Dirty Dancing Filming Locations, Then and Now!

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!

image-3

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!

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35 Comments on “Dirty Dancing Filming Locations, Then and Now!”

  1. Helen Cordell
    September 25, 2011 at 8:06 am #

    Really like your blog with photo comparisons, past and present, but I believe the correct name is Mountain Lake Hotel. Hope to get there myself one day. ‘Dirty Dancing’….my favorite all-time movie! I lived that era…………..and, now I live it again through the movie! Thanks!

  2. September 25, 2011 at 9:38 am #

    d’oh! thanks Helen-I changed it to the right name! That’s what I get for not taking a picture of the main sign :) thanks for checking out the site!

  3. April 19, 2012 at 9:54 pm #

    Great blog! I was hoping when I got to the comment section someone would have told us that some of the other elements near Lake Lure were infact still there or recognizable… I hope to travel here someday. Thanks for making me smile.

  4. Kat
    May 24, 2012 at 11:43 pm #

    I was just at Lake Lure last month. (I live about 45 minutes away). The lift scenes were actually filmed there – I’ve been on a boat tour twice that pointed out the area. I climbed the steps where Baby carried the watermelon and practiced dancing!! The bridge is gone, and the first time I visited the dilapidated railing was still on the stairs, but has since been replaced by a new one. Unfortunately, it’s on private property now, and has a gate and No Trespassing signs leading up to it. I still drove by and got a couple of pictures last month, though. I’ll see if I can post links to them. But yes, all the cabins are long gone. :-(

  5. Paula Calloway
    July 8, 2012 at 11:19 pm #

    I went to lake lure this weekend, just got home. It is beautiful, I went inside the hotel and the clerk of the hotel said the movie staff took all of patrick things and other stuff away, The clerk also said when people rent out patrick’s room he sits on the bed with them at night, and people always change rooms after that. His ghost scares the hell out of them. He showed us a cabin, that said johnny’s cabin, but it is not the one in the movie. He said someone burnt all of the cabins down because they were jealous. They never found out who. All of this came from the clerk of the hotel. He did say if anyone wanted to stay in patrick’s room, well he would like them to stay all night and be afraid of patrick swayze. I told him i would be back to try it. It is so beautiful, it took me 1 hour and a half to get there, because i live in lenoir, nc. But it was well worth it. Also chimmeny rock is beautiful and the water fall where they shot last of the mochians will take your breath away. But be sure to wear tennis shoes and not flip flops for chimmeny rock.

  6. September 17, 2012 at 2:35 pm #

    The entire Boys Camp is now a luxury housing development called Fire Fly Cove. The only thing left from the movie is the stairway and it is looking pretty rough.

  7. Brandi
    October 15, 2012 at 8:33 pm #

    http://www.fourmilephotography.com/Travel/North-Carolina-Trip-2011/17605651_d7qQLp/1341508306_SHgFrNN#!i=1341508306&k=SHgFrNN

    This is what the Lake Lure location looks like now. The road that would have led to the cabins is there but like mentioned before it is now private property! So you can’t go out there now:( @ Paula which hotel are you referring to? That would be awesome to visit as well!

  8. Lauren
    April 10, 2013 at 10:58 pm #

    Wow I just rencently tunned into this all when I was reading about WV celebrating 150 years I have so much exciment in me & new awaking I can’t wait to see all that is left in all area’s & yes what hotel ? was being talked about is a great question. This story was a awsome find. Can’t wait for my adventure. Im am sadding people ruin things that belong to history. Thank you all.

  9. Sharon E Williams
    April 22, 2013 at 10:14 pm #

    Love this, Movie always..one of my favorite.

  10. clair
    May 3, 2013 at 11:17 pm #

    I just visited the Lake Lure website, and according to that, the only thing left of the Dirty Dancing movie buildings, are just the foundations! But sorry to say, I can’t vouch for that myself! If that’s true, then it’s a real shame! And they seem to rely heavily on their association with the movie, so you would think they would of taken steps to preserve more!! Their BAD, in my opinion!! I also just wanted to say, I really enjoyed your work! Thank you!

  11. Barry Kunkel
    May 10, 2013 at 6:58 pm #

    Went to Lake Lure yesterday. I stopped in to city hall and asked what remained in the area of the movie “Dirty Dancing.” I received almost a blank stare then the comment that there is nothing remaining. I could not find any buildings even though I heard the mian dancing was done in a hall that is now a school? The beach and lake are still there. Barry

    • July 14, 2013 at 11:59 am #

      No the dancing floor was donated to Esmeralda it is in lake lure the stairs remain in lake lure and that is also where lift scene was taken.

  12. May 23, 2013 at 4:01 pm #

    My husband & I are on our honeymoon, right now, in Lake Lure. I have yet to see anything that remotely looks familiar to the movie. I do want to say that it is definitely a remote locale & seems to be a respite for us. It would be nice if there were pieces that resembled the originals, built here to replicate a good touristy attraction while you’re here. Even if you’re not a tourist, it would still bring back movie memories. It’s promoted as where some of the movie was filmed, so why not make it like that? From reading, it seems like we may only see a tree or maybe a rock from the filming. We did get to have a severe thunderstorm yesterday, similar to what’s throughout the movie.
    I did read something, earlier today, that said we could play pickle ball. I’m still trying to figure that one out.

  13. June 1, 2013 at 2:08 pm #

    My husband and I were in the midst of our wedding ceremony when the movie was being filmed at Mountain Lake. My husband was a student at VA Tech and we had scheduled our wedding ceremony and reception at this location before the movie was scheduled to be filmed here. Our outdoor ceremony was held in the gazebo and the rehearsal the night before was held-up because they were filming the water scenes with Jennifer and Patrick. This was September and I had selected this time of year because of the leaf change, but they had to color out any changes because the setting was summer. It rained so much that summer that they were delayed in scheduling the filming, hence, why it was still being filmed in September. Our rehearsal dinner was at the Farmhouse in Christiansburg and the crew went there as well that evening so we met the majority of the group. Funny thing… the next day during the part of the ceremony with vows being said, I heard an argument at one of the cabins on the lake. I didn’t think anything of it, but it kept repeating itself over and over, and then I realized they were filming the scene between Baby’s father and Patrick. The movie staff had promised us that they wouldn’t be filming during our ceremony, but you know Hollywood. The 3 priests officiating were surprised and my brother had colorful words with Patrick. Now, it’s a bittersweet memory knowing Patick is gone. I went through last summer on a long journey across country and was saddened to see that the lake was all dried up, but the lodge and grounds were still so lovely. It’s a beautiful place with a bygone era setting.

    • June 2, 2013 at 6:28 pm #

      thank you for sharing Trese! Do you have any interesting pictures you could share? So cool to hear your story :)

    • Becca
      July 20, 2013 at 2:06 am #

      Trese, this is a wonderful story. Dirty Dancing is my all time favorite movie. Your story has just been added to my love for the movie and location. I went to Mountain Lake last year and it is such a beautiful place, even though the lake is dried up, it was still so peaceful. I’m very jealous you shared your wonderful wedding with Dirty Dancing.

  14. Jarrett
    June 11, 2013 at 6:52 pm #

    Hi everyone!…I just moved to Flat Rock, NC(about 15-20 min away from lake lure) and have visited the area about 5-6 times. I went to Firefly Cove, the location of the cabins, gymnasium, dinning hall, bridge, and steps. The only thing that remains are the steps and the foundation of the building where Baby’s first introduction to “Dirty Dancing” was. The dining halls foundation is now a decoration in. the back yard of a couple who loves DD!
    …I have pictures of the remains, but don’t know how to paste them in here…I’ll see if I can contact the webmaster.

  15. Mildred
    June 25, 2013 at 7:51 pm #

    Visited Lake Luke three weeks ago, what a beautiful and peaceful place. I could spend their a hole day just sitting and viewing the lake and areas. We also got to see a lot of vultures and could took some amazing pictures of them. Want to go back someday.

  16. Becca
    July 20, 2013 at 2:12 am #

    I’m getting ready to attend The Dirty Dancing Festival in Lake Lure in a few weeks. I’m not sure how to post pictures on a blog but if anyone does let me know. My plan is Firefly Cove for the steps and building foundations, Lake Lure Inn, the golf course scene and the floor from the original dance scenes is in a local hotel. If anyone has more information please let me know. Thanks braddstudios for having this blog!!

  17. Regina
    July 25, 2013 at 2:20 pm #

    I have no idea why you would ever say that Lake Lure is dried up! I have owned a home on Lake Lure for 18 years. It is thriving and full of people boating, skiing, tubing and fishing. Of course diving in the very deep
    and beautiful lake is my favorite activity.

    • July 28, 2013 at 10:29 am #

      Regina, it was Mountain Lake in Virginia that is dried up (as of 2 years ago), not Lake Lure.

  18. Glenda hinshaw
    July 26, 2013 at 4:18 pm #

    Yes, the flooring is in the Ismaraorada Hotel in Lake Lure. That was the only part they could salvage after the fire. You can take a boat ride to the cave, and they will point out the locations. It is hard to understand why they did not maintain this for historical purposes, and why they put a neighborhood there is beyond me.

  19. Trish
    July 31, 2013 at 9:16 pm #

    http://ww2.roanoke.com/news/nrv/wb/173361/

    Interesting article that explains that Mountain Lake is cyclical and has been known to dry out for as long as a decade and then come back. They said it is not due to global warming but instead due to being located on a deep fissure and when the earth shifts (earthquake) then more water drains out.

    http://www.mtnlakeconservancy.org/research-lake.html

    This article shows pictures of the lake now…..it is coming back.

  20. Melissa
    August 11, 2013 at 10:23 am #

    We visited Mountain Lake last year for a Dirty Dancing Weekend, then again last April right before the grand re-opening of the hotel. The lake was much fuller than the first time we visited and the owners of the property are very optimistic that the lake will return. They do claim that the lift scenes were indeed filmed at their lake and not Lake Lure. With the side by side pictures, it’s hard to dispute this claim. The place is beautiful. You can take a tour of the grounds, we had an amazing time. Lots and lots of amazing photos. We plan to go back when the lake is full again, because it was beautiful even without the lake so I can’t imagine what it will be when the water returns fully. We were allowed to take pictures in the kitchen (the scene where Penny was found crying), we sat in the dining room where baby and her family had breakfast (against the big windows), walked all around the lake (or where it used to be), checked out Baby’s family’s cabin, bunny hopped across the front lawn, wandered down the trail where Robby and Lisa argued, stood where Neil and Baby talked after the gazebo dance, danced in the gazebo, stood in that same gazebo and gave the ‘disappointment’ speech that Baby gave her father, carried watermelons…all the good stuff :) If you ever have the opportunity to go, make it happen. It was an 9 hour drive from my house for a 2 day trip and it was well worth it. If you’d like to see pictures, I’d be happy to share, just let me know!

  21. Jill Marten
    September 20, 2013 at 5:45 pm #

    I read somewhere that the lift was filmed in NC, they couldn’t film it in Virginia at Mountain Lake because the water wasn’t deep enough. I even seen a interview with Jennifer Grey with her talking about it.

    • September 22, 2013 at 1:42 pm #

      Jill, I’d love to see a link to that interview. Although I must say, the photographic evidence is irrefutable, IMHO.

  22. October 25, 2013 at 6:29 am #

    While visiting Asheville NC, this past weekend, we decided to take a ride and ended up in the little town of Lake Lure. This lovely town was having their Fall Foliage Festival. Because of the abundance of people, traffic, and rain, we did not park and walk around since it was late afternoon and we wanted to see as much as possible before it got dark. Learning for the first time that this was one of the site’s chosen to film the movie, Dirty Dancing, I have become obsessed (due to my obsession with Patrick Swayze back in the day) researching to find out as much as I can about Lake Lure. My research has led me to plan a vacation at Lake Lure, rent a cabin, and make a scavenger hunt of the movie and town’s famous spots. It’s sad to say, but I do believe, the nostalgic feel of this great movie has worn away from the area. It’s been many years and a different generation of people have evolved. But just think how exciting and alive this little town became while filming the movie. Now the movie is a part of history and they just wants to be known for the sweet, quaint town that one perceives. I can’t wait to vacation in Lake Lure.

  23. Janae Hughes
    December 19, 2013 at 12:31 am #

    Trese!
    I kept reading your story over and over! What an awesome piece of history you have to share!!!! Thanks so much!!!!

  24. Katie
    January 26, 2014 at 9:29 am #

    Absolutely love your blog! Thanks for the side by side pictures, very cool! Once it warms up, I am planning a road trip to Mountain Lake from Ohio. Sounds like I won’t be disappointed!

  25. Katie
    January 26, 2014 at 9:36 am #

    http://www.tripadvisor.com/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g49268-d2723227-i42621907-Lake_Lure_Tours-Lake_Lure_North_Carolina.html

    These are supposedly the steps that baby walked up carrying a watermelon?

  26. April 2, 2014 at 5:09 pm #

    If you want to dance on the bridge that “Baby” danced all you have to do is play a little golf. The bridge is just the bridge to the men’s T-box an the 16th hole at Bald Mountain Golf Course. (Lake Lure, NC) Been on it several times. Even took a few silly pictures while dancing like “Baby”. The resort has posted plaques marking were various scenes were shot.

    http://www.rumblingbald.com/golf/bald-mountain-course

  27. Susan
    June 6, 2014 at 12:27 pm #

    we visited the Lake Lure locations just after the film was released several times. I have a ton of photos that I need to dig out of my packed stuff and post somewhere. When we were there, we visited the house where baby found out that penny was pregnant which was downstairs from the big room where they were all dirty dancing – the views from that room were spectacular. The steps and bridge were all fully intact. Also, the room where Johnny taught baby to dance was the other side of the area from the dirty dancing room. From the outside of that room, is the door where the little old lady dropped the wallets. To the right of that building was the big grassy field where they practiced lifts. To the left was the road where Johnny’s car was parked and where he drove away at the end. Just above that road was Johnny’s cabin – we went inside it as well. At the lakefront from the big house was the room where the final scene was filmed. When we went in, there was still white lattice from the filming there – I snagged a small piece of it. We also found the log where they did the famous dance. It was on boys camp road just before you got to the turn for the house on the left. You’d miss it if you weren’t looking for it. It’s hard to imagine walking across it, much less dancing but it was only a small creek beneath it. Lovely area. What I heard is that some guy bought the property with the intent of capitalizing on the dirty dancing thing but then hit financial problems and the rumor was he burned the place to get the insurance money. No idea, but I tell you it was so sad. The inside of that one house where the dancing and the pregnancy talk happened was all wood, thick, beautiful wood and was just so so neat and that gorgeous stone fireplace at one end. breaks my heart that it’s all gone. am grateful for our visits and my photos.

    • Katie
      June 6, 2014 at 3:33 pm #

      Omg I’m so jealous! My daughter and I visited Mountain lake lodge (Kellermans) last weekend and it was absolutely amazing! I would love to visit Lake Lure next but doesn’t sound like there is much left! :( you HAVE to find your pictures because I would loooove to see them! :)

    • Kim
      July 26, 2014 at 4:00 am #

      Susan, please please find those photos! Thank you for the amazingly thorough description, I’m so jealous!!!!!

      • Susan
        July 27, 2014 at 4:07 pm #

        I have started going through boxes. I haven’t forgotten y’all, I promise!

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