April 5, 2016

Your Travel Guide to An Unforgettable First Visit to Chimney Rock

If you're thinking of visiting Chimney Rock Park on your next family vacation and have never been there before, check the guide we put together to get the most out of your first visit - from a first-timer to another first-timer, who will soon be a second-timer.

We visited Chimney Rock during Spring break which to my book is the perfect season to take a trek up to the mountain top. The weather is cool, can be a bit windy and tad chilly at the highest point of elevation, but I won't trade cool breeze and mild weather over hot, searing Summer heat.

Chimney Rock is located in the mountains of North Carolina. 25 minutes from Asheville and about 120 miles from Charlotte. It's far enough for an ideal day trip but definitely perfect for a long weekend trip for the whole family - and your beloved pets!

Perfect Spots for Photography
You probably wonder how these stunning pictures of Chimney Rock you see here and online were taken and you of course, want to achieve the same thing or better. Well, I've solved the mystery for you and giving you the best locations to take dramatic shots of the rock and the surrounding sights.

For shots of Chimney Rock:

For Lake Lure and Chimney Rock Village:
  • Pulpit Rock
  • Lake Lure Outlook
  • Chimney Rock

There's only one spot to take photos of the Devil's Head unfortunately, and that is at the Devil's Head overlook.

We swear by these survival tips:
  • Use the bathroom before you take a hike or climb the stairs to Chimney Rock. Highly crucial when elevator is not in service. There are no bathrooms on the trails. The only available bathroom facilities are located on the base of the rock and at Sky Lounge up top.
  • Travel light. Bring only the necessities like your wallet, so you can shop at Sky lounge for food, ice cream or souvenirs and don't forget your nifty camera. Ditch the tripod if you're not taking group shots with you in it. Otherwise, carry on.
  • And don't forget water and snacks. You'll need it trust me.
The rest of these tips are detailed here: Rules of the Climb
Subway Trick - (Strictly) For Fun and laughter
Perfect for first-timers who have no clue what the Subway is like. But here's a disclaimer: Pull the trick at your own risk. I'm not to be blame for any bodily harm or injury you may receive caused by your victim. Insert gazillion of LOL. It's totally worth it!
See how I pulled this trick on my almost 6'4 tall husband here and survived it! I almost died laughing though. 

Fun For the whole family
  • Pets are allowed just make sure they're properly leashed and at all times.
  • Kid-Friendly Hiking Trails includes: The Great Woodland adventure, The Outcroppings and the Hickory Nut Falls Trails (though strollers and wheelchairs is not highly recommended).
  • Grady's Animal Discovery Den where kids get to meet Grady the groundhog and his friends.
  • Picnic at the park. Chill with your family and show off your barbecuing skills at the designated picnic areas at the park. 

Rocky Broad River photographed below Carter Lodge 

Rocky Broad River with Bridge to Chimney Rock Park in the distance.

Points of Interest
Chimney Rock is literally a hop away from the famous Lake Lure. Visiting the area is like what I described as "hitting two birds with one shot". A perfect family getaway that you can easily do over a long weekend trip.

Other things you can do:
  • Walk around the village for a small town adventure. Chimney Rock is a very small town. You can check out some of their unique gift shop and be immersed in small town hospitality.
  • Dip your tired feet in the cool waters of Rocky Broad River. The river runs through the whole town of Chimney Rock, separating the town from the park but connected by a bridge. Behind the shops in line with Chimney Rock park entrance are designated stairs to where you can descend down on the river. Some of the businesses along the river edge even offer accessibility to it. Though take precaution, the rocks submerged in the water are highly slippery.
  • Chimney Rock Gemstone Mining. Pan for some gems and hope you find a keeper.
  • Walk the park at Lake Lure. A very short drive from Chimney Rock village. They have a gorgeous garden setting overlooking the water.
  • Play in the sand and swim at Lake Lure beach (opens in Summer)
  • Fish at Lake Lure.

Carter Lodge  photographed from Pulpit Rock 

The perfect Chillin' spot along Rocky Broad River

River adventure! 
My girl made it to the big boulder in the middle of the river amidst current and slippery rocks

Where to Stay
There is not a lot of hotel choices in the area. We stayed at the Carter Lodge. It is a small value hotel immediately across Chimney Rock park. It is close enough that you're actually staring at the ROCK from the room's balcony and gives you the pleasure of seeing the park illuminated with lights at night. The hotel doesn't offer breakfast but it is conveniently located midway between Lake Lure and Chimney Rock Park and a hop away from downton Chimney Rock village with an access to the river below. For an overnight stay, the hotel is a good choice. Though pets are not allowed.  

Other hotel within Chimney Rock Village includes Chimney Rock Inn and Esmeralda Inn and Restaurant.

Restaurant with a view! La Strada patio dining area

Where to Eat
  • Medina's Village Bistro is a popular breakfast restaurant located across Chimney Rock Park entrance. We highly recommend Royale Breakfast Hash-Casserole and to come in early. There is usually a wait. 
  • La Strada on Lake Lure is a restaurant with a view and a popular dining mecca for tourist and the like who don't mind paying a little bit more for their food. 

To get a an idea how it's like to visit Chimney Rock for the first time, read our personal mountain adventure and also check the Park and Trail Map to help you plan your route before your go.

If you have any question about our experience to help you out on your upcoming visit to Chimney Rock, drop us a note!


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