What's New at Chimney Rock Park
What’s Up With the Elevator?

It’s no secret that our elevator has had its ups and downs for the past couple of years (no pun intended!). Many of you have asked for updates on the elevator. We want to give you as much information as possible and will continue to provide updates as we learn more.

As of right now, the elevator is out of service and will remain closed to the public until a permanent solution can be found to the ongoing issues we have been experiencing with its operation. NC State Parks, engineers, elevator companies and Chimney Rock Management, LLC, are all working together to determine what is causing it to be so finicky.

We know that it’s frustrating when the elevator is not operating. We’re frustrated, too. We’re all dedicated to getting folks of all ages and abilities up the mountain to experience the breathtaking, 75-mile views of Hickory Nut Gorge, Lake Lure and the Carolina Piedmont.

Below are some of the questions we’re asked most frequently about the elevator.

Q: It seems like the elevator hasn’t been working a lot over the past few years. What’s happening?

A: Prior to its recent modernization, the elevator was powered by a motor generator and an analog controller, both of which were past their service life and in dire need of replacement. Current technology utilizes solid-state direct drives and digital controllers and incorporates a sophisticated array of safety circuitry. Unfortunately, this new technology has to operate in the same damp, difficult environment as did the less sensitive old equipment. Furthermore, the new machinery needs greater and higher quality power.

After the initial modernization, several follow-on projects to improve the supply of power and address other issues required us to close the elevator to the public for short durations.

Though the elevator ran fine for long stretches over the last 3 years, the machinery has consistently been recording minor faults. These minor faults were not noticeable to the passengers and we have continued to troubleshoot. These faults have recently been recurring more frequently and now, unlike before, they happened with noticeable effect. While still safe, we cannot expect the general public to risk abrupt stops or tolerate being stuck in the elevator, even if it is just for a little while.

Until a solution can be fashioned to increase reliability, we just don’t feel comfortable opening it to the general public.

Q: Is it dangerous to ride the elevator?

A: These issues are not about safety; they are about providing a consistent, smooth ride. In order to ensure the equipment reliability, we are currently running the elevator but limiting its use to associates only at this time.

Q: It seems like the elevator operated fine until state parks bought the Park in 2007, and then it’s been having problems ever since. What happened?

A: It was the Morse family’s dream to provide access to the top of their mountain for everyone to enjoy. We are all fortunate that the state of NC is dedicated to continuing to provide this unique access to Chimney Rock.

The original elevator was installed in 1948 and opened to the public in 1949 as the tallest in North Carolina. It took eight tons of dynamite and eight months to blast the elevator’s 258- foot-high shaft and 198-foot-long tunnel through solid granite inside the mountain.

In 1988, all but the car of the original elevator was replaced with then state-of-the-art, moisture-proof equipment. When the State purchased the Park in 2007, they knew it would soon to be time to replace it again. Beginning in December of 2010 until it was reopened in June 2012, essentially every part of the elevator was again replaced or upgraded including the original car. The 26-story set of evacuation stairs behind the elevator car was also replaced. In addition, a backup generator was installed to ensure reliable service during power outages.

Q: Can I still get to the top of Chimney Rock when the elevator is out of service?

A: Chimney Rock and the spectacular 75-mile views of Lake Lure, Hickory Nut Gorge and the Carolina Piedmont can always be accessed by climbing the 499-step Outcroppings trail (unless, of course, it’s icy in winter). You get a real sense of accomplishment from taking this hike – we don’t call it the “Ultimate Stairmaster” for nothing! We’ve had many visitors tell us they thought they couldn’t make the climb, only to try it and have a story to brag about when they returned home. And, a special addition has just opened. Be sure to take the spur off of the trail to see the incredible views from atop the Pulpit Rock and Grotto and get down into and through the Subway. State contractors pulled off an engineering feat to provide new and improved access to these popular historic features.

Q: What can folks who come with me and can’t hike do while I go up on the Outcroppings trail?

A: Guests who cannot make the moderate-to-strenuous climb to the top of the Rock can still experience the views from the top parking lot in front of Cliff Dwellers Gifts. You can get a snack and/or a cold drink and sit at one of the picnic tables or benches under the tent or savor the view of Lake Lure from one of the rocking chairs you’ll find in front of the shop. On some days, John Mason, our resident musician, may be found there performing on his hammered dulcimer.

If they can handle a little hiking, you can take the more moderate 1.5 mile Hickory Nut Falls trail to the bottom of our 404-foot waterfall or check out the hand-crafted animal sculptures along the Great Woodland Adventure trail near Grady the Groundhog’s Animal Discovery Den on the Meadows.

Q: How much is admission to the Park when the elevator is closed?:

A: Admission to the Park is normally $15 for adults and $7 for kids ages 5-15. While the elevator is out of service, admission will be reduced to $13 for adults and $6 for youth ages 5-15. Kids 4 and under are always free! Normal discounts (AAA members, seniors and military) will apply.

Q: How will I know when the elevator is back in operation?

A: We will put updates on the front page of our website and on our social media sites as we get them. (Facebook: Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park; Twitter: @ChimneyRockPark; Instagram: chimneyrockatchimneyrockpark.) If you are planning a visit to the Park and need to use the elevator, be sure to check our website or social media pages or give us a call at 800-277-9611 before you come. We’ll be happy to provide you with the current status and answer any other questions you have about Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park.

Please reach out to us with your questions. We’ll answer you promptly, and with your permission, we may post your question here or on our social media pages....

Grotto, Subway and Pulpit Rock Now Open!

Soon after NC State Parks bought Chimney Rock Park in 2007, an inventory was done to determine the condition of the trails and Park structures. Several did not meet state construction standards and were closed until improvements could be made. Access to popular destinations along the Outcroppings trail—the Subway, Grotto and Pulpit Rock—were closed at that time. But, as noted in the State Parks’ Master Plan for Chimney Rock State Park, these destinations along the Outcroppings trail were to be redesigned, rebuilt and reopened.

A crew with NHM Constructors, LLC out of Asheville began in December 2014 to rebuild the stairs and boardwalks to restore access to these unique features along the trail that leads to the “Rock.” As you can imagine, it was no easy task. Materials were brought in by truck and carried up the mountain. A helicopter flew 70 loads of materials to the site in one afternoon, with the pilot threading the materials down through trees for the crew on the ground to put in place. The harsh winter weather we had made it even more difficult!

But all of these efforts were well worth it; the Subway, Grotto and Pulpit Rock were reopened Memorial Day weekend to the “oohs” and “ahhs” of our guests as they experienced the amazing views!

Check out photos of the progress and completed project on this page as well information on how you can experience these exciting features! And don’t forget to visit our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages where you can see even more photos of these features, plus much more from around the Park!

Elevator Out of Service Until Further Notice; Park Admission is Reduced

The elevator will be closed indefinitely while reoccurring issues in its general operation are addressed. Engineers and technicians are looking for a solution to these ongoing problems. We are sorry for the inconvenience this closure has caused and will keep you updated on any progress. We appreciate your interest in the Park and your understanding.

You can still access the top of Chimney Rock with an exhilarating walk up our 499-step Outcroppings trail. As you climb, be sure to stop and check out the Grotto, the Subway and Pulpit Rock. These familiar features have recently reopened, and you'll be pleasantly surprised at the awesome views they provide.

While the elevator is out of operation, rates will be reduced. Adult tickets, normally $15, will be $13; youth tickets (ages 5-15), normally $7, will be $6. Normal discounts will apply.

The Sky Lounge Gift Shop & Deli is open daily from 10am- 6pm when our staff is able to access the elevator for business usage. Cliff Dwellers Gifts is open daily from 8:30am- 7pm.

To learn more about the issues our elevator has been experiencing and what we’re doing to resolve them, please visit "What’s Up with the Elevator.” Or feel free to give us a call at 800-277-9611. We’re happy to answer any questions you have.

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