The Park and all trails are open daily. Ticket Plaza hours are 8:30am - 4:30pm, guests can stay as late as 6pm once inside the Park. Click here for more information
Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park is a still-developing international outdoor destination located just 25 miles southeast of Asheville and nestled in the historic Chimney Rock Village at the foot of the Blue Ridge. It is recognized as one of the Southeast’s most iconic sites and popular travel destinations. The Park’s 535-million-year-old monolith called Chimney Rock can be accessed via a state-of-the-art elevator or the nearly 500-step Outcroppings Trail. At the top, guests can enjoy 75-mile panoramic views of the Hickory Nut Gorge and Lake Lure. The Park features one of the highest waterfalls of its kind east of the Mississippi River, Hickory Nut Falls. Hickory Nut Gorge, one of the state’s most significant centers of biodiversity, is home to 36 rare plant species and 14 rare animal species. A family and pet-friendly destination for travel groups, weddings and special events, the Chimney Rock section of the Park also hosts innovative educational programs for field trips, scout groups, and summer camps. Visit our website for hours and ticket information.
Things to Do at Chimney Rock State Park
Visit the Rock: The centerpiece of the Park is the 535-million-year-old monolith, which is often referred to as “the Chimney” or “the Rock”. This natural monument showcases some of the best views in western North Carolina.
The top of the rock can be reached by either an elevator inside the mountain or the 500+ stairs up the Outcroppings Trail. The elevator has been operating and servicing the public since 1949 and ascends 26 stories in just over 32 seconds. For the “Stairmaster” enthusiasts or pet walkers, the Outcroppings Trail, features numerous points of interest along the way, like Gneiss Cave, Pulpit Rock, and the “Subway”.
Hiking: Chimney Rock State Park offers a network of trails for all ages and skill levels. From the family-oriented Great Woodland Adventure Trail to the more strenuous Exclamation Point and Skyline Trails, there's something for everyone. Experience stunning views of the highest waterfall in any North Carolina State Park on the Hickory Nut Falls Trail, or go off the beaten path and explore the Four Seasons Trail. More information on all our trails including distance, difficulty, and what you'll see along the way can be found here.
Bird Watching: Thanks to a wide variety of habitats from riverbanks to high cliffs, Chimney Rock State Park is a top location for bird enthusiasts. Our birders especially enjoy our annual Flock to the Rock event, which includes informational programs, hands-on activities and live flight shows.
Animal Discovery Den: Stop by our Animal Discovery Den to meet our live Animal Ambassadors. The Den is home to several species of reptiles, amphibians, and mammals who are native to the Park. All of our Ambassadors are non-releasable and unable to survive in the wild, but they help us teach the public about our native species and how to protect them.
Rock Climbing: Rock climbing and rappelling adventures are available to individuals, families, and groups year-round, weather permitting. We’ve partnered with the Southeast’s leader in climber education, Fox Mountain Guides, to offer guests of all levels with rock climbing instruction and a variety of routes to try. For more information or to book your climbing session, click here.
Events: Chimney Rock also hosts family-friendly events throughout the year, including our very popular Santa on the Chimney event. Check out our Event Calendar for this year!
Plan Your Trip to Chimney Rock State Park
Cost: With all the many amenities that Chimney Rock features, admission is required to enter the Park. Prices vary by season. Click here for pricing information.
Hours: The Park is typically open year-round (except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day), but operating hours vary by season and are subject to change. Ticket Plaza hours are 8:30am to 5:30pm during the summer and from 10am to 4:30pm during the winter, weather permitting. The Park does remain open 1.5 hours after the Ticket Plaza closes. Tickets purchased after 4pm in the summer or 3pm in the winter are good for next day admission at no additional cost. For more information, check our website.
More information: Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park features two gift shops, a dine-in restaurant, a deli and snack shop, numerous picnic locations, and restroom facilities. Chimney Rock Village at the entrance of the Park also offers a great variety shopping and dining experiences as well as a new wine tasting room and a brewery.
Chimney Rock is the focal point of the still-developing Chimney Rock State Park. The Park is a Natural Heritage Site in the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area. It is one of three areas of the state park currently open to the public – the others are Rumbling Bald and Eagle Rock.
From downtown Asheville, take I-240 East to Exit 9. Stay on Highway 74A East for 20 miles. The Park entrance will be on the right, once you enter the Village.
History of Chimney Rock State Park
More than 100 years ago, Dr. Lucius B. Morse fell in love with Chimney Rock while visiting the area. After being diagnosed with tuberculosis, he was seeking a more “healthful climate” to ease his condition. In 1902, with the financial backing of his brothers, he purchased 64 acres of the Chimney Rock mountain for $5,000. Over the years, several more small parcel purchases were added to the Park, expanding it over 1000 acres.
Needing easy access into the park, the Morse family recruited local man, Guilford Nanney, to blaze its first set of trails. This was the beginning of the modern improvements, vantage points, and trail systems that exist in the Park today.
As time passed, not all visitors were willing or able to walk the hundreds of stairs on the trail from the parking area to the summit of the Chimney. In 1946, plans were drawn up for an elevator to transport people to the top. Blasted out of the solid granite cliff, a 198-foot tunnel led into the mountain to the 258-foot elevator shaft. This was a massive construction project, that took eight tons of dynamite and 18 months to complete. The elevator was opened to the public in 1949, the same year the entrance parking lot, upper parking lot, and three-mile approach road were paved.
In the early 2000’s, the Morse Family and newly formed Hickory Nut Gorge Partnership worked with state leaders to help preserve the Park for generations to come. In 2007, the state of North Carolina purchased Chimney Rock and formally changed its name to Chimney Rock State Park. Over the last decade, the state has continued to add additional protected land areas and trails to the park, such as Rumbling Bald, Eagle Rock, and World’s Edge. The state continues manage and protect these lands as well as maintain the Park experience for its visitors.
For more information on our history, visit our website.