Story by Karen Chavez – Asheville Citizen-Times
The elevator is back! Just in time for the surge in fall foliage seekers, otherwise known as the leaf peepers, the elevator at Chimney Rock State Park is back up and running!
The elevator, which cuts through the inside of the mountain, bypassing a 500-step staircase to the top of the Chimney, went out of commission the last week in July due to an electrical problem, said Matt Popowski, park spokesman.
Workers installed larger gauge electrical wires in the elevator to have increased capacity.
The elevator will be closed for some more repairs on Wednesday, but it is open today, and will be for good after tomorrow.
He said visitation has been down at the park this year, mostly because of the out-of-order elevator, but the park was also plagued by rock slides and closed roads during heavy spring rains, and the torrential summer rains also kept visitors away.
But now that Mother Nature has calmed down a bit, the fall colors are starting to show, and Matt predicts it will be a glorious fall. Live music will be starting at the Old Rock Café, just outside the park entrance on Friday and Saturday nights, and now the elevator is working!
The entry fee will remain at the discounted price of $12 per adult because one of the more popular trails – Hickory Nut Falls – is still closed due to a rock slide earlier this year.
This weekend, Head Off the Beaten Path and take a guided Fall Color Ridge Hike with internationally renowned naturalist Ron Lance from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 19. This is the Park’s most scenic guided hike of the year.
Discover an Old Growth Forest where trees have been living for up to 200-300 years. Meet a Park naturalist in the Meadows at 11 a.m. on Saturdays in October for this one-hour moderately strenuous hike. Included with Park admission.
View stunning fall colors from a rope high above the gorge. Sign up for a rock climbing adventure with Fox Mountain Guides on two-hour, half- and full-day clinics for beginner to advanced climbers. Bring friends to save money with a group rate. Or check out the Chimney Challenge on Nov.r 9 for multiple climbs and rappels for only $20 plus Park admission, including difficult routes up the Chimney for experienced climbers.
Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park offers scenic hiking trails, guided rock climbing, live animal education programs and ancient geological features that attract visitors from around the world. Chimney Rock is 45 minutes southeast of Asheville on U.S. 64/74A in Rutherford County. Call 800-277-9611 or go to www.chimneyrockpark.com.