ASHEVILLE NC – Chimney Rock’s panoramic 75-mile views capture the full spectrum of Western North Carolina’s legendary fall foliage, and it’s getting easier to know when to catch it at its peak. Weekly fall color and wildflower reports are available at chimneyrockpark.comto help you know where and when to find the best color. Peak fall colors are expected to appear in Chimney Rock and Lake Lure between mid-October and early November. Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park offers a variety of favorite ways to admire autumn colors this year, from expert- and self-guided hikes to rock climbing and a photography workshop.
“The Blue Ridge Mountains feature one of most vibrant and longest fall color displays in America, attracting visitors from around the world. In late September to early November, from popular destinations along the Blue Ridge Parkway to Chimney Rock and Lake Lure, Western North Carolina is among the most beautiful places to go leaf peeping, hiking and driving,” said Emily Walker, Naturalist
Catching Peak Colors. Fall in the Blue Ridge Mountains rewards leaf peepers with brilliant displays of leaf colors, from deep red and maroon to fiery yellow and orange. Chimney Rock and Lake Lure have a large range of colorful tree species and an elevation ranging from 1,100 to 2,500 feet, which are ideal conditions to create a long window for optimal viewing. Peak colors typically arrive at the Park’s higher elevations around mid-October and spread down to the lower elevations through early to mid-November.
Weekly Fall Color Report. Experts predict that this fall will be one of the best for color that we’ve had in quite some time. Early leaf colors are just beginning to show on the higher-elevation roads leading to Chimney Rock State Park and will dot the ridges and upper trails in the Park. Splashes of red will appear in the dogwood and sourwood trees, along with yellows in the poplars. Already, fall wildflowers such as goldenrod, snakeroot, turtlehead, a variety of asters and foamflowers are popping up along the Park’s trails.
Below is a list of Chimney Rock’s favorite outings that will reward leaf peepers with an eyeful of autumn foliage.
See Chimney Rock Differently
- Grab your binoculars and field guide and join world-traveled birding expert Simon Thompson at our Naturalist Niche: Simon Says Fall Bird Walk on Sunday, October 18, from 8:30-10:30am. Discover which of our feathered friends will be sticking around during the cooler season and view the first fall color to arrive at the Park. Fee includes Park admission: $22 Adults, $7 Annual Passholder, $12 Youth (ages 5-15), $5 Grady’s Kids Club Member. Pre-registration is required; call 800-277-9611 or email [email protected].
- Experience the Park after hours at Park in the Dark on Saturday, October 24 from 7:30-10pm. This family-friendly event will feature self-guided hikes along the Outcroppings trail to the Chimney, live nocturnal animal programs, campfire storytelling and stargazing with the Asheville Astronomy Club. A percentage of the admission fee of $5 per person and sales from the evening will benefit Friends of Chimney Rock State Park, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to support Chimney Rock; currently their primary goal is to raise money and to find volunteers to help reopen the Park’s popular Skyline trail which leads to the top of Hickory Nut Falls. Space is limited and registration is required. Call today to reserve your spot to this special event.
- Join local naturalist Clint Calhoun for one of the last chances to see fall color and embark on an adventure into Chimney Rock’s Old Growth Forest during our Naturalist Niche: Survival Skills hike. You’ll learn about helpful survival tips and techniques and essential gear, plus you’ll discover what makes this forest ecologically remarkable. Fee includes Park admission: $22 Adults, $7 Annual Passholder, $12 Youth (ages 5-15), $5 Grady’s Kids Club Member. Pre-registration is required; call 800-277-9611 or email [email protected].
- View stunning fall colors from the cliff face high above the gorge. Sign up for a rock climbing adventure with Fox Mountain Guides on two-hour, half- and full-day clinics for beginner to advanced climbers. Bring friends to save money with a group rate.
Experience Local Flavor
- Soak up 75-mile panoramic views on top of the Chimney via a rewarding 20-25 minute hike on our Outcroppings trail. This is the most dramatic and popular way to get your fall color fix! On your way to or from the Chimney, be sure to stop by the Grotto, Subway and Pulpit Rock. These popular features were recently reopened and offer amazing views of the Carolina Piedmont, Lake Lure and Hickory Nut Gorge. Take some water, wear comfy walking shoes and take your time. The elevator may be out of service, but you’ll be well rewarded for the extra effort when you get to the top.
- Chimney Rock offers a colorful variety of fall wildflowers. Pick up a local wildflower guidebook from the Park’s gift shop to identify many blooming beauties along Chimney Rock’s trails, including asters, goldenrod and Pink Turtlehead, to name a few.
- Beats, Burgers & Brews adds a local soundtrack to the colorful autumn scene with live folk, bluegrass, blues and Americana music at the Old Rock Café at 6-8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays in October beginning October 9. Located at the Park’s entrance, the restaurant offers regional craft beer and local burgers from Hickory Nut Gap Meats. Relax on the riverside deck with a great view of the Chimney framed by fall foliage.
Capture Colors on Camera
- Shutterbugs looking for expert tips and tricks to frame peak fall colors will find them at the Park’s Shutterbugs Nature Photography Workshop on November 1, 8:30am-4pm. Award-winning photographer Chuck Hill leads one of the region’s most affordable workshops. $100 fee includes an annual pass to the Park and lunch; $75 fee for annual passholders includes lunch. Space is limited, so call 800-277-9611 or email [email protected] to register today.
- Submit your fall photos of the Park by November 27 for a chance to win great prizes in the “Chimney Rock: What’s Your View” photo contest. Prizes include a two-day getaway with a stay at the historic Esmeralda Inn, Park annual passes, Lake Lure boat tours and more. Contest rules and entry instructions can be found at chimneyrockpark.com.
Due to the elevator being out of service, park admission is reduced to $13 for adults and $6 youth ages 5-15; kids under five are always free. For more information on fall color, scenic drives and events throughout Western North Carolina, visit fallinthemountains.com.
About Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park
Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park is a still-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 can be accessed via a 499-step Outcroppings Trail and offers guests 75-mile panoramic views of Hickory Nut Gorge and Lake Lure. The Park features one of the highest waterfalls of its kind east of the Mississippi River, Hickory Nut Falls, at 404 feet. 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. The Rumbling Bald section of the greater State Park off of Boys Camp Road in Chimney Rock is the only other area of the Park that is currently open to the public. A destination for travel groups, weddings and special events, the Chimney Rock section of the Park also hosts innovative educational programs for schools, homeschoolers, scouts and summer camps. Visit Chimney Rock’s website at chimneyrockpark.com.