What is the landscape of the Rhine- and Mosel Valley like in early November? (Referring to the parts described by Rick Steves). I may pass through it in my upcoming trip, but I fear I will be going during that time between Autumn colors and snow, i.e. a bunch of dead trees. (I wouldn't mind if everything was covered in snow though.) Because I have always had a romantic image of the Rhine, I don't want to be disappointed by my first impression and I am considering visiting the Rhine at another time instead...Then again, that's never a guarantee! So even if the scenery is a bunch of gray and brown, should I still go?
"What is the landscape of the Rhine Valley and Mosel Valley the parts in Rick Steve's guide book like in November?" A lot of brown and gray, most likely. From late October to mid-spring, Germany (and most of non-Mediterranean Europe) is usually damp and overcast for long periods of time. The damp air usually blunts the visual effect of the fall color changes. And November is usually too late for this anyway. Even when it snows in the winter, in this part of Germany, it's usually a light coating and quickly melts. I have seen snow in November, but it isn't common. Is it still scenic? Of course, but it's a different type of scenery than you would experience under the carefully selected ideal conditions of the summer sun, when most travelogues shoot their images. This is what Europe looks like when the majority of the summer tourists have gone home.
The K-D boats run a reduced schedule in October and a very reduced schedule the rest of the winter.
The KD line schedule is very reduced after Oct 27. You woudn't enjoy the trip down the Rhein river in the rain or fog. I was on a sight-seeing bus in Hamburg last October in pouring rain: the windows fogged up and we saw very little sights at all.
I happen to like November in Germany but the "romantic" Rhine River Valley largely rolls up its sidewalks that time of year. Hotels,restaurants, etc. close. You could stay in a town like Mainz - which we like - and take a day trips along the Rhine. I would be more likely to visit towns that are not so likely to depend on the season trade.
Just to note, there are other boat operators on the Rhine besides KD, although most of these embark from Koblenz. I see them on the river all year, water level conditions permitting.
I like the Rhine in all seasons. Last year, fall came quite late with the trees first changing color towards the end of Oct. The gorge has more vineyards than trees and many are pine trees, so no real color on those. It is still very beautiful with the castles scattered everywhere. If you get some mists or fog, it looks very romantic. Snow is probably not going to happen, but one never knows. Have seen it snow occasionally in Oct. just not very often. The towns are truly ghost towns, with everything closed for the season. Rüdesheim might be the exception, as it is always filled with tourists.
PS- You can usually find at least one or two restaurants in the smaller towns open all year along the Rhine, but as Jo mentioned, Rüdesheim (and Koblenz and perhaps Bingen) generally doesn't experience much in the way of seasonal closures. I know that some people on this helpline find Rüdesheim overly touristy, but there's one thing about it that allows visitors a unique German cultural experience and thus makes it worth a visit (besides being a generally attractive town) - the majority of the restaurants usually feature live Schlager music performances. Love it, hate it or merely tolerate it, Schlager is definately something that you won't experience at home.
I was in Bacharach in mid-November 2008, and it did appear "closed up". Im Malerwinkel was closed for the season. I did find a restaurant near the main intersection in town (Blüchstraße $ Oberstraße) open and had lunch.