One of the most easterly mountain ranges in the state, the Sauratown Mountains are often called "the mountains away from the mountains" because they are separated from the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains. Prominent peaks in the Sauratown range rise from 1,700 feet to more than 2,500 feet in elevation and stand in bold contrast to the surrounding countryside, which averages only 800 feet in elevation.
Named for the Saura Indians who were early inhabitants of the region, the Sauratown Mountains are the remnants of a once-mighty range of peaks. Over many millions of years, wind, water and other forces wore down the lofty peaks. What remains of these ancient mountains is the erosion-resistant quartzite, which now supports scenic ridges and knobs, including Moore's Knob, Moore's Wall, Cook's Wall, Devil's Chimney, Wolf Rock and Hanging Rock.
In 1936, the Stokes County Committee for Hanging Rock and the Winston-Salem Foundation donated 3,096 acres of land to the state of North Carolina for the purpose of establishing a state park. Additional land was added to the park as recently as 2000, bringing total acreage to 6,921.
Many facilities in the park were constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) between 1935 and 1942. A concrete and earthen dam completed in 1938 impounded a 12-acre lake, and a stone bathhouse, diving tower and sandy beach also were built. Other facilities constructed by the CCC include a park road and parking area, a picnic area and shelter, and hiking trails. In 1991, the bathhouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Funds from the $35 million state parks bond referendum approved by voters in 1993 paid for construction of Hanging Rock's new visitor's center. The fully accessible stone and wood structure offers an auditorium, exhibit room and a classroom for interpretation and education programs. It also houses the park office and serves as a contact station for the thousands of people who visit the park each year.