Changing leaves will bring big crowds to the western Piedmont

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The Pilot Mountain Scenic Overlook off of U.S. 52 gives drivers like Alberto Gonzalez a chance to stop and take pictures of the majestic mountain.

"I like the scene of it," Gonzalez said. "It's a nice looking highway. Usually highways are boring. At least it's good to look at something."

Leaf watchers say this fall, drivers like Gonzalez will see a blanket of color covering Pilot Mountain. And if we see a few cool fall mornings, the colorful leaves will be even more spectacular.

"Especially around here we have so many maples and poplars," said Travis Frye. Frye is the events director for the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce.

"Fall is a perfect time to see us because you can literally look at the mountains as you are walking down the streets," Frye said.

Thousands visit Mount Airy from September to November. But from Oct. 13 to 15, over 200,000 people will be in town for the Autumn Leaves Festival. That means a lot of people will be spending their money.

"It affects tourism, it affects our hotels and restaurants," Frye said. "It's an economic impact for the whole community as a whole."

Jeremy Snow is the assistant manager of the Mayberry Motor Inn. The Autumn Leaves Festival and changing seasons means there's no room at the inn.

"We are full all the way to November," Snow said.

The Mayberry Inn is popular with guest because it plays to the Mayberry theme. There's lots of pictures of Andy and Barney. Plus there's a sheriff's car in front of the inn. Snow adds the hotel's location is another reason why they are often booked during the leaf changing season.

"We are only 15 minutes away from the Blue Ridge Parkway. People won't have to travel too far to view the leaves," Snow said.

The highest peaks of the North Carolina mountains normally begin to show fall color in early October.