The crown jewel of the North Carolina state Parks, Chimney Rock is a great spot to visit.
Standing tall in the Hickory Nut Gorge area of Western North Carolina is the unique rock formation Chimney Rock that is the signature attraction and namesake of Chimney Rock State Park. This 6,800+ acre park is a hot-spot for breathtaking vistas, well groomed and maintained hiking trails, a 400ft waterfall, family-fun, picnic areas, rock climbing, food, shops, and year round special events. This admission-based area is a very popular spot and is the crown jewel of all the North Carolina state parks.
Chimney Rock State Park is located on Hwy 64/74A in the beautiful village of Chimney Rock North Carolina. It is about 45 minutes from Asheville North Carolina, a little over an hour from Greenville South Carolina, and about 2 hours from Charlotte North Carolina. The drive to the park is an absolute joy as your travel on beautiful mountain roads.
There is plenty of parking onsite along with nice restroom facilities and food options inside the park as well as the Old Rock Cafe at the Park’s entrance in town.
There is so much to see and do inside the park. Starting at the lower sections of the park, you could have a picnic at the Meadows enjoying great views looking up at the rocks, take the kids to the Great Woodland Adventure, or meet some of the local forest animals at Grady’s Animal Discovery Den. If hiking is more your style, there are some wonderful trails inside the park that walk you through a beautiful mountain forest environment including the short 3/4’s of a mile Hickory Nut Falls trail. This trail takes you to the base of the second highest waterfall east of the Mississippi River. Of course you could also just go straight to Chimney Rock.
The stairs leading up to Chimney Rock are numerous but the walk, in our opinion, really isn’t too strenuous as it is broken up into sections and there are plenty of other sites to see that distract you from the length of climb. Sites like Gneiss Cave, the Subway, Pulpit Rock, and Vista Rock just to name a few. Each of these destinations are interesting and some offer unique picture opportunities of Chimney Rock. Eventually, after many steps, you reach the iconic rock formation Chimney Rock that juts 315 feet from the surrounding mountain side at an elevation of 2,280 feet. The top of the rock is large and spacious with a fence surrounding the perimeter. There is also an informative panoramic sign to help you identify the numerous peaks and landmarks that are viewable in the distance. You end up with quite the feeling of accomplishment as you stand on top of Chimney Rock. The views from the top of the rock are priceless and, while we have tried our best to capture them in this video, need to be experienced in person to get the full effect.
After you are done enjoying the views from Chimney Rock, you can visit the Sky Lounge Gift Shop and Deli, where you can pick up some snacks or a sandwich to take out with you while you enjoy the view from the patio outside. Or you can continue up the trail to Explanation Point.
Explanation Point offers exceptional views that are facing deeper into Hickory Nut Gorge and is highly recommended to visit. Yes, there are more stairs that you need to climb but, like with the climb to Chimney Rock, there are some great distractions along the way like the Opera Box and Devil’s Head. Eventually you reach the highest point within the park – Explanation Point. At 2,480 feet, the views are simply breathtaking. If the area looks familiar to you, these views were the backdrop of the 1992 move, The Last of the Mohicans.
Explanation Point has plenty of space to relax and enjoy the view so take your time and enjoy all there is to see before heading back down the trail.
Don’t forget to stop by Cliff Dwellers Gift Shop to browse the local handcrafted artisan pieces and mementoes that are available.
As mentioned at the beginning of this episode, Chimney Rock State Park is an admissions based area. As of late 2016, when this episode was published and their elevator was out of service, the fees for entering the park are as follows: $13 for adults, $6 for youth ages 5-15, and children under 5 are free. They also have annual passes available for purchase.
The park is open year round except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, weather permitting.
Please visit their website at www.ChimneyRockPark.com for more information including park hours, info on specific events, and the latest updates on changes and improvements that are taking place at the park.
Chimney Rock State Park is one of our favorite spots and we hope you enjoy it too.