Climbing the 491 steps to the top of North Carolina’s Chimney Rock is great exercise, but not everybody is up to the trek.
That’s why the original owners of the property went to the trouble of blasting an elevator shaft through the stone decades ago. For much of the past year, however, the elevator at what is now Chimney Rock State Park has been shut down for repairs, putting the view from the top out of reach for many visitors.
The elevator reopened recently, and the 35-second ride cuts the physical climb to the top of the rock to 44 steps. Visitors who can’t make that short climb can enjoy a view from the Sky Lounge area where passengers get out of the elevator.
“We’re thrilled that everyone can once again reach the top of Chimney Rock,” said Chimney Rock State Park general manager Mary Jaeger-Gale. “Chimney Rock is unique in that it offers a spectacular view for people of all ages and abilities.”
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The elevator originally opened in 1949, with a 258-foot-high shaft.
Chimney Rock is 25 miles southeast of Asheville on US 64. In addition to the elevator and trail to the top of the namesake monolith, the park includes a hiking trail to Hickory Nut Falls, which cascades 404 feet. That trail also was closed for more than a year because of a major rock slide, but it reopened in the spring.
Admission to the park is $15 for adults, $7 for ages 5-15.
For more details, to go the park’s website at chimneyrockpark.com