It’s no secret that our elevator has had its ups and downs
for the past couple of years (no pun intended!). Many of you
have asked for updates on the elevator. We want to give you as
much information as possible and will continue to provide
updates as we learn more.
As of right now, the elevator is out of service and will
remain closed to the public until a permanent solution can be
found to the ongoing issues we have been experiencing with its
operation. NC State Parks, engineers, elevator companies and
Chimney Rock Management, LLC, are all working together to
determine what is causing it to be so finicky.
We know that it’s frustrating when the elevator is not
operating. We’re frustrated, too. We’re all dedicated to getting
folks of all ages and abilities up the mountain to experience
the breathtaking, 75-mile views of Hickory Nut Gorge, Lake Lure
and the Carolina Piedmont.
Below are some of the questions we’re asked most frequently
about the elevator.
Q: It seems like the elevator hasn’t been working a
lot over the past few years. What’s happening?
A: Prior to its recent modernization, the elevator was
powered by a motor generator and an analog controller, both of
which were past their service life and in dire need of
replacement. Current technology utilizes solid-state direct
drives and digital controllers and incorporates a sophisticated
array of safety circuitry. Unfortunately, this new technology
has to operate in the same damp, difficult environment as did
the less sensitive old equipment. Furthermore, the new machinery
needs greater and higher quality power.
After the initial modernization, several follow-on projects
to improve the supply of power and address other issues required
us to close the elevator to the public for short durations.
Though the elevator ran fine for long stretches over the last
3 years, the machinery has consistently been recording minor
faults. These minor faults were not noticeable to the passengers
and we have continued to troubleshoot. These faults have
recently been recurring more frequently and now, unlike before,
they happened with noticeable effect. While still safe, we
cannot expect the general public to risk abrupt stops or
tolerate being stuck in the elevator, even if it is just for a
Until a solution can be fashioned to increase reliability, we
just don’t feel comfortable opening it to the general public.
Q: Is it dangerous to ride the elevator?
A: These issues are not about safety; they are about
providing a consistent, smooth ride. In order to ensure the
equipment reliability, we are currently running the elevator but
limiting its use to associates only at this time.
Q: It seems like the elevator operated fine until
state parks bought the Park in 2007, and then it’s been having
problems ever since. What happened?
A: It was the Morse family’s dream to provide access
to the top of their mountain for everyone to enjoy. We are all
fortunate that the state of NC is dedicated to continuing to
provide this unique access to Chimney Rock.
The original elevator was installed in 1948 and opened to the
public in 1949 as the tallest in North Carolina. It took eight
tons of dynamite and eight months to blast the elevator’s 258-
foot-high shaft and 198-foot-long tunnel through solid granite
inside the mountain.
In 1988, all but the car of the original elevator was
replaced with then state-of-the-art, moisture-proof equipment.
When the State purchased the Park in 2007, they knew it would
soon to be time to replace it again. Beginning in December of
2010 until it was reopened in June 2012, essentially every part
of the elevator was again replaced or upgraded including the
original car. The 26-story set of evacuation stairs behind the
elevator car was also replaced. In addition, a backup generator
was installed to ensure reliable service during power
Q: Can I still get to the top of Chimney Rock when
elevator is out of service?
A: Chimney Rock and the spectacular 75-mile views of
Lake Lure, Hickory Nut Gorge and the Carolina Piedmont can
always be accessed by climbing the 499-step Outcroppings trail
(unless, of course, it’s icy in winter). You get a real sense of
accomplishment from taking this hike – we don’t call it
the “Ultimate Stairmaster” for nothing! We’ve had many visitors
tell us they thought they couldn’t make the climb, only to try
it and have a story to brag about when they returned home.
And, a special addition has just opened. Be sure to take the
spur off of the trail to see the incredible views from atop the
Pulpit Rock and Grotto and get down into and through the Subway.
State contractors pulled off an engineering feat to provide new
and improved access to these popular historic features.
Q: What can folks who come with me and can’t hike
while I go up on the Outcroppings trail?
A: Guests who cannot make the moderate-to-strenuous
climb to the top of the Rock can still experience the views from
the top parking lot in front of Cliff Dwellers Gifts. You can
get a snack and/or a cold drink and sit at one of the picnic
tables or benches under the tent or savor the view of Lake Lure
from one of the rocking chairs you’ll find in front of the shop.
On some days, John Mason, our resident musician, may be found
there performing on his hammered dulcimer.
If they can handle a little hiking, you can take the more
moderate 1.5 mile Hickory Nut Falls trail to the bottom of our
404-foot waterfall or check out the hand-crafted animal
sculptures along the Great Woodland Adventure trail near Grady
the Groundhog’s Animal Discovery Den on the
Q: How much is admission to the Park when the
A: Admission to the Park is normally $15 for adults
and $7 for kids ages 5-15. While the elevator is out of service,
admission will be reduced to $13 for adults and $6 for youth
ages 5-15. Kids 4 and under are always free! Normal discounts
(AAA members, seniors and military) will apply.
Q: How will I know when the elevator is back in
A: We will put updates on the front page of our
website and on our social media sites as we get them. (Facebook:
Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park; Twitter:
@ChimneyRockPark; Instagram: chimneyrockatchimneyrockpark.) If
you are planning a visit to the Park and need to use the
elevator, be sure to check our website or social media pages or
give us a call at 800-277-9611 before you come. We’ll be happy
to provide you with the current status and answer any other
questions you have about Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State
Please reach out to us with your questions. We’ll answer
you promptly, and with your permission, we may post your
question here or on our social media pages....