By Landdis Hollifield
After almost 3 years of construction and countless project setbacks caused by Mother Nature, we’ve got some great news to share with you. The Park’s elevator has reopened! Guests can now access the Chimney in 32 seconds.
“We had planned on walking to the top,” said Jeff Banks from Lebanon, Illinois. “We got here and found out the elevator was open, so we decided to ride to the top and walk back down. That way we could experience both ways of reaching the Chimney.”
Jeff and his wife Carol weren’t the only ones who enjoyed the convenience offered by the Park’s completely new elevator. The Nielson Family from Ft. Myers, Florida, enjoyed cooling off in the elevator’s 198-foot tunnel before zooming through the mountain to amazing views.
“We chose the hottest part of summer to come because we thought North Carolina would be a little cooler than home,” said David Nielson. “We were wrong about that, but we’re making the best of things and enjoying the cool temperatures in the tunnel before we go to the top.”
The elevator may be back up and running, but there are a few things you should know before you visit the Park. The retaining wall on the top parking lot failed during storms in our area in late May, so visitors cannot park on the top at this time.
All guests will need to take a shuttle bus from the Meadows midway in the Park to the top lot. If you are unable to board a bus by yourself and walk about the length of a football field uphill from the drop-off point to the elevator tunnel, you may want to wait until the upper parking lot is repaired before your next visit.
If you’re up for a hearty walk, you can hike all the way from the Meadows to the waterfall trail and on up to the Chimney. You can get all the steps and activity in that you need. Your Fitbit will track some good results, and you’ll be treated to incredible views in the process!
When work begins to stabilize the upper parking lot, the shuttle bus will not be in operation while work is underway. That means that visitors will have to hike from the Meadows up to the upper part of the Park to access the waterfall trail and elevator.
We encourage you to visit ChimneyRockPark.com or call 828-625-9611 for up-to-date information about parking and elevator access before you head to the Park. We’re hopeful that before the next issue of the Breeze comes out, we’ll all be able to park on the top again.
Landdis Hollifield is Public Relations and Promotion Manager, Chimney Rock State Park.