Fast Facts about Ridgecrest Conference Center
Ridgecrest, North Carolina
The Ridgecrest Conference Center sits amid 1,200 acres. The site offers a 400-room hotel with additional rooms and 1,300 beds for youth conferences.
Groups of 20 to 2,100 guests can book a stay at the Ridgecrest Conference Center.
The site’s largest auditorium holds 2,100 guests.
Anyone seeking inspiration can just look out the window at the Ridgecrest Conference Center. Guests can see giant oak trees, birds and the occasional deer from the center’s facilities
Tucked into the Blue Ridge Mountains in Ridgecrest, North Carolina, the center is one of the country’s largest conference facilities. With 1,200 acres of wilderness near Asheville, North Carolina, the site can host groups of up to 2,100 people in a location that feels far away from the rest of the world.
The facility seeks not only to provide the meeting space, accommodations and food for guests, but also to draw participants closer to each other and to God. To achieve this, the center offers a variety of venues to appeal to groups of every size, age and budget.
Since its founding more than 100 years ago, the Ridgecrest Conference Center has welcomed over 1 million guests.
One Man’s Vision
When Bernard Washington Spilman saw a wilderness area with a few deserted cabins, a railroad track and a dirt trail leading west, he had a vision. He knew the land could become a “Mountain of Faith” that Baptists could use to learn how to teach the Bible. The site had the majestic scenery Spilman wanted and sat centrally located within 500 miles of New York, Chicago, New Orleans and central Florida.
In 1907, the 940-acre property was purchased by the North Carolina Baptist State Convention. Spilman was elected as general manager, and construction soon began. The Ridgecrest Conference Center’s first summer drew 600 people.
The first 12 years tested Spilman and other staff with a destructive windstorm, a fire and, in 1916, the greatest flood in the history of the area. Eventually, financial contributions helped repair and expand the site.
Today, Lifeway Christian Resources operates the center in affiliation with the Southern Baptist Convention.
Focus on Faith
Ridgecrest’s staff pray for each group that comes to the campus. The site facilitates religious experiences in nature by providing several miles of hiking trails that range in difficulty.
Groups can walk past white oak trees, red maples trees, evergreens and mountain laurel that grows so thick it can create an umbrella of green over the pathways. The Royal Gorge Trail shows off God’s handiwork with mountain vistas. Visitors often ascend the trail to watch the sunrise for a spectacular viewing experience.
Ridgecrest also offers overlooks at the laid-back Rocking Chair Ridge. Guests can sip on a cup of coffee while relaxing and taking in the views.
Diverse Meeting Space
At Ridgecrest, diverse meeting space can accommodate a wide range of groups. The 2,100-seat Spilman Auditorium offers advanced audiovisual and lighting equipment for concerts, meetings and worship services. On the opposite side of campus, Ridgecrest’s Auditorium and Recreation Center fits 700 people for video projections or for other recreational opportunities as a gymnasium.
Other options include the 214-seat Jim Henry Auditorium, the 320-person Rhododendron Auditorium, the 450-person Lambdin and the 46,250-square-foot Johnson Springs.
For a picturesque venue, group can opt for the wood and stone Rutland Chapel. The 250-seat, padded-pew auditorium sits on one of Ridgecrest’s highest points, with windowed walls that overlook panoramic mountain beauty.
Groups looking for comfort can stay in the deluxe Mountain Laurel Inn and Rhododendron Inn. Medium-range hotels Pritchell and Mapel offer economical options; the most budget-friendly hotels, Walnut and Royal Gorge, frequently serve youth groups.
To keep the focus heavenward, hotel rooms do not have televisions.
Ridgecrest prepares meals for large groups regularly. The dining room sits in a centralized location on campus; with eight serving lines and round tables, guests can grab their food quickly no matter how big the crowd is.
Groups with more individualized needs can work with the site’s catering service, which serves meals in separate banquet spaces. The year-round Clouds coffee shop and summer-only Nibble Nook also offer more intimate dining experiences.
To inject some adrenaline and laughter into the experience, the Ridgecrest Conference Center offers several recreational opportunities. Many of the recreation options are free for guests, such as softball, basketball, tennis, volleyball and disc golf. Visitors can also play a round of miniature golf for a small fee.
To encourage team building, groups can work with a member of Ridgecrest’s recreation staff for a facilitated experience. Whether facing fears of heights in the trees on a High Challenge Course or zooming through the forest on the zip line and climbing wall, groups will find fellowship and fun with these team activities. A third option, the site’s outdoor laser tag, requires strategy and fast-paced thinking for a 90-minute game.
Groups also frequently add adventure opportunities from the nearby Asheville area. Whitewater rafting, hiking Chimney Rock and visiting the Biltmore Estate can easily fill a week’s itinerary at Ridgecrest. Just two miles from campus, Black Mountain offers an afternoon of shopping and exploring Ashville’s charming streets.