Events at Chimney Rock 2017

Chimney Rock Special Events 2017

Check out our favorite 2017 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: First Day Hikes
As 2016 ends, Chimney Rock State Park will celebrate the last day of North Carolina State Parks' Centennial with a campfire and free s'mores. Toast to 100 s’more years at 11:30 PM on 12/31 followed by the First Day Hike at 12:01 AM. This moderate, three-mile, midnight hike will be guided by a Park Ranger and will climb up about 1,200 feet in elevation along Chimney Rock Park Road to the top of Chimney Rock itself where you will peer across Hickory Nut Gorge into the New Year. Free. Meet at the Old Rock Café. Be sure to dress for the weather, and bring a flashlight or headlamp to light your way. 

January 1–February 28: Winter Photo Contest Give It Your Best Shot!
Every season, each and every day, offers something new at Chimney Rock. Capture that special moment or scene on your camera, enter it in the seasonal photo contest and tell about it. They’ll use the winning entries on the Chimney Rock website and Facebook album, and you’ll win some fun prizes. 

February 2: Groundhog Day
10:30 AM-12 PM: Chimney Rock may be closed on Thursdays during the winter, but that doesn’t mean our woodchucks aren’t busy preparing for spring. Come to Grady’s Animal Discovery Den to see if their resident woodchuck Greta sees her shadow. 

February 11-14: Valentine’s Day Special: Buy 1, Get 1 Free
What better way to show your sweetheart some love than by bringing him or her to see beautiful 75-mile views from the top of Chimney Rock? 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 1-May 31: Spring Photo Contest Give It Your Best Shot!
Capture that special moment or scene on your camera, enter it in our seasonal photo contest and tell them about it. They’ll use the winning entries on their website and Facebook album, and you’ll win some fun prizes. Photos must be taken within the Chimney Rock section of the Park.

Saturdays March 4, 11, 18, 25: Early Spring Walks
Daily at 11 AM. In the Blue Ridge Mountains, March is a month of change. Depending on the weather it can be the end of winter or the beginning of spring. Join a naturalist to enjoy this slower time of year to discover Mother Nature preparing for the season ahead. This hike is approximately 1.5 miles and takes around an hour.

April 1: Annual Passholder and Volunteer Appreciation Hike
10 AM-2 PM. Go hiking with a llama on one of the Park trails. Lunch is included. Space will be limited, so reserve yours today. $10/person

April 15: Spring Early Bird Walk
8-11 AM. Birding is one of the fastest growing hobbies in the United States and Chimney Rock is a premier site to see and hear our feathered friends. Grab your binoculars and meet a local naturalist for this early bird walk that starts before the Park opens to other guests. You’ll be amazed at the species you can check off your list. Space is limited to 15, and advance registration is required, so call 800-277-9611 today to reserve your spot! Spring Birding is part of our Naturalist Niche series. Join an expert naturalist on Park trails once a month March - December to learn about birding, old growth trees, ancient geology and other fascinating outdoor topics. $22 Adult, $7 Annual Passholder, $12 Youth (ages 5-15), $5 Grady’s Kids Club Member.

April 16: 62nd 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 Annual Easter Sunrise 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. Guests are invited to stay and enjoy the Park all day. A breakfast buffet will be offered at the Old Rock Café following the service for $9.99 for adults and $5.99 for children under 10. Read more.

April 22: Earth Day
11 AM-3 PM: Join Chimney Rock State Park rangers, biologists and other environmental educators to learn about the incredible work being done to protect our beautiful landscape. Education stations will be located in Chimney Rock Village behind the Old Rock Café along the Rocky Broad Riverwalk. Kids will have the chance to earn a Grady’s Kids Club Annual Pass to Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park. Fun for the whole family! Free with admission.

May 13: Naturalist Niche Spring Wildflowers
9 AM-12 Noon. Hickory Nut Gorge is known for its beautiful wildflower display each spring and fall. This special hike will take participants into areas of the Park with the most species in bloom and discuss what makes this area an exceptional place for them to grow. Bring your mom to have a Mother’s Day treat she won’t forget. Space is limited to 15, and advance registration is required, so call 800-277-9611 today to reserve your spot. Spring Wildflowers is part of our Naturalist Niche series. Join an expert naturalist on Park trails once a month March - December to learn about birding, old growth trees, ancient geology and other fascinating outdoor topics. Includes Park admission: $22 Adult, $7 Annual Passholder, $12 Youth (ages 5-15), $5 Grady’s Kids Club Member. Advance registration required.

May 13-14: 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. Enjoy dinner and the Symphony of Rutherford County at the Gathering Place in Chimney Rock Village Saturday evening beginning at 6 PM.

June 1-August 31: Summer Photo Contest Give It Your Best Shot!
Capture that special moment or scene on your camera, enter it in the seasonal photo contest and tell them about it.

June 3: National Trails Day
11 AM-3 PM: The American Hiking Society created this special day as a way for people to create a connection to trails. Chimney Rock helps celebrate this special occasion by offering guided hikes on our various trails as well as possible volunteer opportunities. Check out our website for more information on how to put those boots to use! Free with admission.

June 10: National Get Outdoors Day
Celebrate the 10th annual National Get Outdoors Day by bringing your family to explore one of Western North Carolina’s most iconic places to recreate. 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 will be held 11 AM-3 PM. Included with admission.

June 10: Naturalist Niche: Dusk to Dark
7:30-9:30 PM: After the sun goes down much of the Park’s residents begin their nightly routines although we aren’t around to see them busy at work. Join a Naturalist to explore the Park as dusk turns to dark and see what you might find. This hike will begin at dusk and conclude after dark giving participants the chance to see Chimney Rock in a different light.  Don’t forget your headlamp for this rare opportunity. Space is limited to 15, and advance registration is required, so call 800-277-9611 today to reserve your spot! Includes Park admission: $22 Adult, $7 Annual Passholder, $12 Youth (ages 5-15), $5 Grady’s Kids Club Member.

June 17-18: Father’s Day Weekend Special
Buy one regular-price adult admission and dad's or granddad's admission is free with our online coupon. 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 1-4: July 4th Weekend Family Fun
The ultimate summer holiday to spend with family and friends. Challenge yourself on the 32-foot climbing tower, take in the different views on one of the many trails and even get up-close to some of our wilder staff at the 2 PM Family Animal Encounter. Included with Park admission.

July 15: Naturalist Niche Old Growth Forest
9 AM-12 Noon: Did you know that portions of the Park that have trees over 200 years old? Many of these trees can’t be seen unless you happen to know right where to look. Join us and go off-the-beaten-path to discover some of the special sights you can only see with a guide. This moderate hike is a wonderful way to learn more about native tree species and characteristics of these often-unseen old growth areas. Space is limited to 15, and advance registration is required, so call 800-277-9611 today to reserve your spot! The Old Growth Forest Hike is part of our Naturalist Niche series. Join an expert naturalist on park trails once a month March - December to learn about birding, old growth trees, ancient geology and other fascinating outdoor topics. Includes Park admission: $22 Adult, $7 Annual Passholder, $12 Youth (ages 5-15), $5 Grady’s Kids Club Member.

July 31: World Ranger Day
Join a North Carolina State Park Ranger for a guided hike along the Hickory Nut Falls trail, as they discuss the Park and the diverse ways that they protect it. 2 PM. Free with admission

August 5: Behind the Scenes for Annual Passholders
Have you ever wondered what’s behind those elevator doors? Now you’ll get the chance to find out. We consider our Annual Passholders our extended family, so we want you to be in the know! Join a State Park ranger for a Behind the Scenes tour of the elevator shaft. See the 26-story stainless steel staircase and some of the machine’s mechanics.  The installation of the Park’s elevator was an amazing engineering feat that when installed in 1948 fulfilled the Morse family’s dream of making the “Rock” accessible to everyone. Meet at the tunnel entrance at 11 AM. Free for passholders.

August 12: Krazy with Kudzu
11 AM-3 PM: Naturalists are working hard to eradicate this noxious invasive that poses a significant threat to the biodiversity in the southeast. But, even this weed has its good points. This event will showcase the good, the bad and the ugly of Kudzu. You’ll not only learn about what methods are used to get rid of it but also how to make Kudzu jelly, baskets and more. Included with admission

August 13: 11th Annual Race to the Rock (5K run or 25-mile bike)
7:45 AM bike, 8 AM run: The grand finale of the 13th Annual Lake Lure Olympiad – a 3-day family sports festival that showcases the beautiful scenery of Lake Lure and Chimney Rock, the Race to the Rock is a 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. The rewarding 75-mile views from the finish line overlooking Lake Lure are enough to take your breath away… or what’s left of it! This is the ONLY TIME you can ever run or bike up to Chimney Rock. Cost: Save up to $10 on early registration at lakelureolympiad.com. Spectators get in free if in the Park before 7:30 AM.

August 26: Naturalist Niche Waterfall Exploration
9:30 AM-12 Noon. The famous Hickory Nut Falls is one of the highest waterfalls east of the Mississippi River. Seen in movies such as The Last of the Mohicans, its sheer drop is easily recognized and hard to forget. Thousands of people visit the waterfall each year often overlooking the significance of what flora and fauna thrive in this incredible cliffside habitat. The exploration to the base of Hickory Nut Falls will have you turning over rocks and peering into crevices to see what may be lurking. Space is limited to 15, and advance registration is required, so call 800-277-9611 today to reserve your spot. Includes Park admission: $22 Adult, $7 Annual Passholder, $12 Youth (ages 5-15)

September 1-November 30: Fall Photo Contest- Give It Your Best Shot!
Capture that special moment or scene on your camera, enter it in our seasonal photo contest and tell them about it. No fee to enter.

September 2-4: Labor Day Weekend Family Fun
Enjoy the last holiday weekend of summer experiencing what makes Chimney Rock the ideal place to play. Climb, hike and even learn during our family-fun packed weekend. The adventurous in your gang can attempt the 32-foot climbing tower; those more suited for feet on the ground can take in the amazing views. Even the youngest of guests are sure to love meeting some of our Animal Educators during our Family Animal Encounters.

September 9 & 10: Grandparents Day Weekend Special Admission
Grandparents love spending time with the grandkids. When you purchase one regular-price adult admission, receive one youth admission free. Special online offer only. Coupon from Chimney Rock website must be presented to the Ticket Plaza at the time of purchase.

September 9: Movin’ On Up!
10 AM-2 PM.  Chimney Rock partners with Kids in Parks to promote good health and fitness by getting kids outside and excited about the Track Trails. Everyone’s invited to join us to learn from professionals about how to exercise more, get fit, eat healthier, take better care of ourselves and have fun in the process. No additional cost

September 16: Naturalist Niche: Fall Early Bird Walk
7:30-9:30 AM. The early bird catches the worm…or the maybe the sighting of that special feathered friend. Chimney Rock and Hickory Nut Gorge are incredible places to be a bird nerd. Grab your binoculars and join a local naturalist to realize why! This hike is the prelude to the Annual Flock to the Rock event. The hike is limited to 15, and advance registration is required, so call 800-277-9611 today to reserve your spot. Includes Park admission: $22 Adult, $7 Annual Passholder, $12 Youth (ages 5-15)

September 16: 9th Annual Flock to the Rock
11 AM-3 PM. Flock to the Rock has become one of our most popular annual events. 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 at this event, but it may just be the reason you become one. Guided bird walks, raptor flight shows, live bird demos and workshops are a few of the ways you’ll discover that Chimney Rock isn’t just for the birds! Read more.

September 23-24: 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!  The ranger will be camping overnight to assist you with any of your questions about camping in the great outdoors. You must bring your own camping gear and dinner.  No camping gear or food is provided for this event. Included with Park admission; one free child admission ticket with each paying adult. There is no fee for camping, but participants must pre-register at 828-625-9611. Space is limited.

September 24-30: Take A Child Outside Week
Take a Child Outside Week is a national initiative created to encourage families to get outdoors. Chimney Rock celebrates by offering one free child admission with each paying adult all week long. Special program opportunities.

October 7: 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 Hickory Nut Gorge, so they’re opening up early just for Annual Passholders. Enjoy breakfast and hot coffee. Afterwards, guests are welcome to head out on the trails and take some photos of the waterfall or the views from Exclamation Point. Advance registration is required. To RSVP, please call 800-277-9611 by September 29. $5 for Annual Passholder, free for kids under 5.

October 21: Naturalist Niche Skyline Trail Trek
9 AM-12 Noon: The Skyline Trail once a favorite hike of many Park visitors closed in 2008 for assessment and repair. After much thought and revamping North Carolina State Parks created a longer hike winding through the ridgeline forest on top of Chimney Rock Mountain. This primarily rolling trail takes guests through beautiful woodland landscapes with surprising occasions for jaw-dropping views. Don’t miss this guided hike by a local naturalist who began his career documenting the species on the original trail and is now exploring the new. Space is limited to 15, and advance registration is required, so call 800-277-9611.  Includes Park admission: $22 Adult, $7 Annual Passholder, $12 Youth (ages 5-15)

November 4: Fall Girl Scout Day
Scouts enjoy the last weeks of autumn in one of North Carolina’s most incredible settings. 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. 9:30-12:30 AM. $15 per scout, $12 per adult

November 11: Fall Boy Scout Day
Boy Scouts of all ages put their scouting skills to the test each year at Chimney Rock. Morning programs will give your group lots to talk about as they spend the afternoon exploring some of the different facets of the Park. 828.625.9611 to register. Registration closes November 3 and is limited to 200 scouts. 9 AM-12:30 PM. $15 per scout, $12 per adult

November 5: Shutterbugs Nature Photography Workshop
The fall scenery you get to work with is unrivaled, but you also get the opportunity to learn from one the region’s best photographers at a price that’s affordable. Led by professional photographer Chuck Hill, this workshop is tailored to individual experience and will benefit novices and advanced photographers alike. Topics include wide-angle, telephoto, macro and intimate landscapes; composition, inspiration, post-processing, critique and photo sharing. Class is limited to 10, so call 800-277-9611 today to reserve. $100 fee includes an Annual Pass and lunch; $75 for passholder includes lunch. 8:30 AM-4 PM

Veteran’s Day Special: Free Admission
November 8-12: Veterans, reservists, retired and active military personnel are our American heroes, and Chimney Rock would like to honor your service with a free visit. Must present military ID or proof of service.

November 18: Naturalist Niche Fall Ridge Hike
9 AM-2 PM. The Fall Ridge Hike is often the most popular of the year. This more-strenuous hike leads participants off-the-beaten-path to an area of the Park seldom seen by guests. As you meander up the mountain, you’ll hear about the natural history, geology, flora and fauna that make Chimney Rock so unique. Don’t forget your camera to capture the views. Space is limited to 15, and advance registration is required, so call 800-277-9611 today to reserve your spot.  Includes Park admission: $22 Adult, $7 Annual Passholder, $12 Youth (ages 5-15)

December 2 & 9: Santa on the Chimney
11 AM-2 PM:  Santa has to be nimble and quick to make it down everyone’s chimney on Christmas Eve. What better place to get some practice and stay in shape than on one of the world’s largest chimneys at Chimney Rock State Park. 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. Win a Free Climb with Santa’s elves! Each day, one lucky guest will win free two-hour rock climbing lessons for two with Santa’s professional helpers, Fox Mountain Guides. Free with Park admission. Read more.

December 16: Naturalist Niche Winter Woodlands
10 AM-12 Noon: Although it may seem like Mother Nature is resting during the winter, there’s quite a bit of work being done behind the scenes. This moderate winter hike will take participants through a winter forest to discuss the practices of local wildlife and plants. Some basic winter tree identification as well as searching for tracks and traces will be a fun part of this family-friendly hike. Space is limited to 15, and advance registration is required, so call 800-277-9611 today to reserve your spot. Winter Woodlands is part of our Naturalist Niche series. Join an expert naturalist on park trails once a month March - December to learn about birding, old growth trees, ancient geology and other fascinating outdoor topics. Includes Park admission: $22 Adult, $7 Annual Passholder, $12 Youth (ages 5-15) 

For more about the Park, see our Chimney Rock Park Guide.

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