Introducing a new weekly feature: Weekend Roadtrip!

The largest natural red rhododendron garden in the world on top of Roan Mountain, where the North Carolina-Tennessee state line runs along the crest of the ridge. © 2003 Hugh Morton.

Once a week the UNC Press blog will feature a tantalizing and adventuresome “Weekend Roadtrip” to a place featured in a UNC Press book. We’ll post them on Thursdays, so there’s still time to make last-minute weekend plans if you feel inspired. Mountains, Piedmont, Coast; hiking, birding, swimming, playing, learning; half-day trips, weekend jaunts, week-long adventures. We’ve got tons of exciting North Carolina places to point you to, and great books to help you make the most of your trip!

Weekend Roadtrip #1: Literary Gems (& Minerals!) from Marion to Banner Elk

Our first roadtrip comes from Literary Trails of the North Carolina Mountains: A Guidebook, by Georgann Eubanks, published in association with the North Carolina Arts Council. Visit the three (3!) graves of Charlie Silver, see the largest red rhododendron garden in the world (peak blooming season starts this weekend!), and catch a Lees-McRae Summer Theatre production of “Southern Voices: Stories, Poems, and Humor Celebrating the South.”

Eubanks - Literary Trails of the NC Mountains - cover

One of 18 half-day and day-long literary tours collected in the first of 3 regional volumes of writer-related driving trails, this tour of literary landmarks takes you to sites with connections to 21 writers, including Doris Betts, John Ehle, Sharyn McCrumb, Robert Morgan, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Jonathan Williams, and Perry Deane Young, just to name a few.

You’ll visit Marion, Little Switzerland, Spruce Pine, Penland, Bandana, Kona, Bakersville, Roan Mountain, and Banner Elk. Along the way, you can read literary histories connected with each site, as well as poems and excerpts from the work of writers associated with the area.

Pick up a copy of Literary Trails of the North Carolina Mountains and look for Tour 16. And send us a virtual postcard in the comments section!

(The photo above comes from Hugh Morton’s North Carolina, UNC Press’s first book with the legendary photographer. The picture was taken at Roan Mountain, home of the world’s largest red rhododendron garden. Peak blooming season is just now underway.)