Welcome to the Mountain Lake Hotel, which is the self-proclaimed “Top of the World” and home to a few beloved filming locations from 1987’s global smash Dirty Dancing. The area is very remote and roughly a 30 minute drive from Blacksburg, Virginia. Filming commenced here for two solid weeks in 1986 and then relocated to Lake Lure, North Carolina for interiors and the rest of the exterior scenes. With alot of clever editing the film continuously bounces back and forth between Virginia and North Carolina. The Inn proudly displays and marks many of the famous locations, and here’s how they look today in 2011.
Obviously the most recognizable building is the Hotel itself, which is a beautiful structure that overlooks the grounds and what used to be the lake. The lake has disappeared due to weather trends, but everything else is pretty much the same. There were a few interior scenes filmed in the dining room, kitchen, and patio however I am not so sure if any other interiors were filmed in the area. My research leads me to doubt it.
The gazebo still stands today and it is augmented with a memorial stone dedicated to the wonderful Patrick Swayze. Also, I was really excited to learn that Baby’s Cabin is still standing as well. I believe all the other cabins were filmed in North Carolina and have long since been demolished, so I was glad to see this was still with us! I have a thing for cabins.
Just down the path from the gazebo is where Patrick and Jennifer Grey filmed the famous lift practice scene in the lake. Unfortunately as of 2011, Mountain Lake has disappeared (blame global warming), but we can only hope that one day it will be back. A few people (including the Dirty Dancing Festival and a commenter below) claim that the lift scenes were actually filmed in Lake Lure. This is simply not true and irresponsible of Lake Lure to advertise this. The photographic comparison below is irrefutable evidence that the lift scene was filmed here in Virginia, and that’s the bottom line.
The only interior shots apparently filmed within the Inn were the dining room (below) and the kitchen, which I wasn’t able to photograph for obvious reasons. Also below, another location used was the lawn where the vacationers did the “bunny hop” and played volleyball.
For better or worse, it appears that the rest of filming took place in Lake Lure, North Carolina. Unfortunately for us crazed fans, I believe nearly every building used for exteriors AND interiors there have either been demolished or burned down. The famous log scene was filmed in North Carolina, but no one knows for sure where, and all the staff cabins were demolished in the 80’s. Bummer. As the legend goes, the bridge where Baby danced was torn down by rabid fans in the 80’s but the stone steps on the hill are still there, as seen below. Warning, if you are traveling to Lake Lure to track down locations, this is all you’re going to see. Major thanks to Jarrett Hook for passing along the photo!
Below are a few screenshots of some classic Lake Lure locations… maybe one day someone can figure out where that log was… but I doubt it!
For more 80’s filming locations, go ahead and check out my extended coverage of Blue Velvet, set in lovely Wilmington, North Carolina!