CHIMNEY ROCK NC – To maintain Chimney Rock as one of the Southeast’s premier outdoor destinations, the developing Chimney Rock State Park will undergo construction on December 5, 2011, to improve access by upgrading one of its upper trails called the Outcroppings. The Park will remain open to visitors during the winter capital improvements and its lower trails and many points of interest will be open to the public. A new elevator, renovated Sky Lounge Gift Shop & Deli and the Chimney are scheduled to reopen upon completion of improvement projects in spring 2012. Starting December 5, winter admission will be $9 for adults and $4 for youth (ages 6-15) and free for children under six. Winter hours will be Thursday to Monday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. with the Ticket Plaza closing at 4:30 p.m.
“There’s never a convenient time to make improvements, but we’re doing everything we can to limit the impact on our guests. These significant upgrades help preserve access to the Park’s 535-million-year-old natural wonder while improving the guest experience for generations to come,” said Mary Jaeger-Gale, General Manager, Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park.
Outcroppings Trail Replacement. During the winter, a section of the Outcroppings trail that provides access to the Chimney will be replaced from the top parking lot level up to the bottom of the new stairs completed last April. The new, steel-framed wooden stairways will allow for easier access to the Chimney and points of interest above, such as the Opera Box, Devil’s Head and Exclamation Point. The improved Outcroppings trail will accommodate more traffic, offer a better guest experience and help maintain access for future generations. With the park’s elevator currently undergoing a complete modernization, the Chimney and upper Chimney Rock Mountain will not be open to the public during the winter.
“It’s an exciting time in the history of Chimney Rock State Park. Being able to not only preserve this amazing natural resource, but also to enhance the experiences our citizens and visitors have at the park for decades to come is very important. Since the attraction’s inclusion into the N.C. State Park system in 2007, the Division of Parks and Recreation has been dedicated to caring for this incredible destination through phased improvements each year,” said Adrienne Wallace, Park Superintendent, Chimney Rock State Park.
Attractions Remaining Open. Areas of the park that will remain open to the public throughout improvements include the 404-foot-tall Hickory Nut Falls and its trail, Cliff Dwellers Gift Shop and the Meadows area, including the Great Woodland Adventure and Four Seasons trails, Grady’s Animal Discovery Den, Classroom on the Meadows and the covered picnic pavilion. Chimney Rock continues to offer events to enhance guest experience during improvements, such as Santa on the Chimney on December 3 and 10 and workshops and free guided hikes in early 2012.
Elevator Modernization. The 26-story elevator, which provides convenient access to the top of Chimney Rock, is currently undergoing a complete modernization designed to increase its reliability, speed and capacity. The original elevator opened in 1948—more than six decades ago—and although it was renovated in the mid-80s, it is due for a complete modernization. Taken out of service in April 2011, nearly every part including the original elevator car is being upgraded or replaced. Construction on the 26-story metal egress stairs is nearly complete, and work on replacing the elevator itself will be underway soon. The Sky Lounge Gift Shop & Deli has been renovated and its restrooms updated to meet the American Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations. The restrooms on the Meadows and in the top parking lot will also be renovated during the winter. Portable toilets will be provided while the Park restrooms are under construction from early December to the end of March. The new elevator, along with the Outcroppings trail, is scheduled to reopen in spring 2012.
“It’s time to make these improvements so that our kids, grandkids and great-great grandkids can enjoy making memories at Chimney Rock for another century,” said Jaeger-Gale. “It’s like making improvements to your home. At some point, the roof must be replaced. While it may not be opportune, it has to be done.”
New Hours & Admission. Rates will be reduced during improvements, effective December 5. Winter admission is $9 for adults and $4 for youth ages six through 15. Children under six are admitted free. When the Hickory Nut Falls trail is closed due to inclement weather, adult admission is $5 and kids under 16 are admitted free. Winter hours are Thursday to Monday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. with the Ticket Plaza closing at 4:30 p.m. Both the Park and Old Rock Café, located in Chimney Rock Village near the park’s entrance, will be closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The park will be closed Christmas day but will be open every day from December 26 to January 2, 2012, including New Year’s Day. In case of inclement weather, check the Park’s website for opening status.
Great Deals on Annual Passes. Adult Annual Passes, a great stocking stuffer for family and friends, are available for $20 during a holiday special November 25 to December 24. Guests who visit the park during discounted winter admission rates can also save money by upgrading their admission tickets to Annual Passes for only $11 for adults and $4 for youth (ages 6-15) within 30 days of purchasing admission. Buy your upgrade online, call 800-277-9611 or show your receipt at the Ticket Plaza on your next visit within 30 days.
Old Rock Café Improvements. The Old Rock Café, located in Chimney Rock Village and operated by the Park, will be closed for renovations for about three weeks in January. The project includes redesigning the layout, replacing equipment and paneling in the kitchen and replacing the carpet. Starting Dec. 5, the restaurant’s winter hours will be Thursday-Monday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. It will be closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays along with the Park. However, the Old Rock will be open daily 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. from December 26 to January 2, 2012 for the holidays, including New Years’ Day.
Follow Our Progress. Future updates, progress reports and photos for winter capital improvements can be found on the Park’s website at chimneyrockpark.com/progress and on Facebook at ChimneyRockParkNC.
Definitions: The Outcroppings trail is the trail from the top parking lot to the Chimney area. The Skyline trail leads from the Chimney level to the Opera Box, Devil’s Head and Exclamation Point. The Sky Lounge is the Gift Shop and Deli at the top of the elevator. Cliff Dwellers Gifts is located at the top parking lot.
About Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park
Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park is a developing international outdoor destination located 25 miles southeast of Asheville on Highway 64/74A in Chimney Rock, N.C. It is recognized as one of the Southeast’s most iconic sites and popular travel destinations. The Park’s 535-million-year-old monolith called Chimney Rock offers guests 75-mile panoramic views of Hickory Nut Gorge and Lake Lure. Hickory Nut Gorge, one of the state’s most significant centers of biodiversity, is home to 36 rare plant species and 14 rare animal species, and the second highest waterfall of its kind in the eastern United States. A destination for travel groups, weddings and special events, the Park also hosts innovative educational programs for schools, homeschoolers, scouts and summer camps. Visit Chimney Rock’s website at chimneyrockpark.com. More information on current Capital Improvement projects at chimneyrockpark.com/progress or by calling 800-277-9611.