The Ultimate Guide To Chimney Rock State Park
Chimney Rock State Park, home to spectacular alpine scenery!
Chimney Rock State Park, one of the most popular state parks of North Carolina, features spectacular mountain vistas atop a towering granite spire, a few hiking trails, and a gorgeous waterfall!
Named after its iconic Chimney Rock, an ancient 315 feet tall granite spire extending out from the mountains forming a natural observation tower featuring spectacular views of the neighboring mountains, lush valleys, and Lake Lure, Chimney Rock State Park is one of the most popular and iconic sites of North Carolina! Unquestionably, the Chimney Rock takes center stage in the Park, but Chimney Rock State Park also features quite a few hiking trails, a gorgeous waterfall, rock climbing, and a diverse species of flora and fauna.
Chimney Rock State Park, located in southwest North Carolina in the mountain town of Chimney Rock, is part of the Hickory Nut Gorge, a deep valley of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Chimney Rock village, also named after the monolith, is a small quaint town with rustic shops, eateries, and a few bread and breakfasts. With its proximity to major cities in North and South Carolina, Chimney Rock State Park is a popular day-trip destination and often visited along with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
You could either ride a mountain elevator or take a stairway of five hundred steps to the top of Chimney Rock, where the real venture begins!
The Park offers two exciting ways to get to the top of Chimney Rock, an elevator and the Chimney Rock Trail, which involves climbing 500 steps to the top of the Chimney Rock. I recommend using the elevator to get to the top of Chimney Rock, as most of the hikes and things to do are located atop the mountain. The elevator at Chimney Rock State Park is an engineering feat by itself! The elevator is located about 198 feet into the mountains, accessible via a tunnel, and then traverses nearly 258 feet to the top of the hill.
Here is my ultimate guide to Chimney Rock State Park, featuring essential trip-planning information, things to do, hiking trails, and recommendations on hotels and restaurants near Chimney Rock State Park!
Planning Your Trip To Chimney Rock State Park
Flying into Asheville or Greenville Regional Airport and staying close to the Park in one of the rustic lodges is the best way to get the most out of your trip to Chimney Rock State Park!
Best Time To Visit Chimney Rock State Park: Chimney Rock State Park is open all year except Thanksgiving Day and Christmas, and with mild temperatures, it’s a year-round destination. However, summer and fall are the peak seasons at Chimney Rock State Park. Warm summer temperatures are best suited for longer hikes and outdoor activities, and fall brings spectacular fall foliage. If you don’t mind slightly cooler weather, visiting in spring and winter is a great option to beat the crowd at Chimney Rock State Park.
Time Required In Chimney Rock State Park: While a couple of hours are sufficient to get to the top of Chimney Rock using the elevator and soaking in the stunning mountain vistas, you would need additional time if you plan to hike one of the trails at Chimney Rock State Park. The hiking trails at Chimney Rock features dramatic alpine views and access to the gorgeous Hickory Nut Falls. So, I highly recommend hiking a couple of trails on your trip to Chimney Rock State Park and suggest spending an entire day at the Park.
Getting To Chimney Rock State Park: The best way to get to Chimney Rock State Park is by flying into Asheville, North Carolina, or Greenville, South Carolina regional airports and then driving to the Park. Alternatively, you could also take a train or a bus to get to Chimney Rock State Park.
- Flight: The Asheville Regional Airport (AVL), Asheville, North Carolina, about 28 miles from Chimney Rock State Park and Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport (GSP), Greenville, South Carolina, around 60 miles from the Park, are the closest airports to Chimney Rock. However, the regional airports are serviced by a few select airlines, which makes the Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT), Charlotte, North Carolina, approximately 90 miles from Chimney Rock, the next best option to get to the Park.
- Train: The Greenville and Spartanburg Amtrak Stations in South Carolina, located about 60 miles from Chimney Rock State Park, are the closest Amtrak station to Chimney Rock.
- Bus: The closest Greyhound bus stop to Chimney Rock State Park is located on Swannanoa River Road, Asheville, North Carolina, approximately 25 miles from the Park.
Parking In Chimney Rock State Park: Chimney Rock State Park features a large upper parking lot located close to the Park’s entrance, near the elevator, and a lower parking lot, which is basically roadside parking leading all the way to the entrance. The closer you park to the entrance / Ticket Plaza, the less you have to walk to get to the Chimney Rock elevator.
Lodging Near Chimney Rock State Park: There’re no luxury resorts and boutique hotels near Chimney Rock State Park, but you will find quite a few charming bread and breakfasts, lodges, and chain hotels near the Park. Here’re my top picks for hotels and lodges near Chimney Rock State Park
- The Esmeralda Inn, Spa & Restaurant
- The 1927 Lake Lure Inn and Spa
- Chimney Rock Inn
- Hampton Inn Hendersonville
Dining Options In Chimney Rock State Park: The only dining option in Chimney Rock State Park is its only cafe, the Sky Lounge Deli, located atop the mountain featuring snacks and beverages, and patio seating with spectacular views. There’re a few other eateries in the town of Chimney Rock that are located pretty close to the Park, including Riverwatch Bar & Grill, popularly known for their burgers, La Montaña Mexican Restaurant serving authentic Mexican food, and the Old Rock Cafe of American classics.
Things To Do In Chimney Rock State Park
Unquestionably, Chimney Rock takes center stage in the Park! However, Chimney Rock State Park also offers a few hiking trails, a beautiful waterfall, rock climbing, and an Animal Discovery Den!
Chimney Rock Observation Deck: Undoubtedly, the natural observation deck atop the Chimney Rock featuring spectacular vistas is the most iconic and popular attraction in the Park! To get to the top of Chimney Rock, you could either take the elevator or hike the access Chimney Rock Trail. However, even after you get to the top using the elevator, you need to take a short flight of steps to access the observation deck.
Hiking In Chimney Rock State Park: The Park features four popular hikes, three offering panoramic mountain sceneries and one that leads to a gorgeous 400 feet tall waterfall. Here is the link to the Chimney Rock Hiking Trails Map, and below are the most popular hiking trails in Chimney Rock State Park
- Chimney Rock Trail: If you’re not taking the elevator to the top of the mountain, the Chimney Rock Trail is the only other option to get to the top of Chimney Rock. The Chimney Rock Trail is a strenuous hike and involves climbing 500 steps using a guarded wooden stairway.
- Exclamation Point Trail: While Chimney Rock overlook is the most popular attraction in the Park, it’s not the highest point in the Park. You can ascend beyond Chimney Rock along the Exclamation Point Trail, which passes through several stunning rock formations, including Devil’s Head and Opera Box, and finally takes you to the Exclamation Point, where you will be greeted with panoramic mountain vistas. The Exclamation Point Trail is a moderately strenuous hike and about 20 – 30 minutes.
- Skyline Trail: Starting at the Exclamation Point, the Skyline Trail is a backcountry moderately strenuous 2.2 miles hike and takes about 2 – 3 hours. This Skyline Trail passes through a forested alpine terrain featuring natural scenery, Peregrine Point, the highest vista point in the Park, and the top of the Hickory Nut Falls, where the trail ends.
- Hickory Nut Falls Trail: Starting from the lower level near the elevator, the Hickory Nut Falls Trail is a moderately strenuous 1.4 miles round trip hike that takes you to the gorgeous 400 feet tall Hickory Nut Falls.
Animal Discovery Den: Located near the lower parking lot at Chimney Rock State Park, the Animal Discovery Den features a nature trail with several exhibits and display stations, including various live animals. This is a very short and easy hiking trail, about 0.5 miles, and an excellent choice for families with kids.
Rock Climbing In Chimney Rock State Park: Guided rock climbing and rappeling is offered at Chimney Rock State Park by Fox Mountain Guides and Climbing School. There are various rock climbing and rappeling packages available in the Park, and they last from anywhere between two hours – full day. You can find more details about rock climbing and different packages online on the Chimney Rock State Park website.
Other North Carolina Attractions & Related Posts
I hope you enjoyed reading the post, The Ultimate Guide To Chimney Rock State Park, and I hope this will help you plan your trip to the Chimney Rock State Park. You can find other attractions in North Carolina in my North Carolina Travel Guide.
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