Folks from all over are saying nice things about Cherokee Lodge & Resort!
Letter from Karen, 8/1/12
I wanted to send an email letting you know that I loved my visit. I am a newbie to the nudist community, but I did manage to get in the pool, and take a shower outside. Most of the time I wore my clothes and now I wish I had taken them off. I have had reconstructive surgery on both of my breasts and have always been very self-conscious. Now that I am back in the rat race I realize that no one would have paid any mind to what I make a big deal out of. I was there on Saturday the 28th of July with my boyfriend, and the minute I walked through those gates, I left the outside world outside. I am hoping he will bring me back. I just wanted to tell you that I loved my visit and I have never met nicer people in my life. Thank you so very much for making me feel welcome, and the next time I am leaving the clothes in my cabin.
I hope to see you soon,
Letter from Lewis, 7/24/12
Following almost two decades of procrastination, I finally managed to visit Crossville's Cherokee Lodge & Resort, despite a four-hour roundtrip commute from Seymour, TN. Albeit rustic & a bit like the summer camps of my distant youth, Cherokee afforded me the sedately refreshing N&N respite I was seeking most. I rented half of an air-conditioned duplex cabin with a half bath for one day. Sampled their pool, hot tub & restaurant cuisine, and found all to be to my satisfaction. I was accompanied by a female N&N novice, who by visit's end, was devoid of modesty attire in this most agreeable family-oriented social setting, and who expressed an earnest interest in investigating our lifestyle further. I anxiously anticipate my next visit within the coming months, equipped with suitable hiking boots, to test my stamina against their nine miles of marked hiking trails. Cherokee Lodge & Resort remains one East Tenessee retreat that should not be overlooked by any N&N purist.
N: The Journal of Naturist Living, Summer 2012
Publication of The Naturist Socety
It’s dusk at Cherokee Lodge and Resort in Crossville, Tennessee. Fireflies flicker and crickets chirp in the forest behind the volleyball court. A pair of retirees fusses over a grill at the RV lot. “Easy on the starter fluid!” the white-haired woman shouts. “Them steaks are going to taste like kerosene!” A young couple plays ping pong beneath a yellow bug light at the billiards shack, making up the rules as they go. String lights flash at the outdoor pavilion as the entertainment warms up with a very respectable cover of Lovesick Blues. Bullfrogs croak as a fellow wearing a trucker cap strolls across a bridge that leads to the log cabin restaurant. What’s on the menu? Smells like burgers, the hearty two-inch thick variety topped with pickles and mustard, typically found at county fairs. Light glows from the windows of the lodge and a lonely whippoorwill calls from the distance. A warm breeze carries the smell of honeysuckle blossoms past a group playing checkers at a picnic table. A family winds down a long day at the pool and heads up the fern-lined path to their cabin, arms loaded with inner tubes and wet towels.
As the last bit of summer sun sinks behind the cedars, the scene at Cherokee Lodge is nothing less than an instamatic snapshot of the iconic American vacation, a Plastichrome postcard of a dreamy holiday land filled with smiling skinny dippers and bronzed sun lovers.
Cherokee Lodge provides a glimpse into the golden age of the rural nudist club that emerged during the late fifties and early sixties, back when the automobile and the open road offered Americans an escape from the ordinary, an opportunity to break free from suburban mediocrity and embark on cross-country adventures. It was an era of colorful roadside attractions and novel vacation destinations. Animated neon signs beckoned travelers to drive-in theaters, miniature golf courses and kooky theme parks. Americans played pinball in beachside arcades and explored lakes in wobbly paddleboats. Back then, the nudist camps were rustic retreats where happy campers strolled down dirt trails to makeshift cinder block swimming pools and played volleyball using nets strung between tree branches. Like other roadside attractions of the day, there was something irresistibly intriguing about the nudist clubs. Period publications promoted nudist club life in page after page of wordy essays that espoused the moral, physiological and psychological benefits of a life unencumbered by clothing, juxtaposed with Kodachrome images of people engaged in all manner of wacky activities. Nudists on water skis! Nudists on pogo sticks! Like the jungle-themed miniature golf course or the teepee-shaped motel, the nudist camp’s appeal was rooted in the sheer novelty of its premise. It offered something different, something almost exotic to bored suburbanites. Who wouldn’t be inspired to call up their local camp after seeing an oversaturated photo of a woman with a beehive ‘do holding onto her cat eye sunglasses while chasing a badminton birdie across a dusty meadow? Nudism was a simple, no-frills pastime, and its adherents possessed both a sincere philosophy and an infectious sense of humor.
At some point, American culture matured and became more cynical, and interest waned in the imaginative and offbeat destinations that once thrived along the back roads. Fortunately, for the sentimental among us, there are clubs like Cherokee Lodge & Resort, still hanging fast to the old-school nudist vision, twenty years on. Cherokee Lodge is an American treasure, and places of its kind are becoming increasingly rare. Not unlike the roadside diners where waitresses with names like Hazel serve plain black coffee to bleary-eyed travelers, or drive-up ice cream stands where kids in white paper hats polish Formica counters and scoop ice cream into root beer floats, Cherokee is a mom and pop operation, a true classic with little concern for the latest trends. In an era in which vacations typically involve congested freeways and long lines at crowded airports, Cherokee is a bittersweet reminder of a simpler time, when travelers unloaded luggage from the roof racks of their station wagons for a weekend of swimming in lakes and telling spooky stories around campfires.
Cherokee has all the accoutrements of a midcentury summer camp. There’s a big lodge with a fireplace and a porch full of rocking chairs. A nice, sit-down restaurant serves everything from salads to fried bologna sandwiches and even steaks. Folks play basketball and volleyball, swim in a salt-chlorinated pool, bike nine miles of trails and snooze in log cabins nestled in pine thickets.
Cherokee retains all the wistful beauty of the old nature camps, but more significantly, the club displays the irresistible character and community of those long-lost summer edens. Southern hospitality is alive and well here. Calls to the office are never met with a sales pitch or an interrogation by a suspicious employee. Instead, information seekers are encouraged to “hop in the car and come on out!” It’s little wonder that each spring weekend brings dozens of newcomers to the club. Some are attracted by the photo-rich website, others by the free day pass made available to first-time visitors. Many of these nervous, pasty-white newbies are tanned and confident converts when summer rolls around, a time of catfish fries and horseshoe games and afternoon dips in the warm lake. The community that is cultivated from these new visitors is impressively diverse. Families, singles, college students, retirees, farm folk, city dwellers and everyone in between can be found eating barbecue, laughing and swatting mosquitos at the fourth of July picnic.
Don’t be surprised to see a grownup shouting “Marco Polo!” at the pool, playing volleyball with an oversized beach ball or running through the spray of a hosepipe like a delirious ten-year old. Don’t resist the urge to smile at the sight of a man sitting amidst the autumn leaves in his birthday suit, carefully cutting eye holes in a bed sheet that will serve as a makeshift ghost costume for the “Halloween Hootenanny.” Spending an afternoon at Cherokee inspires this sort of silly exuberance, similar to the sensation one experiences when whacking a ball through the gaping mouth of a concrete gorilla at the local goofy golf course or hopping on a rusty Tilt-A-Whirl at a roadside carnival.
A modest number of rural clubs are still in operation. Their tree-lined pools and cozy cabins serve as vivid reminders of the simpler pleasures that stubbornly endure in a society that seeks its entertainment through gadgets and technology. Visitors to these blissful havens are provided with a unique opportunity to take a break from smart phones and streaming media and, to use an old nudist mantra, “get back to nature.” Rural nudist clubs like Cherokee that lay at the end of quiet roads, in unassuming towns well off the beaten path may seem inconsequential to some, but the experience they provide is incomparable. These are places where memories are made.
If you find yourself on Interstate 40 this summer, heading to Nashville to catch a show at the Grand Ole Opry or winding your way through the lush Tennessee mountains on the way Dollywood, be sure to stop off at Exit 311 and pay a visit to Cherokee Lodge. Stay for an afternoon, a weekend or the whole summer. The friendly folks at Cherokee will be glad to have you.
The Bulletin, April 2012
Publication of The American Association for Nude Recreation
Cherokee Lodge and Resort in Crossville, Tennessee will celebrate its twentieth anniversary season this spring, a testament to the resilience and economic viability of a rural nudist club. Cherokee’s endurance is rooted in a willingness to continuously invigorate its membership by welcoming new visitors and enhanced by a commitment to traditional nudist values. Just as importantly, Cherokee embraces its rustic heritage, its deep southern roots and serene mountain surroundings, and blends these elements into a one-of-a-kind clothing-optional destination.
The club is situated on nearly three hundred acres of lush forest that features shady groves, fern-lined streams and wildflower-covered meadows. The facilities blend seamlessly into the locale. Log cabins are nestled among fragrant pines. A woodland church is accessed by a dirt path. Doves nest in the eaves of spacious porches lined with rocking chairs, and towering poplars surround a sand volleyball court and a salt-chlorinated pool. Each evening, warm light radiates from the windows of the spacious three-story lodge, beckoning visitors to a home cooked meal. Fireflies sparkle in the woods and the smell of honeysuckle flowers fills the air as guests gather for an evening dance at the open air pavilion or a conversation around a campfire.
This tranquil environment provides the foundation for the exceptional community that exists at Cherokee. Guests aren’t paying customers as much as they are an extended family, and they are continuously engaged by the friendly staff. Nervous phone inquiries from prospective visitors are typically met with something along the lines of, “Why don’t ya’ll hop in the car and come on out for the day?” When newcomers arrive at the office and timidly step out of their cars, any apprehensions quickly evaporate as the smiling office manager, shouts “Hey! Ya’ll made it! Didn’t hit any rain on the way up, did you?” The occasional day visitor is treated exactly the same as the lifelong member, and is usually greeted by name upon arrival. Neighborly acts are customary. If you lock your keys in your car, experience a flat tire or forget your sunscreen, someone will volunteer to help.
This sort of old-school southern hospitality is the norm at Cherokee and the subsequent positive word-of-mouth has led to countless visits from those new to the concept of nudism . However, remaining visible is the single biggest challenge for any business, particularly in an era inundated with information. Positive reviews are critical, but not nearly enough, so in 2011 Cherokee began marketing a free day pass to first-time visitors. The program has proven to be highly effective in attracting new attendees, many of whom are first-time nudists. The club also increased its online presence through an expanded website and staked out territory on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. These ventures into digital media serve to provide a vivid snapshot of Cherokee to the outside world, but the staff’s primary focus remains on ensuring that the experience lives up to the promise. And that’s the easy part, because there aren’t a lot of places where one can smack around a volleyball, hike a nine-mile trail and attend a country catfish fry, free from clothing within a spectacular woodland setting.
Cherokee is a refuge, an enduring celebration of a slower pace, a simpler way of life. It’s a place of friends and family, where people of all ages and backgrounds and beliefs come to be refreshed and renewed by the sun on their shoulders and the mountain breeze blowing through their hair. Look around and you’ll observe a pair of college students learning how to play horseshoes on the mossy lawn of the lodge while a couple in their eighties strolls hand-in hand by the lake. Families splash in the pool as a young soldier expertly pitches a tent on a grassy spot by the stream. Retirees prep their RV lot for the summer. The owner shares tales of local Native American traditions with visitors at the picnic area. Guests arrive in rusty pickups and fuel-efficient hybrids, on bikes and on motorcycles. Laughter fills the air.
Cherokee is a testament to the quiet power of nudism, evidence of how easily folks from all walks of life connect once you peel away the superficial layers. A wooden sign that hangs at the front gate promises “A little bit of heaven, naturally.” It’s a promise that Cherokee has, for twenty years, delivered.
Email your review to firstname.lastname@example.org!