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About Marion & McDowell County

Where “Main Street Meets the Mountains” is an accurate description of historic downtown Marion. Mount Ida is positioned at the end of South Main Street with a beautiful view of the Blue Ridge Mountain range to the north. The Marion Community Building includes an outdoor children’s park, splash pad, and tennis courts. Marion’s Mount Ida is an official site on the North Carolina Birding Trail, as is Lake James State Park, located just minutes from downtown Marion. Marion’s downtown area is recognized on the National Register of Historic Places.

The City of Marion’s local culture is preserved through weekly, monthly, and annual events, such as the Thursday Night Bluegrass Jam at the Historic Marion Depot. With June, comes the annual Livermush Festival celebrating famed livermush producer, Hunter’s Livermush.

The Parkway traverses unique McDowell County, North Carolina between Linville Falls and Crabtree Falls.  To the east is Burke County; here you can enjoy the Linville Gorge and Lake James State Park in this self-proclaimed Nature’s Playground.  The Parkway is easily accessible via either Highway 221 North at Linville Falls, Highway 226 merging with the Parkway at the Museum of North Carolina Minerals, or by way of Highway 226A joining the Parkway just below the community of Little Switzerland.

Area Visitor Centers

Man Fly Fishing on a river in McDowell County


Stories from Marion & McDowell County

October 14, 2020
Fall color season is upon us and the hillsides are dotted with the reds of maples, sourwoods and sumac and the yellows of birches and yellow poplars. But even after the trees are bare, these routes offer sites worth visiting- they promise to tickle your taste buds, enthrall your eyes…
September 9, 2020
Enjoy waterfalls and cascades throughout Shenandoah National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park!
August 26, 2020
The Blue Ridge Mountains are dotted with farms producing everything from Christmas trees to trout. Fruit, flowers, herbs, jams, jellies, pies, wreaths and other crafts are all produced right here in the mountains.
July 1, 2020
Motorcycle and sportscar touring are popular along the winding routes in Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee.
July 15, 2019
If you're wondering where to go swimming during your Blue Ridge Parkway trip, we've rounded up all the best spots. It's important to note that while there are some beautiful waters located right on the Parkway itself, swimming is not allowed in Parkway waters. But there are no shortage of great swimming holes nearby, as well as guided rafting tours, kayak rentals, tubing, and some beautiful lakeside rentals.