Naturism and Hot Springs

Beaches are not the only public outdoor locations where one can enjoy being naked. Almost any relatively remote place where people go to "get away" from the crowd will do, provided it is either (1) remote enough that you're unlikely to meet anyone else at all, or (2) of a nature that is encouraging of and conducive to being naked.

Many backpackers are able to enjoy remote wilderness areas without clothing. Non-naturist backpackers are usually understanding and tolerant of this in the event of the occasional encounter. However, not everyone is interested in hiking miles into the woods with a heavy pack just for the experience of being unclothed. So it's fortunate that there are places in the outdoors which inherently invite the shedding of clothes - i. e. natural hot springs.

Unlike a "nude" or "clothing optional" beach, hot springs in remote locations do not generally attract large numbers of people. For many, that is a chief advantage in itself. Such springs often are clothing optional - who, after all, wants to wear anything to bathe? Since the springs are usually in isolated, remote locations, they're ordinarily utilized by people who like the outdoors and the more rustic pleasures, such as the absence of clothing.

Nudity isn't tolerated at all hot springs, of course, just as it isn't at most beaches. But there's actually a much better chance that nudity is tolerated, or even the norm, than at a typical beach. In any case, you can use this page as a guide to finding hot springs where nudity is common and generally welcome.

Unfortunately for U. S. easterners, most of the natural geothermal activity in the U. S. is west of the continental divide. Sorry, but that's the breaks.

General Hot Springs Guides

This may be the best overall hot springs page. Includes pictures and directions for various springs in California and other states in the western U. S. Links and information on other springs. There site also includes a message board and chat facility for exchanging information and experience with other soakers.
New Mexico Hot Springs
Posted by students at the Science & Engineering Research Semester program of LANL. "Attire is optional" at several of the locations.
Jef Poskanzer's Hot Springs page
A few of Jef's favorite springs (California). Visit some of Jef's other pages while you're in the neighborhood.
Ellen's Hot Water Pages
Ellen Beeman provides personal reports on a number of hot springs and commercial hot tub locations in California, Nevada, Washington, New Mexico, and Texas.
Terry Burke's TravelJournal: Hot Springs
Another page of personal reports and a directory of hot springs in California.
California Hot Springs
A couple of locations.
The Definitive Guide to Hot Springs
Marjorie Gersh-Young has produced revised and expanded editions of the original Jayson Loam guides. This site has good links to other hot springs sites.
Idaho Hiking & Hot Springs
Lists a number of backcountry hot springs. However, the owner of the pages has an attitude problem about nudity. ("Avoid total nudity" is listed as "backcountry hotspring etiquette".) Kind of amusing, actually. There are thumbnail images of nude people using some areas, but the "full size" images have swimming attire faked into the picture.
The Hot Springs Gazette
This is a quarterly print periodical you can subscribe to for current information and recommendations on hot springs.
Phil Owensby - Sun 'n' Soak: Clothing Optional Naturally
This hot springs guide book is about locations in the Northwestern U. S. - and it has an explicitly naturist orientation. The author represents that he has swum, soaked, or sunbathed nude at every location listed. Also, unlike most of the other hot springs guides, this one has color photos.
Matt Bischoff - Touring California and Nevada Hot Springs
Here's a review of another hot springs guide. This one is limited to California and Nevada locations, but is therefore able to go into a little more detail about each. 83 springs are listed.
The Hot Springs of Southeastern Arizona
Article by Justine Hill from N Magazine 17.2.
Yahoo! Recreation: Outdoors: Hot Springs
Just your basic Yahoo links.
Oscar's Hot Springs Pages
By Oscar Voss. Lists of Western hot springs and some reviews.
Oregon Hotsprings Home Page
Oregon has a lot of them, and this site gives driving and hiking directions plus comments for some. (But a number of the links don't work.)

Developed Hot Springs

People have always enjoyed being in hot water, so many of the best natural sites were long ago "discovered" and developed to attract visitors. Although such developed sites are sometimes less likely to permit or encourage nude use, there are a number of welcome exceptions.
Harbin Hot Springs
Located near Calistoga, California, north of the Napa Valley and San Francisco, Harbin does not fit into any of the usual categories of "hot springs", "resort", "campground", or whatever. First established as a resort in the mid-1800's, it now has a few modern amenities - but only a few. It does have hot springs, but also 1160 acres of wooded grounds, hiking trails, a health food store and restaurant, and many types of therapeutic massage available. Best of all, most of the facilities are clothing optional. And, unlike most organized "nudist" resorts, there are no rules about who may visit.
Sierra Hot Springs
"Sierra Hot Springs is a non-profit retreat and workshop center located at the cusp of an enchanted forest and a beautiful alpine valley" a little bit north of Lake Tahoe. It is a "sister community" to Harbin Hot Springs, but "a bit more remote and peaceful".
Esalen Institute
The famous Esalen Institute on the Big Sur coast of California was at one time known as Slate's Hot Springs because of the geothermal features located there. Only much later, in the 1960s, was it developed into the conference and "personal growth" center that it is now. But the springs are still there, and still may be enjoyed without any clothing. The best way to use them is to attend a seminar or workshop, but they are open to the general public - from 1 am to 3 am.
Breitenbush Hot Springs
A retreat and conference center in Oregon located around hot springs. It's somewhat like Harbin.
El Dorado Hot Springs
A Naturist friendly hot springs, in operation since 1996, with clothing optional private soaking areas. It's in Arizona, not too far from Phoenix.
Valley View Hot Springs
Near Villa Grove, Colorado. Clothing optional. Camping, lodging and other facilities. Alternate URL.
The Well at Brush Creek
Near Florence, Colorado. Has a concrete pool fed by a natural hot spring. Clothing optional.
Faywood Hot Springs
Located in S. W. New Mexico. Site has links to other hot springs.
Tecopa Hot Springs
Tecopa, located in Inyou County, CA, is operated by the county. Nudity is required, but bathing is segregated by gender.

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Last updated: January 28, 2007