Skip to main content
Explore With RWD

Explore With RWD

By Roger W. Downes

Come along with natural world photographer Roger W. Downes as he explores and shares the stories of new places, people, and cultures.
Listen on Spotify
Where to listen
Google Podcasts Logo

Google Podcasts

Overcast Logo

Overcast

Pocket Casts Logo

Pocket Casts

RadioPublic Logo

RadioPublic

Spotify Logo

Spotify

Help Save Wildlife At The North Carolina Zoo
Help Save Wildlife At The North Carolina Zoo
Want to help save an endangered species and preserve wildlife on the planet?  Then make a trip to the North Carolina Zoo (nczoo.org), because each time you purchase a ticket the proceeds go toward conservation efforts to save endangered species and habitats.   How exactly is that money spent and on which projects?  We chat with North Carolina Zoo Public Relations Officer Debbie Foster-Fuchs and Curator of Herpetology Dustin Smith in Episode 21 of Explore With RWD.
55:44
August 23, 2021
Hiking and Camping a Mile In The Sky; Grandfather Mountain
Hiking and Camping a Mile In The Sky; Grandfather Mountain
Gratherfather Mountain in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina holds a variety of opportunities for the outdoor enthusiast to families wishing to take in amazing mountainous views.  Join Natural World Photographer Roger W. Downes as he discovers all that Grandfather Mountain offers with the Director of Education and Natural Resources of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, John Caveny. Purchase tickets for Grandfather Mountain: www.grandfather.com View Roger's Photography: www.rogerwdownesphotography.com Discover new places and experiences with Roger at www.explorewithrwd.com.
33:53
August 15, 2021
The Linville Gorge Wilderness: What You Need To Know
The Linville Gorge Wilderness: What You Need To Know
The Linville Gorge Wilderness in the Pisgah National Forest of Western North Carolina is an adventurous location with breathtaking views, fauna, and flora.  However, before you venture out onto the trails, there are a few things you need to know.  Trekking the Wilderness isn't a walk in the park but it's certainly worth the effort. Recreation and Trails Program Manager of The Pisgah National Forest Grandfather Ranger District, Lisa Jennings shares the challenges, permitting process, and beauty of the Linville Gorge Wilderness. Read more at www.explorewithrwd.com.
19:23
May 23, 2021
Maintaining A Roadway of Adventure, The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation
Maintaining A Roadway of Adventure, The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation
The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most popular National Parks in the United States with over 16 million visitors each year (a number which triumphs the annual number of visitors to Yellow Stone, Yosemite, and the Grand Canyon combined).  Running from Cherokee, North Carolina to Roanoke, Virginia connecting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Shenandoah National Park.   Join us in Episode 18, as we talk with Chief Executive Officer of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, Carolyn Ward about the adventure the Parkway offers in rich Appalachian History to amazing programs for children.  Let your journey of exploration begin.... Episode Notes: Visit the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation online: http://www.brpfoundation.org Visit the Kids In Parks Program online: http://www.kidsinparks.com Visit Explore With RWD online: http://www.explorewithrwd.com
43:20
February 08, 2021
Annie's Bakery - Generations In The Making
Annie's Bakery - Generations In The Making
Great artisan breads take years to develop, sometimes generations.  That is exactly the case of Asheville's Annie's Baker Founder, Giuseppe "Joe" Ritota, a fourth generation baker.  Hear the story of Joe's truly inspiring entrepreneurial spirit and guidance from God to grow his amazing bakery in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina.   Visit Annie's Bakery online at: https://www.anniesbread.com Learn more about Explore With RWD at: http://www.explorewithrwd.com Email us at roger@explorewithrwd.com
36:28
January 31, 2021
Explore The Stars From PARI
Explore The Stars From PARI
New stars and galaxies are being discovered and researched from deep within the Pisgah National Forest at P.A.R.I. (Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute).  This 200 plus acre facility helps to make new discoveries which will take us into the stars, while offering educational camps for those wanting to learn more about what is beyond our world.  We chat with P.A.R.I.'s Educational Director Melanie Crowson in this episode of Explore With RWD. E-mail Melanie about visiting at mcrowson@pari.edu Learn more about P.A.R.I. at http://www.pari.edu
42:41
January 24, 2021
How To Bring A Family Together Cheaply
How To Bring A Family Together Cheaply
One of the cheapest ways to bring a family together is an afternoon hiking, fishing, or swimming in the National and State Forests and Parks throughout our nation.  In Episode 15, Roger shares his story of how an outing with his father in the outdoors helped him to heal their relationship. Visit us online: http://www.explorewithrwd.com
21:44
January 12, 2021
Saving The Waterfalls You Love
Saving The Waterfalls You Love
Many of us love to visit waterfalls in our national and state parks and forests.  However,  a lot of us are not educated enough to avoid being seriously hurt or damaging the delicate ecosystem at each waterfalls they visit.  That doesn't have to be the case, join us as we chat with Executive Director of Waterfall Keepers of North Carolina, Kevin Adams on waterfall safety, etiquette, and stewardship.    Learn more: https://www.waterfallkeepersofnc.org View Kevin's Art: http://www.kadamsphoto.com Visit Explore With RWD online for future podcasts, blogs, images and videos: http://www.explorewithrwd.com
35:24
January 04, 2021
From Teacher To Motion Picture Star
From Teacher To Motion Picture Star
Eric Hurley shares his experiences on location as a motion picture extra in The Last of the Mohicans which was shot in the DuPont State Recreational Forest and Chimney Rock State Forest in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina.   Discover other stories from Western North Carolina at www.explorewithrwd.com.
45:31
December 28, 2020
Protecting Pisgah, The Pisgah Conservancy Story
Protecting Pisgah, The Pisgah Conservancy Story
The Pisgah National Forest is an amazing resource in Western North Carolina covering 500,000 square acres just 22,000 acres shy of the neighboring Great Smoky Mountain National Park.  But until recently Pisgah didn't have a specific conservancy group working diligently to maintain the forest and her trail like the Smokies.  But now, thanks to founder John Cottingham, The Pisgah Conservancy has been born. John joins us in this episode to talk about his story and how you can help to maintain the majesty of Pisgah. Learn more; www.pisgahconservancy.org www.explorewithrwd.com
34:30
December 20, 2020
The Ministry Disguised As A Feed Store
The Ministry Disguised As A Feed Store
Tony and Terri Fisher operate the Candler Feed And Seed Store on Smoky Park Highway in Candler, North Carolina... But their store is so much more than pet, garden and farm supplies; they truly operate a ministry out of the store which is always filled with laughter and joy...   even on the Christmas Eve night that they sent Santa to jail. I chat with Tony and Terri about having Santa arrested, how they met in an untraditional fashion at the time, and all the blessings they bring to the Candler community. Please visit us online at www.ExploreWithRWD.com. Follow us on social media; Facebook Instagram
46:29
December 13, 2020
Tragedy In The DuPont State Forest
Tragedy In The DuPont State Forest
Deep inside the DuPont State Recreational Forest is hidden stories of family tragedy, forgotten places and community unity through it all. Western North Carolina Author and Historian Patty Stahl shares these amazing stories in this episode of Explore with RWD. Visit the Friends of the DuPont State Recreational Forest online.
01:27:18
December 05, 2020
How The DuPont State Forest Was Born
How The DuPont State Forest Was Born
Each National and State Forest or Park has its own unique history of how it was created.  However, the story of the DuPont State Forest is lined in kindness and some outrage together.  In this episode we chat with DuPort Forest : A History author Danny Bernstein on how the forest that so many love with it's eight waterfalls, multiple lakes and miles of trails came to be. Purchase DuPont Forest : A History Visit The DuPont State Forest online Support Friends of The Dupont Forest
01:01:59
November 27, 2020
From Saving Rhinos To Capturing The Natural World, Benjamin Walls
From Saving Rhinos To Capturing The Natural World, Benjamin Walls
I believe the quote "From humble beginnings come great things..." sums up our guest this episode, Natural World Photographer, Entrepreneur, and Conservationist Benjamin Walls.  He has dedicated his life to connecting you with the natural world and that driving passion has been challenging at times.  From struggling as a starving artist, to achieving five exhibits in the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, and risking his life for his art when he faced down a roaring grizzly, Walls has overcome at every pivotal point in his journey to push his boundaries and reach new levels of success. He is as inspiring as he is charming, and he is our guest in this episode of Explore With RWD.  Listen now. Benjamin Walls Galleries 38 Broadway Street, Asheville, NC 28806 701 State Street, Bristol, VA 37620 BenjaminWalls.com WALLSabout Luxury Travel 38 Broadway Street, Asheville, NC 28806 701 State Street, Bristol, VA 37620 WALLSabout.com Northern White Rhinos Project Donate
46:53
November 18, 2020
How African Americans Found Their Dreams In A Timber Town
How African Americans Found Their Dreams In A Timber Town
Sunburst Falls is beautiful to visit, but the town which it was named after gave African Americans of the early 1900's the opportunity to achieve the American Dream long before social justice came into play.  Sadly, that town has been "washed" away in history.    Join Nature Photographer and Journalist Roger W. Downes as he talks with Smoky Mountain News Staff Writer and Contributor to Asheville's NPR Radio Blue Ridge Public Radio Cory Vaillancourt about the forgotten history of Sunburst, North Carolina. Read more at ExploreWithRWD.com Follow us on facebook and instagram.
33:18
November 14, 2020
Discover The Pretty Place (The Fred W. Symmes Chapel)
Discover The Pretty Place (The Fred W. Symmes Chapel)
High in the Blue Ridge Mountains of South Carolina stands the Pretty Place, the Fred W. Symmes Chapel .  Offering amazing views of the valley below  the Pretty Place is a popular venue for weddings, funerals, prayer and photographers. Join Roger W. Downes as he shares his experience there and explores the history of the Chapel with Director of Camp Operations for the YMCA Greenville Nicholas Patton. Directions to the Pretty Place Visitation Schedule for the Pretty Place Summer Camp at the Pretty Place See the photos and videos of the Pretty Place at ExploreWithRWD.com.   Follow us on facebook and instagram @explorewithrwd.   
29:44
November 09, 2020
How One Cherokee Finds Musical Symmetry In Culture And Faith
How One Cherokee Finds Musical Symmetry In Culture And Faith
Two cultures collide in amazing symmetry in this award winning Native American Flutist and Cherokee storyteller.  Join me as Matthew Tooni (Tune-eye) shares his story of music, being nominated for a Native American Music Award and his calling to the Christian faith.  It is an amazing and inspiring story of dancing faith and culture. Hear Matthew Tooni's Music on Amazon Visit Matthew Tooni on facebook Visit us online for photos, videos, blogs and further podcast at Explore With RWD.
50:33
October 29, 2020
Are You Ready To Meet Bigfoot in Western North Carolina?
Are You Ready To Meet Bigfoot in Western North Carolina?
I had always believed in Bigfoot, but doubt lingered in my mind for a long time if my beliefs were accurate.  But then one early evening along the Blue Ridge Parkway my doubts were completely dosed.   I'll share my encounter with you and chat with the head of Bigfoot 9-1-1 and event organizer for the WNC Bigfoot Festival, John Bruner.  John will share some other sasquatch stories and all the details of how you can attend the 2021 WNC Bigfoot Festival in Marion, North Carolina. Visit us online for further stories at ExploreWithRWD.com. Follow us online at facebook, twitter, instagram and tiktok.
59:46
October 24, 2020
How Apples Saved The Blue Ridge Parkway
How Apples Saved The Blue Ridge Parkway
If local historian Bill Carson and his sister hadn't purchased The Orchard at Altapass, the Blue Ridge Parkway would look much different today.  Roger W. Downes chats with Bill about this story and how America putting a man on the moon plays into it as well.   Then Bill dives into the story of how the settlers of Western North Carolina turned the tide in the American Revolutionary War due to their grit and determination to keep the British out of the mountains.  Read our blog about the Orchard at Altapass Learn more about the Historic Orchard at Altapass when you visit www.altapassorchard.org. Follow us on facebook, twitter, and instagram @explorewithrwd Visit us online for other stories and adventures at www.explorewithrwd.com. 
42:48
October 20, 2020
Catawba Falls, An Adventure Into A Fantasy World
Catawba Falls, An Adventure Into A Fantasy World
The Pisgah National Forest hosts an amazing assortment of waterfalls, but Catawba Falls takes it to a whole new level.  When you arrive at the foot of the falls you feel as if you have just walked into a fantasy movie.  The beauty is stunning.  However, many of us would have never been able to enjoy this waterfall if it hadn't been for the efforts of the Foothills Conservancy. We visit with Foothills Conservancy Land Protection Director Tom Kenney about the role he and the conservancy played in making the falls available to all of us. Read our blog about Catawba Falls Visit Explore With RWD for blogs, videos and fine art photos. Facebook: @explorewithrwd Instagram: @explorewithrwd Twitter: @explorewithrwd Youtube: Click Here
24:42
October 16, 2020