Erin McGrady, Maggie, and Caroline Whatley

Authentic Asheville is a blog created by Caroline Whatley (she/her) and Erin McGrady (she/her) that reflects our passions. We are filmmakers, photographers, writers, FAA certified drone pilots, and content creators who share stories about camper van travel, the outdoors, and what it means to take up space as members of the LGBTQ+ community. We are committed to making the outdoors a safer and more inclusive place for everyone.

Our blog started out in 2016 as a way to share about our Ram Promaster City van with a Wayfarer Conversion Kit. But over the years, as we’ve grown, we’ve expanded to include more articles such as gear reviews, the best places to eat and drink, and LGBTQ+ safe spaces. We also recently purchased a stand-up Ram Promaster van and are excited to share more about it!

We recognize that the land we live and play on, in what is commonly referred to as Asheville, North Carolina, is the ancestral land of the Anikituwagi, more commonly known as the Cherokee.

We’re happy you’re here. Welcome to our community!

Asheville Adventures

The best things to see and do in Asheville, North Carolina.

Best Places to Hammock in Asheville, North Carolina

There are so many fun things to do in and around western North Carolina. The region has miles of scenic trails, more…

Best Instagram Spots in Asheville

One of our favorite things to do when we travel is to find murals. It’s fun to walk around and discover them…

Best Outdoor Breweries and Bars in Asheville

There are a ton of great places to grab a beer in Asheville but if you’re looking to take advantage of some…

Camper Van Life Adventures

Stories and ideas from the road!

How to Choose a Van for Van Life

Ready for a new adventure? One that involves travel? And possibility living out of your van? We’ve spent many, many hours discussing,…

The Best Camper Van Bed is a DIY Bed

On our most recent van life adventure through Canada in our Ram Promaster City Camper we left our Exped Sim Comfort Duo…

DIY Van Window Screens

They say necessity is the mother of invention, right? Such was the case for our DIY Van Window Screens. We spent about…

Recent Adventures

Come explore with us!

Review of the Merrell Women’s Speed Solo Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot

Erin joined Merrells’ Hiking Club as a Trailblazer in 2023 and has been testing out numerous pairs of their hiking boots. Several pairs have become favorites such as the Merrell Women’s Moab 3 Mids and the Merrell Antora 3 Mid Waterproofs. Today, though, we’re going to do a full review of the Merrell Women’s Speed…

How To Pass the Part 107 Exam To Get Your Remote Pilot Certificate

We’ve been shooting photos for brands and businesses since 2016. We entered into video and filmmaking in 2022. During the summer of 2023, we decided to become certified to fly a drone for commercial work including photos and 4K video four our clients in Asheville and beyond. We wanted to offer them another skill and…

Photography Gear: What Camera, Lenses and Accessories Do We Use?

We sometimes get questions about the kinds of photography equipment we use to create our images. We also briefly touched on this topic in the Adventure Photography class that we recently taught at the REI in Asheville. As a result we decided to create a post that we can point people to! The following is…

Gear Reviews

Our top picks for camper van travelers and outdoor enthusiasts.

A Gift Guide for the Outdoorsy Person in Your Life

It’s that time of year again when many of us are faced with the daunting task of purchasing gifts for others. We’ll help you take the stress out of things with our curated list. Each of these pieces of gear has been tested by us out in the field for at least 6 months, if…

Solo Stove: Bonfire 2.0 Review

We recently had the opportunity to test out Solo Stove’s new Bonfire 2.0! This is the latest version of the already very popular smokeless fire pit. Keep reading to see our thoughts on this cool piece of outdoor gear in our Solo Stove: Bonfire 2.0 review. What are the Specs of the Solo Stove’s Bonfire…

Review of the Coleman Atlas Series 65-Quart Cooler With Wheels

Hey y’all! We’re back at it again with another gear review. This time the piece of gear we’re taking a look at is the Atlas Series 65-Quart Cooler With Wheels. Keep reading to see why we think this cooler is perfect for your next vacation, tailgate party, or sideline soccer game. Specifications Width: 22 inchesHeight:…

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