Businesses


blue ridge mountain guides were voted best guides in 2019. / photo by Travis Xander

Fly Fishing Outfitter

Fly Fishing the Smokies (Whittier, N.C.)

From experienced anglers to young beginners, this group of experienced guides can take you to the best rivers and streams in the Great Smoky Mountains and beyond. The outfitter recently opened a private trout stream, Brook Haven, and is in the process of adding lodging to the property for a unique fly-fishing experience.

Finalists

Mossy Creek (Harrisonburg, Va.)

Hunter Banks (Asheville, N.C.)


Climbing Guide Company

Blue Ridge Mountain Guides (Nellysford, Va.)

Whether you want to learn how to trad lead or try ice climbing for the first time, Blue Ridge Mountains Guides have a course for you. Attempt your first ascent in North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, or New Hampshire.

Finalists

Climbmax Mountain Guides (Asheville, N.C.)

Wild Guyde (Harrisonburg, Va.)


Climbing Gym

Peak Experience (Richmond, Va.)

With over 20,000 square feet of climbing terrain and bouldering options, there is plenty of room to get your climb on at this new, state of the art facility. Take advantage of instruction classes, youth programs, and fitness classes.

Finalists

Smoky Mountain Adventure Center (Asheville, N.C.)

River Rock (Roanoke, Va.)


Running Shop

Ragged Mountain Running Shop
(Charlottesville, Va.)

The staff at Ragged Mountain will help you find the perfect shop to fit your unique foot and gait. Donate your old running shoes to the Shoes for the Shoeless program, which distributes more than 10,000 pairs of shoes to the community every year.

Finalists

Jus’ Running (Asheville, N.C.)

TIE Fleet Feet (Multiple Locations) and Foot Rx (Asheville, N.C.)


blue ridge cyclery was voted best bike shop in 2019. / photo courtesy blue ridge cyclery

Bike Shop

Blue Ridge Cyclery (Charlottesville, Va.)

Road, mountain, gravel, BMX, cruiser. Whatever your style, Blue Ridge Cyclery has a bike to fit your speed. They’ll even come to you if your bike breaks down while on the road.

Finalists

The Hub and Pisgah Tavern (Brevard, N.C.)

Tsali Cycles (Bryson City, N.C.)


Outdoor Store

Wander North Georgia (Clayton, Ga.)

In three years, what started as a blog and Instagram account has grown into a fully stocked outdoor retail store and recognizable brand. The Browns and the Scotts, a group of friends who decided to take on this endeavor together, donate one percent of sales each month to a local non-profit.

Finalists

Walkabout Outfitter (Va.)

Diamond Brand Outdoors (Asheville, N.C.)


Outfitter/Guide Service

Blue Ridge Mountain Guides (Nellysford, Va.)
Take on dozens of mountain adventures with these guides, from climbing and backcountry skiing to avalanche education and self-rescue courses. Finalists

Mountain River Guides (Erwin, Tenn.)

Roanoke Mountain Adventures (Roanoke, Va.)


Yoga Studio 

Namaste in Nature (Asheville, N.C.)

This is not a traditional yoga studio. Teachers lead students on a 2-3 mile hike and set up mats at the top of a mountain or base of a waterfall for a meditative experience in nature.

Finalists

Now Yoga (Charlottesville, Va.)

In Balance Yoga (Blacksburg, Va.)


Outdoor Start-Up 

UOU Outdoors (Richmond, Va.)

At UOU Outdoors, the goal is to provide the resources, skills, and services needed to enjoy the outdoors safely. From their resource map of the best places to buy gear and beer around the country to guided adventures and courses, the people at UOU know where to direct you for any information you may need for your next adventure. In conjunction with SOLO Wilderness Medicine School, they are launching a wilderness first responder course in module format, helping people work around their busy schedules to get certified.

Finalists

Namaste in Nature (Asheville, N.C.)

Adventure Kids WNC (Asheville, N.C.)


Outdoor Club

Champion Run Club (Charlottesville, Va.)

Separated by a single vote, the top two winners in the club category are both running clubs. These group runs welcome runners of all ages and abilities, and partnerships with local breweries add to the community atmosphere.

With the Champion Run Club, runners can participate in the weekly Wednesday run and get discounted beer at the Champion Brewing Co. afterward for a one-time fee of five dollars. James Walsh, the organizer and mileage tracker, said they have up to 120 runners a week if the weather is right.

“It has completely transformed Wednesday night at the brewery,” Walsh said. “The brewery is as busy as it is on the busiest weekend night. It is bananas how many people are there and how energized the place is.”

In second place, the Asheville Running Collective started out as a team for the Blue Ridge Relay. Now the collective boasts around two dozen members and is registered as a non-profit. They compete in three or four major events a year and put on a 10K in May.

Additionally, the collective leads a group run from Wedge Brewing Company every Thursday that is free and open to anyone who shows up. Frankie Adkins, one of the founders and current president of the club, said the run goes on no matter what the weather is like, “whether it’s snowing, raining, or whatever.”

These running clubs offer a great way to work out with other people at a fraction of a gym membership.Finalists

Asheville Running Collective (Asheville, N.C.)
American Whitewater (Asheville, N.C.)


Environmental Organization

Southern Environmental Law Center (Charlottesville, Va.)

The more than 80 lawyers at the SELC are fighting to preserve the waterways and mountains we play on, the air we breathe, and the wildlife we share this planet with to ensure they are there for future generations to enjoy.

Finalists

MountainTrue (Asheville, N.C.)

James River Association (Richmond, Va.)


App for the Outdoors

Mountain Hub 

The Mountain Hub app combines all of the tools you might need when planning your next adventure. Download maps for offline use, track your route, check weather conditions, and share your adventures with the rest of the Mountain Hub community for free. The elevation profiles will help you visualize your journey ahead of time.

Finalists

Strava
Guthook Appalachian Trail


Outdoor Job

Park Ranger

Rangers play many different roles in our parks, from law enforcement and search and rescue to providing tours and educational programs. They study the science, geology, and cultural history of the parks and help ensure the safety of visitors.

Autumn Bennett works as an Interpretive and Environmental Educator Ranger at Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky, the longest known cave system in the world. She leads tours of the park for visitors and school groups, teaching the ecology, geology, and history of the cave. In the 15 years she has been working at the national park, she said she still discovers something new every day.

“People from all over the world, all walks of life, come here and I get to share a place that I love with them,” Bennett said. “There’s just so many stories inside Mammoth Cave and we don’t know the vast majority of them because we haven’t found the end of it yet.”

Finalists

Raft Guide

Climbing Guide


Outdoor Company to Work For 

Blue Ridge Mountain Guides (Nellysford, Va.)

Who wouldn’t want to travel around the Mid-Atlantic, showing clients some of the best climbing on the East Coast? Dakota Robarge, who started leading rock climbing trips for Blue Ridge Mountain Guides in April, said he didn’t get into rock climbing until college and wants to help others find the sport.

     “I’ve been told to do something you love or try to pursue a passion,” Robarge said. “Ultimately, the reason why I’m pursuing guiding professionally is because I really enjoy sharing that experience with people who are just now breaking into doing things in the outdoors, recreating on our public lands.”

Finalists

Navitat (Multiple Locations)

River Rock Outfitter (Fredericksburg, Va.)


Locally Made Gear

ENO (Asheville, N.C.)

You probably know ENO for their lightweight and easy to use hammocks, but they also make hiking packs, camp lights, and shelter systems that will help you prepare for any adventure outdoors.

Finalists

Astral (Asheville, N.C.)

King Technical (North Garden, Va.)


Adventure Vehicle 

Subaru Outback

The Outback is built to take you off road, to even the most remote locations. The new 2019 model comes with X-MODE to help maximize performance on uneven surfaces and steep inclines. The roof rails were designed to carry bikes, kayaks, or camping
equipment so you can make the most out of your adventure.

Finalists

Jeep

Toyota 4Runner


Educational Outdoor Rec Program

Muddy Sneakers (Brevard, N.C.)

Muddy Sneakers works with over 2,700 fifth graders in 38 public schools across the Carolinas on experience-based science education. Students participate in multiple expeditions throughout the school year, exploring the natural world around them.

Finalists

Blue Sky Fund (Richmond, Va.)

Emory and Henry Outdoor Program (Emory, Va.)


Summer Camp/Program

Camp Muddy Sneakers (Brevard, N.C.)

This summer camp will introduce your elementary and middle school kids to the wonders of nature and science through hands-on learning in the many ecosystems of Western North Carolina.

Finalists

Blue Sky Fund (Richmond, Va.)

Greenstone Adventures (Charlottesville, Va.)


Zip Line 

The Gorge Zip Line (Saluda, N.C.)

Sail over the Green River Gorge on zip lines, sky-bridges, and free-fall rappels, dropping 1,100 feet in elevation. From the treetop platforms, you’ll be able
to see for miles around.

Finalists

Navitat (Multiple Locations)

Tree Tops Adventures Mountain Lake Lodge (Pembroke, Va.)


Raft Guide Company

French Broad Adventures (Asheville, N.C.)

Barrel down class II-IV rapids with the largest
outfitter on the French Broad River as these guides take you on a journey through Western North Carolina.

Finalists

ACE (Oak Hill, W. Va.)

Blue Heron Whitewater (Marshall, N.C.)


Ski Resort

Snowshoe (Snowshoe, W. Va.)

Spend all day exploring the 60 slopes, five terrain parks, and four glade areas at this winter resort with the most skiable terrain, highest vertical drop, and most natural snow in the Mid-Atlantic.

Finalists

Wintergreen (Wintergreen, Va.)

Cataloochee (Maggie Valley, N.C.)