What's New at Chimney Rock Park

This beautiful American Bald Eagle was one of the non-releasable rehabilitated birds of prey who graced the Park during the
3rd Annual Flock to the Rock, our premier birding weekend
held each September in Chimney Rock. Hundreds of visitors took advantage of the opportunity to see and learn about resident and migratory birds in our area.

Upcoming Events

Here are the events coming in October and November; check out our Events Calendar for complete details:

Register for Events

To register for events or receive more information, call us or send an email:



Greetings from Your Friends at Chimney Rock!

September was filled with fun like Labor Day family outings, a guided wildflower hike, our Annual Passholder Sunrise Breakfast and Western North Carolina’s premier fall migration birding event—Flock to the Rock! Looking ahead, October promises to bring an explosion of brilliant reds, yellows and oranges to the Park’s diverse tree-filled landscape. Check out the Leaf Peeping section of our website to get weekly reports of fall color in the Park!

Leaf Peeping Season Begins

Fall in the mountains is synonymous with brilliant displays of leaf color, and here in the Hickory Nut Gorge, we enjoy viewing the full spectrum of colors—from deep red and maroon to fiery yellow and orange. “The Blue Ridge Mountain range features one of most colorful and longest leaf color displays in the US, attracting visitors from around the world,” said Ron Lance, Park Naturalist. “The region's weather pattern so far suggests that Western North Carolina will again be a premier destination for viewing incredible displays of fall leaf colors. Many areas have received a cool spring and ample moisture through July. Since then the area has been in a fairly dry pattern that, if continued, will be beneficial for good fall colors.”

While it's beautiful year-round in Chimney Rock and the Hickory Nut Gorge, if you're planning a trip around the fall leaf season, we predict peak colors to occur between late October and the first week of November. However, there are many factors that influence when leaves change color, and any prediction is nothing more than a calculated guess. Please check back often; as the weather changes our forecast may change as well. Visit our Leaf Peeping updates here.

Planning Your Fall Color Visit

Since there are so many ways for guests to view the beautiful autumn foliage around the Park, we thought we’d highlight a few of our favorites and let you choose.

Get an Expert Guide

  • Head Off the Beaten Path and take a guided Fall Color Ridge Hike with Park Naturalist Ron Lance on Sat., Oct. 15. This is the most scenic of the Park’s guided hikes all year.
  • In addition to autumn color, fall brings a variety of bird calls from migrating birds heard throughout the Park. Join world-traveled expert Simon Thompson for a guided Southbound Migration birdwalk on Sat., Oct. 23.
  • View striking fall colors from the end of a rope high above the Gorge. Sign up for a rock climbing adventure with Fox Mountain Guides. Two-hour, half- and full-day clinics are available.

Take a Hike

  • Soak up 75-mile panoramic views on top of the Chimney. Elevations in 14-mile-long Hickory Nut Gorge range from 1,100 feet on the valley floor to more than 2,500 feet on the mountain peaks. This is the most dramatic and popular way to get your fall color fix!
  • Immerse yourself in the vibrant leaf colors by hiking along the Hickory Nut Falls trail. Study the diverse range of leaf colors from oak and hickory to red maple and enjoy gazing at the 404-ft. waterfall—the 2nd highest on the east coast—at the trail’s end.

Capture Colors on Camera

  • Shutterbugs looking for insider tips and tricks to frame fall colors should attend the 2-day Shutterbugs Nature Photography Workshop at the Park on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 29-30. Renowned WNC photographer Jeff Miller has had his work featured in many regional, state and national publications. For more information and to register, visit chimneyrockpark.com/events.

Inaugural Blessing of the Animals

The Inaugural Hickory Nut Gorge Inter-congregational Blessing of the Animals Service will be held on Sunday, Oct. 9, 2011 from 2-4:30pm at the gazebo in Morse Park on Lake Lure. Small animal owners, working dogs (active & retired military, K-9s, search & rescue group dogs) owners and service animal owners are invited to join together in this natural cathedral to celebrate St. Francis' Day. St. Francis of Assisi is the Patron Saint of all domestic & wild animals of the water, sky and land.

The Blessing leaders are Rev. Everette H. Chapman of Fairfield Mountains Chapel, Lake Lure and Rev. Mickey Mugan of the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration, Bat Cave.
Participants attending the service are asked to contribute 3-5 cans of cat or dog food, small (3.5-10 lb.) bags of cat or dog food, old newspapers for litter needs or old towels. All donations will be shared equally between the Rutherford County Humane Society and the Community Pet Center. Joy Sorenson's drawing of the Blessing of the Animals appears below.

Grady's Friends: Preparing for Winter

For groundhogs (a.k.a. woodchucks) like Grady, autumn is a busy time! Although groundhogs dig burrows all year, they usually begin preparing their winter burrows now. These special homes are dug deep enough that they won't freeze when the ground above them does. Groundhogs are also busy "pigging out" on food: berries, weeds and even some bugs fill their bellies for a long winter sleep. These critters are some of the only hibernators in our area. Once temperatures get cooler and days shorter, they'll waddle into their winter burrows and sleep ’til spring.

Growing Green: Chimney Rock's Dream Machine a First in America's Parks

This month we’re growing green by launching an incentive-based recycling program that makes helping save the planet easy, fun and educational. Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park is the first state or national park in America to host a Dream Machine recycling kiosk. The Dream Machine, to be installed in early October in the top parking lot area, is computerized and enables consumers to collect points and redeem awards online for each bottle or can they recycle. Recycling points are tracked and awards redeemed at greenopolis.com which has a wealth of information and ideas about recycling and creating a greener planet. It’s also for a good cause—recycled bottles and cans fund PepsiCo’s support of the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV), a national program offering free experiential training in entrepreneurship and small business management to post-9/11 US veterans with disabilities.

Around the Gorge: American Craft Week Oct. 7-16

American Craft Week (October 7-16) is an opportunity to celebrate the wonders of American craft. Every day thousands of American artists share their vision and talent by producing amazing handmade decorative and functional objects. And every day thousands of craft retailers share their love of these items by displaying, promoting and selling them. As one craft artist put it, "This is the creative economy!" Check out some of the crafts in the Gorge:

Chimney Rock Village This quaint mountain town features a historic downtown with a variety of souvenir & gift shops full of unique jewelry, gems, moccasins, outdoor gear, collectibles, handmade crafts and more. The village offers a variety of ice cream and fudge shops, restaurants and lodging facilities.

Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park Chimney Rock collaborates with WNC mountain crafters to showcase larger-than-life animals on the Great Woodland Adventure (a TRACK trail for nature education) and offers handmade local crafts in Cliff Dwellers Gift Shop.

Lake Lure Arts & Crafts Festival Oct. 15-16 This family-friendly arts & crafts festival, a tradition since the 1980s, showcases the area’s best crafts and performing arts, including local bands, dance groups, theatre, poetry and storytelling. Craft vendors' wares range from pottery and glass to textiles, leather and wood. The Young Artist Market features school-aged artists’ artwork for sale. The festival includes an interactive area for children’s crafts and free activities. More info can be found at lakelureartsandcraftsfestivals.com.

 'Til next time, Live It Up!

Blessing of the Animals at Lake Lure in Hickory Nut Gorge Your Friends at Chimney Rock

Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park | Highway 64/74A | PO Box 39 | Chimney Rock, NC 28720
1-800-277-9611 | visit@chimneyrockpark.com