Named after General Francis Marion of the Continental Army, this small and leafy historic city is "where Main Street meets the (Blue Ridge) mountains." An hour's drive from Asheville, Marion lies at the foothills of Pisgah National Forest and close to some of North Carolina's most popular attractions like the Linville Falls and the Catawba Valley. Find the best RV rentals in Marion, and you’ll be well-placed to explore the valley’s celebrated wineries.
Marion was founded in the mid-19th century from land carved from Sam Carson's plantation. Wagon trails passed through town which helped fuel its growth through the end of 19th century. Unfortunately, the 1894 fire reduced most of the town to ashes, paving the way for rebuilding the town core and creating the Main Street Historic District that still stands today.
Journey Into the Blue Ridge Mountains
Not far from Marion, Lake James State Park beckons locals and visitors alike with inviting, clear waters, 25 miles of trails, and a wide range of activities for all ages. Drive your camper rental from Marion to this 6,800-acre lake for boundless fishing opportunities, more than 150 miles of shoreline, and a swimming area at Paddy's Creek. Around this area, mountain bikers will find 15 miles of suitable trails for beginner (four-mile Tindo Loop) and intermediate riders (11-mile Wimba Loop).
If you're headed to the Blue Ridge Parkway, you'd be missing out if you don't stop by and spend some time finding out why Linville Falls is one of the most photographed falls in North Carolina. Tumbling 90 feet, the falls takes a three-tiered plunge into the Linville Gorge or the "Grand Canyon of the Southern Appalachians." For more dramatic views, rent a motorhome in Marion in autumn and plan on visiting the falls again during this time when the surrounding foliage bursts into bright hues of red, gold, and orange.
Leaving the falls behind at Mile Marker 316 (Visitor's Center), drive the rest of the Blue Ridge Parkway up to Mile Marker 0 as it approaches the Shenandoah National Park and the road becomes the Skyline Drive. Even if you keep your travel goals modest, a drive anywhere on these roads guarantees an unforgettable experience. Pull off at any of the many outlooks to truly take in the marvelous views, or step out of your Marion campervan rental to stretch your legs for a while at the many trails winding over 360 miles throughout the park.
Where to Park Your RV
Marion brims with more than a dozen RV camping options, so you're likely to find the most suitable for your needs without ever leaving town. Most of the campgrounds offer full hookup sites, showers, and restrooms. A few are located lake, creek, or riverside while some are for members only, so be sure to check ahead.
If you're in need of a place to park your Marion RV rental in a pinch, the Walmart parking lot in town along Sugar Hill Road should do. Make sure the store manager approves your request before settling in for the night.
Make Your Most Memorable Moments in Marion
Marion's Main Street Historic District teems with shopping and dining venues, and more important, with local heritage. The historic district covers 21 acres and includes 36 buildings, a few of which are hardy survivors of the 1894 fire. Some of the more prominent are the Marion Depot built in the 1860s, the St. John's Episcopal Church completed in 1882, and the Eagle Hotel erected in the same year as the fire.
A much older historic home was once the residence of Joseph McDowell, the founder and namesake of the county. Built in 1787, McDowell's house is one of the oldest surviving frame houses on this side of North Carolina. An interesting side note is a claim from professionals that this house may not have been the county's founder's but that of his son, James.
Rent an RV in Marion in early June for a taste of local flavor – livermush. Made of pig liver and other parts mixed with cornmeal, livermush is spiced with pepper and sage, fried and sliced off for a sandwich. Locals say mustard makes the best topping. This Southern classic and local favorite tastes similar to sausage, and like the latter, served at breakfast with eggs and grits. During the Liver Mush Festival, sandwiches are given out, but food trucks come in to make the menu more diverse.
Classic American comfort food, Italian favorites, and Mexican quick bites all form part of Marion's exciting dining scene. Asian (Japanese and Chinese) is also on the menu along with BBQ and seafood. National food chains are also well-represented, so you can cave into your fast food cravings without having to drive far.
In addition, you have two dozen convenience and grocery stores to choose from in case you want to cook your own comfort food. From May to October, the Downtown Marion Tailgate Market puts out the freshest produce, meats, and baked goods on Tuesdays (afternoon) and Saturdays. This is also a great place to shop for local crafts like hand-spun yarn and medicinal herbs and plants.
If you're planning to leave town and head to the mountains, make a fuel stop at one of Marion's many gas stations. Several truck stops can also be found in town, expanding your parking options should the campgrounds operate at full capacity.
Let Marion be the start of more exciting journeys ahead. Look to the mountains or the surrounding valleys for inspiration, book an RV rental in Marion, NC, and then put the rubber to the road. There’s so much to see, and only one lifetime to do it. Get started today.