There is so much to see and do in the mountains of Western North Carolina, from hiking and camping, to exploring a quaint picturesque town. One of our favorite ways to experience the western NC mountains is visiting Chimney Rock State Park! Just 25 miles from Asheville, North Carolina, this state park highlights the monolith (Chimney Rock) that allows you to have dramatic views of the mountains and the gorge below.
Did you know? Chimney Rock was featured in Last of the Mohicans! You can see its scenery in several parts of the movie. In fact, this area (Chimney Rock, NC & nearby Lake Lure) were used for not just the Oscar nominated Last of the Mohicans, but also another blockbuster hit from the past – Dirty Dancing! Lake Lure was the primary filming location for Dirty Dancing – from the lake views itself, to the inn (1927 Lake Lure Inn & Spa) where Baby stayed. The movie is such a beloved memory in the area, that each year multiple festivals and events (including the lake lift tournament) are held around the lake!
Chimney Rock can be quite a hall for those looking to get in their steps for the day. To reach the top, you will have to take about 500 stairs. If that sounds like a pain (literally!), you can opt for an easier route – the elevator. The elevator will get you almost there, with just a short 40 step staircase left to climb to get to the top of Chimney Rock. Unless it is cloudy on the day you decide to visit the park, you can see over 75 miles of the surrounding area including Lake Lure!
Want to explore the park deeper? Stay and hike! Chimney Rock State Park has seven different hiking trails if you are wanting a bit more adventure. Ranging from easy (Hickory Nut Falls Trail with a gently rolling path) to the more difficult (such as the 400 foot elevation gain on Four Seasons Trail), you and your group will find something that meets your experience level. If you’re seeking a more memorable and difficult feat, the park has partnered with Fox Mountain Guides and Climbing School which offers the opportunity to climb and rappel in the park. If you are looking for a more peaceful outing at the park, it has an Animal Discovery Den that houses the park’s animal ambassadors – perfect for a family day with smaller children. The ambassadors include various snakes, frogs, turtles, opossums, a groundhog, and a chipmunk. The park also offers great bird watching opportunities, so be sure to bring your binoculars as Chimney Rock is an official site on the North Carolina Birding Trail.
If you are ready to rest or take a break and get a bite to eat, the Village of Chimney Rock, at the base of the park, has a variety of options plus many picnic tables to continue enjoying the scenery while eating.
Chimney Rock, NC is less than 20 minutes from Lake Lure, making this entire area a perfect spot for a summer (or fall) family vacation. Hike the trails, fish or swim in the lake, and spend the afternoon down at the shops and restaurants in Chimney Rock Village.
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