Carolina Foothills Nudist Resort, near Spartanburg, SC
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There are remarkably few options for nude recreation in the Carolinas. As best I can tell, Carolina Foothills Resort (“CFR“) is one of the best on offer. It’s a smallish resort that straddles the North-South Carolina border, maybe 40 minutes from Asheville, NC. They cater largely to folks with RVs, though there are a few more permanent looking structures inhabited by regulars, a few rental cabins, and a very nice area for perhaps a dozen tents or so. I had planned to tent camp, but was fortunate to be “rescued” by a friend who lives in a clothing-optional residential community on the adjoining property, which got me out of the rain for the night. I’m particularly fond of naturist hiking, and CFR has a nice circuit of trails through the surrounding woods, all of which might add up to a mile or two of walking. As I was there mid-week, I couldn’t only rely on reports from the locals as to what things are like when the park is at full-tilt, but I think weekends are pretty lively.
WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO GET THERE? The place is pretty remote. In fact, I wasn’t sure I was in the right place until I was right up on the gate amidst farmland and cattle. It’s an interesting region, appearing quite depressed as I drove in from the east, but then driving through some very bougie residential areas the next morning as I continued east towards Atlanta. Seems the property values surrounding nearby Lake Bowen spike pretty suddenly. In any event, Google Maps did the job. Keep the faith until you get to the gate.
WHAT’S THE FAMILY VIBE? Again, all very calm and serene during the week. Our experience has been that many nudist parks cater to an adult crowd, especially on the weekends, and this one seems to fit that profile. That’s not to suggest that families aren’t welcome, but perhaps more that “family naturism” is not a booming business in this part of the country. The few folks I spoke to during my midweek stay spoke of body-acceptance and the close-knit nature of the community, and that the weekends are crowded and fun. Even the woman in the office who checked me in told a story of how she came here for a part-time job, despite her reticence about nudism, and ended up realigning her life to become part of the village. Sweet.
HOW ARE THE ACCOMMODATIONS? There are a few rustic cabins without bathrooms, and a couple newer portables with full bath. Seems that would be worth the extra money. The tent camping area looked particularly nice, including a couple screened-in porches for those who want to upgrade to glamping. Most people bring their RVs, several of which look very permanent with long-time resident and weekend regulars. There’s also a small subdivision next door with about a dozen homes of varied sizes and amenities. Can’t imagine there’s much turnover there, but that would be an intriguing place for a clothing-optional retirement residence.
ANYTHING ELSE WE SHOULD KNOW? If one would dare to say there is a typical American Nudist Club, CFR would be an excellent candidate for that title. Mainly a weekend getaway for folks who live and work within a 100 mile radius, this is a place where community is the lifeline. One quirky thing I noticed – while the park was essentially empty – is that most of the prime position loungers around the pool had permanent names on them, suggesting that if you get there at 9:00 am on a Saturday morning, you don’t dare set up for the day in the chairs that say “Bob & Sue” on them! I think I saw a sign someplace that said if you don’t show up by noon or so, your “assigned seat” goes up for grabs, but I may be making that up. (I should keep better notes!) It’s just another reminder that nudist clubs can be complex organisms, more like a local church or bowling league than a commercial resort focused on customer service. I suspect most people like it that way, and that’s the very reason the community has continued to grow in recent years, but it’s an interesting piece in the discussion about growing naturism within mainstream tourism.
Short redux? It’s a very pretty spot with a nice pool complex, beautiful, wooded walking trails, and more than adequate amenities. I’d most certainly return, maybe setting down roots for a few days to get a real feel for the place. I think that’s the only way you can really experience southern hospitality.
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