Published by Carl Hedinger. Last Updated on October 20, 2023.
Chimney Rock State Park in Western North Carolina is best known for the famed Chimney Rock. Sure, the namesake landmark is the first thing on many people’s bucket lists, but we’ve experienced many more fun things inside this state park.
A few more great hiking trails take you up to The Rock and beyond, one of NC’s most beautiful waterfalls (the immaculate Hickory Nut Falls, interesting annual events, and plenty of beautiful scenery throughout Chimney Rock State Park.
Our guide covers it all, including more things to do in Chimney Rock NC, and nearby towns. We’ve organized this article into the following sections in case you’d like to scroll ahead:
- Where is Chimney Rock?
- More Chimney Rock Facts
- Admission Info (Open Hours and Ticket Prices)
- Safety Info
- Leave No Trace Reminder
- Things to Do in Chimney Rock (Hiking Trails and More)
- Nearby Attractions and Places to Visit (Lake Lure, Asheville, and More!)
You’re welcome to scroll ahead to any of the aforementioned sections or continue reading about where to find Chimney Rock State Park on a map and some interesting facts about this iconic park.
Whether you’re a new resident, a frequent visitor, or a local, we’re leaving no detail behind. If you live in the Chimney Rock area and are wondering, “What are the best things to do near me?” we think this NC travel guide will help you out!
Where is Chimney Rock State Park?
Chimney Rock Access and Park Office: 431 Main St, Chimney Rock, NC
Eagle Rock Access: 1911 Shumont Road, Black Mountain, NC
Rumbling Bald Access: 827 Boys Camp Road, Lake Lure, NC
- Chimney Rock State Park is located in Rutherford County, North Carolina, about 25 miles southeast of downtown Asheville.
- The park’s main entrance leads to the famed Chimney Rock and the Park Office.
- The Chimney Rock offers views of the surrounding Hickory Nut Gorge, Lake Lure, and surrounding mountains. Because of the epic views (and the elevator that takes you to it), Chimney Rock is one of the most popular places to visit in North Carolina.
- There are two other access points across the Rocky Broad River, including Eagle Rock Access in Black Mountain and Rumbling Bald Access in Lake Lure.
- The Village of Chimney Rock surrounds the park’s main entrance, with a variety of shops, places to eat, and places to stay.
- If you look at a map, you’ll see that Chimney Rock State Park is surrounded by many of our favorite places to visit. As we mentioned, it’s a short day trip from Asheville, but there are even more places nearby.
More Chimney Rock State Park Facts
- 8,014 acres of forest and mountains make up Chimney Rock State Park.
- Chimney Rock is the park’s namesake and its most recognizable feature. It is 315 feet tall and 535 million years old.
- The 404-foot Hickory Nut Falls is the park’s second-most popular spot, reachable after a short hike from the same entrance as the Chimney Rock.
- In 1885, a stairway to the Rock’s peak was built, which allowed it to become a tourist attraction.
- In 1902, the land surrounding the Rock was bought by Dr. Lucius B. Morse. Over the next few years, Morse cultivated the park into what it is today.
- Chimney Rock Park was privately managed by the Morse family until 2007 when the State of North Carolina purchased it. The name was then officially changed to Chimney Rock State Park by the NC General Assembly.
Admission Info (Open Hours)
Chimney Rock State Park is open throughout the year but hours change according to the season. Here’s a quick breakdown:
- January 1-March 12: Open daily from 8:30 am-4:30 pm
- March 13-November 6: Open daily from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm
- November 7-December 31: Open almost daily from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm
Chimney Rock is closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. On Christmas Eve, the park closes at 3:00 pm.
Also, Chimney Rock State Park is one of the few North Carolina state park sites to charge admission. Admission fees go towards maintaining the park and allowing it to operate as a major tourist destination.
Here’s a breakdown of how much it costs to go to Chimney Rock, based on age:
- Adults One-day Ticket: $17
- Kids One-day Ticket: $8
- Kids Under 4: FREE
Ticket prices may change based on the season and closures of parts of the park. Chimney Rock State Park also offers an annual pass, as well as two-day passes. You can buy your ticket here and redeem it at the Ticket Plaza before entering the park.
- A word of caution: be mindful of the bears that roam the mountain range. Try to always stick with others and keep any dogs leashed, as there have been stories of bears attacking when provoked by people or unleashed dogs. The bears will usually leave people alone; if not, they’re supposedly easy to scare off by jumping and making noise. Just be careful!
- Of all the parks we’ve visited, we noticed that this one has the largest presence of volunteers and employees around to answer questions and oversee visitors. Feel free to ask them as many questions as possible about the park and its history! But also listen to volunteers’ warnings about following the signs.
Leave No Trace Reminder
While visiting Chimney Rock State Park, we ask you to PLEASE leave no trace. Pack in and out, and please do not litter in our beloved public spaces.
If you’d like to lend a helping hand, bring a grocery bag of your own and pick up any trash that you see!
Things to Do in Chimney Rock State Park
Once you enter, here are all the things to do in Chimney Rock State Park, starting with the two most popular landmarks.
The Chimney Rock
The 315-foot-tall Chimney Rock is the park’s main attraction and it’s easy to see why. From the top of Chimney Rock, you can take in a panoramic view of the North Carolina mountains, the Rocky Broad River, Hickory Nut Gorge, and much more.
To reach the top of Chimney Rock, you’ll have to drive up to the base of the monument. From there, you have two options. The best way for those looking for little to no walking is to take the elevator to the top.
The other option is parking and climbing the 500 steps to the top, also known as the Outcroppings Trail. It’s a bit of a workout, but the views along the way are definitely worth it!
I personally like the hike up because you get a lot of different perspectives of Chimney Rock and the rest of the park. Plus, you pass through the Subway (a small tunnel) and other scenic walkways.
Hickory Nut Falls
Hickory Nut Falls is the second major attraction inside Chimney Rock State Park. This 404-foot waterfall is one of the tallest in North Carolina and the Eastern United States.
The Hickory Nut Falls Trail is a 0.7-mile one-way trail (1.4 miles round trip) that will lead you straight to the base of the waterfall. The hike is relatively moderate and doable for small children. There are multiple picnic benches and places to rest along the trail and enjoy the views.
Chimney Rock State Park Hiking Trails
Beyond the Outcroppings Trail to Chimney Rock and the Hickory Nut Falls Trail, here are some other fun hiking trails with those two.
- Exclamation Point Trail: This 0.6-mile one-way trail (1.2 miles round trip) takes you to some of the most beautiful places in Chimney Rock. The trail’s entrance is right across from the Chimney and climbs uphill about 150 feet. There are breaks in the trail at Opera Box, Devil’s Head, and Exclamation Point, three of the best views in the park.
- Four Seasons Trail: Just as the name suggests, the Four Seasons Trail offers something different each season. Spring flowers frame the trail while autumn leaves create a rainbow of colors. The 0.6-mile uphill trail begins at the edge of the lower parking lot and connects with the Hickory Nut Falls Trail.
- Great Woodland Adventure: Perfect for kids, the Great Woodland Adventure takes a close look at the lives and habitats of woodland animals. Grady the Groundhog explains how his fellow groundhogs, chipmunks, frogs, owls, and turtles live in the park. There are 12 stops along this 0.6-mile trail featuring sculptures, recreations, and more.
- Skyline Trail: The longest trail in Chimney Rock State Park (and most difficult), Skyline Trail is not for the faint of heart. The 2.2-mile roundtrip trail climbs up and along the mountain for some pretty impressive views. On your way, stop by Peregrine’s Point, the highest vantage point in the park at 2460 feet above sea level. Peregrine’s Point has some of the best views in the entire park.
More Things to Do at Chimney Rock State Park
Beyond hiking, there are even more Chimney Rock State Park attractions.
Animal Discovery Den
Calling all animal lovers! Chimney Rock’s Animal Discovery Den is home to several animals who serve as ambassadors to educate about the park’s wildlife. In the Den, you’ll meet Mufasa the Eastern King Snake, Petunia the Snapping Turtle, and Ossie the Opossum, among many others.
There is also a butterfly garden and outdoor groundhog habitat. This is a great place to stop by for a while and see what species call the park home.
Before or after you explore the top of Chimney Rock, stop by the gift shop for a souvenir to remember the views! Located near the elevator, the gift shop sells local pieces as well as apparel, magnets, and more.
Music lovers should take a second to listen to John Mason, an award-winning artist who plays most sunny days outside the gift shop. Music has always been a key aspect of Appalachian culture, and the state park strives to incorporate music wherever it can.
Those looking for a little more excitement can try their hand at rock climbing! Chimney Rock State Park partnered with Fox Mountain Guides to offer rock climbing at the Rumbling Bald.
Find more information about two-hour, half-day, or full-day rock climbing sessions here.
After a long day of exploring the park, you’ll likely be looking for a place to eat. There are picnic areas scattered throughout the park, including a few tables near the Four Seasons Trailhead, the Animal Discovery Den, and the Hickory Nut Falls Trail.
This is one of the best free things to do in Chimney Rock NC and a way to save money on eating out if you are traveling on a budget!
Events at Chimney Rock State Park
Chimney Rock State Park hosts a variety of events throughout the year. Events include outdoor yoga sessions, music concerts, survival skills, and more. One of the park’s biggest events is the arrival of Santa during the Christmas season.
Ready to Visit Chimney Rock State Park?
We absolutely love Chimney Rock State Park and not just for the Chimney Rock and Hickory Nut Falls. The amazing scenery and buzz that surrounds this place are enough to keep the park on our NC Bucket List.
Do you also have a special place in your heart for Chimney Rock State Park? We’d love to hear about your experiences.
Things to Do Near Chimney Rock State Park
Including the big city of Asheville, these are some interesting nearby attractions before and after your Chimney Rock State Park experience.
The Village of Chimney Rock
This quaint Village of Chimney Rock sits at the base of Chimney Rock State Park. This is a wonderful place to explore and a fun and festive spot on busy weekends.
The diverse ensemble of restaurants, shops, and boutiques makes for a friendly and interesting experience. Have a meal along the river or stay a night at Esmeralda Inn. Some places we visited and really enjoyed were Burntshirt Vineyards and Chimney Rock Brewing.
20 minutes away from Chimney Rock State Park
Lake Lure is a beautiful man-made lake that sits in the Hickory Nut Gorge, just next door to the Village of Chimney Rock. Its beauty has resulted in it being the filming location for many movies and TV series, most notably Dirty Dancing.
There are lots of fun things to do at Lake Lure, so spend an afternoon here relaxing on the water or the beach.
You will also want to stop at the beautiful Lake Lure Flowering Bridge on your way into Lake Lure. The bridge is run by volunteers and free to visit and one of the most memorable experiences in North Carolina!
Hendersonville (and Flat Rock)
45 minutes away from Chimney Rock State Park
We absolutely love exploring Hendersonville and think it’s another wonderful base for visiting Chimney Rock State Park. You’ll enjoy all the fun things to do in and around this small town.
Just outside of Hendersonville is the town of Flat Rock, home to one of our favorite Western NC attractions—the Carl Sandburg National Historic Site. This National Parks site commemorates the famed Pulitzer Prize author’s home, where he spent his final days.
50 minutes away from Chimney Rock State Park
Black Mountain sits just off I-40 and is another great base for exploring Chimney Rock State Park. The town features quaint shops, impressive restaurants (including Phil’s Bar-B-Que Pit!), and the lovely Lake Tomahawk.
We love walking around downtown before grabbing a beer at Black Mountain Brewing and plotting our next move.
Take a Hike Mountain Outfitters is always on our list of first places to stop in town. Their selection of outdoor gear and clothes is among the best in North Carolina.
55 minutes away from Chimney Rock State Park
Last but not least is Asheville, one of the coolest North Carolina mountain towns and by population, the biggest in Western NC. It’s an excellent base for Chimney Rock State Park and even more things to do.
Throughout the year, Asheville is home to amazing restaurants, some of NC’s finest beer at its local breweries, and a world-renowned arts scene. The Asheville Art Museum and the WNC Nature Center are two of the best museums in Asheville.
More Things to Do Near Chimney Rock State Park (NC Travel Guides)
We’ve included Chimney Rock State Park and these nearby places in our Western North Carolina Travel Guides.