What's New at Chimney Rock Park
Wednesday, 1/21/15: Elevator and Sky Lounge Closed through Thursday, 1/29

01/21/2015: The elevator and the Sky Lounge Gift Shop will be closed through next Thursday, January 29, 2015. We apologize for any disruption this may cause to your visitation plans. Please note that the Chimney is still accessible via the stairs and landings of the Outcroppings trail, weather permitting - in the event of inclement weather, we will amend this notice to say that the Outcroppings trail is also closed.

Cliff Dwellers Gifts will be open Friday through Tuesday from 10am until 6pm for your shopping convenience.

Admission prices will be reduced to $12/adults and $6/youth ages 5-15 while the elevator is out of service.

Our Old Rock Café in Chimney Rock Village will be open daily from 11am until 4pm serving lunch.

Determined Amputee Wins Grand Prize in Photo Contest

December 20, 2013—Congratulations to the winners of our 2013 photo contest themed “The Many Faces of Chimney Rock!" And thank you to everyone who participated and contributed their talents. Shannon's inspiring story and photo of her victorious summit of Chimney Rock won her the grand prize in our 2013 photo contest. Misty Holtzman of Cherryville, NC, won second place with a photo of Devil’s Head. Our Facebook fans voted to award the People’s Choice award to Jeff Woollam of Hendersonville, NC.

Grand Prize Winner Shannon Snyder of Leicester, NC is a below-the-knee amputee (pictured). “I thought my life as I knew it was over and I would never walk again,” Shannon said, after enduring five ankle surgeries during the eight years following a car accident in 1995. An avid walker, the mother of two and a career RN, Shannon developed a post-surgery bone infection that made her very sick. “I went to my surgeon with a magazine picture of a prosthetic leg and told her that I wanted to walk again and return to my passion for nursing,” Shannon says.

Continue reading Shannon's story and see the winning photos and their stories on our photo contest page. See all the finalist photos on our Pinterest board.

Contest judges included Patrick Sullivan, photographer for the Hendersonville Times-News, Garrett Byers, photographer for The Daily Courier in Forest City, N.C., Jeff Miller, Owner of Mountain Lens in Asheville, N.C. and Mark File, Owner of RomanticAsheville.com Travel Guide.

Zagat-rated "Must-try Burger" at the Old Rock

The Old Rock Café near the Park entrance has been getting attention for their local 100% grass-fed beef burger from Hickory Nut Gap Meats and new regional craft beer offerings. It’s become the go-to burger joint in the Gorge, but don’t take our word for it. The Old Rock made the cut for Zagat’s latest guide of “Must-try Burgers across the Country!”

So come cozy up with a burger, or on a chilly day try our award-winning chili or hot soup specials. Remember, our Annual Passholders get 15% off food and beverages (excluding alcohol). Check the current hours and see a menu. Want to add your two cents about a recent dining experience? Review the Old Rock on TripAdvisor.

Chimney Rock Earns NC GreenTravel Certification

In Sept. 2013, the Park was awarded an NC GreenTravel certification for it's environmentally-friendly practices. "Chimney Rock Management LLC, which operates the Chimney Rock component within the larger developing state park under a concession contract with state parks, earned its place among NC GreenTravel locations by installing public recycling containers, using locally-produced food in the park’s restaurant, reducing water usage, installing more energy-efficient lighting and appliances, removing invasive plants and increasing public environmental education effort."

“Staff at Chimney Rock Management LLC and Chimney Rock State Park as a whole have made great strides in recent years when it comes to environmental sustainability,” said Lewis Ledford, director of the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation. “They represent the complete commitment to stewardship found at all our state parks.”

"NC GreenTravel, a DENR program launched in October 2011, recognizes tourism-oriented businesses for their accomplishments in environmental stewardship, including energy and water conservation, waste reduction, recycling and other practices that help protect the environment."

Read the full article in the Asheville Citizen-Times. Learn more about the Park's sustainable practices.

Mountains Inspire Longtime Park Musician John Mason

August 1, 2013-- John Mason has dazzled the auditory senses of our guests for years, decades actually. John was drawn to the hammered dulcimer, an ancient instrument dating back 3,000 years to a mountain culture, when he first heard its haunting, melodic sounds performed by Jerry Reid Smith. A self-taught, award-winning recording artist, John has been traveling the Southeast playing and perfecting his skill on the hammered dulcimer for 30 years, with more than 20 of those in the shadow of Chimney Rock.

The Tar Heel Traveler, Scott Mason, from WRAL TV in Raleigh visited John recently to understand the motivation behind his music... and what keeps him coming back to Chimney Rock. Not surprisingly, "the scenery is a tremendous inspiration," John says. “This is the only job I’ve ever had in my whole life, when I’m going home, I’m actually looking forward to coming back the next day.”

We're proud to claim John Mason, a native North Carolinian and authentic local artist, as our featured musician. You can often find him playing the dulcimer and entertaining guests with his stories under a white tent in front of Cliff Dwellers Gifts, located at the top parking lot. He's recorded nine albums and his music is for sale at his white tent and in both gift shops. Watch the TV interview with John's performance. Watch the slideshow of John. Meet John on our website.

Enjoy live music at one of our upcoming concerts and events.

Chimney Rock Wins 7 Awards in “Best of the Mountains” Poll

Blue Ridge Country readers recognize the Park in 7 “best” categories.

Summer 2013—Chimney Rock State Park won the platinum award for Favorite State Park in Blue Ridge Country’s 2013 Best of the Mountains poll. Readers gave the Park three more platinum honors for Best Hike to Take the Dog Along, Best Birding Area and Best Beautiful Fall Foliage Spot. Chimney Rock was also awarded three golds for Best Hiking Trail (non-AT), Best Scenic Photo Opportunity and Best Waterfall.

“Chimney Rock has a lot of longtime, passionate fans and friends that eagerly shared their feelings to help earn these impressive honors for the Park. These awards are really about our fans and their love and support for this beautiful, iconic mountain destination in Western North Carolina,” said Mary Jaeger-Gale, General Manager, Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park.

The Best of the Mountains poll features a variety of reader selections, ranging from best waterfall to best southern cooking. Awards were given to cities, attractions, people and activities throughout the Blue Ridge Mountain region. The 2013 Best of the Mountains award winners can be found in the July/August 25th Anniversary Edition of Blue Ridge Country online and in print.

Thanks to all our fans and friends who voted for us! YOU are what makes Chimney Rock the best.

What's Blooming Now

May 23—We just celebrated National Wildflower Week! As the smaller blossom variety of Carolina rhododendron is past bloom, now the Mountain laurel with its small umbrella-shaped pinkish flowers is starting to burst with color. Wild columbine is still in bloom, and you’re likely to spot fire pink along the road. Also, keep an eye out for the poplar trees blooming.

May 8—Chimney Rock's wildflower scenery is in full swing now! With all the recent rain, the vegetation looks bright green. Fire Pinks are now blooming, along with purple phacelia, wild columbine and Little Sweet Betsy trillium. Magnolias are adding color to the beautiful and abundant flowering dogwoods, silverbell trees, sweetshrub and Carolina rhododendron. Sign up for our guided Spring Wildflower Walk to learn how to recognize them this Sat., May 11 from 11am-noon.

April 24—It’s the perfect time to hike Chimney Rock’s Four Seasons trail, which is now packed with blooming wildflowers, flowering trees and shrubs! Expect to still see colorful violets, purple phacelia, chickweed, wild columbine, Little Sweet Betsy trillium and other trilliums. Buckeye trees are blooming, and the flowering dogwoods and silverbell trees look gorgeous now. Sweetshrub and Carolina rhododendron blooms are popping up everywhere.

April 15—Spring is in full swing in Hickory Nut Gorge! Look for loads of violets blooming, along with purple phacelia, trilliums, and wild columbine. Our redbud trees are spectacular now, and other flowering trees and shrubs in bloom include Blue Cohosh, silverbell trees and some of our popular favorites, the white flowering dogwoods and Carolina rhododendron.

April 3, 2013—Chimney Rock is showing some spring colors now. Our bloodroot (right), Little Sweet Betsy Trillium and cut-leaf toothwort that bloomed last week still look great. Several colorful varieties of violets are now blooming, along with star chickweed. Our maple trees are blooming, and the redbud and peach trees are in full bloom with vibrant purples.

Want help identifying these blooming beauties? Learn from an expert on May 11, 11am-noon at our Spring Wildflower Walk on Mother's Day weekend. Wildflower guide books are also available in our gift shops.

Earth Day - Easy Green Tips for Families

April 22, 2013—To celebrate Earth Day this week, try practicing some of these fun green tips at home with your children. Help us save the planet, one small act at a time!

1) Get Your Hands Dirty: Most kids love to play in the dirt. Turn this into a fun gardening experience to grow plants and herbs in your yard or in small potted plants. Planting fruits, vegetables, flowers or herbs can thrill children, teach them patience and teach them how we all can contribute to the natural beauty of the world.

2) Pick up Trash: Grab some rubber gloves and garbage bags and help beautify your local parks and playgrounds. Teach your child that having a safe, healthy place to play is good for their community as well as the environment. Afterwards, celebrate your hard work with a picnic outside.

3) Swap Your Car for the Bike: Instead of taking the car, go on a bike ride or pack up a stroller with essentials and walk. Walking and bike-riding are great ways to save gas and reduce emissions while getting healthy exercise for your family.

4) Go Take a Hike: Take your child on a nature walk and encourage your family to play outdoors. Even in urban areas, natural beauty can be found just a few miles from home. While outside, point out birds, insects and plants to educate your child while nurturing a love and appreciation of the natural world.

5) Practice Recycling: Teach your little ones the value of recycling—newspapers, magazines, cans and junk mail are just a start. Even kids as young as toddlers can help sort recycling and place items into bins… just be careful with glass and metal edges.

6) No Gushing While Brushing: Teach children to turn off the water while brushing their teeth during the two-minute brushing time dentists recommend to prevent wasting water.

7) Lighten Up on Energy: Let your toddler/preschooler practice turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Help them open curtains and blinds to let in the sun's natural light. And put them in charge of making sure you turn off the TV, computer, etc. when not in use. Conserve energy and you’ll save money on your utility bills!

8) Fresh is Best: Go to your local farmers market and teach your child how to pick out ripe seasonal produce for healthy snacks. They’re eco-friendly because these fresh fruits and vegetables haven’t traveled a long distance and aren't wrapped in a lot of packaging. Having your tot smell and feel all the produce is also a great sensory activity for them.

9) Use a Reusable Bag: Next time you go to the store, give children the task of carrying their favorite backpack or bringing along other reusable bags. Put them in charge of decorating those bags and they'll be more likely to remind you to bring them with you.

10) Trash into Treasure: Bring to life the artist in your young one and save those empty containers for crafting projects rather than automatically tossing them. Egg cartons can be used as paint palettes, milk cartons as planters or bird feeders and boxes have infinite possibilities.
Source: IBNLive.com

For more ways to teach your children about nature and being a good steward, check out our Education page.

Grady the Groundhog Sees His Shadow, 6 More Weeks of Winter!

February 2, 2013—Grady the Groundhog, Chimney Rock's live animal ambassador, saw his shadow on Groundhog Day around 11:15am, meaning that we can expect more six weeks of winter weather ahead! Having rested up all winter while brushing up on his meteorology and bringing a keen eye to his big day, Grady disagreed with predictions by Punxsutawney Phil and the WNC Nature Center's Nibbles, who each called for an early spring.

About 70-80 people attended Grady's Groundhog Day from 11am-1pm for a brief nature program on groundhogs, followed by his shadow sighting/prediction, family guided hikes and Groundhog Day kids' crafts. Congrats to most of you who guessed correctly!

Help the Friends of Chimney Rock State Park!

Everyone probably remembers the Beatles’ I Get “By With a Little Help From My Friends.” The Friends of Chimney Rock State Park – a new “Friends” group designed to aid in fundraising and volunteer work – are now forming and are calling on a little help from you. The first Friends meeting was March 1 and had a superb turnout of more than 65 people! The Friends group is open to anyone, regardless of age or background, interested in the Park and its preservation and outdoor recreational opportunities. They will be organizing a membership structure and setting goals, including fundraising, education, trail building and trail maintenance. In doing so, they will work with Park staff to further the park’s mission.

To join or get more information, download the Friends of Chimney Rock State Park's two-page Brochure & Membership Application form. You may also "like" their Facebook page to follow their progress! Read the recent article in the Asheville Citizen-Times.

Cub Scout Pack 659 Raises Flag on Chimney Rock in Honor of Veteran's Day

Cub Scout Pack 659, from the Polk County, North Carolina area, raised the flag on Chimney Rock this morning in honor of Veteran's Day.

Color guard included: Sandra Poteat (Cubmaster)and Ed Harrelson (Weebelos Leader) and Weebelos Alex Harrelson, Caleb Potter and Josh Poteat (ages 9-10). Participating scouts included: Eric Harrelson, Lukas Tipton, Colin Searcy, Sebastian Potter, Riley Searcy, Logan Conner, Josh Munn, Michael Morgan and Trey Thompson (ages 6-9).

"We teach our boys all about the flag and what it represents and we encourage them to be good citizens. Also, one of the pack's requirements is to understand the special days you should display your flag. As they grow up, they will always remember raising the flag on Chimney Rock that can be seen for miles and miles," says Sandra Poteat, Cubmaster.

Get in FREE on Your Birthday

Birthdays are special, so to make your day even brighter we're offering FREE one-day admission on your birthday. Offer valid on birthday only and does not apply to other guests in party; must show a valid ID. This complimentary admission cannot be upgraded and is not good for next day re-entry.

"Standing on the Edge" - A Video about World's Edge by Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy

ABC News Ranks Hickory Nut Falls a Great Place to See Fall Foliage

September 2009 -- The Associated Press and ABC News recently including Chimney Rock's Hickory Nut Falls as one of the best places in North Carolina to see fall foliage and waterfalls. We're thrilled to be part of this list of beautiful places in Western North Carolina. Click here to check out the story.

Former Naturalist Captures Rare Rattlesnake Courtship Ritual

Our former Naturalist Clint Calhoun recently captured a timber rattlesnake courtship dance. This ritual is rarely seen by humans. Many thanks to Clint for allowing us to share this video with you.

The above video was shot in the Hickory Nut Gorge area and shows two males competing for a nearby female. The males do not injure each other, rather continue to writhe around trying to dominate until one finally gives up.

Here's more information about timber rattlesnake young from the very knowledgeable folks at the St. Louis Zoo:

The female gives birth to live young in late summer or early fall. A litter may have anywhere from five to 14 snakelings, with eight being the average. Newborns are about 10 to 13 inches long, and are somewhat lighter in color than adults.

Babies are born with a single tiny rattle segment (called a button) on their tail. Each time the skin is shed, a new segment is added to the base of the tail. You'd think this means the rattle will grow longer and longer throughout a snake's lifetime. But no! As the rattle becomes longer, the end pieces become weak and break off.

Female timber rattlesnakes, and some other pit vipers, keep close watch over their young, a trait that's rather unusual among snakes. Female timber rattlers even lay scent trails to help their offspring find winter dens.

Source St. Louis Zoo website.

Chimney Rock Featured in National Geographic Traveler's Family Vacation Planner

July 2009 -- We're excited to be one of the North Carolina locations featured in National Geographic Traveler's "Family Vacation Planner." The magazine posted on its website the best places across the nation to take a family with children.

Here's how they describe the Family Vacation Planner: Spice up your family’s travels with this comprehensive collection of memorable local attractions from every state and the District of Columbia. These family-friendly sights and activities were chosen by National Geographic Traveler for their authenticity and lasting value. You’ll find entries grouped by states and by categories of interest—adventure, animals, culture, entertainment, history, nature, and science. Whether they’re in your own backyard or across the country, you’re sure to find a wealth of attractions—many of them free—that your whole family will enjoy.

Click here to see the Chimney Rock listing.

Chimney Rock Named "One of the Best Places to Stand in NC"

July 2009 -- Jack Betts, an associate editor with the Charlotte Observer, named Chimney Rock as one of the "best places to stand in North Carolina."

Chimney Rock Featured on BudgetTravel.com

June 2009 -- Budget Travel picked its favorite eight lake towns across the country and Lake Lure and Chimney Rock made the cut.

Nationally Significant Cane Creek Mountain Preserved - Another Milestone for Chimney Rock State Park

MORGANTON, NC – The ridge, summit and slopes of Cane Creek Mountain are now part of the developing Chimney Rock State Park thanks to two acquisitions totaling 330 acres secured by Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina on behalf of the North Carolina state parks system.

Cane Creek Mountain extends the new state park northeast from “Worlds Edge” and offers outstanding views of Chimney Rock, the Pool Creek watershed and Lake Lure. The mountain is also part of the stunning view looking south from Lake Lure and east from Chimney Rock.

Foothills Conservancy negotiated the first purchase agreement a year-and-a-half ago with landowners Bob and Anne Washburn for a pristine 174-acre wilderness tract which was purchased by the state parks system in December. The purchase of 156 adjoining acres from John and Alan Moore was made by Foothills in February, using a loan from The Conservation Fund.

The state completed the acquisition of both tracts last week for addition to Chimney Rock State Park. Funding awards to state parks in 2007 and 2008 by the N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund and the N.C. Natural Heritage Trust Fund made the $6.5 million needed for the purchases possible.

“Lasting protection of Cane Creek Mountain represents another milestone in safeguarding the scenic views and nationally significant natural heritage of Hickory Nut Gorge,” said Tom Kenney, Foothills Conservancy’s land protection director. “We are very grateful for these landowners’ careful stewardship of the land over many years and their wishes to achieve conservation with these sales.”

The federally endangered White irisette plant and a number of other rare plants and animals find shelter on Cane Creek Mountain, part of a nationally significant natural area. The acquisition also protects a N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission Wildlife Action Plan priority habitat – forested rock outcrop complex.

Foothills Conservancy has worked closely in western Rutherford County with the state parks system and other conservation partners since 2004 to secure support for and create a new state park in the Hickory Nut Gorge by acquiring priority tracts, including Chimney Rock Park and Cane Creek Mountain.

“Our longstanding partnership with Foothills Conservancy has yielded many benefits both in the Hickory Nut Gorge and elsewhere in western North Carolina,” said Lewis Ledford, state parks director. “Targeted, high quality land acquisitions such as these result in very effective conservation as well as the creation of a world-class state park.”

To date, 4,320 acres have been set aside for the park, with acquisitions supported by the three state conservation trust funds, the N.C. General Assembly and private donors. Foothills Conservancy continues to work with the owners of other tracts that are strategic to this new park.

The only current public access is at Chimney Rock, the former 1,000-acre tourist destination. The state parks system is developing a master plan to guide long-term conservation efforts and development of facilities and access throughout the state park, and public input will be a part of that process.

Foothills Conservancy is a non-profit regional land trust working to protect significant natural areas and open spaces, including watersheds, farms and forests, along the Blue Ridge Escarpment and the Foothills in Rutherford, McDowell, Burke, Caldwell, Alexander, Catawba, Lincoln and Cleveland counties. Find more information about Foothills Conservancy on the web at www.foothillsconservancy.org or by calling 828-437-9930. Foothills Conservancy is also a participant in “Blue Ridge Forever,” a campaign to protect 50,000 acres in the Southern Blue Ridge by 2010.

Southern Living Readers Vote Chimney Rock Best Scenic View

January 2009 -- In a recent survey of Southern Living Magazine readers from Delaware to Texas, Chimney Rock was named number three for best scenic views.

Click here to view other winners. Thanks Southern Living readers!

USA Today Names Chimney Rock as One of the Great Places to See Santa!

December 2008 -- We're excited to be on this very exclusive top ten list from USA Today! Check out the complete article here.

Chimney Rock Featured on UNC-TV

September 2008 -- Chimney Rock was featured on the Our State program on UNC- TV. To view the segment, click here.

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