Carl Sandburg is a big deal in Flat Rock and throughout the Asheville region. A famous poet, writer, and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, he was, as President Lyndon B. Johnson put it, “more than the voice of America…he was America.” While he grew up in Galesburg, Illinois and spent many of his most prolific writing years in Chicago, he ultimately moved to Flat Rock at his wife’s request.
Upon settling at the Flat Rock property then known as “Connemara,” the Sandburgs realized that they’d acquired what one spouse referenced as “a village” and the other, “a million acres of sky.” They quickly settled into a new way of life that involved caring for goats producing exceptional works of poetry and prose.
Today, the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site highlights the legacy of Carl and Lilian Sandburg. Lilian is largely to thank for the park’s existence; she offered her full support to Congressman Roy Taylor and Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall as they strived to authorize the property as a national park.
Today, this historic site plays a key role in preserving Sandburg’s written legacy while also offering visitors valuable insight into the couple’s daily life. The park is both a cultural and an environmental gem, with its expansive space providing plenty of opportunities for guests to immerse themselves in nature. From hiking to home tours and even theatrical productions, this historic site offers an enjoyable experience to guests of all ages.
A few of our favorite activities and amenities include the following:
Sandburg Home Tours
The Sandburg Home’s furnished rooms can only be viewed during guided tours, which are offered throughout the day. Each tour lasts thirty minutes and offers in-depth insight into how Carl and Lilian Sandburg spent their days in Flat Rock.
After your tour, stop by the bookstore to browse a variety of gifts and souvenirs. In addition to stocking several works by Sandburg, the store offers unique items such as cheese and fudge produced from goat’s milk. Bottled water is also sold in the store — but if you bring your own water bottle, you can fill up for free at one of the park’s fountains.
Connemara Farms Goat Dairy
For three decades, this Grade A dairy operation produced champion goats. Today, this space is home to goats representing three breeds. Stop by to watch them graze in the pasture near the barn — or to chat with rangers and volunteers about the farm’s history.
Glassy Mountain Trail
If you’re in the mood for a workout, hit up this peaceful trail, where you’ll enjoy exquisite views. Beginning right behind the house, the wooded trail ascends through multiple outcroppings and past excellent picnic locations before eventually reaching Big Glassy. Along the way, you’ll enjoy distant views of Mount Pisgah. Other popular trails include Memminger Loop and Little Glassy Trail, which, at just one-third of a mile, can easily be navigated by most visitors.
Live Performances at the Amphitheater
If you visit the historic site during the summer, be sure to hit up the amphitheater for an exclusive performance of Rootabaga Stories. Depending on when you visit, you could also enjoy an excerpt from the Broadway play The World of Carl Sandburg.
History buffs, theater enthusiasts, and nature lovers alike will find plenty to do and see at the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site.
– A parking lot is available near the park’s entrance, but it tends to fill up quickly on busy days. Vehicles with trailers are not allowed to park in the entrance lot and should instead use the playhouse lot located across the street. Those hoping to simply hike in the park may be better served by the hikers’ lot, which is situated just a half mile down Little River Road.
– The historic site hosts a variety of special events throughout the year, some of which coincide with holidays. Keep an eye on the national park calendar to determine if you can visit during the Memorial Day Folk Music Festival, the Fall Festival, or Christmas at Connemara.