Total Solar Eclipse Checklist

Your opportunity to experience a rare total solar eclipse in western North Carolina arrives on Monday, August 21. To make sure you’re prepared and packed for totality, the experts at Diamond Brand Outdoors have assembled this helpful checklist. For more on what to expect, check out Everything You Need to Know About August’s Total Solar Eclipse.

Click here for a printer-friendly PDF version of this checklist.

What to Do Now for the Total Solar Eclipse

  • Select the best location and route for viewing the eclipse based on accessibility, weather forecast, and the time of day the path of totality will pass through the area. Many prime viewing spots require tickets or have a capacity cap in place for the day, so do your homework.
  • Select an alternate location and route. 64,000 tourists are expected to visit the mountains for the eclipse.
  • Book lodging close to your primary viewing location. Hotel rooms, campsites, and cabins are going fast!
  • Build your total solar eclipse viewing kit. (See the bottom of this post for a checklist.)
  • Purchase your eclipse viewing glasses at Diamond Brand Outdoors. We’ve ordered a lot, but they’re going fast!
  • Use an app, website, or book to find out which bright stars and planets you can expect to see during the totality, impressing your friends and kids!

What to Do the Week of the Total Solar Eclipse

  • Test all of your equipment by doing a “dry run.” Nothing’s worse than having a faulty camera when the big event gets underway!
  • Pack your total solar eclipse viewing kit and camping kit.
  • Review the eclipse timing and weather forecasts for your primary and alternate viewing locations.

What to Do the Day of the Total Solar Eclipse

  • Check the weather forecast.
  • Leave early for your viewing location.
  • Claim your spot by setting up chairs and viewing equipment, but remember to be a good neighbor so others may enjoy the experience.
  • Test your equipment.
  • Enjoy the day with your friends and family. The time of totality will be brief, but the experience leading up and following the first total solar eclipse in western North Carolina since 1506 will lead to storied memories for years to come.

Total Solar Eclipse Viewing Kit Checklist

  • WNC + NATIONAL PARK MAPS: Cell towers will likely be overloaded, so don’t rely on an app.
  • ECLIPSE VIEWING GLASSES: You must have these for direct solar viewing.
  • HAT: To protect your head from the sun while you wait for the main event.
  • SUNGLASSES: NOT to look at the sun, but to cut down on the glare when you’re looking everywhere else.
  • PORTABLE PHONE CHARGER: Make sure you’ll be able to document the day through photos and videos.
  • CAMPING CHAIRS + TABLES: Get yourself a chance to stake your claim to watch and rest after the excitement!
  • BLANKETS: No matter where you’re watching, blankets keep things cleaner. Bring more than you think you need.
  • COOLER: You’ll likely get to your viewing area hours before the eclipse. Drinks, lunch, and snacks are a must!
  • DRINKWARE + WATER BOTTLES: Insulated cups and tumblers keep your drinks cold (or hot), don’t sweat, and are reusable.
  • HEADLAMP OR FLASHLIGHT: Since you’ll be looking up, this is primarily for emergencies. Use the red setting instead of white.
  • COMPASS: There’s plenty of information online that will tell you exactly where to look as totality begins.
  • CAMERA: This is one of the times you may want a nicer camera than you’ll find on your phone.
  • CELL PHONE: Coverage may be too spotty for weather and GPS, but your clock and camera will still work.
  • WATER: Always stay hydrated, whether the sun is shining or not.
  • SUNSCREEN: Always a good idea when you’ll be outside for any period of time.
  • INSECT REPELLENT: Another good idea anytime you’re heading into the outdoors.
  • OUTDOOR GAMES: Help pass the time and enjoy some relaxation with friends and family.
  • HAMMOCK: If you’ve got space to set up an ENO hammock or WindPouch, laying down is a great way to watch.
  • ELECTRICAL TAPE: Some folks don’t know how to turn off their camera’s flash. Be prepared to help them out.
  • CAMPING KIT (OPTIONAL): Traveling the day before or staying overnight after the eclipse helps avoid traffic and can be fun!
    • TENT
    • SLEEPING BAG FOR EACH CAMPER
    • LANTERN
    • SLEEPING PAD FOR EACH CAMPER
    • PILLOWS
    • TARPS
    • STOVE + FUEL
    • MATCHES
    • FRYING PAN + POT
    • CUTTING BOARD + KNIFE
    • SPONGE, SOAP, + BIN FOR WASHING DISHES
    • PAPER TOWELS
    • FIREWOOD (IF ALLOWED)
    • ROASTING STICKS FOR S’MORES + HOT DOGS
    • BEAR KEG
    • ICE
    • TRASH BAGS
    • FIRST AID KIT
    • CORKSCREW

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What You Need to Know About August’s Total Solar Eclipse

Are you ready for the Great American Total Solar Eclipse? It’s rapidly approaching, hitting us full force this coming August 21. Millions of people will be traveling to see the moon cover the sun and all the crazy extras that go along with the phenomenon. The last total solar eclipse crossed the mainland states in 1979, so make sure you get out to see this one, because the next one won’t happen until 2024. Here’s our unofficial guide to everything you need to know.

The Solar Science

The paths of 21st Century North American eclipses.  Michael Zeiler, www.GreatAmericanEclipse.com

It sounds like sci-fi, right? “OK guys, one day in the future, the moon is going to completely blot out the sun. Day will turn into night! Stars will shine brighter than the sun! It’s going to be epic!”

So, sci-fi guy is right, but there’s some real science behind the eclipse. This is the time, celestially, when the Earth, moon, and sun are all in line together. The moon will rotate on its path around Earth and pass directly through the middle of our visual path to the sun. In this short period of time, the moon will completely cover the sun—at which point you will look up to see quite the spectacle. Day will have turned into twilight and the sun’s wispy atmosphere will extend around the moon. You’ll see stars in the daytime and colors streaking across the sky. That’s at full coverage. At partial coverage, the sky won’t darken much—but you will be able to get a clearer view of Venus.

Geometry plays an important role in this solar eclipse, too. The moon is about 239 thousand miles away from us here on Earth—which is oddly exactly the right distance to make it look the same size as the (much bigger and much farther away) sun, allowing it to completely cover the light during the eclipse.

Where to Catch a Glimpse

Gearing up to a seriously special celestial event—a time, when the Earth, moon, and sun are all in line together.  Thomas Lok

If you’re in the US, you’re lucky—you’ll be able to see anywhere from a total eclipse to 48 percent coverage. The path of totality (where you can see the sun completely covered by the moon) is a much smaller range, though. It goes through only 12 states: Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. And the totality viewing in those states is limited to very specific 70-mile-wide sections.

NASA has put together a selection of interactive maps allowing you to zoom in on the exact spot you should head to if you want to see the whole shebang. Totality only lasts 2 minutes and 40 seconds at the max with this eclipse, and it’s predicted to be a massive traffic day full of people trying to get to that center line. So go early.

This chart, compiled by Space.com and NASA, outlines totality times in the best cities to see the eclipse, all in local time:

Totality times for each state in the best cities to see the eclipse. Data from NASA

Where to watch in North Carolina

Asheville’s got plenty of viewing parties planned for spots like Pack Square Park and UNC Asheville, but you’ll only get to see the path of totality if you head further west. Tickets for viewing at Clingmans Dome have already sold out and certain areas of Great Smoky Mountains National Park will be closed on August 21. However, if you can turn the once-in-a-lifetime viewing into a weekend, some campsites and hotel rooms may still be available near Sylva, Brevard, Cherokee, or Murphy. Romantic Asheville has rounded up a comprehensive list of spots to watch the eclipse in the mountains.

2017 solar eclipse racing over Great Smoky Mountains National Park from Michael Zeiler on Vimeo.

Tips to See the Best Show

August 21, 2017 is predicted to be one of the most highly-trafficked days ever, as millions of people will be traveling to the path of totality.  NASA HQ PHOTO

Two words: eye protection. This is the most important tip we can give you for viewing the eclipse. Don’t go thinking you’re going to look straight at the sun—even if it’s partially obscured by the moon—and come away unscathed. You could burn your retinas to tiny eyeball-shaped ash piles. You could go partially blind. In short: you’ll damage the heck out of your peepers.

The sad reality is that the majority of the country will be out of the narrow path of totality the eclipse takes. It’s only 70 miles wide stretching from Oregon to South Carolina. The only people who can look at the full eclipse unencumbered by equipment are those in the path of totality. Most of us won’t see the sun completely covered by the moon, so we’ll definitely need eye protection of some sort. According to NASA, that means “special-purpose solar filters” like eclipse glasses. Sunglasses or homemade filters won’t work. Apparently only four companies make the glasses to international standards: Rainbow Symphony, American Paper Optics, Thousand Oaks Optical, and TSE 17.

Another option? Pinhole projectors. But you won’t be able to look directly at the sun—it’s an indirect method of viewing. Sky and Telescope suggests this process: “Poke a small hole in an index card with a pencil point, face it toward the Sun, and hold a second card three or four feet behind it in its shadow. The hole will project a small image of the Sun’s disk onto the lower card. This image will go through all the phases of the eclipse, just as the real Sun does.”

Of course, if you’re super fancy you can just use a properly filtered telescope.

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Originally written by RootsRated.

An Insider’s Guide to Panthertown Valley: The Yosemite of the East

Although big cats no longer prowl the 6,295-acre swath of the Nantahala National Forest dubbed Panthertown Valley, it’s still easy to imagine the namesake predators roaming the sylvan trails. One of the most stunning and ruggedly wild tracts of the massive national forest is Panthertown Valley—a place that has been referred to as the Yosemite of the East and one that is home to an unimaginably varied backcountry loaded with craggy granite cliffs, plunging ravines, soaring 4,000-foot peaks, and waterfalls spilling into private plunge pools. The recreation area is open to hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, fishing, and horseback riding—and despite increase popularity in recent years, Panthertown’s rugged trails are still steeped in solitude.

Classic Adventures

The rugged Panthertown Valley offers some amazing backcountry experiences.
The rugged Panthertown Valley offers some amazing backcountry experiences.
Photo by Nick Breedlove

Get a taste of both the scope and the ruggedness of Panthertown Valley—without having to stray far from the trailhead—at Salt Rock Gap, with prime views of Big Green and Little Green mountains, just a quarter mile from the valley’s Salt Rock Gap parking area.

Although the Panthertown is teeming with stunningly secluded waterfalls, Schoolhouse Falls is undoubtedly one of the area’s most iconic landmarks—and also one of the most easily accessible. The highly photogenic 25-foot cascade tumbles into a stunning, tannin-tinted pool, ideal for restorative soaks on steamy summer days. While Schoolhouse Falls is easily added to a multi-day Panthertown itinerary, the flume is also accessible from the trailheads dotting the eastern and western parts of the valley, requiring a 1.4-mile hike from the Cold Mountain Gap trailhead or a 2.4-mile trip from the Salt Rock Gap trailhead.

Another of Panthertown Valley’s most inviting hangouts is the aptly named Sandbar Pool, a generous swath of sand dotting Panthertown Creek, reachable from the east or the west side of the valley, on the Panthertown Valley trail, a 3.3-mile thoroughfare splintered with foot paths, linking the Salt Rock Gap and Cold Mountain Gap trailheads.

From sunken stream valleys to looming peaks, explore Panthertown’s diversity of landscapes with a trip to another of the wilderness area’s more stunning features—the Great Wall of Panthertown, a massive 300-foot granite face that extends for nearly a mile. Explore the looming wall along the 1.6-mile Great Wall Trail, or get a bird’s eye view from the soaring cliff face atop 4,200-foot Big Green Mountain, courtesy of a slender footpath accessible from the thickly forested summit.

Immerse Yourself

Those willing to explore will discover several excellent waterfalls in Panthertown Valley.
Those willing to explore will discover several excellent waterfalls in Panthertown Valley.
Photo by Nick Breedlove

Less than a century ago, Panthertown’s thickly forested backcountry looked far different—the landscape had largely been converted to pastureland and the ruggedly wild valley was cleared out by loggers. In the 1960s, the area was replanted with pine trees in an attempt to convert the area into mountain resort. However, after changing hands several times, the sizeable tract of land was ultimately purchased by the Nature Conservancy in 1989 and handed over to the U.S. Forest Service.

While much of the wilderness is new growth, some of the Panthertown’s primary forest remains, including groves of eastern hemlock and yellow birch. The area remains a hub for endemic flora and fauna, designated as a Blue Ridge Natural Heritage Area. While the namesake panthers may have disappeared, black bears, bobcats, and coyotes still roam the extensive backcountry. The protected area also harbors rare reclusive species, like hellbenders, which are massive salamanders which can grow up two-feet in size.

There is extensive backcountry for hikers to explore in the Panthertown Valley.
There is extensive backcountry for hikers to explore in the Panthertown Valley.
Photo by Nick Breedlove

Some of Panthertown Valley’s most stunning natural wonders are well removed from the beaten track—literally—and are accessible only along secondary footpaths, or after a little bushwhacking. Backcountry beauties like Pothole Falls, Mac’s Falls, and Hogback Mountain are reachable only after deviating onto less well-established forest thoroughfares.

Aside from being embellished by tumbling waterfalls, the waterways lacing Panthertown are also loaded with native brook trout. The Eastern Fork of the Tuckaseigee River originates in Panthertown, and the massive tract of wilderness is also overlaid by the Panthertown, Greenland, and Flat creeks—adding up to 20 miles worth of fishable waters. Panthertown Creek is also one of the stops highlighted on the Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Trail, the country’s first and only fly-fishing trail.

Getting the Most Out of Your Trip

Camping in Panthertown Valley.
Camping in Panthertown Valley.
Photo by Nick Breedlove

Although there is a conscious effort to minimize human impact on Panthertown Valley, there are nearly 30-miles of backcountry trails designated by the Forest Service and maintained by the nonprofit Friends of Panthertown. However, beyond the official trails identified by the Forest Service, Panthertown Valley is also laced with secondary footpaths, which can easily become maze-like and undiscernible to first-time visitors. Signage in Panthertown is also minimal, so the best bet for minimizing chances of getting lost is with a reliable guide. The definitive map to the area is Burt Kornegay’s A Guide’s Guide to Panthertown, and detailed trail information is also available from the Friends of Panthertown.

In order to preserve Panthertown Valley’s ruggedly remote appeal, there are no services available in the recreation area. Visitors should plan to arrive overly prepared, and follow Leave No Trace guidelines for backcountry travel to minimize impacts on the wilderness.

Originally written by RootsRated for Jackson County Tourism Development Authority.

Featured image provided by Nick Breedlove

5 Summer Things to Do in Western North Carolina

Our little corner of the world offers amazing access to the outdoors, music and art, picturesque mountain main streets, and the best friends and neighbors anyone could ask for. While you may be headed to the beach or out of town for a summer vacation, there’s plenty of local adventure to occupy a weekend or an afternoon in Asheville and Western North Carolina. Grab your kayak, lace up the hiking boots, and make your summer bucket list.

May

While May technically falls within spring, Downtown After 5 serves as an unofficial start to summer in the city. Celebrating its 29th year, this monthly concert series from the Asheville Downtown Association began as a way to draw locals into a largely abandoned city center in the late 1980s. The first DA5 concert featured a Mardi Gras theme and, in a nod to that history, the May 19 concert features dynamic New Orleans funk and RnB band the High & Mighty Brass Band and local opening the Josh Phillips Big Brass Band. Why not make a day of it and explore the city’s history on the Asheville Urban Trail, stopping at galleries and public houses along the way?

June

Summer officially arrives on June 21. What better way to celebrate than by participating in the Great American Campout? The National Wildlife Federation has tools that can help you host a public campout in your neighborhood or community. Buncombe County Recreation Services is planning a June 24 campout in Lake Julian Park with guided hikes, stargazing, morning yoga, s’mores, and campfire stories. Even if you don’t take a pledge to join the GAC, heading out with a group of friends is a great way to unwind and reconnect. Lake James State Park is just under an hour away from Asheville and offers scenic vistas of the Appalachian Mountain range, hiking, boating, biking, and hot showers.

Courtesy of RomanticAsheville.com

July

Thru-hiking for months on end is out of reach for many of us. Luckily, the Appalachian Trail offers plenty of shorter hikes that offer the same experience. Art Loeb Trail is just west of Asheville. This 30-mile-long footpath is a highlight reel of the Southern Appalachians with rhododendron tunnels, waterfalls, swimming holes, 360-degree views, and much more. There are plenty of spots to set up camp – or pick a spot in one of the shelters. Three to four days offers ample opportunity for side trips off the main trail. You can also beat the July heat with a stop at Sliding Rock on the way back.

August

Parts of WNC are uniquely positioned to witness the contiguous United States’ first total solar eclipse in 38 years on August 21. Graham, Macon, Swain, Jackson and Transylvania counties are a handful of places in the world that will be plunged into total darkness as the Earth, moon, and sun line up so that the moon completely obscures the sun for about two minutes. Mountain towns are bracing for ten times the number of guests as usual and Clingman’s Dome is hosting a special ticketed viewing, so it’s best to reserve a campsite or cabin as early as possible. Depending on where you end up watching the eclipse, it’s a perfect chance to explore towns like Murphy, Cherokee, or Brevard. Events are also planned at UNC Asheville and in Pack Square Park, but Asheville will only see a 99% eclipse.

September

Just as summer begins with a festival, it comes to an end with the Asheville Outdoor Show on September 17. Diamond Brand Outdoors and Frugal Backpacker host outdoor experts and leaders at this annual event that showcases everything new in hiking, camping, kayaking, outdoor clothing, and technology. With workshops, music, and the chance to chat with representatives from top brands like Patagonia, Prana, Mountain Hardwear, and Kelty, it’s a reminder that even as fall comes to the mountains, there are still plenty of ways to enjoy the outdoors in comfort and style with your favorite folks.

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Ways to Explore the Outdoors in Asheville in March

March equinox brings spring to the mountains on March 20. The month is named for Mars, the Roman god of war who was also regarded as a guardian of agriculture. His month Martius was the beginning of the season for both farming and warfare, and the festivals held in his honor during the month were mirrored by others in October, when the season for these came to a close. As winter comes to an end, March is seen by many as a month to celebrate rebirth, rejuvenations, and regrowth.

Here are some picks for getting outside during the first month of springtime. Visit the experts at Diamond Brand Outdoors to make sure you’ve got all the right gear and outdoor clothing before heading out!

Kolo Bike Park
Opens for the season on March 4, Prices vary
Part of the Adventure Center of Asheville, this experience includes miles of purpose-built mountain bike trails and features — including wooden and dirt jumps, 180 degree wood berm, and wooden bridges — in a wooded, rolling terrain. It’s adult and kid’s pump track make it a sort of mountain bike sampler pack. There are multiple ways to ride Kolo’s trails depending on your skill level whether you’re just learning, taking it easy, or looking to push your edge a bit. Bring your own bike or rent one on site.
1 Resort Drive in Asheville

Spring Hiking 101
6pm-7pm on March 9, Free
With the arrival of spring, the ground thaws, flowers begin to blossom, and nature is jumps back to life. With trails that weave through multiple waterfalls, provide ample bird-watching opportunities, and lead to epic vistas, there’s no better time to explore WNC’s terrain than the temperate days of spring. Frugal Backpacker‘s experts will review essential items you should take with you while hiking in the Asheville area and share their favorite spring hikes.
52 Westgate Parkway in Asheville

Campapalooza
10am-4pm on March 18, Free
Spring camping season gets an early start with a preview of 2017’s best reviewed gear from international innovators like Kelty, Marmot, and Oboz, as well as locally based makers like ENO, Astral, and LiquidLogic. Free hourly workshops on topics from festival camping to choosing the right backpack for a thru hike to getting started to hiking are joined by giveaways and the presentation of grants to local environmental nonprofits. It’s our way of celebrating Diamond Brand Outdoors’ history as WNC’s first and oldest outdoor store — and thanking our customers for their support!
1378 Hendersonville Road in Asheville

Get in Gear Fest
Noon-5pm on March 18, Free
26 WNC Gear Builders will be demoing their newest equipment on the banks of the French Broad River at Salvage Station. From a slingshot shooting range and 1:1 guided outdoor experiences to unique events to test outdoor skills and outdoor gear collaboration beers and ciders, it’s no joke that this festival is called Get in Gear. Diamond Brand Outdoors’ paddle experts will be hosting paddlesports demos on the river at 1:00, 2:15, and 3:30 in the afternoon.
468 Riverside Drive in Asheville

Mountains-to-Sea Trail Bird Walk
8am-10am on March 25, Free
Have you ever wanted to get to know the birds that you see and hear around you? Join international birdwatching guide Kevin Burke for an moderate hike on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. You’ll look for typical winter species, such as Carolina Chickadee, Hermit Thrush, Golden, and Ruby-crowned Kinglets, as well as early spring migrants like Northern Parula, Blue-headed Vireo, Hooded Warbler, Black-and-White Warbler, and Wood Thrush.
1378 Hendersonville Road in Asheville

Asheville Orchid Festival
9am-5pm on March 25 & 26
$5 per person, Free ages 12 and under (standard parking fees apply)
The Western North Carolina Orchid Society hosts its 19th annual ode to the excitement and joy of cultivating orchids inside The North Carolina Arboretum’s Education Center. World-class orchid growers and breeders, along with regional orchid societies, will exhibit hundreds of orchids presented in carefully crafted displays. Orchids will be for sale by vendors from Taiwan, Ecuador, and across the United States.

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Resolve to Get Outdoors in 2017

New Years Asheville OutdoorsThe turn of the year means 2016 is in the books—and for many of us, it can’t come a moment too soon. The end of a year usually brings a time of self-reflection, a time to get our priorities in line and make a plan for improvement. That seems especially important this year.

The top New Year’s resolutions remain largely unchanged year after year: stay fit and healthy, lose weight, and enjoy life to the fullest. If the goals on your list look similar, scratch them out and replace them with one enjoyable item: get outdoors!

These days, the average American spends 93% of their life inside, 87% in buildings and 6% in vehicles. Spending just 20 more minutes outside each day is long enough to provide a cleaning of the mental windshield to recover from everyday life.

You might be thinking, “This sounds great, but I went camping once and hated it.” Luckily, there are countless ways to get outdoors that don’t include pitching a tent—although that can be pretty great, too! If you’re already an outdoors maestro, introduce newbie friends and family to your favorite outdoor activities.

Take a Hike

Asheville Hiking Outdoors Western North Carolina MountainsOn a tree-lined street, your closest park or greenway, or one of the many trails a few minutes outside of town, hiking is great because it doesn’t require a lot of special equipment. A good pair of hiking shoes from your local outdoors store is good enough to start. As you graduate to more moderate trails, trekking poles can come in handy. The North Carolina Arboretum is a beautiful choice this time of year with lots of parking and trails of all levels.

Train for a Big Event

Running Asheville Big Event Western North Carolina OutdoorsWhether you’re a runner, biker, or hiker (or want to be one), having a specific challenge in mind will give you structure and motivation. If you’re already running a few times a week, but want to warm up your winter right away, the Asheville Hot Chocolate 10K is January 21. For beginners and those just getting back into the game, the Race to the Taps series kicks off on March 18. Followed by three additional races in April, September, and October, you’ll be able to trace your improvement through the year.

Find Inspiration

Outdoors Volunteering Asheville Mountains WNCShare your skills, meet new people, and make a difference by volunteering with organizations like MountainTrue, The North Carolina Arboretum, Asheville Greenworks, Carolina Mountain Club, The Pisgah Conservancy, Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, Muddy Sneakers, Friends of the Smokies, Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy, North Carolina Outward Bound School, RiverLink, and…you get the idea?!? There are many ways to volunteer with great local organizations. With the amount of projects available, you can volunteer when your schedule permits, create a custom outing, or join a group event. Local stores like Diamond Brand Outdoors often host information sessions with these groups, making getting involved even easier.

These are a few ways you get outdoors more in 2017 right away. You can also simply visit a new neck of the woods or take a date night outside. As it warms up, maybe join an outdoor sports league or try your hand at kayak fishing. Making time for yourself to do what you love in the places you love to do them will reconnect you with the world and make you happy.

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Ways to Explore the Outdoors in Asheville in December

Even though summer hung around longer than usual, we’re lucky to enjoy four distinct seasons in our little corner of the world. Every season is a great season to live in Asheville, but holidays in the mountains carry a special charm all their own. From sharing a fire pit with friends in your backyard to getting in one last camping weekend with the family, there are plenty of traditions—casual or official—to fill up the month of December.

Here are some picks for getting outside during the last month of the year. Visit the experts at Diamond Brand Outdoors to make sure you’ve got the right hiking shoes and gear before heading out!

Frozen Waterfalls
While the power of rushing water is a spectacular site during any waterfall hike, winter brings magical icy scenes that are on display for just a short time each year. Leafless trees offer clearer views and the absence of crowds make for a very personal experience. Daniel Ridge Falls, Cove Creek Falls, Soco Falls, or one of many others are just a short drive from Asheville. Visit RomanticAsheville.com for some great suggestions.

Lake Julian Festival of Lights
6pm-9pm nightly through December 22
$5 per car, $10 per van
Transforming the road circling Lake Julian Park involves thousands of lights and more than 50 displays, growing each year! The lake’s reflection can even make it appear that the dazzling wonderland goes on forever. A fundraiser for Buncombe County Special Olympics, the annual event is a great value since you pay by the vehicle and not per person. December 1 offers the option to walk through the festival at your own pace rather than driving in the car.

Choose ‘n’ Cut Christmas Tree Farms
The North Carolina Fraser fir is the second most popular Christmas tree in the nation. Christmas tree farms are a great holiday outing, allowing you and your family to make memories while picking the perfect yuletide centerpiece. Cut it yourself or have the professionals bale and tie to your vehicle while you enjoy refreshments and (in some cases) hay rides. A good resource is NCChristmastrees.com.

Santa on the Rock
11am-2pm on December 3 & 10
$13 adults, $6 ages 5-15 (includes park admission)
Jolly Old Saint Nick practices his chimney shimmy with multiple rappels down Chimney Rock. Meet Santa and Mrs. Claus, enjoy live holiday music, hot cocoa and cookies, and meet live critters that call Chimney Rock Park their home.

Winter Lights at The North Carolina Arboretum
6pm-9pm nightly through January 1
$18 adults, $16 ages 5-11
Shorter days mean more time to enjoy the nighttime wonderland of light displays throughout the region. The North Carolina Arboretum’s elaborate Winter Lights show transforms the gardens into a magical experience. Grab some layers and enjoy the experience of roasting marshmallows and making s’mores!

Asheville Downtown Holiday Windows
Map available at ashevilledowntown.org
Finish your holiday shopping or just get in the holiday spirit as you window-shop about 30 businesses that make up the Holiday Windows walking tour sponsored by the Asheville Downtown Association. Seasonal interpretations range from the traditional to the neo-traditional to the only-in-Asheville, a delightful experience that reinforces that we may celebrate in different ways, but we all love the experience of winter magic.

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Ways to Explore the Outdoors in Asheville November 14-20

Choose and Cut Your Own Christmas Tree near Asheville
Pick the perfect Christmas tree for you home and have a great holiday outing at one of the “choose and cut” Christmas Tree Farms near Asheville. You select the tree…they cut it, bale it and tie it on your vehicle or you can use their bowsaws and cut it yourself! Check out the great list of local tree farms provided by RomanticAsheville!

Step Out + Shop for Diana Wortham Theatre at Diamond Brand Outdoors
November 17 at 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. on 1378 Hendersonville Road
In its sixth year, Step Out & Shop is a way to support Asheville’s finest theatre in a very easy way. Get started on your holiday shopping (or grab some things for yourself) with a storewide 20% discount! At the end of the night, we’ll donate 10% of all store sales to the Diana Wortham Theatre to support live performances of music, theatre, and dance throughout the year. There will also be lots of fun giveaways and prizes, as well as live music and light bites.
Fee: Free

Winter Lights at The North Carolina Arboretum
November 18 – January 1, Nightly at 6 p.m. – 10 p.m. on 100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way
The North Carolina Arboretum’s elaborate Winter Lights show returns, transforming the gardens into a nighttime wonderland with 500,000 lights! Stroll through spectacular lighted displays and see the gardens in a completely new way. Designed with an artistic aesthetic, The Winter Lights show enhances the natural beauty of the gardens as you celebrate the holidays.
Fee: Prices Vary

Asheville Holiday Parade
November 19 at 11:00 am – 1:00 pm in Downtown Asheville
This year’s theme is Light Up the Holidays: Celebrating 70 Years. The parade features nearly 100 entries including marching bands, dance and cheer squads, nonprofits and businesses. Parade entries include a little something for everyone with decorated floats, adoptable pets from area rescue organizations, the Honored Veterans float, live music, performances, and Santa Claus.
Fee: Free

Native Watercraft + Liquidlogic Factory Warehouse Sale at Diamond Brand (Part of Big Super Saturday)
November 19 at 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on 1378 Hendersonville Rd, Asheville
Locally made, international boat companies, Native and Liquid Logic are also hosting their first ever factory warehouse sale that day at Diamond Brand Outdoors. Current and previous season boats are going to be priced below wholesale including some models which have never been available in our area. DBO’s also offering special packages and discounts on boating accessories for the day to make sure you’re ready to hit the water. Now is the time to get the deal of a lifetime on a kayak made right here in your backyard!

Birds of Prey Demonstration at Dimond Brand Outdoors (Part of Big Super Saturday)
November 19 at 3 p.m. – 4 p.m. on 1378 Hendersonville Rd, Asheville
Steve Longenecker of Falconers of Falling Creek Camp will host his popular Birds of Prey presentation with live raptors including a Peregrine, male and female American Kestrel, Red-Tailed Haw, Great-Horned Owl, and an Eastern Screech Owl. This is always a popular event so plan to arrive early for the best seats.
Fee: Free

Birds of Prey Asheville Raptor Presentation

Marmot + RootsRated Fall in Love with the Outside Road Tour at Diamond Brand Outdoors (Part of Big Super Saturday)
November 19 at Diamond Brand Outdoors on 1378 Hendersonville Rd, Asheville
Marmot and RootsRated have traveled to 30 different cities around the country on their tour, but together with Diamond Brand Outdoors, are planning something very special for Asheville. Diamond Brand Outdoors is teaming up with these popular brands to celebrate everything great about the outdoors with a day of live music, tent pitching contests, Marmot gear raffles, s’mores, apple cider, outdoor trivia, a photo booth, and good ole’ conversations about where to go outdoors, with 100% of donations benefiting the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy. 
Fee: A suggested $5 donation will get you hot cider, a Ball® mason jar, and entry into the awesome raffles

 

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Ways to Explore the Outdoors in Asheville November 7-13

What does ‘Adventure is Local’ mean? It means we live in an awesome place where the next chance to explore is just around the corner, on a still-unexplored trail, or out with friends at a concert. Here are our top picks for getting outside this week.

One of the Last Weeks for Leaf Viewing Around WNC
The beautiful fall colors around us are fading fast; this may be the last good week to get out and enjoy all the colors! Now’s the perfect time to go on a drive through along the Blue Ridge Parkway and enjoy one of the many hikes along the way. I would highly recommend checking out Fryingpan Tower for an amazing 360 degree view. The panoramic views from the top of the tower include a close-up view of majestic Cold Mountain (peak is just five miles away). Mt. Pisgah is just 2.5 miles north. Looking south is Looking Glass Rock. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is visible northwest and Shining Rock Wilderness area to the southwest.
It gets cold at the top of the tower so be sure to bundle up!

The Holidays Have Begun at Biltmore
Christmas at Biltmore celebrates beloved traditions with unsurpassed style as one of the Southeast’s most storied holiday destinations. Inspired by a century of festivities, America’s largest home is adorned with more than 70 intricately decorated trees and thousands of lights. This year’s theme of “Hearth and Home”—drawn from stories of Vanderbilt family hospitality—emphasizes Biltmore House’s many fireplaces accented with extravagant decorations.
Fee: Prices Vary

Fall Festivities at Hickory Nut Gap Farm
Daily from 11:00 am – 3:00 pm on 57 Sugar Hollow Road in Fairview
Families can come out to the farm and enjoy apples, tunnel slides, the corn maze, a mini hay maze for toddlers, the trike track, and more.
Fee: Admission is $6 Tuesday-Friday and $7 Saturdays-Sundays. The best deal is Monday, when you can get in for just $3. On Saturdays and Sundays, they offer hay rides and kiddie cart rides for $3 from 11-4, and horse rides for $7.

Catch One Leg Up at the Salvage Station
November 8 at 8 p.m. on 468 Riverside Dr in Asheville
Based in Asheville, North Carolina, One Leg Up performs a vibrant mixture of upbeat Gypsy Jazz, Latin, Swing and original jazz compositions and is a favorite of club, concert, and festival stages throughout the southeastern United States.

Put Nights at Salvage Station (WNCDGA Putt Night)
November 10 from 4:30 p.m. – 7 p.m. on 468 Riverside Dr in Asheville
Every Thursday, the Salvage Station hosts a weekly disc golf putting competition.

Frugal Backpacker Hiking Club: Advanced Map + Compass at Linville Gorge
November 12 9:00 a.m.3:00 p.m. at 52 Westgate Parkway Asheville
Learn to take bearings and read the trail with a map and compass while hiking one of the most fascinating outdoor spaces in the region. Recognizable peaks and landmarks will be used for location via triangulation. It’s roughly a three mile round-trip with a few hundred feet of elevation gain along the trail. While the bearing of the trail stays relatively Northbound, a large number of recognizable peaks surrounding the trail will allow for easier location. This is a free class, but RSVP is required.
Fee: FREE

The Orange Peel Presents: Mavis Staples in benefit of the French Broad River
November 13 Doors at 7 p.m. on 101 Biltmore Ave in Asheville
Mavis Staples is living, breathing history.  She is an alchemist of American music, having continuously crossed genre lines like no musician since Ray Charles. Weaving herself into the very fabric of gospel, soul, folk, pop, R&B, blues, rock, and hip hop over the last 60 years, this iconic singer has seen and sung through so many changes, always rising up to meet every road.
All proceeds from the show will go to MountainTrue’s work to protect the French Broad River.
Fee: $35 or $55 VIP (without seats)

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Ways to Explore the Outdoors in Asheville November 1-6

What doesAdventure is Local’ mean? It means we live in an awesome place where the next chance to explore is just around the corner, on a still-unexplored trail, or out with friends at a concert. Here are our top picks for getting outside this week.

Get on the Blue Ridge Parkway
Your time to enjoy the fall colors around Western North Carolina is quickly running out. Now’s the perfect time to go on a drive through along the Blue Ridge Parkway and enjoy one of the many hikes along the way. One of our favorite hikes is Craggy Gardens, which offers 360 degree mountain views.

Fall Festivities at Hickory Nut Gap Farm
Daily from 11:00 am – 3:00 pm on 57 Sugar Hollow Road in Fairview
Families can come out to the farm and enjoy apples, tunnel slides, the corn maze, a mini hay maze for toddlers, the trike track, and more.
Fee:
Admission is $6 Tuesday-Friday and $7 Saturdays-Sundays. The best deal is Monday, when you can get in for just $3. On Saturdays and Sundays, they offer hay rides and kiddie cart rides for $3 from 11-4, and horse rides for $7.

Dia de los Muertos at Salvage Station
November 1 from 5:00 pm – 2:00 am on 468 Riverside Drive in Asheville
Assured that the dead would be insulted by mourning or sadness, Dia de los Muertos celebrates the lives of the deceased with food, drink, parties, and activities the dead enjoyed in life. Enjoy live fire performances, live DJs, live painters, and more. Dia de los Muertos recognizes death as a natural part of the human experience, a continuum with birth, childhood, and growing up to become a contributing member of the community.
Fee: $5-$10 Suggested Donation. Kids are free and can be onsite until dark, as per Salvage Station policy, then the children must be on there way home.

Give!Local kickoff party at Highland Brewing Company
November 2 starting at 6 p.m. on 12 Old Charlotte Hwy in Asheville
Give!Local is WNC’s most fun way to give back. This free kickoff party is for everyone and open to the public. Last year, Give!Local raised $37,000 for 30 nonprofits. This year, they’re shooting for $100,000.
Come celebrate and get to know the folks behind the 47 participating Give!Local nonprofits. There’ll be prizes, and music by Asheville Music School ensembles and Girls Rock Asheville.

Put Nights at Salvage Station (WNCDGA Putt Night)
November 3 from 4:30 p.m. – 7 p.m. on 468 Riverside Dr in Asheville
Every Thursday, the Salvage Station hosts a weekly disc golf putting competition. Catch The Freeway Revival, a band blending classic rock, blues, country, and soul, play at 

Fall Girl Scout Day at Chimney Rock State Park
November 5  from 9:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. on 431 Main Street in Chimney Rock
Chimney Rock’s Fall Scout Days are among the Park’s most popular annual events. Fall is a beautiful time to seek adventure outdoors and learn more about our natural world. With ever-changing programs and expert presenters, Park naturalists continue to offer new programs to meet your scouting needs. Scouts will also have the opportunity to earn a patch specific to Chimney Rock and to work with North Carolina State Parks to become a Jr. Ranger.
Fee: $15 per scout, $12 per adult, $5.50 additional children

Diamond Brand Outdoors Book Club: Where’s the Next Shelter
November 6  from 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. at Diamond Brand Outdoors on 1378 Hendersonville Rd
Join our first ever Diamond Brand Outdoors book club meeting! Our new book club focuses on readings about the outdoors, often by local authors! This week we will be discussing Where’s the Next Shelter? by Asheville’s own Gary Sizer.

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