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June 7, 2022, 2:33 p.m.

Blue Ridge Day Trip: Chimney Rock State Park

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One of the best places in the Blue Ridge to find that top-of-the-world feeling is at the summit of Chimney Rock — a 535-million-year-old monolith that is the perfect perch for views of Lake Lure and the surrounding Hickory Nut Gorge.

Chimney Rock State Park is home to this impressive geologic feature, as well as several popular hiking trails, excellent bird watching and plenty of fun for the whole family. And did you know? Chimney Rock was one of the filming sites for the 1992 blockbuster The Last of the Mohicans!

What to see and do at Chimney Rock State Park

You can visit the top of Chimney Rock by taking one of two paths. The adventurous path — also known as the Outcroppings Trail — leads up a network of more than 500 stairs, with many places along the way to stop and catch your breath. If you’re looking for a faster or more accessible route, take a state-of-the-art elevator to the top.

Be sure to bring your camera! The panoramic view from the top of the 315-rock is breathtaking. On a clear day, you can see 75 miles — that’s almost all the way to Charlotte!

After your mountaintop experience, be sure to check out these top activities at Chimney Rock State Park:

  • Hiking: Five additional hiking trails take explorers across the park. The Hickory Nut Falls Trail leads to the base of a 404-foot epic waterfall — one of the tallest east of the Mississippi River. The Exclamation Point trail begins at the top of Chimney Rock and winds along the cliffside to several favorite points of interest.
  • Dining: If you work up an appetite with all that hiking, you may want to pull up a seat at the Old Rock Cafe — located near the entrance to the park — and order a burger, salad or grilled sandwich. From April through December, the Sky Lounge Deli serves drinks, snacks and ice cream to go.
  • Shopping: Find the perfect souvenir at one of the park’s two gift shops — Cliff Dwellers near the top parking area (open seasonally), and the Sky Lounge Gift Shop near the top of the rock.
  • Wildlife Viewing: Chimney Rock is a favorite place for bird watchers, with a wide variety of species calling the area home — or passing through during annual migrations! Kids will love the Great Woodland Adventure trail and the Animal Discovery Den, which houses snakes, frogs, opossums and other critters.
  • Events: Check Chimney Rock’s calendar of events for additional happenings throughout the year including live music, educational events, yoga and more. Save the dates for September’s Flock to the Rock bird migration event and December’s Santa on the Chimney celebration.

Plan your visit to Chimney Rock State Park

Chimney Rock State Park is open daily except for Thanksgiving and Christmas days. Hours vary by season — from March 13-November 6, 2022 the park is open 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; November-March the park is open 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Tickets can be purchased online in advance or at the front gate upon arrival. Adult tickets are $17 per person, and youth tickets are $8 for kids ages 5-15. Kids under 5 are admitted for free.

Chimney Rock State Park is about a one-hour drive from downtown Marion. Take I-40 W to exit 73, then to Bat Cave Road, NC-9 and US-74 ALT.

Photo courtesy of Chimney Rock State Park. Photographer: Jason Tarr.