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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.

Stories from Marion & McDowell County

December 31, 2020
When high elevation nighttime temperatures dip below freezing, sections of the Parkway may be closed due to ice and snow. The roadway is not plowed or salted so closed areas become wonderful winter playgrounds for pedestrians, cyclists, skiers and snowshoers alike.
November 16, 2020
Even while staying at home we still seem to be busy. Maybe this season you'll want to slow down and make time to take a getaway with your significant other. Regardless of when you choose to enjoy a romantic getaway along the Blue Ridge Parkway, we have some options and ideas for you to consider.
October 14, 2020
These routes offer sites worth visiting that promise to tickle your taste buds, enthrall your eyes and enchant your ears. There are tours, routes and trails to suit every traveler, taste, and location from Tennessee to Virginia.
September 9, 2020
Numerous waterfalls are located throughout the Shenandoah, Great Smoky Mountains and Blue Ridge Parkway regions. Some are visible from the road and some require a hike. This list notes the location and ease of access for each waterfall.
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. And what better way to get outside this year than to enjoy the fresh air of a mountain farm?
July 1, 2020
Along with the 469 miles of glorious scenery winding along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains on the parkway, there are several other motor routes in North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia that are popular with motorcyclists and sports car enthusiasts.
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. 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.

Recommended Itineraries

Region: Virginia , North Carolina
Duration:2 - 3 days
A two-day trip through the Parkway's Highlands district reveals the shift from flat plateau to mountain ridges. Find yourself in the rolling pastures of Doughton Park (Milepost 240 – 245) or exploring the Grandfather Mountain corridor (Milepost 295 – 300) or the rugged Linville Gorge (Milepost 317) with a night in North Carolina’s High Country of Boone or Blowing Rock.