Fall hues are beginning to break through in Georgia’s mountains and national parks, attracting visitors to some of the most scenic getaways in the Southeast. But, with Georgia’s severe drought conditions, the scenery comes with a warning.
Mark Wiles, a spokesman with the United States Forest Service, is traveling the South delivering that word of caution to travelers: Put out your campfires out and be mindful, especially in North Georgia.
“We anticipate a lot of visitors in those areas,” he said. “We just want everyone to realize that if they are going to the North Georgia Mountains to be extra careful.
Wiles said drought indices show that Georgia is perilously dry, recalling the 2016 wildfires that devastated more than 90,000 acres of land in the Southeast.
“That rating can go from zero, where you’re pretty much standing in a swamp, to about 800, which would be desertlike conditions,” he said. “And up until about a week ago, we were standing at about 750 in northern Georgia.”
Meanwhile, Georgia’s native trees are putting on a display in places like Rabun County, where the sourwood is splashing highways with bright reds and burgundies, the birch with yellows and golds and the maples issuing kaleidoscopic displays of just about every fall pigment.
Still, however scenic the views, visitors must exercise extra caution this year because of dry conditions.
To plan a trip to the mountains, the Georgia Forestry Commission offers a wealth of information, including tips, alerts and a fall leaf report at