This year marks the 20th anniversary of Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine. What started as a quarterly insert in a Charlottesville-based alt-weekly has grown into the largest regional outdoor magazine in the country with over 350,000 readers from Maryland to Georgia. We’ve expanded from a part-time staff of three sorting slides and faxing proofs from a windowless basement office to a multimedia team of 15 generating print, web and video content.
I’ve been editor of the magazine for 14 of those years, and I’ve seen a lot of changes. New adventures like stand-up paddleboarding, zip-lining, and obstacle course racing have emerged. The South added Congaree National Park, three state parks in North Carolina, and new wilderness in Virginia. Microbrew madness has swept the South, and several mountain towns have become craft beer capitals. Over 11,000 thru-hikers have completed end-to-end journeys of the Appalachian Trail, including a five-year-old (with his parents) and an 81-year-old. The 1,000-mile Mountains to Sea Trail was just a dream twenty years ago; today it stretches from the Smokies to the Outer Banks. Tourism and recreation have rescued many mountain towns and revitalized regional economies.
As the voice of the mountains, Blue Ridge Outdoors has rallied readers to help protect the places where we play. With your help, we’ve been instrumental in safeguarding rivers, clean air, and public lands.
We’ll officially celebrate our 20th anniversary in our March issue, but beginning this month, we’re introducing a Then and Now department that reflects on the evolution of outdoor adventure in Southern Appalachia over the last two decades.
Blue Ridge Outdoors continues to evolve with our readers, but one thing will always remain the same: authentic storytelling about the people, places, and issues that matter most.
Some of those stories may be your own. In 2015, we’re hoping to include even more reader voices in our pages. We’ll also be regularly featuring your photos and video. So strap on your helmet cams and start planning big, bold adventures for the new year.