My hubby and I recently visited Asheville, NC for some leaf peeping. We’ve been to Asheville several times before but never during the Fall.
Read Day 2 here, Day 3 here & Day 4 here
As you know by reading my blog posts, I love Fall!
Click here for Asheville’s fall color report
There’s a chill in the air, the leaves are like a kaleidoscope of colors, the smells, the bonfires, etc…fall just makes you feel good!
We live approximately 5 hrs from Asheville so we left early on a Fri morning and returned home on Monday evening.
Click here for 50 things to do in Asheville
The drive to Asheville was beautiful!
In some areas, the leaves looked like they were at their peak colors!
Since most of our day would be spent driving, we decided to head straight to our first stop, Chimney Rock State Park.
The drive there was breathtaking….the colors were so vivid!
Chimney Rock is approx. 45 mins from downtown Asheville. I highly recommend you take the time to visit if you are ever in the area.
I couldn’t stop taking pictures of the leaves…so much color!
We passed this cool looking bridge on the way
The town of Chimney Rock is so cool….you definitely need to spend some time walking around and checking out all of the neat shops and restaurants.
Arriving to Chimney Rock State Park..
The park opened to the public in the early 1900’s….it became a state park in 2006 after the state purchased it for 15 million.
Read the very interesting history of the park here
Driving over the bridge on the way in..the first bridge was swept away by Hurricane Hilda and the great flood of 1916.
The 3 mile drive up to the rock is on a very narrow, winding road. This road and the parking lots were first paved in 1949.
After the short drive, we arrived to the ticket booth. The cost was $17 pp.
Purchase tickets here
You could see the rock from a distance..
Once we paid, we drove a very short distance to the parking area … I will mention, there is a parking area near the main entrance where you can park and take the shuttle up to the rock if you prefer not to drive the curvy, narrow road up to the rock.
Click here for parks hours
Views of the rock from the parking lot
From here, you have two options to get to the top of the rock. You can either take the elevator or take the upgraded Outcroppings Trail which takes you up 500 stairs to the top. The stairs allow you to see all the unique features and amazing views on the way up.
The elevator was opened to the public in 1949. It took 8 tons of dynamite and 18 mons to complete.
We decided to take the stairs because there was a 20 minute wait for the elevator.
Views from the sidewalk before heading to the stairs
The wooden stairways were rebuilt over two winters & completed in April 2012 ….the climb now offers wider steps and comfortable landings every 12 feet, making the 25-minute trek easier for most people.
Tip: Make sure you get a map of all the trails, etc in the park. There are other things to see and do here besides the rock.
The walk up was a bit strenuous but thankfully it’s a network of stairs and boardwalks with lots of areas to rest on the way up….it’s definitely the ultimate stairmaster!
The views were awesome!
We passed the trail for the Hickory Nut Falls …sadly, we didn’t do the hike and now I regret it as it’s one of the tallest waterfalls of it’s kind east of the Mississippi River. It was also featured in the film, The Last of the Mohicans. It’s 1.4 miles roundtrip.
There have been a total of 3 movies filmed in the park…besides The Last of the Mohicans, Firestarter with Drew Barrymore and A Breed Apart with Kathleen Turner has also been filmed at the park.
Just a mile down the road from the park at Lake Lure, Dirty Dancing was filmed with Patrick Swayze. The town even holds a Dirty Dancing festival every year!
Lake Lure has been named one of the top 10 most beautiful man-made lakes in the world by National Geographic…too bad we missed it!! 🙁
There were plenty of places to have a picnic.
We passed Gneiss Cave on the walk up…the cave is a fissure cave that was created when a large piece of the mountain slid down and formed a small cavern. One of the longest fissure caves in the world is in the nearby town of Bat Cave, NC.
There are bats that roost in the cave.
We arrived to the Outcroppings Trail…the trail is 0.4 miles r/trip. This is what the stair path is called.
Once you climb part of the stairs, you can choose your path to the top of Pulpit Rock..you can either go through the Subway via the Grotto or take the Vista Rock path…both paths lead to the top of the Pulpit Rock.
We decided not to go the Subway path as you have to get down on your knees for a short distance to get through the rocks at Crevice Pass.
The views on the way to the top were breathtaking! Blue skies & fluffy clouds!
I began to wonder if the steps would ever end!!! Make sure to bring water with you.
A shot of my hubby heading to the Grotto area…
More stairs….when will it stop?!
The views were worth me almost having a heart attack! 😉
I love how people are so willing to take our picture…I always return the favor.
And finally arriving to Pulpit Rock….so worth it!
Look at these colors!
A shot of the top of the rock.
Once you’re at the top, you will find the Sky Lounge Deli…the deli offers cold drinks, snacks, pretzels, popcorn and ice cream to go or eat on the outside patio overlooking the beautiful views of Lake Lure.
The original Sky Lounge burnt down in 1981 and was rebuilt & opened back up the following year.
At the top!
The leaves here hadn’t peaked yet so there was still quite a bit of green.
We headed to the Sky Lounge Deli to buy some bottled water…they offer lots of souvenirs as well.
Read reviews here
More shots of the top of the rock and the views
You had the option of hiking further up so we decided to hike up to the Opera Box..this is the beginning of the Exclamation Point Trail...if you continue on pass the Opera Box, you will come to Devils Head and then to Exclamation Point…we didn’t walk any further than the Opera Box but the entire trail takes around 20 mins. But as you can see by the pic below, it’s all uphill!
You get better shots and views from here…the pulpit rock area was very crowded but no one was at the Opera Box.
I was really surprised how much green was still left considering we were visiting in late Oct.
After a few shots and a quick selfie, we headed back down.
The walk down was so much better!!
At the bottom, you will find Cliff Dwellers Gifts. The store is named after an old inn that was perched on the Chimney Rock mountainside decades ago.
After leaving the rock, we headed back to the cute little town of Chimney Rock Village to find somewhere to eat.
We decided on the River Watch Waterfront Bar & Grill because it was on the water 🙂
Read reviews here
We had about a 30 min wait so we took a menu and tried to decide what we wanted before being seated.
They had lots of unique burgers, sandwiches, salads, hotdogs & chicken fingers…nothing I would usually eat except for the salads.
After our wait, we were seated outside on the deck with a view of the water below.
You could see Chimney Rock from a distance
I ordered the mushroom swiss burger in a lettuce wrap with sweet potato fries and the hubby ordered the bacon swiss burger with fries….the food was pretty good but they forgot to add the cheese to my burger and forgot the lettuce and tomato on my hubby’s burger! 😬
After we ate, we walked the nearby Rock Broad Riverwalk….actually there were stairs from the outside deck at the restaurant that led down to the river walk.
The views were very nice… we spent about 30-45 mins just walking the trail and taking pics.
This bridge was just a rock wedged between two other rocks.
Of course, I had to take a thousand pics before we left! 😉
Watch out for snakes!!
After leaving here, we headed back to our car….my hubby spotted a cutout of Bigfoot and just had to have his pic taken with one of them! ha ha!
We then headed to Asheville to check into our hotel…
On the way, we spotted A Touch in Time Gift Shoppe….it was located in an old house and it was beautiful!!
They had all kinds of neat gifts and apples! The owners of the gift shop also grow the apples…they had so many varieties! I just had to try some.
The gift shop was huge and full of stuff!
The owner was so sweet…she even gave us some apples for free…and they were delish!
After leaving here, we continued our drive towards Asheville…we went through Bat Cave so had to stop when we came up on the tiny post office in town.
It still had the old style boxes and one small window for the clerk…so cool!
Later, we arrived to our hotel, the Courtyard by Marriott Asheville Biltmore…it was a brand new hotel and you could tell! It was so clean and nice!!
The room was huge! I reserved a 2 bdrm so we would have more room to spread out.
The TV was bigger than any other TV I’ve seen in a hotel room!
The bathroom was so nice, clean and modern looking
The room had a microwave, small refrigerator and a coffee maker.
The lobby was very nice…the hotel served food, had a bar area and a very nice outdoor seating area with a fire pit.
I would definitely stay here again!!
Well, that’s all for day 1…stay tuned for day 2.
Read about my other trips to Asheville here & here
Thanks for reading!!