Introducing our new logo!

Say hello to our lovely new Explore Up Close logo! 

Why did we make this change now (of all years!), and what’s the story behind that feather? 


Well.  We’re glad you asked . .. because if you haven’t heard, we love a good story. 


Explore Up Close was founded by Chumley Cope in 2004 - born out of his love of history, storytelling, and travel to places that often took him well off the proverbial beaten path. 


He drew the logo for his new company by himself - inspired by a downy woodpecker feather he picked up on a walk near his home. He'd picked up the feather as a curio, as a token of the day's exploration. It symbolized the wonder of place and the spirit of discovery that he would bring to his travel. 


The original Explore Up Close logo 


For nearly 15 years, Chumley ran every aspect of the company by himself - dreaming up itineraries, leading small groups from Spartanburg and Greenville and Asheville and Bluffton on hand-crafted adventures. 

A few years ago, he tripled the size of his team, by hiring his daughter Caroline and her husband Khal. Explore Up Close continued growing in new and exciting ways: expanded trip offerings, new clients, and partnerships with diverse organizations across the Carolinas. 

And then, suddenly we found ourselves in untested waters in March 2020. Our travels had taught us to expect the unexpected, but a global pandemic that put a freeze on travel of any kind . . . well, it felt like we’d been dashed out of our snug little boat into icy water. And yet, once we’d absorbed the initial shock . . . we knew how we were going to get through this. By relying on our bond as a family and as a team, through the support of our community, and by reimagining everything that Explore Up Close could be. 

Explore Up Close launched our first Virtual Travel series in late March 2020 - an email newsletter designed to bring the outside world and engaging stories to our clients, in the midst of isolation and lock-down. We dove into our archive of photographs and experiences, and took to the backroads to film short videos in remote locations across our region. 

One surprising effect of the pandemic was that it quickly revealed the strengths of a type of travel we consider our bread and butter: small group exploration of lesser-known places and stories of the Southeastern United States.

By the end of the summer, our “Virtual Travel” took a new shape: the Corps of Discovery membership program. Our membership program was designed to keep Explore Up Close afloat and connected with our community, and it centers on sharing the same thoughtful exploration that our travelers know and love. 

Amid the uncertainty of 2020, it was thrilling to see Explore Up Close grow in new directions - a silver lining that we never anticipated. We began dreaming up a new website that would allow us to better showcase our expanded offerings in 2021: storytelling through words and photography, our growing membership program, and the future of our small group travel. Looking at our faithful logo of over a decade, we felt that it was time for a refresh - in celebration of the new paths that have opened up for us this year.


We collaborated with talented graphic designer Julia Bridgforth on our new logo and branding - and we’re so glad that we did! Julia honed a fresh look that captures our mission: to help curious explorers uncover hidden stories and places, and to foster deeper connections with the world and each other. A mission that felt more important than ever, this year. 


The feather 

The downy woodpecker feather that Chumley drew in 2004 had new life breathed into it - and remains a central part of our logo. It symbolizes our appreciation and fascination with the details of place.


The colors 

Our updated color palette was inspired by nature. It’s a modern take on our original periwinkle blue, and draws on tawny yellow and cool blues and grays. 

The stamps 

If you’ve been on an Explore Up Close trip, you must know this - we like old things, full of character. Historic hotels, ancient landscapes, stories and legends - and wine - that have only gotten better with age . . . our love of the historic was melded with vintage passport stamps for a fun variation of our logo. 



The maps 

Finally, another defining love at Explore Up Close - maps and landscapes. These topography elements are drawn from maps of the Appalachian Mountains, where we have our roots - an ode to the place-based and map-oriented travel style of Explore Up Close. 


So here we are, at the end of a year full of reflection, growth, dark and light moments, and irrepressible exploration. We can’t wait to see what’s coming in 2021, and beyond.  

We warmly invite you to join us as our journey continues. 


Support Explore Up Close today - become a Corps of Discovery member! 


Support Explore Up Close in 2021 - sign up today for a 2021 trip! 


Introduce your friends to Explore Up Close - send them a complimentary copy of our 2021 Travel Catalog.

Referrals are the #1 way we grow, and we are so grateful to each person who has mentioned us to their neighbor, shared our emails or Facebook posts, or invited a friend to travel with us. To request a catalog for a friend, it’s easy: contact us by email or phone to make the arrangements, and we will mail them a copy of our 2021 catalog. You can even include a personalized note to them, if you’d like! 


Posted on December 2nd in Small Group Travel