 feet of elevation change. The highest peaks start showing their colors around September 21, and over the course of the month of October the "prime" belt of autumn color moves down the mountains until reaching Lake Lure around the very first week of November.
On the French Broad River, the leaves tend to be their most colorful in the second and third week of October, though even by the end of September the trademark glow of autumn has arrived.
When viewing the colors from out on the water, you are literally paddling through the fall leaves as they drift in the air around you, and you have a private, front row seat to nature's annual autumn show. Sure—driving the Blue Ridge Parkway is gorgeous (and we highly recommend it), but there's something peaceful about letting the river gently take you on a colorful tour.
Plus, while everyone else who visited Asheville will have photos from popular lookouts, you'll go home with photos that hardly anyone else will have!
2. Comfortable Air Temps and The Driest Time of Year!
You see the photo we've put up above? That's a recent forecast for Asheville from September 22-September 26, 2017 (courtesy of Ray's Weather—the BEST site for all of your Asheville area weather forecasting).
The air temperature throughout the fall is about the same as it is from May through the middle of June. Temperatures are frequently in the 80s in September, and even all the way at the end of October it will still warm up to the mid to upper 60s by early to mid afternoon. Check out this graph from weather.com the shows the average monthly temperatures we experience here in Asheville:
If you're someone who likes the change in seasons and prefers the air a little crisp to go with your morning coffee, our mid-morning tours at 9:30am are the perfect temperature for embracing autumn, with air in the 50s and 60s.
Finally, October is actually the driest month in North Carolina's mountains, which makes for sunny, warm afternoons and clear, refreshing water.
3. Water Temperature That's Warmer Than You Think
Speaking of the water, there's a myth that the water is suddenly frozen the minute that Labor Day passes. Okay—maybe it's not that severe, but most people are convinced that the river is simply too cold to paddle in autumn.
If you look at the actual graphs, however, you'll notice the water temps in late September really aren't that different from summer. There were multiple times this past summer where the water temps were exactly the same as they currently are in Asheville. As of September 22, 2017, the water temperature was nearly 70 degrees, and the only reason it had dropped the week before was because of a tropical storm (which is rare):
Sure, that's great, but what about October?
Well, if you look at historical data from October you'll see that the water is still 70 degrees as late as October 21!
4. No Tubers!
Have you ever seen the river in Asheville on a summer afternoon? You could almost walk across the sea of tubers and not even get your feet wet.
By the second week in September, however, most of the tubers are gone for the summer and the river becomes a tranquil place where you can actually hear yourself think.
5. Better Chance of Spotting Wildlife
Because there's such little river traffic on the French Broad River in fall, lots of the local wildlife returns and can be spotted out on the riverbank. Scan the treetops for eagles and ospreys and keep an eye out for Great Blue Herons that stealthily hunt in the shallows.
Turtles emerge to sun on the logs (and sometimes swim right beneath you), and it isn't uncommon to spot deer, turkeys, or even the occasional black bear! (Seriously—see video above)
6. Sleep In For The Dawn Patrol
Finally, if you're looking for one of the best things to do in Asheville this fall, wake up early to experience sunrise while surrounded by all the fall leaves. Yes the mornings are a little bit cooler when compared to the heat of the day, but there's a transcendental, peaceful calm to watching the day begin from the water and sharing the third oldest river in the world with the birds and morning mist.
While our "Dawn Patrol" tours meet at 5:30am for much of the summer months, in October we meet at 7am—which means you get to sleep in!
So, if you're planning on visiting Asheville this fall to experience the mountain beauty, don't rule out the French Broad River and a fall foliage float, because the best time of year to paddle the river has only just begun...
For more info on our rentals and tours you can give us a call at (828) 808-9038 or book online today!