Chimney Rock is both the name of a North Carolina village and the large monolith that overlooks said village. You can find them in the western part of the state approximately 25 miles southeast of Asheville. Tourists flock to the area to indulge in the wonderful scenery and to enjoy the environs of Chimney Rock Park. Down in the village, there are shops and restaurants to take advantage of, as well as a lake that provides a variety of recreational opportunities. The lake is known as Lake Lure. Only adding to the appeal of Chimney Rock for tourists is the fact that parts of several movies were filmed in the area – Firestarter (1984), The Last of the Mohicans (1992), A Breed Apart (1984), and Dirty Dancing (1987).
There are two major rock formations in the United States that are known as Chimney Rock. One can be found in North Carolina. The other is located in Nebraska. North Carolina’s Chimney Rock is more than 500 million years old, and much like the Chimney Rock formation in Nebraska, it is one of its home state’s most iconic sites. It serves as the main attraction in Chimney Rock State Park, and those who choose to climb the stairs to the top of the rock enjoy sweeping, 75-mile views of the surrounding area. In order to access the park that surrounds Chimney Rock, visitors must pay a fee. The ticket plaza is about a one mile drive from the park gate in Chimney Rock Village. Once at the gate, visitors can opt to park below in designated areas and take a bus up to the park’s main area. It is also possible to drive to the upper parking lot. No walking or biking to the upper area is allowed, as the road is curvy, narrow, and has limited sight distance. Chimney Rock State Park is open every day of the year, except for Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, and children under the age of six get in for free. Both a gift shop and a deli are available in the upper area for those who wish to take advantage.
Hiking Image: Marcy Reiford (flickr)
Hiking is one of the most popular things to do in Chimney Rock Park. There are numerous trails to select from, and they range from easy to strenuous. Most of the Chimney Rock hiking trails are open year round, weather permitting, and regardless of which one you choose to take, there will be plenty to see along the way. Hop on the Skyline Trail, for example, and you can enjoy panoramic vistas that served as the backdrop for several scenes in The Last of the Mohicans. Another trail – the Hickory Nut Falls Trail – winds its way through hardwood forests before ending at the 404-foot waterfall that inspired the trail’s name. The other main hiking trails at Chimney Rock Park include the Four Seasons Trail, the Outcroppings Trail, and the Great Woodland Adventure Trail. Hikers can trek along with their dogs if they so desire, as all outdoor areas of the park are open to dogs, provided that they are kept on a leash at all times.
If you’re looking to do some rock climbing on your North Carolina vacation, Chimney Rock Park is a good place to go, as it is home to more than its fair share of rock wall faces and sheer cliffs. The park has teamed up with AMGA-accredited guides who can help rock climbers schedule a climb that suits their abilities. Even if you have never rock climbed before, the guides can accommodate. The minimum age to rock climb at Chimney Rock is six years old, and all climbers must weigh at least 50 pounds. There are no maximum age limits or maximum weight restrictions. As a side note, there is a manmade climbing tower at Chimney Rock Park for those who wish to enjoy a different kind of climbing experience.
Chimney Rock Lodging
Chimney Rock Lodging
No accommodations are available within the confines of Chimney Rock State Park. That being said, anyone who wishes to stay in the general area can find lodging choices of all varieties. There is even a dog-friendly campground in nearby Rutherfordton. Those who want to stay within very close proximity of Chimney Rock Park are encouraged to start with the accommodations in Chimney Rock village or in the neighboring village of Lake Lure. These accommodations include cottages, home rentals, and inviting inns such as the 1927 Lake Lure Inn & Spa and the well-situated Chimney Rock Inn. Other area destinations, such as Bat Cave and Hendersonville, can also be good places to start when trying to find Chimney Rock lodging, as they are just a short drive from Chimney Rock. If you don’t mind a longer drive, there are certainly plenty of Asheville accommodations to select from, not to mention a slew of other regional lodging options.