Driving through Chimney Rock, North Carolina along Charlotte Highway is like transporting back in time to some unknown geological fold.
As you enter the village there is a huge covered bridge with the Rocky Broad River rumbling beneath.
Chimney Rock covers less than 3 square miles in the Hickory Nut Gorge with only around 100 residents. It is a village in Rutherford County that shares its border with the town of Lake Lure.
One of the best features about this area, and the North Carolina Smokies in general, is that fog is always rolling out from the mountains.
I live near the Smokies in Tennessee and they are beautiful, but the fog usually seems to be lingering above the range. In Western North Carolina, the fog seems to be pouring out of the trees themselves.
Another great part about Chimney Rock is that the whole village runs along the river, which was overflowing during our most recent visit.
My song for this entry is the most famous cover of the The Paragons’ “The Tide is High” by Blondie:
I particularly love the silly animal bio section, cleverly drafted by the animals themselves (ha!) and learning about the unbelievable number of flora/fauna species that have been spotted and that take refuge in the park.
Parts of the films Last of the Mohicans and Stephen King’s Firestarter were filmed in Chimney Rock State Park, which adds an extra layer of tourist attraction to this beautiful place.
From the entrance of the State Park, you can see Chimney Rock in the distance, just left of center at the top of this photo. From the ground you could easily miss the cylindrical formation.
I took the photo above in November and when we returned during the summer, trees had flourished and blocked my view.
This video I found on YouTube shows dozens of photos from touring the park and is set to music from Last of the Mohicans. You can see that Chimney Rock is actually massive:
Hickory Nut Gorge Brewery
One star of the Chimney Rock village is the Hickory Nut Gorge Brewery. An English couple who had become Lake Lure natives later opened the brewery in 2015.
Hickory Nut Gorge Brewery creates English-style beers and they carry products from other local breweries, wineries, and ciders. We sampled a flight of four brews- the first of which was my favourite; E.S.B, Coconut Porter, a guest tap Elderflower lemony cider, and the Devil’s Head Red Ale.
The brewery has an awesome wrap-around deck that overlooks the water.
This patio is perfect for hosting multiple small-medium groups in each of its four levels.
Unfortunately after consistent rain for about a week, the water level had risen so high it was flooding the lower deck.
Furniture had to be moved or secured, and water was flowing so fast it was splashing up onto the deck above it.
I was able to take a short video before we unanimously agreed it was time to go:
The Chimney Rock Village has several restaurants like Old Rock Cafe, Genny’s, Medina’s Village Bistro, Riverwatch Bar & Grill, and Esmerelda.
You can see Chimney Rock in the photo below (top, center) taken during winter time, whereas the other photos are from summer.
Geneva’s Riverside Tiki Bar & Grill
I’ve heard stories about this place long before I visited. One friend described it as a rowdier Hooters with karaoke and camping, though Hooters has way better food.
Geneva’s Tiki Bar spreads out along the river back behind the lodge’s pool and has live music, karaoke, and plenty of seating under a covered patio or on park benches further down.
I love all of the banana trees, elephant ears, and other tropical plants.
From our nook, which was actually the tiki bar’s vacant stage, we could look up at the mountains and watch the fog roll out. It was so majestic and surreal.
Chimney Rock has an impressive amount of things to do and see for such a small village, largely due to it being more of a tourist area than residential. Many workers here live in nearby towns like Bat Cave, Lake Lure, and beyond.
Once you have checked everything off your list, follow me to the Lake Lure Flowering Bridge.
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