- Landed clubs and resorts
- Clothing-optional beaches
- Developed clothing-optional hot springs
- Non-landed groups
- Meetup groups
Northern California has many places where naturism can be enjoyed. Among the possibilities are naturist resorts, clothing-optional beaches, rivers and streams for skinny dipping, commercial and non-commercial hot springs where clothing-optional bathing is possible, and occasional public events. There are also several non-landed naturist clubs. And, perhaps best of all, there are hundreds of thousands of acres of U. S. National Forests where innumerable secluded campsites allow for unfettered nudity.
For people who like rustic camping, there are a number of National Forests in Northen California. Most of there allow “dispersed camping” in most parts of the forest. Usually, locations that are suitable for naked camping are accessible only via unimproved (dirt, gravel, etc.) roads. 4WD/AWD high-clearance vehicles are best on such roads, but many are also suitable for ordinary passenger cars. Generally, however, only small RVs or trailers are suitable. Water may be available in nearby streams (but should always be treated). Sources of food and camping supplies are usually not nearby, so it’s best to bring whatever you need. In general, this type of camping is like back-country backpacking, without the need to carry all necessary supplies on one’s back. The upside is that nudity is generally legal and acceptable in places that are hardly ever visited by the general public. (But unless you’re familiar with the area, it’s best to confirm this by visiting a USFS office.) Information on the National Forests of Northern California is available at the USFS site. Visitor maps may be ordered online or may be purchased at most USFS offices in each forest. More detailed maps, updated every year, that show all roads open to the public are a necessity and may be obtained (free) at USFS offices. A much more detailed article on this type of camping is planned to be available on this blog soon.
What is the legal status of public nudity in California? That’s an important question, but it’s difficult to give a general answer. In California as a whole, it was ruled in 1972 that under state law public nudity per se isn’t considered to be a citable offense, as long as it isn’t “lewd” or intended to cause offense. Fortunately, most locations discussed here are either on private property or else in fairly isolated areas, such as forests and beaches, so that’s all we need to discuss here. Even so, the answer will still depend on exactly what location is involved. Some cities and counties have their own laws that may be stricter, and they may or may not apply to the types of locations described here. The rules in State Parks are also stricter, but in some locations nudity may be tolerated. Regulations on Federal land, such as National Forests and BLM land, are usually more lenient, but local laws may still prevail. In general, when using any area not familiar to you, the best advice is to ask someone in authority, such as State or Federal employees responsible for the area in question. One good reference that can point to additional information is here: California Nudity Laws. (This paragraph is not professional legal advice and should not be relied on as such.)
Here’s another page with a great deal of useful information: San Francisco Bay Area Naturist Resources. This extensive list is from the Bay Area Naturists non-landed club. The information it contains deals with a lot of what’s covered here (but usually with less detail), as well as many other things of potential interest to naturists. Other topics include:
* Text of state and local laws related to nudity
* Online and printed information dealing with naturism
* Links to online newsletters, blogs, social networks, and discussion forums
* Links to online information on naturist-related topics such as travel agencies, quotations about nudity, sports, yoga, topfree equality, and “general information”
In a single article like the present one, it’s possible only to scratch the surface. Future articles will focus more narrowly to offer more details.
Thanks for reading this far. Please leave a comment if you know of additional places in Northern California that are good for enjoying naturism, you think additional information is needed about a particular location, or you find any mistakes, broken links, or other things in need of correction.
Landed clubs and resorts
Unless you’re fortunate enough to live near a beach where nudity is common, landed clubs and resorts may be the easiest way to get involved with naturism. Even if there is a clothing-optional beach that’s convenient to visit, clubs have certain advantages. They have swimming pools – generally much warmer than the Pacific Ocean. You can stay overnight at clubs, so 24/7 nudity is possible. It’s easier to make new acquaintances at clubs, since many beach-goers are very protective of their privacy. This is certainly not to say that clubs are the best way for everyone to enjoy naturism. But they are an option that’s worth considering.
Some people who are new to naturism may feel a little anxiety about visiting a club or resort for the first time. Perhaps they feel that they won’t be treated courteously if they aren’t a member of the club and don’t know anyone there. Or they are worried that their motives for visiting will be suspect. These fears are unrealistic. Clubs and resorts need paying visitors in order to operate and provide a safe, enjoyable experience for everyone. They may or may not be non-profits, but they still need “customers” to keep the lights on and the grounds properly maintained.
All of the clubs listed here are reasonably welcoming for first-time visitors, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. However, it’s always a good idea for first-time visitors to call before leaving home to ask about things like rates, suitable arrival times, required orientations and property tours (if any), special events, availability of accommodations, and so on. If you’re visiting a particular club for the first time, calling ahead to ask a few questions should reassure you that your visit will go smoothly.
Personal identification is usually required to check in, and a sexual offender database will be checked for first-time visitors. At times these preliminaries may be mildly annoying, but the purpose is to provide a hassle-free environment for everyone. If you’re a first-time visitor and a member of AANR, TNS, or a California non-landed club (with proof of membership), let the club know. You may get a discount on fees, and possibly an easier time registering.
How to find them: Addresses for clubs and similar entities are on their websites. Use Google Maps or the like for directions from your location. The websites may also provide driving instructions.
- General information
- Specific clubs and resorts
- Laguna del Sol
- Location: Wilton, CA
- Facebbook page
- Laguna Del Sol video tour
Laguna del Sol may be the premier resort in the area. It’s large (about 250 acres), has 4 swimming pools (1 indoors), a 25 acre lake, a good restaurant, lots of space for both RVs and tent camping, and some rental accommodations. Because of its location in the Central Valley, daytime temperatures can be rather high (100°F or more) during the summer, so plan accordingly. Fortunately, there are grassy, shaded areas where you can sit and read, or just relax. One of the best shaded areas is in the middle of the lake and stretches from one side to the other. It also has hammocks.
- Lupin Lodge
- Location: Los Gatos, CA
- Facebook page
Lupin has several things in its favor. Most importantly, perhaps, it’s a relatively short drive from anywhere in the San Jose area. In addition, its setting in the Santa Cruz mountains is natural and magnificent. The grounds, while not as extensive as Laguna del Sol’s, are well-maintained. The property is about 110 acres. There’s a restaurant in the club house, although its hours and menu are sometimes limited. Some reviews of Lupin are mixed, generally because of occasional problems with staff members. Accomodations include tent camping, yurts (tent-like structures but a little more substantial), and parking space for RVs. Other features include a swimming pool, tennis and volleyball courts, and a relativly short nature trail for hiking.
- Sequoians Nudist Club
- Location: Castro Valley, CA
- Facebook page
The main thing to know is that Sequoians is a co-op membership club. This means non-members are limited to visting only on weekends and holidays during “open season” (April through October) and only 3 times. After that, further visits require yearly membership dues of several hundred dollars. (Somewhat less for more limited memberships.) In practice that means the club primarily serves members – who expect to use the club frequently – within the general area of Castro Valley. However, even visitors from out of the area can get a taste of the naturist lifestyle. Special lower rates are available to students and young individuals (18 to 30), so they can affordably get a good idea of what naturism is like. The property is 80 acres, but the central area is fairly small. Amenities are more limited than at either Laguna del Sol or Lupin, but include swimming pool, hot tub, volleyball courts, and hiking trails. A tent or RV/trailer is necessary for overnight visits. Also, unlike Laguna del Sol and Lupin, vistors are expected to be nude everywhere (when feasible), not just around the pool.
On most of these beaches there are sections where nudity is acceptable and common. All beaches – except those on Lake Tahoe and in places for river skinny-dipping – are on the Pacific coast. Unfortunately, the coast in Northern California is often foggy and cold during the summer months. Beaches close to Santa Cruz or San Luis Obispo are somewhat more likely to be warm and sunny. In any case, it’s advisable to consult weather forecasts to determine expected conditions before making a long trip. Concurrent wide-area satellite images can also be useful. There are aerial photos and maps for many of the beaches here.
Some of the information at links here may not be up to date. If you visit one of these beaches and many users are textile but none are clothesfree, it might be best to look elsewhere and check again some other time.
Here’s a helpful tip on finding and viewing beaches using Google Earth on your smartphone or laptop. If you know the general location of the beach, zoom in to that. The beach site may be explicitly marked. In any case you may find the beach by searching up and down the coast. If you use the 3D view, you should be able to spot the beach itself and the terrain around it. Zooming in closer will give you a pretty good idea of what the beach looks like, as well as the nearest parking area (if any). It’s even possible to print the image (at least from a laptop) to take with you for help, using landmarks on the road, in finding the beach. For example, here’s a view of Red Rock Beach (and its parking area) as seen in Google Earth:
- General information
- Nude and Topless Beaches in California
- This guide has very complete information on the beaches it covers, such as features of the beach, what to watch out for, and driving/parking directions. Some beaches that have only light or occasional nude use are not included.
- From tripsavvy.com
- Nude Beaches in California
- The details in this guide are fairly brief, but some beaches are mainly textile, with only light or occasional nude use.
- From californiabeaches.com
- San Francisco Bay Guardian: Nude Beaches 2014
- Since the SFBG ceased publication, this is the final version of the list. It’s still quite good, but some information may not be current.
- The Best Nude Beaches in California
- The Extremely Naked Truth Behind All of SF’s Nude Beaches
- Nude spots to surf spots: 32 great Bay Area beaches
- Show Some Skin at SF Nude Beaches
- List of social nudity places in California
- Getting Naked between San Francisco and Los Angeles
- Nude and Topless Beaches in California
- Individual beaches
- Humboldt County Nude Beaches
- Humboldt beaches are cold and foggy in the summer more often than beaches farther south. But they are the closest choice for naturists in the most northern parts of the state.
- College Cove
- Baker Beach (Humboldt County)
- Don’t confuse this with San Francisco’s Baker Beach.
- The beach is on the opposite side (south) of Trinidad from College Cove. Take Scenic Drive south from the town. Find a parking space beside the road just past Baker Ranch Rd. on the left.
- Tahoe Nude Beaches
- Technically, these are in Nevada, but quite close to California (a long trip from the coast, however)
- Secret Cove is the main beach used by naturists. See the linked site for more information.
- Detailed Directions to Lake Tahoe Nude Beaches
- Articles about the naturist beaches
- South Yuba River (Nevada County)
- The South Yuba River just north of Nevada City has some of the best river skinny-dipping places in the state. Since relatively short hikes are needed to reach the best locations, they provide hassle-free clothing-optional use. In each case, first drive to the north part of Nevada City, where Route 49 turns west.
- You can search Google Maps and Google Earth for each of these locations by name. If you have these programs on your smartphone, you can see exactly where they are in relation to landmarks, and get the GPS coordinates as well.
- Best locations:
- Edwards Crossing
- Once on westbound Route 49, take the first right past the USFS offices onto N. Bloomfield Rd. Proceed to a T intersection and go to the right. Continue on the paved but winding road until reaching the bridge over the river. Park beside the road, just before the bridge. Walk across the bridge and take the narrow trail on the left for about a mile to the nude section. When you cross a small creek (Spring Creek), you’ll be almost there. The swimming hole is sometimes known as “Mountain Dog”.
- Swimming hole GPS: 39°19′57″N, 120°59′22″W
- Purdon Crossing
- Of the 3 crossings, this has the best footpath to the nude section of the river. Start on N. Bloomfield Rd. as for the Edwards Crossing, but turn left at the T intersection onto Purdon Rd. The road becomes unpaved about halfway to the Crossing but is relatively smooth. There is a small parking area on the right side of the road just before the bridge. But if it is full, there’s more parking beside the road on the other side of the bridge. Starting from the first parking area follow the trail along the river. Initially the trail is beside private property. Beyond that you may take any convenient path down to the river (but respect other private property signs you may see). The best places are about a mile from the parking area.
- Friends of the Purdon Crossing at the South Yuba River
- Hoyt’s Crossing
- Nudity is common here, since it’s reached from a narrow, mile-long path beside the river, followed by a steep path down to the water. Instead of turning onto N. Bloomfield Rd., continue along Route 49 for about 6 miles until reaching the bridge over the river. There’s a small parking lot on the right just before the bridge. If it’s full, park along the road on either side of the bridge. The path to the nude area starts in the parking lot, crosses the river on an old bridge, then continues on the right.
- Swimming hole GPS: 39°18′11″N, 121°4′50″W
- Edwards Crossing
- Marin County Nude Beaches
- Limantour Beach
- Located in Point Reyes National Seashore. The beach is large and nudity is accepted away from easily visible areas.
- To visit the beach, take Sir Francis Drake Blvd. from Highway 1 in Point Reyes Station. Go left at the T intersection onto Bear Valley Rd. From there take the third right onto Limantour Rd. Go about 11 miles to the end of the road. Park there, walk to the beach, and head north to the sand dunes.
- RCA Beach
- The beach is located on the peninsula, sourth of Point Reyes National Seashore and north of the town of Bolinas. The easiest access is by walking south from Palomarin Beach (which is textile). To reach the latter beach, exit from Highway 1 at either Fairfax Bolinas Rd or Olema Bolinas Rd. and go south towards Bolinas until reaching Mesa Rd. on the right. Stay on Mesa Rd. as it twists and turns before eventually reaching Palomarin.
- Red Rock Beach
- This may be the most popular clothing-optional beach north of San Francisco. If so, that’s partly because it’s reached directly from Highway 1, just south of the popular (but textile) Stinson Beach. It’s about 450 yards long. You will have to navigate down and up a steep, rocky, quarter-mile trail. Look for a parking area on the ocean side of the road about a mile south of the town of Stinson Beach.
- Muir Beach
- While San Francisco itself has three good clothing-optional beaches, Muir Beach is the closest in Marin County to the city. It’s a good choice just for variety, or if you’re coming from the north. From Highway 101 take the Highway 1 exit just north of the Golden Gate Bridge. From there take Pacific Way towards the ocean, and you’ll quickly see the parking area, which fills up early on weekends. Nude and textile sections of the beach are separate, with tne nude section in the small cove at the north end. Interestingly, the beach is adjacent (on the south-east side) to the small community of Muir Beach – hardly an isolated location. Locals are quite fortunate (if they consider nudity a plus).
- San Francisco County Nude Beaches
- Golden Gate Bridge Beach
- North Baker Beach
- Baker Beach is large, popular, and has both textile and clothing-optional sections. The latter is toward the north. Because of its popularity, parking can be a problem. At busy times, using public transportation might be a good idea. If driving, take Lincoln Blvd. to Bowley St. on the ocean side. Turn onto Gibson Rd., where you’ll find the southern parking area. For a slightly larger parking lot turn onto Battery Chamberlin Rd. Walk north from where you park until you see naked people.
- Lands End Beach
- This beach, also known as Mile Rock Beach, is separate from and a bit south of Baker and Marshall’s beaches. It’s less visited, but also smaller and requires a little more walking to reach. To get there, take Geary Blvd. toward the ocean. Bear right at Point Lobos Ave. You’ll quickly reach the main parking lot. Find the Land’s End Trail and start walking north, about 10-15 minutes. Read more detailed walking directions at the tripsavvy.com link.
- San Mateo County Nude Beaches
- Devil’s Slide Nude Beach
- The beach’s official name is Gray Whale Cove State Beach. Being located on Highway 1 just south of the area known as Devil’s Slide (hence the beach’s name) it’s impossible to miss. As a result of frequent landslides that forced closure of the road, a tunnel and new road was completed through the mountain in 2014. There’s a parking area on the east side of the road just south of the beach.
- There seems to be general agreement that this is a very scenic, beautiful beach – plus it’s easy to find, and with nudity, too! However, the weather is likely to be best in September and October.
- Since this is a State Beach, clothng-optional use is not a sure thing forever. However, since nudity here is traditional, it seems to remain acceptable on the north side of the beach.
- San Gregorio Nude Beach
- The beach is quite long (about a mile) and flat, but it may be cold and foggy during the summer. Most users of the beach are clothesfree. The trail down to the beach is somewhat long and steep. There’s a gate on the driveway to the parking lot (where a fee is charged). It’s advisable, before going, to call the number listed in the Yelp review to find out about weather conditions and hours of operation.
- Note: This beach is directly north of San Gregorio State Beach, which is not clothing-optional, so textile users almost always choose the State Beach. At low tide it’s sometimes possible to walk north onto the nude beach. You won’t avoid a parking fee, but you will avoid the steep trail down the cliff.
- Santa Cruz Nude Beaches
- Possibly the best nude beaches in Northern California – in terms of accessibility, nude-friendliness, and days of sunshine – are found about 10 miles north of Santa Cruz.
- Bonny Doon Beach
- Panther and Hole in the Wall Nude Beaches
- This is a fine alternative to Bonny Doon, and about a mile farther south. It’s longer, so better for walking, and easier to have privacy (if you want it). Perhaps because parking is less convenient, the beach is less heavily used. It’s basically a single fairly long beach, with a rock arch between the two halves (closer to the north end).
- californiabeaches.com (Hole in the Wall Beach)
- californiabeaches.com (Panther Beach)
- Laguna Creek Beach
- This beach is half a mile south of Panther Beach, and a little smaller. The parking lot is also small, and on the east side of Highway 1. Like Panther, it’s less used than Bonny Doon, which may be considered either a plus or a minus. It has an advantage over Panther because there aren’t cliffs to descend, so the walk in is easier. Nudity is hassle-free at these three beachs, except for occasional gawkers.
- Monterey County Nude Beaches
- There are miles of sandy beaches close to the city of Marina, about 10 miles north of Monterey. Only a few places are heavily visited, and much of the rest can be enjoyed nude.
- North Marina Beach
- The beach is across Highway 1 from the city of Marina, and directly adjacent to Marina State Beach. It’s small and used mostly by locals. Nudity is generally accepted. To access the beach, take Reservation Rd. from Marina towards the ocean. Just before the parking lot at the end of the road, turn right onto Dunes Drive and go to the end. Park along the road, and walk around the gate towards the ocean.
- Indian Head Beach
- The beach is across Highway 1 from the southern part of the city of Marina. Finding privacy is easy since there are seldom many users.
- Beach access: Take exit 401 (Reservation Road) from Highway 1 in Marina. Go in the opposite direction from the ocean a short way to Lake Drive. Turn right but then left almost immediately. (Google Maps or equivalent will help.) Just after driving under an overpass there’s a small parking area, where the road turns left. Park there and take the short but steep path over the sand dune. Turn left at the beach and go about half a mile south to the nude area. Unfortunately, the sand isn’t hard-packed so it’s not ideal for long walks. As an alternative, walk to the end of the road, then take an easier path toward beach. The nude section is just south from there.
- Note: This beach is actually part of Fort Ord Dunes State Park, so is distinct from both Marina State Beach (on the north) and Monterey State Beach (further south). Since there are no facilities, the usual State Park restrictions on nudity are not observed. Because of these factors, nudity is usually hassle-free.
- Garrapata Beach
- The beach is about 10 miles south of the tourist town of Carmel on Highway 1. It’s part of Garrapata State Park, which is mostly on the east side of the road (and well worth a visit too). Parking for the beach is adequate and entirely beside the road. Although State Park rules proscribe nudity, it’s generally tolerated if practiced discreetly and away from heavily used parts of the beach. Since the beach is visible from and very close to the road, don’t be surprised to find large crowds (not nude) on sunny days. A visit from late afternoon until sunset might be a good choice.
- Pfeiffer Beach (Big Sur)
- It’s a very scenic and interesting beach, but not the best choice for clothing-optional use, although that is possible at the far north end. It’s definitely a Big Sur sort of place. The only parking is in a lot where a fee is charged. The beach was (at one time anyhow) famous as a place where scenes from the movie The Sandpiper (with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton) was filmed. The beach is at the end of Sycamore Canyon Road, which turns west off Highway 1 across the road from the southern part of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.
- Pirate’s Cove Beach (near San Luis Obispo)
- San Luis Obispo is on the southern edge of what might be considered Northen California. However, it’s about equidistant from San Jose and Los Angeles. And it has an excellent clothing-optional beach nearby. Pirate’s Cove shares advantages with much better known textile beaches a few miles south (Pismo Beach, Shell Beach) such as a sunny, mild climate, proximity to the college town of San Luis Obispo, and easy access from more distant places both north and south. But in addiition it’s clothing-optional, fairly private, protected from wind, and a favorite destination of nude beach lovers. Naturists may outnumber textiles at the beach. It’s not large – about ¼ mile – so people aren’t very spread out. But it’s not generally crowded either, so there’s adequate parking. It’s on county land, and the county government has resisted efforts to forbid nudity.
- To visit Pirate’s Cove, take the Avila Beach Drive exit (#195) fron Highway 101 south of San Luis Obispo. In about 2 miles go left onto Cave Landing Rd. That goes directly to the parking lot. At busy times you may have to park along the road. A fairly short, easy trail goes from the middle of the parking lot to the beach. (Don’t take another trail beginning at the lot entrance that goes along the bluff but not to the beach.)
- If you’re visiting from somewhre not near San Luis Obispo, you might consider staying in the area for a couple of days to look around. It’s a tourist area. Hearst Castle (reservation rqd. for a tour) is 50 miles north on Highway 1. There are many wineries near Atascadero 25 miles north on Highway 101. And there are spectacular sand dunes south of Pismo Beach.
- Note that there’s another “Pirate’s Cove” beach near Muir beach in Marin County. It’s hard to reach, so not much visited.
- Humboldt County Nude Beaches
Developed clothing-optional hot springs
If words like meditation, contemplation, wellness, wholeness, serenity, etc. grab your attention, these places may be for you – although clothing-optional use may be limited to bathing areas, saunas, private rooms, and tents. There are overnight accommodations on the grounds, and day use is available. Reservations (sometimes even for day use) are advisable because these facilities are popular and have limited accommodations. You don’t need to believe that water with “minerals” has any special “healing” properties (which is generally overhyped) in order to enjoy soaking in hot water. You could do that just as well in your own bathtub or spa. What sets these places apart is the “natural” environment, the relative absence of everyday distractions, and the general serene, peaceful ambiance. And the nudity too, of course.
There are certain policies about these places you should be aware of. In particular, children are mostly welcome at some places, but there are more restrictive policies at others. For instance, children may be allowed to use bathing facilities only during the daytime. In other cases, there may be limits on the total number of children or the minimum age allowed. Such rules are there largely to ensure a peaceful environment for everyone. If you want to bring children (i. e. age under 18) with you, it’s advisable to call ahead to inquire about specific policies. Pets are not allowed at any of the places listed here, not even if kept in vehicles. (Necessary assistance dogs are OK.) This restriction is probably for pet safety (very hot water), sanitation, avoiding disturbance of wildlife, and general peace and quiet. Don’t forget this rule, because if you bring Fido along, you’ll probably have to leave, since there’s nowhere to board pets close to any of these places.
- General information
- Directories of natural hot springs often include both commercial/developed springs as well as noncommercial/undeveloped springs on public land. Reliable information about whether nude use is acceptable may or may not be provided – because the possibility of nudity may vary depending on what is customary and/or other users at a particular time, and so it’s somewhat unpredictable. Since most undeveloped springs are in remote areas, you’ll have to take your chances. Another drawback of the undeveloped springs is there may be sanitation problems (nasty bacteria, etc.) in the water.
- Only some of the better known developed springs that have clear policies allowing nudity at any time in bathing areas will be listed after this section. For developed springs that aren’t listed it’s advisable to call and ask about their nudity policies, which might vary depending on time of day and/or location on the grounds.
- Cali Hot Springs
- California Hot Springs Guide
- Selected clothing-optional developed hot springs
- Orr Hot Springs
- Location: Ukiah, CA
- Orr H. S. occupies a 27-acre property nestled in forested, rolling hills. It is affirmatively clothing-optional. Despite its relative remoteness from “civilization”, it has been a popular place for enjoying the hot spring water for over 100 years. Currently the accommodations include 26 separate units – hotel-style rooms, yurts, and cabins. There are 6 tent sites, and van camping is also possible (vehicles shorter than 22 ft.) Other amenities include tubs for hot water bathing, a cold pool, a steam room, and a dry sauna. There is no food service, but there is a kitchen in which guests can prepare their own meals.
- Rates for overnight stays are comparable to medium-priced hotels/motels – a little over $200 per night for a 2-person room. Camping is $70 per person-night. (High, but this includes access to all amenities, including the kitchen.) Day use is $30 per person. Reservations are essential, because the place usually sells out. A maximum of about 80 people per day can be accommodated on the property. Children of all ages are welcome, but there are limits on the number, they must be supervised at all times, and they can’t use the bathing facilities in the evening.
- In general, Orr H. S. is a pretty laid-back place. There are rules and restrictions, but they seem to be sensible. The impression is of a tranquil, peaceful place that tries to promote an enjoyable experience for everyone. However, be sure to read the rules before making a reservation. For instance, music or conversation that’s not fairly quiet is frowned upon, since the whole idea here is peace and quiet. Day use by groups of more than 4 people isn’t allowed. Slightly larger groups are allowed if staying overnight. Reservations are mandatory for groups. Although most reviews are favorable, those that aren’t often appear to result from not having checked the ground rules first.
- Harbin Hot Springs
- Location: Middletown, CA
- Harbin has recently reopened after almost total destruction by wildfire in 2015. Surrounding vegetation is in early stages of recovery. The landscape is much starker than it was before the fire. Currently, food is available only from an outdoor cafe. Except for tenting or RVs, there are no overnight accommodations quite yet – but some are expected soon. You might want to call before making reservations or visiting, in order to determine what facilities are currently available for use. Due to reconstruction work, there may be many limitations on what parts of the property are accessible.
- There’s definitely a “hippie” vibe at Harbin, but the clothing-optional policies should make up for that (if it’s a problem). As with other developed hot springs, the intent is to have a quiet, peaceful, natural place. Both day use and overnight stays are welcome. Children are permitted with their families. There are camping and RV areas now, but permanent indoor accommodations aren’t ready yet. Pets are not allowed on the property, even in vehicles.
- Harbin has always been relatively inexpensive. Currently, as of 2019, a 6-hour pass is $20 ($30 weekends), a 24-hour pass (good overnight) is $35 ($50 weekends). Additionally, at least one member of a party (out of up to 4) must have a “membership”. The price is $10 for 1 month, $30 for 1 year, or $300 (lifetime). The pools are open 24 hours, so may be enjoyed all night, if you wish. (Except that 6-hour passes expire at midnight, if you arrive after 6 pm.) It’s best to make reservations online rather than by phone. Visits without a prior reservation may be accommodated if possible, for a slight extra fee.
- Facebook page
- Sierra Hot Springs
- Location: Sierraville, CA
- Sierra H. S. is under the same ownership as Harbin and is generally similar. Most of the policies and general “vibe” are, therefore, the same. However, Sierra is more rustic than Harbin (before the fire). Overnight accommodations are more extensive than currently at Harbin (due to fire at the latter). Tent camping is available. This is a good choice if you’re looking for peace and serenity while soaking clothesfree in hot water. Children of all ages are welcome, with their parents. Amenities include several soaking pools and a larger swimming pool. There is no food service, but a kitchen is available for guests to prepare their own meals. There are good places to hike in the area, including one trail starting at the springs. And unlike other developed hot springs, high-speed wifi is available (free) – if you just can’t resist online addiction.
- Like its sister resort, Harbin, Sierra is cheaply priced compared to other hot springs. A pass good until midnight is only $30 per person. The camping or RV rate is $33 per person. A hotel room is $77 for 1 person, $110 for 2, and $33 for each additional person in the room. Rates are about 20% or 25% higher on weekends and holidays. (Rates include all taxes and are current as of 2019). If you really need to pinch pennies, get a day pass and find one of the public campgrounds not far away that cost from nothing to maybe $20 per campsite per night.
- The Sierra H. S. website has a handy list of “Things to Pack”. Most of the items would be useful to have on almost any type of naturist adventure.
- Reviews for this place are rather mixed – some are quite positive, others are pretty negative. There’s a no-pets rule, as at other hot springs.
- Facebook page
- Wilbur Hot Springs
- Location: Wilbur Springs, CA (about halfway between Clear Lake and Williams)
- Wilbur is somewhat more upscale – and pricier – than the other hot springs. Although all bathing areas are clothing-optional, nudity isn’t encouraged elsewhere (except in private rooms and tents). The principal amenity here is the hot spring water itself. Yoga and massage are also available.
- Vistors with RVs, trailers, and camper vans aren’t allowed to sleep in them overnight. According to the FAQ, this policy is “to ensure the safety and comfort of all” (more likely it’s to collect the room charge). Day use is available by reservation. Children under age 13 are not allowed. Pets aren’t allowed on the property either.
- Day use is about $60 per person. Even camping is expensive here: $75 per person-night. Private rooms start at about $200/night. Rates are higher on weekends and holidays, and there are additional fees for “special events”. (All prices as of 2019.) Wilbur has no restaurant or food service, though there’s a kitchen for visitors to prepare their own food. Reviews are generally positive, although some rate Wilbur overpriced for what it offers, and others object to the inflexible rules.
- Facebook page
A non-landed group is a formal or informal organization of naturists that, by definition, does not own property and instead plans trips to beaches or landed clubs, and may also have meetings at the homes of members, rented swimming pools, etc. The more formal groups have (small) yearly dues and communicate via newsletters or email. The less formal groups may post information on dedicated websites, Facebook pages, or Meetup. Some may be affiliated with AANR or TNS. Others are simply independent. If a group is sufficiently active, it can be an excellent way to meet other naturists.
Since group activities are often at landed clubs, beaches, and members’ homes, they usually take place within a limited geographic area. There are usually no specifc limitations on where members should live, but naturists from outside the club’s central area may not find participation very convenient.
- Bay Area Naturists
- Most club activities take place from Marin County in the north to Santa Cruz county in the south, and seldom farther east than the counties around San Francisco Bay. The club has a monthly newsletter.
- River Dippers
- Most club activities take place between the Sacramento area in the west and between the Nevada City area and Auburn in the east. Most communications from the club are via the club website and by email, with full newsletters 3 or 4 times a year. Several swim events (for members only) are held during the winter months at a commercial pool. House parties at members’ homes may be held on major holidays.
- Northern California Exposure
- Northern California Exposure is a family oriented non-landed group of social nudists affiliated with the American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR). This group is active in the same geographic area as the River Dippers and often shares events with them. The two groups are distinct, though there is some overlap of members.
- Young Naturists & Nudists: Northern California
- Self-description from the About section of their Facebook page: Directed towards naturists/nudists under the age of 40. We organize social events to California’s many amazing clothing optional beaches, lakes and swimming holes. This group prioritizes communities underrepresented in nudist spaces — Queer/Trans, POC, Disabled folks.
- The group has a Facebook discussion group here. (The group is “closed”, so joining is at the discretion of the moderator.)
Meetup groups are somewhat like non-landed clubs, except they generally have little or no formal structure, dues, officers, etc. They may, however, be associated with non-landed clubs, or many other types of organization for that matter. (Exclusions include groups with a “commercial interest”, groups with illegal or anti-social purposes, groups that don’t have in-person meetings, etc.) The groups are organized through, and hosted online by, Meetup.com. It’s necessary to establish an account (free) with Meetup in order to join groups and receive notifications.
Anyone with a Meetup account can start a group that meets for a suitable purpose. There are associated fees, which may be shared among members. Groups may be either public or private. Certain information about each group is publicly accessible, so none are strictly “secret”. All content of a “public” group is visible to anyone. In groups that are “private” information about individual members is restricted to other members only. (See here for details about privacy.)
Since the purpose of Meetups is actual meetings and get-togethers, you receive notifications about groups and activities, theoretically, only within 100 miles of your location. However, the group’s “location” is based on the location of whoever established it, so the actual distance to meetings and other activities is unpredictable.
Following are some relevant naturist Meetup groups. (Meetups associated with non-landed naturist clubs are listed above.) For more information on any group, click on the link.
- NorCal Naturists
- Although initially established by members and visitors of Lupin Lodge, this group is for any naturist in Northen California. It’s a private group with about 650 members.
- From the self-description: This is a group for anyone interested in enjoying nature without clothes. All ages are welcome with plenty of fun activities. Pleases join us if you’re a hiker, swimmer, outdoor enthusiast, a seasoned or even a first-time nudist.
- Bay Area Naked Club Nature Outings and Events
- Public group with almost 2000 members.
- From the self-description: Our outings and events happen mainly in central/northern California, usually within 200 miles of San Francisco. The events are supervised, non-sexual, and always a lot of fun!
- This group is a Northern California offshoot of the international Naked Club organization.
- California Hot Spring Adventures
- Public group with over 4800 members.
- From the self-description: Group focused on hot springs, public and commercial, secret and not-so-secret, day trips, overnights, road trips, backpacking, spa retreats, anything to do with enjoying hot water..:-) We will also be doing swimming hikes in the summer, backpacking trips in the warmer months, and snow-oriented trips in the winter.
- Yuba River Nude beach Adventure Group
- Public group with about 300 members.
- There are several clothing-optional swimming holes along the South Fork of the Yuba River near Nevada City. (See listings above in the nude beach section.) This group vists those places, as well as similar places in the general area. Interests as mentioned in the self-description: Nude resorts, boating, sailing, parties, swimming, spas, retreats, road trips, camping, cooking, lakes, rivers, and anywhere safe and appropriate.
Things that didn’t fit somewhere else.
- Kiva Retreat House
- Location: Santa Cruz, CA
- Kiva Retreat is a small but peaceful place, in the middle of a laid-back tourist/university town. Its facilities are much like the developed hot springs but on a smaller scale. However, it’s day-use only. Once inside, nudity is acceptable everywhere. All the soaking facilities are outdoors. There’s also a sauna. Although you can’t stay overnight at Kiva, it’s worth spending a few days in Santa Cruz, which has a variety of fine restaurants and a beach boardwalk with amusement park rides that attract families from many miles around to enjoy hours of fun for kids and adults. Plus, you can also spend nude time relaxing at Kiva. (Children are welcome during daylight hours.)
- If you want to stay even longer in Santa Cruz, you can visit three popular nude beaches less than 10 miles north of town. Or spend time exploring several nearby redwood-forested state parks. And for oenophiles there are several wineries just a little way uphill on Highway 17. Lupin Lodge, too, is just a fairly short drive from Santa Cruz. On top of everything else, Santa Cruz has some of the best summer weather on the northern California coast. A naturist from anywhere could have a very enjoyable week’s vacation with plenty of nude time, using Santa Cruz as a base.
- Meadowlark Country House & Resort
- Location: Calistoga, CA
- Meadowlark is a high-quality, traditional country resort – that welcomes naturists. Amenities around the 20-acre property include a heated lap pool, a hot tub, dry sauna, massage room, and sunbathing terraces. There’s also free wi-fi, in case you don’t want to be completely off the network. Day-use passes are available by reservation. Meadowlark receives very high ratings from visitors. It isn’t, however, inexpensive, with rooms priced in the $300 to $400 per night range.
- The resort describes itself as naturist-friendly, although only the pool, spa, sauna, and “wellness” areas are clothing-optional. The policy on children is a bit vague, stating that “Children are not recommended for safety and privacy reasons.” (People with enough spare cash to stay here are probably hoping for “peace and quiet”.)
- Oenophiles probably know that Calistoga is located in the heart of Napa Valley, with all that entails. So Meadowlark can be used as a base to explore the area, with its many wineries and wine-themed restaurants. Harbin Hot Springs isn’t far away. However, if you aren’t pinching pennies and your enjoyment of clothing-optional living doesn’t require hot water, Meadowlark may be an alternative to the developed hot springs in the area worth considering. The nude beaches of Marin County aren’t that far away either, if you’re interested in a very clothing-optional vacation.
- Orr Hot Springs
- Laguna del Sol