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Frequently Asked Questions

  • A: The Blue Ridge Mountains get their name from the blue haze that often surrounds them, giving them a distinctive blue appearance from a distance. The blue haze is caused by a combination of factors, including the release of volatile organic compounds by trees and other vegetation, as well as the scattering of sunlight by the water droplets and particles in the atmosphere.
    The volatile organic compounds released by the vegetation in the Blue Ridge Mountains include a type of hydrocarbon called isoprene, which is emitted in large quantities by trees such as oaks and poplars. When these compounds mix with the atmosphere and sunlight, they form particles that scatter blue light more than other colors, giving the mountains their characteristic blue hue.
    In addition to the natural factors that contribute to the blue appearance of the Blue Ridge Mountains, human activities such as air pollution can also contribute to the haze and affect the visibility of the mountains.
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