Although “mountaintop experiences” in a person’s faith don’t always take place on mountains, these stunning mountain destinations provide the right altitude for a memorable church retreat. From a spiritual high in Montana’s Glacier Country to getting grounded in the Smoky Mountains, here are some of the top destinations for church retreats.
Asheville, North Carolina
The Blue Ridge Mountains are the crowning jewel of North Carolina’s mountain scenery, with Asheville sitting right in the heart of the region’s natural beauty. Asheville is a charming city that has become a popular destination for spiritual retreats and church getaways in the mountains. There, the breathtaking scenery is met with a thriving arts community, diverse outdoor adventures, a fun and inviting downtown, numerous historic attractions and a vibrant food scene.
“It’s hard to visit our region and not be moved and inspired by the spectacular mountain scenery,” said Landis Taylor, public relations manager for Explore Asheville Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Many of the visiting church groups love to experience Asheville’s fun outdoor activities like rafting and zip lining.”
Aside from being home to “America’s Favorite Drive” along the Blue Ridge Parkway, the region also boasts the third-oldest river in the world and hundreds of spectacular waterfalls just waiting to be explored. Biltmore Estate is one of the top choices for venues, with 8,000 acres, two hotels and a number of on-site restaurants.
Nearby, groups can visit the Chatlos Memorial Garden in the Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove, tour the Chapel of the Prodigal at Montreat College or walk through All Souls Cathedral, the last remaining church of those designed by Richard Morris Hunt, better known as the Dean of American Architecture.
Estes Park, Colorado
Within minutes of the entrance to the Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park offers an authentic experience of serenity and peace and being one with nature. The city is surrounded by the natural splendor of panoramic mountain vistas and an abundance of wildlife that can frequently be seen wandering the streets of Estes Park.
Estes Park has hosted numerous faith-based journeys, including a visit by Pope John Paul II, who came to the city in 1992 and stayed at St. Malo. Indian spiritual leader Morari Bapu led a nine-day Ram Katha event in July 2017 that had millions of people all over the world streaming the live event to see the multidenominational crowd in Estes Park praying for world peace.
“I’ve lived in Estes Park for 25 years, and my own personal faith has flourished since moving here, and continues to grow,” said Karen Lynch, sales and marketing manager for the Estes Park Events Complex and the town of Estes Park. “My favorite hike in the Rocky Mountain National Park is the Loch. When I reach the top and soak in the pristine beauty, I honestly feel God’s presence. There’s no explaining the spiritual power of the Rocky Mountains; it must be experienced.”
One of the top retreat venues is the Estes Park Events Complex, which offers 70,000 square feet of flexible meeting space and a conference center. The complex is attached to the Ridgeline Hotel and two large-scale event facilities with a total of 45,000 square feet of multipurpose event space.