Life in our Foothills July 2021 – Emberglow Outdoor Resort

Published 1:47 pm Friday, August 13, 2021

Story and Photos by Mark Levin

Emberglow Outdoor Resort – A Whole New Option for Enjoying the Outdoors

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It was a quiet morning the day of this interview but that would soon change. Check-in time at Emberglow Outdoor Resort begins at 2:00 p.m. and owner Tim Murphy was pumped. He calls it, “Game Day.” While a few RVs were already onsite, Tim and the staff of 12 were preparing for the capacity crowd that would soon start streaming in. 


Tim, and his wife Stephanie, are the owners of Emberglow Outdoor Resort in Mill Spring. For sure this is not the campground your grandparents or even parents might remember from their RVing days.


The couple knew they wanted to create a “destination” campground with a desirable set of on-site amenities. They also wanted it located in an area that would be close to plenty of other exceptional attractions. At first, they thought of finding an existing campground and making changes as needed to make it their own. Tim and Stephanie visited campgrounds across the Southeast to find the perfect one. Nothing exactly matched their idea of what they wanted…which was to create something unique in the camping/glamping industry.


With luck, their search brought them through the area when they discovered a 74-acre piece of property in Polk County’s Mill Spring community. It had been a horse farm, but to Tim and Stephanie…it looked like the beginnings of a camping resort. The property was purchased, and they broke ground in March 2019. 


The Murphy’s knew they wanted to keep the property as natural as possible. Plans were carefully developed to make sure they kept the feel of nature intertwined with the spaces needed for camping. With 74 acres to play with, their imaginations were able to flourish. And while they’ll never consider their work finished, they knew they had found the right location and the right philosophy of how to make Emberglow Camping Resort truly unique. 


On March 4, 2020, they opened the gates to Emberglow to their first inquisitive guests. Sixteen days later they had to close because circumstances outside of their control. It’s not the way anyone wants to get a start in a new venture. But in a way, their new business was poised to take off.


Families, couples, and individuals were wanting to return to normal, but it was going to be a new normal. Outdoor activities were encouraged, and the RV industry experienced a boom like it had never seen. Recreational Vehicles of all types soon became the hottest item in the hospitality business, and it wasn’t long before there were more RVs on the road than available campsites. Emberglow Outdoor Resort might have been new to the campground directories, but when they were able to reopen on Memorial Day last year – they were ready and so were the campers. Word of mouth and social media helped spread the buzz and today Emberglow Outdoor Resort is enjoying success as a special kind of campground. Families are making return visits and bringing their friends.


Just What Makes Emberglow Outdoor Resort Different?


If you haven’t spent much time in the traditional campground, you might not have a clue of what to expect. But no matter what your expectations might be, Emberglow is changing the mindset.


Tim knew that many families wanted to spend time in the outdoors, partly because of Covid and partly because it’s just something wholesome to do. But not everyone has a RV. Or friends with RVs would love to have friends spend time with them at a campground, but those friends don’t own a RV. The Murphy’s came up with a solution.


Their resort would offer a combination of full-service RV sites along with a section for families with tents, a separate wooded tent camping site for groups such as Scouts and other youth associations. And then there’s the amazing other lodging options that are nothing short of astounding.


Mixed in with the RV sites, “campers” will find an interesting and eclectic array of choices. You will find vintage RVs (think 1950 era Airstreams and others) all restored to their original glory, yurts in two sizes, treehouses, tiny homes, unique glamping pods, and a couple of newish traditional RVs just in case you’re thinking of buying one and want to get the feel of what camping in style feels like. All these options have full baths, heat, and air conditioning. If you want a step up from a tent but aren’t quite sure if you want to go the glamping route, you can opt for one of the open-air rustic treehouses that offer bed platforms and plenty of fresh air while you provide everything else. Regardless of what type of accommodation you might choose, Tim wants to make sure the feel of nature abounds. Emberglow has a combination of open and wooded areas with three miles of hiking/biking trails. Some of the lodging options as well as the impressively clean tiled bathhouse are handicap accessible. 


The list of amenities is impressive. Of course, that starts with the natural features of woods and creeks. You will feel like you’re in a forest and not a city when staying at Emberglow Outdoor Resort. A 50,000-gallon resort-style pool is open during the warmer months. It’s large enough for swimmers to enjoy a 74 feet long lap lane. 


Kids will enjoy a playground just for them and then they have several other play areas for kids and kids-at-heart including a gaga ball pit, sand volleyball court, a large inflatable jump pad, outdoor stage and a community firepit. They even have a quarter-acre fenced-in dog park so the furry campers can get their jitters out before going on a family hike. And while some campers might shun it, there is a strong wi-fi signal throughout the facility.


The camp store is where campers check in and is well stocked with items you might have forgotten or things you didn’t know you needed. They also love to promote the community with items made locally as well as displaying a rack of brochures of places to visit just minutes away. The resort location is perfect for those with an itch to explore all the area offers. They are just minutes from Lake Lure, Chimney Rock State Park and Tryon International Equestrian Center to name a few.


Every weekend Emberglow offers activities. Sometimes it might include live music, sometimes a food truck, and they’ve even had a “beer tasting” event helped along by staff from Iron Key Brewing Company in Columbus. Activity offerings can be found on their website.


The name Emberglow comes from the remaining glow of the last pieces of wood as this is often the time when the heart of the conversation is happening. The waning campfire and conversation bring comfort and camaraderie as folks head off to sleep after a busy day. The feeling of Emberglow Outdoor Resort remains with campers throughout their stay and beckons their return for another visit. Tim and Stephanie Murphy and their staff are ready to welcome you to your new place in nature – RV or not.


Business Info:


Emberglow Outdoor Resort is open year-round. They are located at 95 Pinewood Trail, Mill Spring, NC  28756. Web: 

Online reservations can be made through:

For questions, contact them at: 

Phone: 828/ 625-2205.