Chimney Rock State Park is located just 27 miles southeast of downtown Asheville on the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains. For over 100 years, this family-friendly nature preserve has inspired magic and wonder to its visitors, time and time again. The real, earthly delights that are featured here are guaranteed to set your soul soaring, leave your mind unfettered, and fill your heart with priceless memories.
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. Our trails include:
This strenuous trail ascends approximately 200-feet above the Chimney to a popular birds-eye lookout called – Exclamation Point. The name speaks for itself! Stairways and switchbacks take you to some of the Park’s most popular geological formations, including Opera Box and Devil’s Head. It’s an uphill climb that is very rewarding to those who complete it.
For those with an adventurous spirit and willingness to explore, this trail is for you. The trailhead begins at Exclamation Point and meanders through ridgetop forests and sheer cliffs. Some key points of interest along this trail are Peregrine’s Point, which is the highest vantage point in the Park, and the spectacular viewpoint at the top of Hickory Nut Falls, which overlooks the Hickory Nut Gorge. These areas also showcase some of the cliffs that can be seen in the blockbuster movie, The Last of the Mohicans.
This gently rolling trail has several moderate uphill sections but is great for families with small children. It concludes with a rewarding, gorgeous view from the bottom of Hickory Nut Falls. This 404-foot waterfall is one of the tallest of its kind, east of the Mississippi River.
The Four Seasons Trail offers an alternative to driving to the top parking lot. With a 400-foot gain in elevation, it’s a strenuous, steady uphill climb that affords you the opportunity to hike the Park’s entire trail system all in one session. It connects into the Hickory Nut Falls trail where you can decide to proceed to the bottom of the falls and/or proceed to the Chimney and the upper trails.
This interactive, user-friendly loop trail is especially suited for families with small children. Grady the Groundhog introduces you to his woodland friends through his journal entries at numerous points along the trail. Whimsical, locally-handcrafted sculptures bring the critters to life and help kids and adults learn about some of the animals that call the Park home. At the end of the trail, you can check out our live Animal Ambassadors at the Animal Discovery Den.
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.
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!
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 climb session, click here.
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.
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 Greater 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. Lucious B. Morse fell in love with Chimney Rock, while visiting the area. He was diagnosed with tuberculosis and was seeking a more “healthful climate” that was better suited for 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, more several 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, visitors did not relish walking 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 formerly 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 increase the Park experience for its visitors.
For more information on our history, visit our website.
Chimney Rock is home to incredible wildlife, and we are lucky to have Animal Educators to help us spread the word on the important roles they play in … more
Join one of Western North Carolina’s most popular annual events, Flock to the Rock. Originally created to help folks understand why Hickory Nut Gorge … more
The early bird gets…to see and hear early birds! This special bird walk was designed to start before the Park opens to ensure participants get the … more
The trails of Chimney Rock are amazing, but a guided hike off-the-beaten-path can lead you to places you never knew existed! Join us for this fall … more
This naturalist-led hike explores the top of Chimney Rock Mountain where you’ll discover a much different world than in the main portion of the Park. … more
There’s no way Santa could make it down so many chimneys without practice. What better place to prepare for his Christmas deliveries and stay in shape … more
It’s no surprise that recognizing trees without their leaves can be tricky! Bark, twigs and buds are your best tools when familiarizing yourself with … more