Travel about a mile south of the highway on a little side road to get to the small but informative Visitor's Center. Admission to the Visitor's Center is $3, but the views from the parking lot are free. The spire looks a bit more impressive from this angle.
There are also plenty of historical sketches and photos of Chimney Rock over the years, and you can see how much (and how quickly) it has actually changed! When white traders and pioneers first came to this area, Chimney Rock was much taller and much more cylindrical than it is today. Erosion in the form of rain and the occasional lightning strike continually eat away at the monument, and it looks quite different today than it did 175 years ago.