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Rock climbing in North Carolina, $400

Venture into the wilds of Pisgah National Forest in the western part of the state for the weekend and perfect your rock-climbing skills on Looking Glass Rock.
/ Source: ARTHUR FROMMER'S BUDGET TRAVEL

The Real Deal: Two nights' camping, rock climbing equipment, meals, and professional instruction, for $400 per person—including taxes.

When: June 6, 20, Aug. 1, 30, Sept. 26, Oct. 17, 2008.

The fine print: For REI members, price is $355 per person. We recommend joining REI, as membership only costs $20 per person and is good for life. The package includes camping (with showers) for two nights, tent, rock climbing gear, and meals. Does not include airfare. If you provide your flight information, REI Adventures will organize your airport transfer at no cost. Read these before you book any Real Deal.

Book by: No deadline; based on availability.

Contact: REI Adventures, 800/622-2236, rei.com.

Why it's a deal: Consider that the package breaks down to $200 per night ($178 for members) and saves you the time and effort of coordinating professional instruction, rock-climbing gear, the campsite, the tent, and meals. Novice rock climbers should find such a package particularly helpful and valuable.

Trip details: The Basic Rock Climbing North Carolina package enlists a professional instructor, certified by the American Mountain Guides Association, to teach you and your group how to rock climb in Pisgah National Forest (near Asheville, N.C.).

On your first evening, you'll meet the other climbers (there will be four to 12 in your group) and pitch a tent and camp before you start your adventure. After a short hike the next morning, you'll arrive at Looking Glass Rock and begin basic training: climbing-site awareness, equipment use, and terminology. Enjoy the provided lunch and then move on to technique and skill improvement as you climb around on a granite monolith. Head back to camp for your included dinner.

The second day of climbing will be much the same, although your guide may take you to a new area on Looking Glass Rock, depending on the group's skills and interest. This trip is geared towards beginner and moderate climbers; expect to be active for four to six hours daily.

Is this outdoor trip not for you? REI has lots of weekend getaways for all skill levels and interests, from kayaking to cycling.

In the summer and fall, the temperatures in North Carolina can range greatly, from 80 degrees in the afternoons to 40 degrees at night. Dressing in layers is always a good idea.

REI Adventures suggests that you purchase trip insurance. Full coverage starts at $37.

For tips on what to do in North Carolina before or after your rock-climbing stint, visit the state's official tourism site.

Getting there: This package does not include airfare. A recent Kayak search for round-trip flights to Asheville in early June yielded fares of $205 from Chicago (Delta), $328 from D.C. (US Airways), $379 from New York City (Continental), $439 from Houston (US Airways), and $479 from Atlanta (US Airways).