Check out our favorite 2018 Events at Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park. And there are many additional events and special programs on many other days! Peak fall color is usually the last week of October through the first week of November.
January 1-March 19: Winter Wonders Photo Contest
Winter is a time for Mother Nature to rest and regenerate. Even during her downtime, though, her beauty is apparent everywhere you look. Leafless trees make for expansive views of Lake Lure and the Hickory Nut Gorge.
January 1: First Day Hike
A Park Ranger will lead visitors from the front entrance of the park along the 3-mile main road to the base of the Rock. Hikers will learn about the Park’s fascinating history during their trek. A shuttle service will be provided back to the front gate at the end of the hike. Free. Meet at the Old Rock Café at 8 AM.
February 2: 13th Annual Groundhog Day Celebration
Greta the Groundhog waits all year for a chance to predict whether spring will come early or not. Visit the Animal Discovery Den to see if our resident woodchuck sees her shadow. Following her prediction, take part in a family-friendly activity and guided hike along the Great Woodland Adventure trail. 10 AM-12 Noon. No additional cost to enter. Read more.
February 9-13: Valentine’s Day Special: Buy 1, Get 1 Free
Share an intimate moment with your sweetie on top of the Rock, or better yet, in the Opera Box enjoying expansive views. Purchase one adult admission ticket and receive a second adult admission ticket free. Coupon required; download from chimneyrockpark.com and present it (in print or on your mobile device) at the Ticket Plaza at time of purchase.
March 20-June 20: Smiles of Spring Photo Contest
It’s hard not to crack a smile while enjoying amazing views of Lake Lure and the Hickory Nut Gorge from on top of the Chimney. Capture photos of your family and friends enjoying the Park for a chance to win fabulous prizes.
March 24: Naturalist Niche: Ridge Hike
The trails of Chimney Rock are amazing, but a guided hike off-the-beaten-path leads you to places you never knew existed! Discover seasonal changes along your trek that will introduce you to a whole new perspective of the Park. This hike is considered moderately-strenuous. Meet at 9 AM. Cost: Includes Park admission: $23 Adult, $8 Annual Passholder, $13 Youth (ages 5-15), $6 Rockin’ Discovery Passholder. Advance registration required.
March 31-April 8: Spring Break Family Fun
Join a Park Naturalist at 2 PM for an informal program where your family will love meeting some of our wilder teammates! Kids of all ages are sure to take home some fun facts and special memories. Then, grab a Track Trail brochure at the Animal Discovery Den and round out the day with a hike along our Great Woodland Adventure trail with 12 education stations.
April 1: 63rd Annual Easter Sunrise Service
Gate opens 5-6 AM for 6:30 AM service. Celebrate the glory of Easter with song, scripture and spiritual music as a spectacular sunrise ascends over Lake Lure. Chimney Rock’s nondenominational service has become a legendary event in WNC, attracting more than 1,000 early risers from around the Southeast. Admission to the Sunrise Service is free. Stay and enjoy the Park all day. A breakfast buffet at the Old Rock Café following the service for $10.99 for adults and $6.99 for children under 10. Read more.
April 14: Naturalist Niche: Spring Wildflowers
9:30 AM-12:30 PM. Explore some of the park's more moderate hiking options while learning about colorful spring flowers. You’ll be surprised to find such a variety of plants within such a small area of the Park. This hike is considered moderate. You will descend the Four Seasons Trail from the top lot, but you won’t have to hike back up. Transportation will be provided. Cost: Includes Park admission: $23 Adult, $8 Annual Passholder, $13 Youth (ages 5-15), $6 Rockin’ Discovery Passholder. Advance registration required.
April 21: Earth Day
11 AM-3 PM. Celebrate the NC Science Festival! Join state park rangers, regional biologists, and other environmental educators to learn about the great work being done to protect our beautiful landscape. Free. Booths will be located in Chimney Rock Village behind the Old Rock Cafe, and this event will take place rain or shine. Free
April 28: From Dusk to Dawn 2-Day Photo Workshop
Join Professional Photographer Chuck Hill 9 AM-4 PM for this two-day workshop focusing on nature’s beauty at all hours of the day. This class will discuss and review panos, types of scenic photography and the equipment needed to make a photo pop. You’ll also have time to take photos in the park during regular hours, shoot both sunrise and sunset photos from the top of the Chimney, and learn about astrophotography. As an added bonus, participants can choose to camp overnight in the Park for an additional fee. Class is limited to 10, so call 800-277-9611 today to reserve your spot. Cost: $250 fee. Camping is an additional $8 per person. Lunch on Saturday and Sunday included. Attendees are responsible for bringing their own camera, computer with photo editing software, camping equipment and food outside of lunch during this workshop.
May 5-6: Spring Boy Scout Day & Campout
Scouts have explored and investigated Chimney Rock for decades. Enjoy morning programs, optional afternoon activities and the rare opportunity to spend the night beneath the stars with other scouts. Call 828.625.9611 to register. Registration closes April 28 and is limited to 200 scouts. $15 per scout, $12 per adult, $5.50 additional youth, $8 per camper
May 5: Naturalist Niche: Spring Migration Bird Walk
9 AM-12 Noon. Spring is for the birds! Dozens of species migrate through our area every spring as they head north. Find how many different species you can see and hear that are making their way home. Don’t forget your binoculars. This hike is easy- to- moderate.Cost: Includes Park admission: $23 Adult, $8 Annual Passholder, $13 Youth (ages 5-15), $6 Rockin’ Discovery Passholder. Advance registration required.
May 12-13: Mother’s Day Weekend Special
Buy one regular-price adult ticket and mom or grandma receives one free with our online coupon. Coupon required; download one at chimneyrockpark.com and present it (in print or on your mobile device) at the Ticket Plaza at time of purchase. Make plans to stay after your visit to the Park and enjoy dinner and the Symphony of Rutherford County at the Gathering Place in Chimney Rock Village Saturday evening beginning at 6pm. This special concert is the grand finale of the community’s annual SpringGo event.
May 19-20: Spring Girl Scout Day & Campout
Your scouts will love the hands-on morning programs, adventurous afternoon activities and the incredible opportunity to camp overnight in the Park. Call 828.625.9611 to register. Registration closes May 12 and is limited to 200 scouts. Cost: $15 per scout, $12 per adult, $5.50 additional youth, $8 per camper
June 21-September 21: Snapshots of Summer Photo Contest
Summer is all about outdoor fun, spending quality time together as a family and taking in the wonderful sights of nature. Submit your photos of your family hiking, sunlight making its way through the trees or of the fantastic views that make Chimney Rock so special.
June-August: Family Animal Encounters
Every day at 2 PM, join Park naturalists for an informal program where your family will love meeting some of our wilder teammates! Kids of all ages are sure to take home some fun facts and special memories. Then, grab a Track Trail brochure at the Animal Discovery Den and round out the day with a hike along our Great Woodland Adventure trail with 12 education stations. Included in admission.
June 2: Annual Passholder Views and Brews
7-9 PM. There’s nothing like seeing day turn to night from on top of the Chimney with spectacular views of the Hickory Nut Gorge as the sun sets. Samples of local craft beer, other ice-cold beverages, light appetizers and special animal programs from Park Naturalist. Preregistration is required. Deadline to register is Thursday, May 31. Cost: $20 Annual Passholder, free for Rockin’ Discovery Passholders. Preregistration required.
June 2: Naturalist Niche: Fall Creek Exploration
9:30 AM-3 PM: Hickory Nut Falls is one of the highest waterfalls east of the Mississippi River. This hike offers the rare opportunity to explore the origination of the feeder creek, Fall Creek, and follow it as it leads to the upper cascades of this beautiful waterfall. This hike is considered strenuous. Cost: Includes Park admission: $22 Adult, $7 Annual Passholder, $12 Youth (ages 5-15), $5 Rockin’ Discovery Passholder. Advance registration required.
June 9: National Get Outdoors Day
11 AM-3 PM. Join Park Naturalist, Fox Mountain Guide rock climbing instructors and other area partners to learn more about how to experience the great outdoors from many different angles. Guided hikes, rock climbing opportunities and special activities. Included with Park admission.
June 16-17: Father’s Day Weekend Special
Celebrate dad-buy one regular-price adult admission and dad's or granddad's admission is free. Download the coupon from chimneyrockpark.com and present it (in print or on your mobile device) at the Ticket Plaza at time of purchase.
July 14: Naturalist Niche: Old Growth Forest Frolic
9 AM-12 Noon. Old-growth stands can be found in rare pockets throughout the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains. One of those small areas is in Chimney Rock State Park. This moderate hike rambles through an area typically not open to the public in order to introduce participants to characteristics of old growth forests and native trees. Cost: Includes Park admission: $23 Adult, $8 Annual Passholder, $13 Youth (ages 5-15), $6 Rockin’ Discovery Passholder. Advance registration required.
August 4: Krazy with Kudzu
11 AM-3 PM. Friend or foe? It’s amazing how one weed can cause so much controversy. Meet with naturalists, who are working hard to eradicate the noxious invasive that poses a significant threat to the biodiversity in the southeast—Kudzu—as well as fans of the creepy, crawly weed. You’ll not only learn about what methods used to get rid of kudzu, but also how to make Kudzu jelly, baskets and more. Cost: Included with admission
August 11: Naturalist Niche: Top of the Mountain Trek
9 AM-2 PM. This naturalist-led hike explores the top of Chimney Rock Mountain where you’ll discover a much different world than in the main portion of the Park. Learn about the fascinating history of this area and more about the wildlife that can be found utilizing this unique habitat. This hike is considered moderate -to-strenuous. Cost: Includes Park admission: $23 Adult, $8 Annual Passholder, $13 Youth (ages 5-15), $6 Rockin’ Discovery Passholder. Advance registration required.
August 12: 14th Annual Race to the Rock (5K run or 25-mile bike)
7:45 Bike, 8 AM run. The grand finale of the 14th Annual Lake Lure Olympiad, a 3-day family sports festival, is this challenging 5k run or 25-mile bike race that climbs 900 feet in the last 3 miles (a 7-9% grade) to finish at the base of Chimney Rock. This is the ONLY TIME you can ever run or bike up to Chimney Rock. Advance registration.
September 8-9: Grandparents Day Weekend Special Admission
What better way to get quality time together than at Chimney Rock? When you purchase one regular-price adult admission, receive one youth admission free. Special online offer only. Coupon must be presented to the Ticket Plaza at the time of purchase. Cost: Buy one adult admission at regular price and get one free youth admission (ages 5-15). On Sunday 1-2 PM, learn the basic of fishing with a ranger behind the Old Rock Café (free).
September 15: 10th Annual Flock to the Rock
Originally created to help folks understand why Hickory Nut Gorge is such a premier birding location, this event has grown in size and popularity every year. You don’t have to be an avid birder to find something of interest. Guided bird walks, raptor flight shows, live bird demos and workshops. Included with Park admission. The 7:30 AM Fall Migration Bird Walk is additional. Read more.
September 22-December 21: Flavors of Fall Photo Contest
Capture photos of your family enjoying a picnic or grilling up a storm at one of the Park’s picnic areas, or eating lunch at the Park’s restaurant Old Rock Café, and enter them into our fall photo contest.
September 29-30: Take A Child Outside: Campout
Never been camping? Afraid of the dark? You’re not alone. Join a park ranger and take this rare opportunity to camp in Chimney Rock State Park. A ranger will be available at 5:30 PM to help set up camp and build a campfire for a fun filled night under the stars! You must bring your own camping gear and dinner. Included with admission; one free child Park admission ticket with each paying adult. There is no fee for camping, but participants must pre-register with the office at 828-625-9611.
October 6: Annual Passholder Fall Sunrise Breakfast
Gates open at 6:15 AM for 7:30 AM sunrise. There’s really nothing like watching the sun rise over Lake Lure and the Hickory Nut Gorge. Enjoy a yummy breakfast and hot coffee. Afterwards, head out on the trails. Advance registration is required. To RSVP, call 800-277-9611 by September 29. $5 per Annual Passholder, free for kids under 5.
October 20: Naturalist Niche: Nature at Night
7:30-9:30 PM. After the sun goes down, the fun begins! From hoots to howls, you never know what you’ll hear or see during one of our nighttime naturalist programs. The guided night hike and owl prowl are considered easy –to- moderate so the entire family can attend. Cost: Includes Park admission: $23 Adult, $8 Annual Passholder, $13 Youth (ages 5-15), $6 Rockin’ Discovery Passholder. Advance registration required.
November 10: Fall Girl Scout Day
9:30 AM-12:30 PM. Special programs created just for Girl Scouts will leave your troop with new skills, knowledge and memories they’ll carry with them for a lifetime. Call 828.625.9611 to register. Registration closes October 29 and is limited to 200 scouts. Cost: $15 per scout, $12 per adult, $5.50 additional youth
November 7-11: Veteran’s Day Special: Free Admission
Veterans, reservists, retired and active military personnel are our American heroes. Must present military ID or proof of service for free ticket.
November 17: Llamapalooza for Annual Passholders
11 AM-3 PM. Try your hand at fashion during the llama hat making contest. After you’ve created the perfect head adornment, test your reflexes and speed with llama limbo and a llama relay! Hike to Hickory Nut Falls with several llamas, and enjoy lunch. Space is limited, reserve in advance. $15 per person includes lunch
November 24: Naturalist Niche: Ecology of Chimney Rock
9 AM-1 PM. Local naturalist Clint Calhoun has spent decades researching and studying what makes the ecology of Chimney Rock State Park and Hickory Nut Gorge so unique. Join him for this moderate hike to learn so much more about what makes our area so special. Cost: Includes Park admission: $23 Adult, $8 Annual Passholder, $13 Youth (ages 5-15), $6 Rockin’ Discovery Passholder. Advance registration required.
December 1 & 8: Santa on the Chimney
There’s no way Santa could make it down so many chimneys without practice. Make your list and bring it to Santa and Mrs. Claus, enjoy live holiday music, hot cocoa, cookies and kids’ activities, meet live Park animal educators and more. Included with Park admission. Read more.
December 29: Naturalist Niche: Winter Tree ID
10:30 AM-12:30 PM: Join local naturalist Clint Calhoun for this moderate hike to learn so much more about what makes our area so special. Cost: Includes Park admission: $23 Adult, $8 Annual Passholder, $13 Youth (ages 5-15), $6 Rockin’ Discovery Passholder. Advance registration required.
For more about the Park, see our Chimney Rock Park Guide.