Discover the Magic of Chimney Rock State Park
Fall is just around the corner, and now is the perfect time to get out and explore one of the best attractions in the Asheville area. This week we take a look at Chimney Rock State Park. Fall is a great time to visit the park, take in the fall colors or go for a hike at this unique attraction. Here is everything you need to know to plan your visit to Chimney Rock State Park.
A brief history of the park
The history of Chimney Rock and the Lake Lure area is an incredible story of vision, determination, and a love of this special place. The main character in the formation of Chimney Rock was Dr. Lucious B. Morse. In 1902, with the financial backing of his brothers, Morse paid the owners of the Chimney Rock $5,000 for 64 acres of the mountain. This area included the Chimney Rock and cliffs. Over the years Morse purchased several small tracts, which expanded the park to over a 1,000 acres. Over the years, several key events took place that helped make the park the place we know as it is today. Here is a brief timeline of key events.
- 1902 with the financial backing of his brothers, Morse paid Freeman $5,000 for 64 acres of Chimney Rock Mountain.
- 1946 plans were drawn for an elevator to transport people to the top.
- 1963, a Jeep trail was added to the base of Hickory Nut Falls, ending just a few feet from the 404-foot drop
- 1970s and 80s, Lucius B. Morse III and Todd B. Morse (Hiram Morse’s grandson and great-grandson) became actively involved as the directors of the park
- 1981, they created the five-acre Meadows to meet the needs of large groups visiting the park
- 1987, a Nature Center opened at the top of Chimney Rock road in a small old stone building that had previously been used for storage and Park maintenance.
- A year-round schedule was adopted in 1992, and since that time visitors have been treated to the wintertime beauty of the park.
- In 2004, the Hickory Nut Gorge Partnership was formed by Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina, Carolina Mountain Lands Conservancy, and The Nature Conservancy to work with the Friends of Hickory Nut Gorge, NC State Parks and elected officials to secure support for a new state park to help permanently protect the rich biodiversity of the scenic Hickory Nut Gorge.
- 2006, the new park was launched with the acquisition of the dramatic 1,568-acre landscape known as World’s Edge to the south of Chimney Rock.Working with legislative leaders and then-Governor Mike Easley, the partners secured a $15 million special appropriation in 2006 to help buy Chimney Rock Park. Then, with additional assistance from The Conservation Fund, NC State Parks purchased the 996-acre park in 2007 for $24 million. Funding included a $2.35 million gift from Fred and Alice Stanback, and grants from the state’s Clean Water and Natural Heritage Trust Funds. With Chimney Rock as its focal point, Hickory Nut Gorge State Park’s name was changed to Chimney Rock State Park.
Getting to the park
Asheville visitors will find Chimney Rock State Park just a short drive away. The drive is an easy one. Here’s how to get to the park from different Asheville locations.
Exit Biltmore and turn right onto US Highway 25 S (Hendersonville Road). Take Interstate 40 East to Exit #53 (Blue Ridge Parkway and Highway 74A East). Stay on 74A East for 20 miles, and the Park entrance will be on the right.
From East Asheville
Take Interstate 240 East to Exit #9 (Blue Ridge Parkway and Highway 74A East). Stay on 74A East for 20 miles, and the Park entrance will be on the right.
From West Asheville
Take Interstate 26 East toward Hendersonville to Exit #49A (Bat Cave and Highway 64 East). Stay on 64 East for 18 miles, and the Park entrance will be on the right
Things to do and see
A visit to Chimney Rock State Park offers a wide variety of activities. From rock climbing to hiking the park has loads of things to do and see. Here are just a few that you have to try.
Rock Climbing- Join the guides of the Fox Mountain Guides and Climbing School and discover the joy of rock climbing. Don’t worry, you don’t have to have any experience to enjoy this adventure. Although you probably don’t want to be afraid of heights! To book a day or a few hours of climbing fun, Click here.
Discover Den- Check out the Animal Discovery Den to learn about the local wildlife. In the Den, visitors will get the chance to see the parks resident opossum and groundhog in their exhibits. You’ll also enjoy beautiful Lepidoptera (butterfly & moth) garden with dozens of native plant species meant to support our pollinators. You’ll love these hands-on experiences.
Hiking- If you love hiking and a breathtaking views then you’ll love the variety of trails and views available at Chimney Rock. From easy to more challenging trails for the hardcore hiker, either way, you’ll find a hike for you in the park. Make sure to bring the camera because the views are breathtaking.
Of course, these are not all of the activities available at the park. Throughout the year there are loads of family-friendly events. Events include music, guided hikes, nature talks and so much more. Click here to see the park’s events.
Still haven’t booked your Asheville Mountains fall vacation? If not, there’s still time, and we have a great inventory of vacation rentals that are perfect for your Asheville fall vacation. Click the button below to see our inventory for your fall vacation. Make sure to pack your camera and get ready to update your social media accounts. See you at Chimney Rock!
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