Online registration for each retreat opens the first day of the month, at 2pm, six months prior to the month of the retreat.
Registration fees vary from $85- 110/ night depending on the lodging selected. This also includes three meals a day. This covers about 65% of SDRC’s operating budget.
At the end of each retreat, we encourage voluntary dana contributions to help support teachers — who serve without pay — and the center — which supports the teachings.
Each registration deposit includes a non-refundable $100 registration fee. The full balance of each registration fee is due thirty days before the retreat is scheduled to begin—or at the time of registration when registration is made within thirty days of a retreat start date.
Southern Dharma does not provide refunds of registration payments for cancellations made thirty days or less than thirty days before a retreat begins.
For all other cancellations (for cancellations made more than thirty days before a retreat begins or for cancellations arising from documented emergency circumstances thirty days or less than thirty days before a retreat begins), we deduct a $100 cancellation fee from registration payment refunds.
Refund requests for emergency cancellations made thirty days or less than thirty days before a retreat begins must be submitted in writing and must include an explanation of the emergency circumstances.
If you request to transfer from one retreat to another there will be a $35 transfer fee. In some situations a transfer may not be possible and normal cancellation procedures and fees will apply.
Travel by Car
Located near the community of Spring Creek in western North Carolina (Madison County), Southern Dharma is accessible by car about one hour northwest of Asheville and about half an hour south of Hot Springs.
Because GPS and internet-sourced driving directions are often erroneous for mountain driving, we advise visitors and guests to print and follow the driving directions from Asheville and Hot Springs.
Driving Directions To Southern Dharma Retreat Center
Although our mailing address is Hot Springs, NC, our physical location is about 10 miles south of the town of Hot Springs, 2 miles off of Route 209 in the small community of Spring Creek (too small to have its own zip code).
- From Central Asheville: Take Patton Avenue heading west or take Route 240 West merging with Patton Avenue also named Route 19/23 south. About one mile after crossing the bridge (over the French Broad River) into West Asheville, at the traffic light by the Ingles grocery store on your right and the drug store and jewelry/pawn shop across the street, turn right onto Leicester Highway (Route 63 West) going toward Leicester as the signs indicate. Continue Directions with Step 4.
- From the South approaching Asheville on Route 26: From Route 26 West, at the merger of Routes 26 and 40, take the Route 240 exit to Asheville. Go 3.3 miles on Route 240. Take Exit 3A onto Route 19/23 South. Make sure to move over to the left lane well in advance of Exit 3A since the exit is to the left and traffic can be heavy. Go around the sharp turns and emerge onto Route 19/23 South also called Patton Avenue. Drive just over a mile. At the traffic light by the Ingles grocery store on your right and the drug store and jewelry/pawn shop across the street, turn right onto Leicester Highway (Route 63 West) going toward Leicester as the signs indicate. Continue Directions with Step 4.
- From Route I-40 heading toward Asheville from the EAST: Take Exit 53 off Route 40 onto Route 240 heading toward Asheville. Stay on Route 240 through Asheville. Continue onto Route 19/23 South, also called Patton Avenue after crossing the bridge into West Asheville. Do NOT take the exit ramp back onto Route 240 after you are on Route 19/23. After a little more than 1 mile, at the traffic light by the Ingles grocery store on your right and the drug store and jewelry/pawn shop across the street, turn right onto Leicester Highway (Route 63 West) going toward Leicester as the signs indicate. Continue Directions with Step (An alternative which takes longer – perhaps an extra twenty minutes – but avoids the sometimes heavy traffic in Asheville is to continue on Route 40 past Asheville and take Exit 24 off Route 40. If you take this alternative, continue with Step 5.)
- From Patton Ave and Route 63/Leicester Highway:</strong> Stay on Route 63 for over 26 miles, being careful through the hairpin turns as you switchback over the mountain. Route 63 ends at Route 209, where you’ll see the Trust General Store. Turn right onto Route 209 North and go 4.3 miles carefully keeping track of your mileage. After the 4.3 miles, on the right there will be a small green and white sign that reads SPRING CREEK. After just another 1/10 mile, take your first right onto West Road. Immediately PAST West Road is a pedestrian crossing sign, which makes West Road easy to find. If you pass Liberty Missionary Baptist Church on your left, you have gone too far. Turn around and watch for West Road, now on your left. Continue with Step 9–directions for West Road.
- From I-40 heading toward Asheville from the WEST: From Route 40 take Exit 24 in North Carolina. Take Route 209 North. Go 8 miles to Ferguson’s store. Turn right at the store. If you miss the turn, you will dead end at Country Road 1338. Turn around and go back to Ferguson’s. From Ferguson’s store take Route 209 North for 10 miles to the Trust General Store and gas station; this is where Route 63 merges with the route you are on – Route 209. Continue on Route 209 North for another 4.3 miles, carefully keeping track of your mileage. After the 4.3 miles, on the right there will be a sign that reads SPRING CREEK. After just another 1/10 mile turn right onto West Road. Immediately PAST West Road is a pedestrian crossing sign, which makes West Road easy to find. If you pass Liberty Missionary Baptist Church on your left, you have gone too far. Turn around and watch for West Road on your left. Continue with Step 9–directions for West Road.
- From East Tennessee/Knoxville via Hot Springs, or points north passing through Hot Springs: Take I-40 East. Exit at the Newport Exit 432 which will be on the left. Stay on Route 25/70 to Hot Springs. At Hot Springs turn right onto Route 209 South. Take 209 South for about 10 miles, going over the mountain and through the Pisgah National Forest. Then, watch for Liberty Missionary Baptist Church (red brick) on your right (this will be the second Missionary Baptist Church you pass between Hot Springs and West Road). Just after you pass the church, you round a curve. West Road is on your left just after rounding that curve past the church. Continue with Step 9—directions for West Road.
- From southwest Virginia: Take I-81 west to Exit 57A in Tennessee. Follow I-26 east toward Johnson City and Asheville. In North Carolina, take Exit 11 and follow Hwy. 213 west through Mars Hill toward Hot Springs. Approximately eight miles west of Mars Hill, turn right onto 25N/70W toward Hot Springs. At the bottom of a long, winding mountain, turn left at Laurel Creek to continue west on 25N/70W. Continue to Hot Springs. At a sharp right-hand turn in the road in the town of Hot Springs, continue straight onto Route 209 South. Follow 209 south for approximately 10 miles. (After leaving town, you will pass two churches. Just beyond the second church—Liberty Mission Baptist Church on your right—look for West Road to the left.) Turn left onto West Road. Continue with Step 9.
- From Atlanta (188 mi to SDRC from intersection of I-85 and I-285 on the North Side): Take I-85 North to Exit 113, I-985. Merge left onto I-985 North. Take I-985 for 24 miles, where it merges with Route 23 North. Continue on Route 23 North to Cornelia, GA, where Route 23 North merges with Route 441 North. Continue on Route 441 North to Dillsboro, NC where Routes 23 and 441 diverge. Stay on Route 23 North toward Waynesville. In Waynesville, take Exit 104 onto Route 209 North. You’ll follow 209 all the way to West Road, but after about 11.7 miles you’ll have to take a right to stay on HWY 209 (you’ll see a convenience store called Ferguson’s on the corner where you turn). You’ll continue following HWY 209 after this turn for about ten more miles before you see Trust General Store on your right (you can’t miss it). Exactly 4.3 miles past Trust (and the intersection of Route 63) you will see a small green & white sign on the right that reads SPRING CREEK. After just another 1/10 mile, take your first right onto West Road. Immediately PAST West Road is a pedestrian crossing sign, which makes West Road easy to find. If you pass Liberty Missionary Baptist Church on your left, you have gone too far. Turn around and watch for West Road, now on your left. Continue with Step 9–directions for West Road.
- From the beginning of West Road to SDRC (1.9 miles):Cross the bridge and pass several houses. At a little over 0.6 mi you will come to a bank of mailboxes on the left. The pavement ends just beyond the mailboxes. Maintain your momentum to proceed slowly up the steep gravel incline beyond the mailboxes. (Avoid stopping on the incline.) Cross the shallow creek and follow several hairpin turns as you switchback up the mountain. (You’ll pass several driveways to your left.) One mile beyond the mailboxes you will come to a three-way fork at a large oak tree. The right fork and the middle fork have gates, usually closed. The left fork leads to Southern Dharma (as the signs SDRC, 1661, and Dharma Path indicate). Proceed 0.2 mi down the hill, swing left past a red garage, and follow the arrow indicating “Retreat.” Continue beyond the Groundskeeper’s cottage to the right; park in the main parking lot on the left.
NOTE: From the bank of mailboxes on the paved portion of West Road to SDRC the road is unpaved, narrow, winding, and steep. Use first gear. Drive slowly and steadily, keeping your speed at 10 mph or less, watching for fallen branches and protruding rocks. Maintain a forward momentum, and avoid stopping on steep slopes. Don’t spin tires! Pay attention to banks and ditches. It’s unlikely that you’ll encounter traffic coming from the opposite direction, but if you do, stop and negotiate with the other driver. Relax; enjoy the trip!
When feasible, we encourage carpooling and promote ride offers and expressions of transportation needs through our online registration system. While we’re happy to facilitate carpooling communications, however, we cannot guarantee to provide rides to or from Southern Dharma.
We have contact information for taxi service from Asheville. The cost for this service is about $130, excluding driver gratuity.
Rides from Southern Dharma to Asheville with other departing retreat guests can generally be arranged at the conclusion of retreats.
Travel by Air
Southern Dharma is located about 1.25 hours by car from the Asheville Regional Airport (AVL). Upon request, we will try to facilitate carpooling between the airport and the retreat center, but we cannot guarantee rides. With advance notice, we can usually facilitate taxi service from the airport at a cost of approximately $130 (excluding driver gratuity). Rides from Southern Dharma to the airport with other departing retreat guests can generally be arranged at the conclusion of retreats.
To allow ample time for ground transportation, guests should plan flight arrival in Asheville before 3:00 p.m. on the first day of the retreat and flight departure no earlier than 3:00 p.m. on the last day.
Practice of Generosity
The Pali word dana connotes generosity—both the practice of generosity and the contributions made in the spirit of generosity. Southern Dharma perpetuates a long-standing tradition of dana practice by inviting retreat participants to make financial contributions to support the work of teachers and the operations of our center.
We reimburse teachers for travel expenses, but we follow a long-established tradition of not paying teachers for service. Teacher service at Southern Dharma is supported through dana.
We strive to keep registration fees as low as possible to facilitate retreat participation, and we provide generous scholarship support to people in need. Dana practice supports our mission.
We invite voluntary financial contributions at the conclusion of each retreat.
Food and Housing
Meals at Southern Dharma are primarily vegan (vegetable based; no ingredients of animal origin) with occasional egg and dairy options available at meals. Registration fees include three buffet-style meals each day with lunch served as the main meal of the day. We offer a variety of dishes with each nutritious meal, utilizing as much locally grown produce as possible. Fresh-brewed coffee is available each morning. Instant coffee, a variety of teas (both caffeinated and non-caffeinated), and fresh fruit and light snacks are available at all times.
We accommodate gluten-free diets with notice provided at the time of registration.
We provide retreat participants with extremely limited food storage and refrigeration space and no individual food preparation facilities. Due to space, facility, and staffing limitations, Southern Dharma cannot accommodate all dietary restrictions.
We require advance notification at the time of registration of any severe or life threatening food allergies. Many of these can be accommodated.
Facilities and lodging at Southern Dharma include a meditation hall, guest lodge with dining room and library, three rustic one-person cabins, and four tent platforms. The rugged mountain setting and steep natural terrain of our campus are not conducive to handicap accessibility. Access to most facilities requires use of indoor and outdoor stairways.
Lodging is in shared rooms with common showers and bathrooms. We house fourteen people in double and triple rooms on the second floor of our wood stove-heated lodge and ten people in a third-floor dormitory (with beds separated by privacy partitions). All lodge rooms are furnished with twin beds; two triple rooms have bunk beds.
Guest accommodations outside our lodge include six one-person cabins (one reserved for a retreat volunteer) and four tent platforms. Three of our guest cabins are heated by propane heaters but none of the cabins have indoor plumbing or electricity. People reserving tent platforms must supply their own water repellant tents and sleeping gear. One-person cabins and tent platforms are located near a common summer shower house and a separate toilet facility.
Room and tent platform assignments are allocated through the registration process in the order received. Retreat participants must accept or decline housing options available at the time of registration. Southern Dharma reserves the right to consider special needs in determination of final room assignments.
What to Bring
Approximately thirty days before a retreat begins, we email registered guests a confirmation notice containing details of what you need to bring.
We ask that you bring your own sheets (for a single bed), pillow cases, and towels. We also have comfort packs available upon request for $20 which includes sheets, pillow case, a washcloth, and towel.
You will need indoor shoes, slippers, or socks to wear inside our lodge and meditation hall and outdoor shoes suitable for rugged terrain or hiking for outdoors. (If you plan to spend any time inside our kitchen, you will need to wear closed-toes shoes.)
We provide zafus, zabutons, meditation benches, chairs, and “sticky” yoga mats—but you are welcome to bring your own.
We recommend modest, loose-fitting clothing — and various layers of clothing for variable temperatures and weather conditions. Some teachers prohibit shorts or sleeveless tops in the meditation hall.
Guests reserving tent platforms must supply their own water repellant tents, sleeping gear, and camping equipment.
Don’t forget toiletries, flashlights, and water bottles! While you are here, we do have a small supply of emergency medical supplies with items such as itch cream, Tecnu for poison ivy, and ear plugs, should you find yourself in need.
What Not to Bring
Southern Dharma prohibits the use of hair dryers (except for one low-decibel dryer we make available for guests to share), incense, candles, alcohol, tobacco and tobacco products, and all recreational drugs.
Out of respect for those with chemical sensitivities and because the retreat experience involves being in close quarters with others, we expect guests to refrain from using personal scented products such as perfume, cologne, or strongly scented toiletries.
In observance of Noble Silence, guests should not plan to use cell phones, computers, or electronic communications devices. (Most cell phone service is not accessible at Southern Dharma, and internet access is not available to guests.)