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Win Passes to The Gorge in Saluda, NC

We hear people like free stuff so we’re giving away more of it this year! Make sure you’re signed up for our super duper fly emails to make sure you don’t miss any contests. This month, we’ve got an awesome package from two western North Carolina Originals: The Gorge and WNCW.

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Touted as “America’s steepest, fastest” zipline canopy tour, The Gorge offers 11 lines spanning over one mile that descend 1,100 vertical feet for a wild ride. It’s a great view of North Carolina’s Green River Gorge, high above the treetops. Like Diamond Brand Outdoors (our parent company), The Gorge was voted Best of the Blue Ridge by readers of Blue Ridge Outdoors.

You’ll also receive of a pair of WNCW Gear Packages: an insulated string bag, handmade mug, and earbuds!

On Oct. 13, 1989, radio station WNCW, whose call letters stand for Western North Carolina Window, first signed on the air as a a public radio station “for everyone.” Since that time, the station has become synonymous with the region it covers, programming a variety of music — folk, blues, jazz, reggae, Celtic, world, rock, bluegrass, indie — and local and National Public Radio affiliated news. It provides distinctive programming that transcends cultural, educational, or socioeconomic differences.

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3 Tips for the Stargazing Beginner

Photo: Jack Schroeder

Western North Carolina is renowned as a haven of outdoor beauty. Our night skies are no exception; Asheville’s relatively low level of light pollution and easy access to the Blue Ridge Parkway make it an ideal spot for seeking fantastic views of the night sky.

If you’re looking to expand your outdoor hobbies, give stargazing a go. It’s a low-key way to enjoy our outdoor paradise, is equally fun solo or with a group, can be enjoyed regardless of your fitness level, and doesn’t require a large investment to try.

Get started frugally. You don’t have to shell out big bucks for a fancy telescope to enjoy stargazing. In fact, you can see objects up to 2.5 million lightyears away without any equipment at all. To get started with minimal investment, purchase a star chart (great options are available for under $20) and head to a dark spot on the Parkway (check out some of our fav spots below). You’ll be surprised at what you can see!

Get help from experts. Most amateur astronomers are enthusiastic about their passion and happy to help new comers. Join one of the group star gazes hosted by Astronomy Club of Asheville or one of the many public events hosted by UNCA at the Lookout Observatory. This can be a great way to learn more about what you’re observing and make connections.

Ready for a better view? You can purchase an excellent pair of binoculars for a much smaller investment than a mediocre telescope and their versatility and ease of operation make them ideal for beginners. Added bonus, they’re a breeze to throw in your pack for incredible views on a nighttime hike.

Great Places to Go:

Blue Ridge Star Park and Observatory– Spruce Pine, NC Recognized by the International Dark Sky Association as a dark-sky place.

Mt. Pisgah Trailhead (Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 407.6)

Stoney Bald Overlook (Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 402.6)

Tanbark Ridge Overlook (Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 376.7)

Craggy Dome Overlook (Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 364.1)

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WNC Trail Triple Crown Challenge

We’ve partnered with our friends at Asheville Trails and Diamond Brand Outdoors for the WNC Trail Triple Crown Challenge.

Visit Frugal Backpacker or any Diamond Brand Outdoors location to check out the awesome new Asheville Trails kiosks with dozens of local trails. We believe the outdoors are for everyone of all abilities, so you’ll find lots of good stuff at the kiosk, like directions and insider tips on easy, moderate, and difficult hikes of varying distance. Find a trail you like, and then snap a picture of the info sheet with your phone. And then visit the Asheville Trails website to get driving directions and more trail info.

Hit any three trails from the displays during April and we’ll give you 20% off up to five items, plus a free Asheville Trails sticker! Just post a pic to Instagram while you’re on the trail, tag both @frugal_backpacker and @ashevilletrails, and use the hashtag #WNC3C.

Once you’ve hiked three of the trails, return to Frugal Backpacker or any Diamond Brand Outdoors location to receive your discount. A team member will take a look a look at your tagged photos — which we’d probably like to share on our feed if you give us permission!

Discount cannot be used for gift cards, boats, or special orders. See store for any other exclusions.

Crew Essentials: Top Outdoor Gifts for Campers

camden

Camden’s a crew member here at Frugal Backpacker. He shares his top gift ideas for your favorite outdoor enthusiasts.

My favorite hike is Alum Cave in the Smokies. I love it because I helped build that trail and that view is my favorite ever.

Kelty Bestie Blanket
Very light weight, very warm, and easy to clean, this makes a perfect throw blanket. It’s perfectly sized for lounging around the campfire or for warming up with a good book.
$22.95

bestie
ENO has the best design of any straps for any hammock that uses carabiner connectors. Agile but enduring, the ENO Atlas Strap weighs a scant eleven ounces, yet boasts a whopping thirty combined adjustment points.
$29.95
atlas
ENO DoubleNest Hammock
The ENO DoubleNest Hammock makes you want to snuggle. With two-feet of extra width than the SingleNest, the DoubleNest allows room for one, two, three, or however you decide to pack 400lbs. It packs down to the size of a grapefruit and is also machine washable.
$69.95
double
Stanley Adventure Cooler
Stanley is great because the company blends classic style with the lastest technology. This is a great small cooler for bringing your lunch to work or any day adventure.
$40
stanley-adventure
Mountain Hardwear Micro Thermostatic Puff Jacket
Affordable, light weight, and just plain awesome! This  very warm down jacket is perfect for layering. It’s also compactable so it fits easily into a pack.
$105
jacket
Deuter Act Lite 50+10 Pack
A great choice for anyone who is new to backpacking, the adjustable back is great for any trip in the wilderness or travel abroad. Lightweight with a purist yet technical look, this versatile expanding pack lets you comfortably tackle everything.
$189
deuter-act-lite

A $10 Bonus with Gift Card Purchases This Year

We want you to have a great time during the holiday season and welcome you back in 2017. That’s why we’ll be giving you a bonus $10 gear card for every $50 of gift cards you purchase between November 25-December 24, 2016. Your bonus gear cards can be used just like cash on anything in the store from January 1-31, 2017.

Gift cards are a great gift for your favorite adventure partners. They never expire and can be used at Frugal Backpacker or either Diamond Brand Outdoors location. A Frugal Backpacker gift card is the thoughtful gift of new adventures, shared experiences, and outdoor exploration — and they come in a gift envelope with embedded seeds that grow into wildflowers when you plant it. (How cool is that?)

If you have any questions, just ask one of our expert team members. Happy Holidays!

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NPO 100 Blue Ridge Pkwy

On August 25, the National Park Service (NPS) celebrates an important milestone: 100 years of the National Park Service Organic Act. Today, the NPS manages 401 park units and attendance hit a peak last year. While we’ve got easy access to two of the most visited units – the Blue Ridge Parkway (#1) and Great Smoky Mountains National Park (#4) – day hikes are only the beginning of adventures that can be had when you venture just beyond our community. Grab the car and the kids and head out for these weekend trips this spring or summer.

The Blue Ridge Parkway, dubbed “America’s Favorite Drive,” meanders for 469 miles and provides plenty of scenic driving, biking, and hiking in Buncombe County. Head over the Virginia border for a weekend and check out what The Commonwealth has to offer.

Stop off at the Blue Ridge Music Center near the town of Galax for music demonstrations, concerts, and a museum dedicated to old time mountain music. It’s set apart by focusing on local artists who best show the history of Appalachian music and not “the stars.”

Plan an overnight stay in Roanoke for shopping at City Market and dining at local favorites Local Roots or Billy’s. Make your way to Sherando Lake in George Washington National Forest for some hiking and camping the next day. You can spend your final day exploring the Shenandoah Valley, Humpback Rock, and Shenandoah National Park before heading back home.

Half Tank Getaways highlights some of our favorite places just outside of Buncombe County and is powered by our pals at Prestige Subaru.

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Events

Outward Hounds Tips + Tricks

Learn about Brother Wolf Animal Rescue‘s Outward Hounds Hiking Club and how you can volunteer with the program. They’ll also share tips on how to safely hike with your dog. This event is free and open to the public. Well-behaved kids and pets with owner on leash are encouraged to join!