California Beach Information

At its heart, SCNA is a “travel club”, which means our members visit a lot of places each year putting their lifestyle to practice. The purpose of this travel page is to be a source of information regarding current events in and around Southern California regarding nudity at local beaches, hiking trails, and hot springs. We make every effort to keep the news up to date and accurate. If you visit any of these locations and wish to add your experiences to our web site, please contact us.

We are also including the experiences and observations made by many of our members. We encourage you to submit articles about your trips to various naturist resorts or locations around the world.


In geographical order (north to south):


Whales Cave Conservancy
PO Box 12814
San Luis Obispo, CA 93403
Central Coast Naturists


Avila Beach (aka Pirate’s Cove)

Current Status: Legal Nude Beach!


Leaders of Whales Cave Conservancy report that their September 20, 2014 Coastal Cleanup event there had 56 participants. WCC is the non-profit group that oversees Pirate’s Cove, the clothing-optional beach near San Luis Obispo. The group collected 55 bags of trash, including a couch. Notable among the participants was State Assembly member Sam Blakeslee and his daughter.

The request for trash cans from the County continues to make progress. They are seeking approval for an alternative location for twice-a-month trash pickup since the county trucks find it impossible to get to (and turnaround from) the first spot requested. WCC is concerned that between pickups, this area will become a large pile of trash. An alternative is to pay for private pickup, something WCC cannot really afford to do at the moment.

WCC is also seeking donors to help with their annual $1600 general liability insurance premium that is due in December. The insurance is required by the county. If you wish to donate, contact WCC at PO Box 541, Pismo Beach, CA. 93448.

By David Sneed, The Tribune News, San Luis Obispo

August 21, 2014 — Pirate’s Cove, San Luis Obispo County’s only nude beach, will stay just as it is if county supervisors Tuesday accept a staff recommendation to scrap all planned improvements for the isolated area.

The $1.5 million project hit a major roadblock in July when the state Coastal Commission denied nearly all of the improvements the county had planned for the cove, which is half way between Avila Beach and Pismo Beach. Pirate’s Cove County Park consists of a dirt parking lot, a trail down a bluff to the beach and a narrow hillside trail connecting it to the north end of Pismo Beach. The Coastal Commission rejected plans to pave the parking lot, add a restroom and interpretive signs, and improve the trail to the beach.

The commission only approved plans for a new segment of the California Coastal Trail to Pismo Beach called Cave Landing Trail. Several local residents had appealed the project saying it was unnecessary.

In a report to supervisors, parks manager Curtis Black said abandoning the project altogether makes the most sense because of uncertainty about the continued availability of three state and local grants that funded the project.

“This option would end efforts to construct the Cave Landing Trail and Pirate’s Cove Park, and these areas would remain in their current condition as desired by many of the appellants,” Black said in his report. Other options include constructing only Cave Landing Trail or submitting a new permit application for the entire project to the Coastal Commission. Building only the trail would require a significant engineering redesign to deal with drainage issues.

Both alternatives would take years to complete, and the grants would likely be lost. By canceling the entire project, the grant money would be returned and used for other park projects in the area.

Upon hearing Black’s recommendations, the locals at Pirate’s Cove did not waste any time protesting the county’s decision, since part of what the Coastal Commission recommended will now be lost. This included bathroom facilities in the parking lot and bi-weekly trash pickup.

Local beach leaders plan to speak to the local Supervisor as well as other county officials to try to get some of the available grant money to fund these necessary conveniences.

“The county is really licking its wounds after seeing its grand plan rejected,” said one beachgoer. “It would be a shame if they now deny us everything else that we all agreed on.”

No doubt the Coastal Commission will have something to say about the loss of the improved Coast Trail above the beach, as many of the Commission members made it clear they wanted to see this part of the proposal implemented as soon as possible.


At the July 11, 2014 California Coastal Commission meeting, the eleven Commissioners voted unanimously to uphold an appeal aimed at stopping any planned developments at Pirates Cove that had been approved by county officials last year. The county had planned to add picnic tables, benches, a restroom, trash cans and interpretive signs at Pirates Cove, as well as construct a 300-foot-long trail/staircase leading from the bluff’s edge to the beach.

Sean Shealy, an avid hiker who represents the grassroots group Friends of Pirates Cove, and others, appealed the county’s decision, arguing what was being proposed didn’t fit with the rural character of the area. The group also contended if the changes were allowed to move forward, it would forever alter the landscape.

"We’re heavily involved in Pirates Cove and what the future is going to look like," said Commissioner Erik Howell, who lives in Shell Beach and made the successful motion to uphold the appeal but allow only construction of an 1,800-foot-long pedestrian/bicycle trail from Cave Landing Road to Shell Beach.

“If there is any development on this site, we want to make sure we get it right,” Howell added. “The only way to get it right is to get back to the original, universally accepted (trail). If we can get that trail, it will be a great improvement for our community.”

Commissioner Jana Zimmer said that clothing-optional recreation at the site has a long tradition that needs to be upheld. “Developing the property will bring in more visitors who inevitably would destroy this traditional use that is important to many Californians.”

The next step is for Whales Cave Conservancy and Friends of Pirates Cove to get the County to agree to restrooms above the beach (with frequent servicing!) and adequate trash containers to handle the almost-daily beach cleanups done by these volunteer groups (also with frequent pickups). WCC has a good working relationship with County officials, so despite this defeat, the county seems determined to add these amenities sooner than later.

Feb 25, 2013 — SLO County Supervisors approved the purchase of Pirates Cove Beach and surrounding area. They agreed to keep the beach officially clothing optional! Improvements must be made to the trails down from the parking lot and also the parking lot itself must be paved and rails put up to prevent cars from rolling off the cliff. Coastal Commission must approve all these improvements, so nothing will change for nudists for another 18-months to two years. Nudists there have organized as the Whales Cove Conservancy.

“My report is that it was perfect and no problems at all. Water is cold, but they have a very nice group of people and they play volleyball regularly on the weekends. It was 3 hrs from my driveway in the San Fernando Valey to the parking lot but then only a 15 min walk from the parking lot down to the beach. Pirate’s Cove is a tough climb but it is an easier climb down and up than More Mesa.”

Tom O., Reported Sun., June 10, 2012

02/25/2013: Nudist Beach at Pirates Cove Joins SLO County Park System

February 26, 2013

After decades of informal public use, the nudist beach at Pirates Cove section of Avila Beach is now a legal part of San Luis Obispo County’s park system.

Background: In November, 2008, we reported that the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors were considering buying 67 acres of private land along Avila Beach, 32 acres of which included the nude beach at Pirate’s Cove. Unfortunately the county could not afford to buy the entire area so they settled on just the bluffs above the beach. Now, almost five years later, the county has the funds to purchase the balance of the property. Some locals nudists emailed us that they were nervous about losing their 3,100-foot stretch of beach area but Supervisors made it clear at the 2/25 hearing that they support its continued use by nudists.

The hearing made clear, however, that improvement to the surrounding cliff paths and parking areas must be done for public safety and liability reasons.

The bottom of the stairs on the main trail from the west side parking lot above is constantly being degraded by waves, sand, and mud erosion and corrosion. A second access trail on the east (Pismo Beach) side known as the “Rope Trail” is far more precarious and there is discussion that it may just be closed, leaving beachgoers with only one way to and from the beach. This could leave people on the beach trapped on days with a very high tide.

Second, the county wants to pave and stripe the dirt parking lot above the beach where everyone now parks, and also install safety rails along the edges to prevent cars from accidentally going off the cliff. This will reduce the number of cars allowed to just 35. This compares to what happens now, when up to 80 cars have been known to squeeze together on a typical summer day. This means more cars will have to park along the narrow 2-lane road that runs up the hill to the parking lot, a road really too narrow to support two-way traffic AND parks cars. Some beachgoers may have to walk more than a mile up the hill to reach the trail head before descending to the beach. It will also potentially impact trash pickup and road erosion of the paving and shoulders. The county also intends to install restrooms at the trail head, and build a new trail connecting Pirates Cove to Shell Beach.

These trail and parking improvements will be paid for by a series of grants from three state agencies. After the initial $1.4 million upgrade is complete in a few years, it is estimated the park will cost $42,500 a year to maintain. But first, all improvements must be approved by the California Coastal Commission, a process that could take 18 months to two years. So nothing will change for nudists, for the trail, or for parking in the meantime.

Lastly, the county is concerned about continued vandalism and graffiti on the rocks, trees and on the trail itself. Everyone agrees all parties need to do a better job here. The group in the middle of all this is the Whales Cave Conservancy. They recently re-instated the WCC non-profit 501c3 status so the county would have a formal group to negotiate with (instead of a gaggle of disorganized volunteers). One of the things they are considering is to establish a group of Beach Ambassador volunteers, similar to what is used at Haulover and Black’s Beaches, to patrol the area to discourage any potential misbehavior or graffiti. This would be better than having Park Rangers do the patrols.

City of San Luis Obispo
2005: SLO Bans Nudity Only During Mardi Gras

08/17/05 - Flashing during Mardi Gras can still result in a citation, the San Luis Obispo City Council decided Tuesday night. But during the rest of the year, it may still be okay. The yearround anti-nudity rule passed following the 2004 Mardi Gras riots, when nearly 200 people were arrested from gathering crowds that police say were spurred in part by flashing. But when the City Council passed the measure in September they did so only with the agreement it be brought back for review. But at last night’s council meeting, members Paul Brown, John Ewan and Christine Mulholland successfully shifted the rule to only be in effect during the Mardi Gras weekend.

"Beyond Mardi Gras this is really an unnecessary ordinance to have," Ewan said. "I don't think we should be so puritanical that we need to do this year round." Police Chief Deb Linden told the council no tickets have been issued since the ordinance became effective in October 2004. But Linden said that proves the effectiveness of the law. "The measure of success for any law is the reduction of undesirable behavior," she said, "not the number of sanctions issued." Mayor Dave Romero supported keeping the measure year round, saying he was worried about the message limiting the rule would send. But Brown countered that new issues could be dealt with as they arise.

"We don't have a problem with nude bicycle tournaments," he said. "If it becomes an issue, we can deal with it."

Romero and Settle supported another measure that would have kept the law year round, but it failed to garner enough support to pass.


Based on a story by Leslie Griffy in the San Luis Obispo Tribune


Friends of Gaviota
P.O. Box 351
Lompoc, CA 93438
Voice: 805-733-4950
This is a non-profit group promoting nude use
of Gaviota State Park
Friends of Bates Beach
23679 Calabasas Rd #940
Calabasas CA 91302
This is a non-profit group promoting nude use
of Bates (North Rincon) County Beach.

Gaviota State Beach

Current Status: Nude use of Gaviota State Beach may be very risky. Citations and arrests may occur at any time without warning.


Feb. 22, 2016 — Report from the beach…


Was there Sunday afternoon and saw two State Rangers searching a car with two males sitting on the ranger tailgate. Have no idea what they were being detained for, but the Ranger’s presence is increasing even more.

While walking along the beach, I ran into a friend who reported the State Rangers had conducted a “Sting” last weekend by sending rangers simultaneously on foot from the north side and the south side, issuing citations and making arrests all along the coastline.


From my observation during the past two years, they are certainly increasing enforcement and have been seen numerous times lurking on the cliffs with binoculars and possibly cameras. I talked with a woman who was cited after returning up the cliff to her car for nudity.

Not safe to sunbathe nude at Gaviota any longer!

— Steve

Sept 1, 2011 — meeting with State Parks Superintendent Richard Rozelle and Dan Falat, chief deputy in charge of the northern half of the county did not go well. Falat had always has a live-and-let-live attititude at previous meetings, but not this time. The State Parks Department has decided they want to shut down all the nude beaches in the state and are going after them one by one rather than all at once (Black’s Beach is still okay as of this writing).

A week after this meeting deputies swept Gaviota beach and issued 3 citations. SCNA helped get them legal representation and all 3 tickets were dismissed in December. The District Attorney re-filed the case under a different ordinance, then offered to reduce the charges to “public nuisance” for a $500 fine. All 3 defendents took the deal, which is there legal right, but we missed the chance to win the case in court (which we thought we had a good chance to do.)

Since January 2012 we have heard of no new police sweeps of the beach, but then the nude population has dwindled significantly since word of these citations spread through the local nudist community.

2010: Report on Gaviota State Beach

By Dennis Craig Smith, Friends of Gaviota Coordinator

July 1, 2010 - Recently, FoG board members met with the ranger who has taken Supervisor Danita Rodriquez's place (Dan Falat), Officer in charge (Eric Hjelstrom), and the regional director (District Superintendent Richard Rozzelle out of Ventura).

We've waited for what seemed like years for Danita to be replaced. The meeting went well and we were assured that no one has been cited for nudity on either of the two beaches (San Onofre "north" or Vista Del Mar) that are directly east of Gaviota State Beach, nor does the state intend to begin citing for nudity. We want to underscore that point: No one has been cited for nudity on these two beaches since Officer Hjelstrom has worked the area (over 5 years). There have been arrests, however, for sexual activity on the beach and in the wooded areas in the stream bed. We have assured the State Park personnel that we share their concerns regarding lewd (sexual) activity on the beach and in the bushes along the trail.

Superintendent Dan Falat wants us to let Friends of Gaviota know that they intend to continue the Cahill Policy in this area. If you are asked to get dressed, however, by a ranger, please comply without argument. The matter cannot be resolved on the beach, but will be handled in appropriate and productive meetings with state personnel. The more we argue and fuss on the beach, the more difficulty we cause for ourselves.

Also remember that the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office is another matter altogether. There is an anti-nudity ordinance in the county, so the sheriff or CHP can issue tickets. As far as I know, there has never been a CHP citation on the coast of California for nudity, but the sheriff is a different matter. At this time, Sheriff Brown leaves the area we know as San Onofre "north" to the State Park Police. We all felt the new supervisor was not hostile to the existence of clothes-free recreation in the area we have traditionally used for forty years. He is, however, operating under Ruth Coleman (State Director of California State Parks and Beaches) and state park regulations, so we could not pin him down to whether or not he personally was for or against nude-use areas. Of course, he doesn't want to go on record one way or another, but we all felt good about what came out of the meeting

A few days after our meeting I was on the beach during the week. All the people on the beach were in bathing suits (except me) and panic was running up and down the shoreline. "The rangers are here and they're raiding the beach," I was told. The rangers were on the bluff, and I waved to them and they waved back. They were not there to "raid" the beach, nor did they. I told everyone I met not to run and get dressed, "Just be natural. They are not here about our nudity." I explained if it was nudity they were there for, I would have been "busted." I was nude and they were waving at me. If they approach you, be polite, stay nude unless asked to get dressed. At the meeting they said they could tell who was with Friends of Gaviota because those who are not "run in all directions" and scramble into their clothes. We have worked hard to achieve a good relationship with the rangers, and we don't want to lose what we have gained.


More Mesa Beach

Current Status: Exercise Caution.


10/2014 — The three caves carved into a sandstone bluff rising above the Pacific just north of Santa Barbara don’t look particularly dangerous. And they probably wouldn’t be if no one ventured inside them.

The beach has long been a destination for naturists, hikers and joggers, and responsible users say they don’t want their access restricted.

But in recent years, more young people have been drawn to the More Mesa caves, where they camp overnight, build fires and drink beer. Some draw graffiti on the large boulders that form the caves’ jagged mouths.

Neighbors who live along the 265 acres of coastal wild land that make up More Mesa have long complained that the unwelcome visitors trespass on their property and climb over their fences — with their backpacks, blankets, even bicycles in tow — to gain access to the mesa and the caves below.

But when a 19-year-old man was hit by a falling boulder and critically injured September 6, residents demanded something be done before someone was killed.

The man, who was there with several college-age friends, was hurt after “tugging on a cave rock which fell on him," said Santa Barbara County Deputy Fire Chief Eric Peterson. The victim, whose name has not been released, suffered severe head injuries.

Local residents are noticing a growing influx of college- and high-school-age people over the last two years, tromping toward the bluff’s edge and then navigating a rocky trail down to the caves, hauling logs for campfires and coolers filled with food and drinks. The caves are tall enough to stand in and roomy enough for campers to roll out their sleeping bags and stay for the night.

The unwelcome visitors aren’t only students, but members of a street gang who have carved their initials into nearby oak trees, she said. They leave trails of trash, and the wide beach is littered with shards of glass. Also, many leave their cars at the More Mesa entrance without noticing the signs barring overnight parking. Nudists who visit More Mesa tell us they have seen an upswing in parking tickets as police are starting to crack down on the area again due to the cave complaints.


07/13/2014 — SCNA received a call from a man named Kevin who was ticketed for nudity at More Mesa beach. Both he and his male partner were cited, as were another gay couple farther down the beach (the couples do not know each other). About a dozen other people were nude on the beach at the same time, but none of them were cited. Kevin said neither he nor his partner was “doing anything inappropriate.”

The lead officer, whose last name is Harris, said there was a complaint made, but he refused to say who. The officers said they had observed the nudists from the cliffs above before climbing down the bluff from the western end to the sand to issue the citations. They did not use the pathway to the beach that everyone uses, which is why the nudists were surprised at the officers’ sudden arrival. They said they did not see any other nudists, and by this time word had spread the officers were there so everyone had gotten dressed.

“Harris was extremely rude,” according to Kevin, while his young deputy partner named Cipher, seemed to be a rookie because his uniform showed no markings of rank. The citation was issued at 11:51am. After both couples were cited, they were escorted off the beach back to their cars.

SCNA referred this incident to attorney Allen Baylis for review. Allen suspects this may be just a rogue cop out to harass gays on a nude beach.

A reminder: if you receive any tickets at any nude beach please let us know, as we need to see if this is the start of a pattern, where they are doing this, and what time of day.

Sent: Saturday, July 14, 2012 9:03 PM

Subject: Re: More Mesa

Stunningly beautiful day today at More Mesa. 60 people approximate w 60/40 mix. Many couples of various ages. A couple of regulars said there has been no sheriff presence since that one incident I think in Feb. And on that occasion they told us that the sheriff was pretty much forced to cite the nude group near the stairs due to the continual complaint of one man who was camping illegally on the beach w his young daughters. Apparently sheriff then escorted him off the beach and told him to be aware that More Mesa Is longtime c/o usage and to go elsewhere next time. The regulars think the sheriff is supportive of the naturists and they also have a supporter that has been recently elected to city council. All in all this is a wonderful place.

Rex (Sent from my iPhone)

3/10/2012 — Seven people received a public nudity citation on More Mesa beach today. They had 3 cops there 2 were Sheriffs and 1 was a City of Goleta officer. They walked the cliff above and then came down and took drivers licenses and made everyone walk up to the top and meet at the street by there cars. Several of the people cited were clothed but the officers said they saw them nude from the cliff above. The officers said that they were getting more complaints so that we’re forced to issue citations.

This follows an incident 2/4/2012 when we had a report of police taking nine men off the beach who were sitting near the cliff stairway. That night the local news had a story about of abandoned Panga boats being found at several nearby beaches, with evidence of both marijuana bales and abandoned life vests from what is assumed to be boatloads of illegal aliens being smuggled ashore. This, in turn, was prompted increased surveillance at our beaches by county deputies and the feds.

Because there had been little police activity at More Mesa over the past 20 years, we theorized this was one of those drug busts, since the nudists sitting nearby were not ticketed nor botherd by the police.

Guess we were wrong, or the police decided to make a return visit to try to bully us off the beach. (It won’t work!)

SCNA is in the process of directing those ticketed to legal representation if they want it. Unfortunately most beachgoers decide just to pay the fine and never come back. This is what the police count on, and why we lose nude beaches! Our attorneys say there are plenty of legal precedents for successfully fighting the tickets if people will simply stand up for their rights.

So if you witness something, or talk to someone who DID actually see something themselves, please get the name of the person so we can offer some legal advice. There is much we can do, but only if everyone starts helping!

Perhaps if we can get a volunteer to stay on the cliff above and cellphone the beachgoers when they see police approaching?

2010: Report on More Mesa Beach

By Gary M., Nude Beach Alliance


September 1, 2010 - Last month we wrote about two nudists who were ticketed in July at More Mesa Beach in Santa Barbara after a homeless-looking man appeared on the beach, appeared to use a cell phone, and then left the beach as two deputies came down the path. SCNA helped connect their lawyers to NAC for legal advice, and the cases are still pending.

SCNA distributed fliers for several weekends on both More Mesa and Bates beach asking people to take pictures of the man so it can be determined if he is either an undercover officer or else someone who needs to be put away. We also sent letters to the sheriff substations announcing our intentions. We remain vigilant in hopes we can ID the guy, but mysteriously the man has not appeared since, nor have there been deputies on the beaches or more tickets issued. Coincidence?

Call us immediately at (818) 225-2273 or email us at if you hear of any other tickets being issued in Santa Barbara County. Try to get names and badge numbers of the deputies involved. Meanwhile continue to enjoy More Mesa!



August 1, 2010 - Last month we wrote about two people who were ticketed at Bates Beach in Santa Barbara after a homeless-looking man appeared on the beach, appeared to use a cell phone, and then left the beach as two deputies then came down and issued a pair of tickets.

On July 18, the same homeless-looking guy was observed on More Mesa Beach and witnesses said he looked like he was masturbating. Nudists approached him and told him to leave. He used his cell phone and left, and minutes later deputies came down and issued two more tickets, thinking one of the remaining nudists was the pervert. One of the victims, who was definitely not guilty of anything except not wearing his pants, was told if he fought the indecent exposure ticket they would charge him with lewd behavior, so when he said he would fight it, they arrested him, thinking he was the guy. We helped connect his lawyer to NAC for legal advice.

Both Dennis Craig Smith, of Friends of Gaviota (FoG) and Gary Mussell were interviewed by reporters from the Santa Barbara Independent newspaper as word about this homeless-looking person spread through the beach-going community. Another story appeared in the Santa Barbara News-Press.

SCNA is distributing fliers on the beach asking people to take pictures of the man so we can determine if he is someone who needs to be put away. As we told the press, if he is just an individual on his own warpath, then it isn’t just the beaches under attack, it is also the parks, playgrounds, and shopping malls, anywhere this guy may decide to visit. Some think he is a rogue cop trying to provoke a shutdown of the remaining nude beaches in the County, but we have no proof of that yet. On the remote chance anyone gets a ticket as an accidental result of this person’s actions nearby, please be polite with the officers, write down all conversations and try to get names of witnesses who can help if later legal help is required. It is our position all these tickets need to be challenged. SCNA also is looking for a sympathetic ear in the District Attorney's office so that these cases won’t be prosecuted.

SCNA and other naturist clubs in Southern California are hoping to find local lawyers to assist those retained by those who received tickets, whose own lawyers may not be familiar with social nudity case law. If you know of additional lawyers in Santa Barbara County who might be willing to help, please call us at (818) 225-2273 or email us at

Also contact us immediately if you hear of any other tickets being issued. Be sure to tell the victim that legal advice is available to them and give them our phone/email info.

Meanwhile continue to enjoy More Mesa. With your help, we will find and isolate this pest and get him off of our beaches!

Summerland Beach

Current Status: Summerland is no longer safe for nudity as the local deputies vigorously enforce the anti-nudity laws here.
A Brief History of Summerland’s Nude Beach


In the 1970's and 1980's this beach was one of the more popular nude beaches in Southern California. With easy access to/from the freeway and ample parking at Lookout Park, there were often several thousand nudists here on any given weekend day.

It's popularity became its undoing, unfortunately. There was no "Mayor" or "Friends" group in charge of enforcing the behavior of beachgoers, and a few diviants took advantage by visiting the beach and masterbating or having sex in front of others. This was especially true the farther south one went down the beach, as that was known as the "gay" and "swinger" area.

After numerous complaints about this lewd conduct from other beachgoers -especially families trying to enjoy a restful nudist day at the surf's edge - the police began conducting periodic sweeps of the beach, ticketing everyone who was nude - not just the swingers - without giving any verbal warnings. By 1990 this police activity had forced many of the regulars down the coast to Bates (North Rincon) Beach at the Ventura-Santa Barbara County border.

Still, Summerland's reputation continued to draw nudists for another dozen years until the constant ticketing essentially closed the beach to all but the most dedicated and foolhardy.

Today, the beach is hardly used at all by anyone. We made a trip there in May, 2006 at what should have been the start of the summer tanning season and we saw one couple walking and another man walking with his dog. That was it for a half-mile long beach!

If one truly believes the beaches are for everyone to enjoy, and if nobody is using this beach anyway, what's the harm in letting the nudists back in? They would definitely need to be "organized" so that some behavior guidelines could be established and enforced by volunteers (as it is at most of the successful nude beaches in the country.) It also will require a closer relationship with local law enforcement and city officials so that the diviants are kept off the beach or arrested promptly as the nudist community does not condone lewd behavior on its beaches. Anyone interested in helping?

Losing such a pretty beach is an absolute shame.

Bates (North Rincon) Beach

Current Status: Local nudists are currently working to restore Bates for nude use. At present it is not considered safe for nudity, but deputies only come down periodically. Go as far north as possible away north of the concrete barrier to be reasonably safe. Read the “Current Bates News” link below for the latest information. Use the beach at your own risk.


Thanks to all who joined us at Bates Beach on September 20 for the annual beach cleanup and party afterwards. We had 18 adults and 4 kids collecting about 150 pounds of trash. This total was about half the amount from previous years, and no doubt is caused by our regular cleanups there. Overall, 1191 volunteers at 29 Santa Barbara locations removed 6,599 pounds of trash that morning.

Most unusual items were a mangled lobster trap and a 6-ft diameter heavy snow tire that looked like it had been used as a bumper on a boat. We also found a stash of empty beer bottles and cans at the far end of the beach by the seal sanctuary, obviously left by partygoers.

Our own beach party in the proposed clothing-optional area lasted from about noon to 5pm and was without incident or hassle. We were able to be nude and play in the surf all afternoon as none of the textiled beachgoers who were walking their dogs paid us any mind.

Afterwards, some of the members went into town and had dinner at Senior Frogs, a popular hangout spot serving Mexican food.

By Mark Walters

The August Bates Beach party was a wonderful day with clear skies and the warm sun overhead. By the time I arrived at 11am to set up the banner and staked out the area, another couple was already nearby, still in their bathing suits, but waiting for more Friends of Bates Beach to arrive so they could take them off!

Other beachgoers walked by our area periodically throughout the day; some looked and turned back, some walked by without looking, and others smiled and waved. We even had a few people stop to read the sign and the beach etiquette/behavior rules we hung from the banner frame — and then they decided to join us! That was another important first.

Rolf and I made a point of introducing ourselves to anyone who walked by and seemed curious, so they knew what we were promoting. Friends kept arriving throughout the early afternoon until we had quite a large group.

The SCNA group got naked for most of the afternoon with absolutely no hassles from anyone! It seems the public is getting used to us being there and have adopted a live-and-let-live-attitude.

After 5pm we broke down camp and headed back up the path to the parking lot, then to a great dinner at Nutbelly Pizzeria & Deli in Carpinteria, where they are starting to recognize us with our two dollar bills.

July Bates Beach Party attracts nearly three-dozen Nudists on busiest beach day of year

I must admit I was a little nervous about this scheduled date since the Independence Day Weekend always draws the largest beach crowds. Indeed, when I arrived just after noon the parking lot was nearly full, which is very unusual for this beach.

Walking down the long ramp to the sand I could see many hundreds — perhaps over a thousand? — textiled beachgoers enjoying the day and watching the nearby surfers. But almost all of them were crowded together to the left (south/east) end of the beach; very few had planted their towels and umbrellas toward the west, which is our proposed clothing-optional end. So even on the busiest day, almost nobody uses the half of the beach where the clothing-optional section is!

It was a perfect beach day, and around three dozen nudists eventually arrived during the afternoon at our selected spot about fifty yards west of the rusty pipe that sticks out of the cliff side above the sand. Our large “I  Bates Beach” banner was placed strategically so it could be seen by anyone passing by, and Mark had placed a line of traffic cones perpendicular to the ocean to act as a psychological barrier for anyone wanting to park to close to us (nobody did).

Clothes Free International sent a webcast TV crew to cover the event and to interview our members. I think having the TV camera visible on a tripod with obvious filming going on acted as an additional incentive for those walking their dogs past us at the waterline from disturbing us or perhaps calling in a complaint. We were very respectful of any families walking past, and by about 4pm we noticed the foot traffic past us had slowed considerably. Those who had not already done so felt safe removing the rest of their clothes and running down to frolic in the surf.

I need to add it was good to see Sonya and her friends again, who came down to join this beach event.

We went into Carpinteria afterwards and shared a delicious Mexican food at Senior Frogs on Linden Avenue.

This webcast is now available for viewing to CFI subscribers at:


SCNA’s Friends of Bates Beach (FOBB) division got the opportunity to host one of the monthly Carpinteria Chamber of Commerce after-work mixers on July 23, and we did not waste the moment.

We rented the Pavilion picnic area above Bates Beach at Rincon County Park and brought in some excellent food platters from the local Albertsons (whose team did all the cooking for us). Rolf brought background “beach” music to further set the mood. We also handed out beach balls and leis to everyone to make them feel more “beach-in.”

We had an information table so the local business leaders in attendance could ask questions about our proposed clothing-optional area on the beach below. We also took signups for the Beach Cleanup Day in September, and we had brochures explaining how the Beach Ambassador program worked.

Our team members took the time to point out the local landmarks so the attendees would know just how far down the sand our proposed area was away from other beachgoers, and we showed them where the proposed Coastal Trail will cut into the hillside above the beach in a few years.

We received an excellent reception from the 50+ in attendance! I think we are rapidly approaching the moment (probably after the November elections) when there can be a public hearing on our beach with a good possibility of the City Council approving the proposal.

Thanks to our team of Rolf, Tim, Paki, Helen, Mark, Walt, and Patty for making this day a success!


On Saturday, June 28, 2014 SCNA and Friends of Bates Beach participated in the annual Rods-N-Roses car parade down Linden Avenue in the heart of Carpinteria.

Ten members attended the event, enjoying the display of old hot rod cars from the 50’s and 60’s that lined the street. During the afternoon the group separated into teams that bought food and souvenirs using $2 bills (the official nudist currency in town). They also passed out beach balls with our club logo on the side.

Four members (Rolf, Gary, Paki, and Sally) got to ride in the parade car and wave to the crowd. We received another great reception, as people there now know we are the ones working to bring back the city’s nude beach.

Current Bates News
Bates Beach History 1950-2005

By Gary M., Nude Beach Alliance

Three years ago, the last of the nude beaches near Los Angeles was lost. After a tradition that had lasted over thirty years, county sheriffs started issuing tickets en masse at Bates Beach following complaints from a few local homeowners, who didn't like "those people on our beach." Within months, the ticketing campaign had its desired effect, and those who had enjoyed the surf, sand, and weekly volleyball games sans clothing at Bates were all gone.

This was not the first time it had happened in Southern California, indeed the pattern of complacency followed by sudden sweeps of ticket-issuing police, followed by a frantic but failed effort to negotiate some compromise had occurred several times during the preceding decade at other local beaches. In retrospect, nudists should have seen it coming and prepared by making friends in the community with local homeowners and officials while things were going well, but nobody wanted to believe it could actually happen until it was too late.

People from other parts of the country are always surprised to learn how few nude beaches there are along the Southern California coast. Traveling north from Black's in San Diego, one finds San Onofre about 40 miles farther up the coast, but then it is another 200 miles before one can find another at More Mesa, north of Santa Barbara. An attempt to make Venice Beach clothing optional during the late 1970's failed and the Los Angeles City Council and County Supervisors responded with legislation that effectively killed any chance after that for a nude beach in the Los Angeles County. During the 1980's the two remaining nude beaches near Los Angeles, at Smuggler's Cove, near Palos Verdes, and Dume Cove beach near Malibu both were shut down when sheriff deputies swept in and starting handing out citations. To the north in Santa Barbara, another favorite nude beach, Summerland, was also repeatedly swept clear of bathers without proper swimwear, although there remains a stubborn small group of nudists there to this day who continuously challenge the "No Nudity" signage there. That brings us to Bates Beach, located about 10 miles south of Summerland at the boundary of Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties, about 50 miles north of Los Angeles.

Bates sits on the north side of Rincon Point. At the Point is a small, gated community of multi-million dollar homes and a group of very organized homeowners. To the south of the Point, on the Ventura County side, is the traditional clothed beach that the locals refer as Rincon. It is about a mile long, and it has some of the best surfing waves in Southern California. On any given weekend the water is populated with dozens of surfers and boogie-borders. To the north of the Point is another beach, also about a mile long, referred to by the locals as Bates Beach. It is in Santa Barbara County. It has a separate inclined path from the parking lot to the sand, with its textile beach to the left and the nude beach to the right, starting up the sand about 1000 yards.

Because Bates is a county beach - not a state beach - the Cahill Policy that gives some protection to California nudists does not apply. County “no nudity” ordinances supercede state policy. Still, a "live-and-let-live" tradition had allowed the beach to remain nude for years without incident.

At its peak during the late 1990's, an average of 300-500 nudists per day populated the northern end of the beach. On holidays that number often quadrupled. The beach attracted nudists of all ages, both families and singles, but especially those who enjoyed playing volleyball. The weekend games often ran continuously for hours at a time, and participants remember it as pure joy to play and to watch.

Many days ended with a BBQ. Lee R would bring down a car battery, inverter and a mixer so the group could mix Margaritas. Lee and Marc also brought down a large 55-gallon drum BBQ, for those who came to he beach every weekend, cemented poles behind the wall with chains attached so the BBQ wouldn’t “walk off” and used it for storage when not cooking.

One of the local nudists, Marc, recalled the story of the Amtrak train engineer who used to frequent the beach on his days off, and who drove his train on the main track beside the beach on his twice-weekly run between LA and San Francisco. On the day the engineer retired and was making his last trip, the entire group gathered and stood in a highly visible location in view of Tom and his passengers, banners held high in tribute. The next weekend Tom was at the beach sharing his appreciation and explaining he was going to stop the train at Bates but by the time he saw his surprise, it would have taken him a 1/2 mile to stop.

Others had similar stories.

Kim met his future wife at Bates a few years ago. He said he used to be a Summerland person before the ticketing began there. "I just moved to a different beach, found new friends, and stayed for the volleyball." In 1979, Bob and Julie also met on Bates and eventually married. Bob had been a regular at Black's but when he moved to Ventura County he soon discovered Bates. They have two daughters and brought them to the beach often. Wayne remembers coming to Bates beach as a kid in the late 1950's. Like Kim, he preferred Summerland, but moved down the coast when the police began cracking down there in the early 80's.He enjoyed the volleyball every weekend, but said, " I especially like the feel of swimming nude in the ocean."

Frank discovered nudity while vacationing at a secluded beach near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico in 1970. He also was a regular at Black's Beach in San Diego, then started going to Bates when he moved to Ventura in the mid-1980' s. Frank, however, found a way to earn a living off the beach: "On weekends I sold drinks on the beach: Fruit drinks and beer. None of it licensed of course, I just bought a load at the market and resold it on the beach. Made a nice profit for my efforts." During the summer of 1999, some new residents moved into the homes at the Point who began complaining about the nudity as they took their daily walks along the beach. The nudists generally ignored them. Soon thereafter, county sheriffs would come down the beach at random, or view the area from the access road above. A few nudists recalled that most never told them to get dressed, and the group became quite friendly with them.

Early the following summer, things suddenly went terribly wrong. One of the Point residents who walked the beach daily began calling the Sheriff daily to complain about the nudity. By law, the deputies had to come down to the beach, and this time they began insisting that people get dressed. At the same time, the Homeowner Association at the Point voted to raise funds for their own pair of deputies to focus "their beach" and enforce the no nudity law. The first large-scale busts for nudity began over Independence Day weekend of 2000. The nudists responded by placing lookouts at the top of the ramp with a walkie-talkie to alert the beach group when the deputies were coming. The deputies responded by placing a spotter of their own on the cliff above the beach, equipped with binoculars and walkie-talkie so he could direct the deputies on the beach to the persons who had been nude but who had gotten dress as the law was approaching down the sand.

Tickets were $70 each for the first offense and gradually rose on a sliding scale to nearly $300 after the third ticket, plus the threat of being registered as a sex offender. Most people did not want the ticket on their record, and those who defiantly fought the ban found that soon the accumulative effect of the fines was more than they could continue to afford to pay.

Marc and some of the other nudists tried to speak to the local homeowners, but to no avail. By that time it was too late. The homeowners wanted no dialog. The Sheriff's office was more sympathetic to the nudist leaders, stating they had no problem with the nudity itself, but by law they had to act upon a complaint. And the homeowners made sure a complaint was made on a daily basis. "We tried everything," said Marc. "We tried the homeowners, the local Sheriff's office, even the local County Board of Supervisors, and the District Attorney. Nobody would listen to our side of the story."

The ticketing sweeps continued every weekend during the rest of the summer and by September; even those who wanted to fight the law found they were economically unable to handle the fines. The 30-year tradition of nudity at Bates was over. Many of those who preferred the nudity, more so than the beach, moved on to Elysium, the closest resort about 50 miles to the south. The volleyball games continued there for another year, until Elysium closed in the Fall of 2001. Since the nudists abandoned the beach three years the number of clothed beachgoers has also dwindled. Yes, some of them used to take walks down the beach just to "take a look", but many of them didn't come down at all and most exhibited a live-and-let-live attitude. Ironically after the nudists left, that part of the beach became quite cluttered with trash and became a center for sexual and drug activity. Ironically, these degrading factors seem to have driven the textiles off their part of the beach also, and at times the entire beach no longer feels safe. Ironic the residents got the nudists off their beach but now they have a beach even they don't want to be on!

Those who preferred the beach came back occasionally - clothed - but not in great numbers. Those who do return say they love the sand and water more than the nudity and so they obey the law and remain covered up. They play volleyball occasionally, dressed. Deputies still walk the beach daily, but the heavy enforcement ended soon after the summer of 2000 when the majority of nudists were chased away.

The beach remains posted with a "No Nudity Allowed" sign at the top of the ramp leading to the sand. On April 24, 2004 About 25 of these nudists-in-exile returned to their favorite beach to help cleanup the trash and symbolically reclaim their stretch of sand. SCNA joined these Friends of Bates Beach as an Earth Day activity to clean up the glass, paper, and other garbage, collecting several bags worth. A traditional volleyball game followed. It was the first time many of the former nudists had returned to their favorite beach. The activity was promoted in the local paper as a way to alert the local residents that someone besides themselves cared about the beach's fate.

"What we want to do here is reclaim the beach back from those who are destroying the neighborhood," said a Friends of Bates spokesperson. "Our very presence there - whether nude or not - will discourage these others from coming back. Our long term goal is to hope the neighbors realize they have more to gain by having us back." Some of these participants wanted to talk more about their nudist experiences during the 2000 crackdown, and their feelings about losing the beach:

Kim was of the opinion that the goodwill gesture was futile. "I understand that the state budget crunch may mean there will be fewer deputies available to patrol the beach. On the other hand, as long as those homeowners live there, it may not make a difference. We may have wait until those people at Rincon Point either die or move away. "It's terrible. I hope (the nude beach) will come back some day."

One nudist who wanted to be identified only as "Errol Flynn" said, "I never got a ticket. I heard they were giving them out so I just stopped coming down. There was no use in fighting it." That summed up the feelings of many on the beach. Wayne said he didn't really mind the $70 tickets because "They're cheaper than spending a weekend at a nudist resort in Palm Springs." He said he continues to visit Bates regularly, and that he continues to be nude when possible, "quietly sitting under my umbrella, and nobody bothers me. I am just sad I cannot get up and move around or go down to the water anymore." Lee missed the weekly volleyball games. "I still come back occasionally but it isn't the same wearing clothes." Frank said, "I am more angry at the sheriff for chasing away my customers than I am for losing the nudity. Basically, I'm a beach person more than a nudist. I love Bates and if it means I have to remain dressed to be here, then I guess I will be dressed. I still come to the beach almost every weekend. I don't go nude unless I am the only one here." Bob and Julie are raising their children in a clothing-optional home. "We bought a boat and go sailing often out to the Channel Islands and we are nude on the boat."

Dianne said, "I love that beach! However I am not willing to risk a fine or jail time to keep it (nudist). If you can get the Sheriff and locals to agree to our return, I will be happy to be there on weekends." A small group of Bates refugees said they have been going to More Mesa, about 20 miles to the north, where the local nudists and homeowners actually did talk to each other several years ago and reached a compromise so that half the beach could remain clothing-optional. "It is smaller that Bates and a more rugged climb down to the sand from the cliffs, but the good news is there are very few "lookie-loos" because it is so hard to get to."

At the end of the day, as the sun was getting much lower in the sky and the clothed beach-goers had all left the area, we noticed a few of the Friends were again textile-free, if just to regain the beach for a few minutes. A few even ran down to the water and dipped themselves in the cool Pacific.

The lesson here is obvious: we can never take our nude beaches for granted. Strive to make and keep friends in the local community. Keep a constant vigil for problems with developers of property nearby, and strive to isolate those self-appointed vigilantes whose agenda is the extinction of our chosen lifestyle. We have lost this battle too many times recently and so we Bates veterans stand as a warning to the rest of you on other beaches.


There are no nude beaches in this county.
There are, however, several other alternatives for nudists.
See below under Hot Springs and Hiking Trails


There are no nude beaches in this county.

Unofficially, people find small out-of-the-way spots to skinny-dip, such as the coast between Paradise Cove (Malibu) and the Ventura County line, but law enforcement checks these beach coves infrequently unless some local resident complains (which is often, alas) so use them at your own risk.

Read the letter under Hiking Trails below from LA County Sheriff Lee Baca about nude Hiking in the Angeles National Forest.


There are no nude beaches (or hiking trails) in this county,
and considering the attitude of law enforcement and the courts we do not recommend you try skinny-dipping here!
In defiance of this attitude, there is a nudist club in Huntington Beach which holds monthly swims in the city’s gym.
Call them for current status of the county:

Naturists in the OC
9042 Garfield Ave #306
Huntington Beach, CA 92646


P.O. Box 2552
Capo Beach, California 92624
Voice: 949-443-0891
Non-profit group promoting the continued nude use of San Onofre State Park
P.O. Box 12255
La Jolla, California 92039
This group coordinates the nudist beach
activities at Black’s.

San Onofre State Beach

Current Status:Despite efforts last year by the local Parks Superintendent to close the beach to nude use, as of Jan 2011, most tickets written there for nudity have been dismissed by the courts. It is important that nudists continue to use Trail 6 at San Onofre Beach. If we all stay away, then the rangers will win by default. The fact the tickets are all being dismissed gives everyone courage that some deal can be reached soon with the State Parks Department. Read more below.

July 2011/August 2013: O.C. Register - Nudists claim harassment by state officials
July 2011: LA Weekly - San Onofre Nudists…
You Tube Video of San Onofre Beach (6 min)
October 2009/January 2016: O.C. Register - Nudists lose fight to keep beach clothing-optional
June 2009: Appeals Court Overrules Lower Court (PDF)
Aug 2008: Nudists Win Superior Court Ruling (PDF)

Jan 2011: What’s Happened at San Onofre Since the Lawsuit

Last Updated February 2011

02/01/2011 - Be aware that ticketing continues at San Onofre. Apparently, Ranger Mike Story watches from the cliff, then races along the beach to issue the citation. While there have been twenty citations for nudity at San Onofre since Labor Day, 2011, the first eight contested cases have been dismissed by the District Attorney in San Diego. Two other individuals accepted plea deals, reducing charges to infractions. The citations have been misdemeanor violations of title 14, section 4322 of the California Code of Regulations.

San Diego Prosecutors Dismiss Some Citations

January 31, 2011 - Despite signs prohibiting it, nudity on part of San Onofre State Beach has been a tradition for 30 years.

State parks officials have been trying to enforce the ban on nudity at San Onofre, with mixed results. San Onofre - Sunbathers who frequent one of the northernmost beaches in San Diego County believe that they're succeeding, at least for now, in the fight for what they say is their right to be naked on the sand. The nonprofit Naturist Action Committee is advocating for nudists who have been cited by the California Department of Parks and Recreation for being naked at Trail Six of San Onofre State Beach, long a haven for those who prefer to go sans swimsuit. "There's a certain sector of the population that believes you just really don't need sand in your bathing suit to have fun at the beach," said Bob Morton, the committee's executive director.

Citations by Parks and Recreation rangers have recently been stepped up because the nudity led to sexual crimes, said San "> Onofre Park Superintendent Rich Haydon.

The department allowed several months for word to get out about the enforcement of clothing, Haydon said. Rangers then began citing violators in March. Since then, 12 to 14 citations have been issued for nudity, he said. The naturist committee, however, claimed a minor victory this month when the District Attorney's Office dismissed several citations.

"Our job is to look at serious and violent crimes, and we have to prioritize in a way that is responsible," said Summer Stephan, chief of the office's North County branch. "The charges that we're looking at did not come with any other offense. ... If there was anything else, it's likely that we would try to change."

Though the state Parks and Recreation website says nudity is a misdemeanor, Stephan said her office recommends that nudity, which is not accompanied by any other crime, be cited as just an infraction. Those offenses don't go before prosecutors. Haydon said Parks and Recreation officials met with the District Attorney's Office, and rangers will continue to issue citations for nudity. He said his department requested from the District Attorney permission in writing to cite nudists with infractions rather than misdemeanor charges, but as of last week had not yet received such permission. "The law is the law," Haydon said. "Crimes are occurring, and we're addressing the crimes. If you don't like the law, see if enough Californians agree with you and change it."

Attorney Allen Baylis, a board member of the Naturist Action Committee and president of Friends of San Onofre Beach, has represented eight nudists cited at the state beach. Six cases were dismissed Jan. 14 and two in December. The attorney said he would not want charges reduced from the misdemeanor level, because his clients should have the right to press their cases before a jury of their peers.

Nudism has never officially been legal at state beaches, but it had been tolerated at Trail Six. The state Parks and Recreation policy was to leave the unclad beachgoers alone unless the public complained.

A plan to stop that policy near the end of summer 2008 was temporarily blocked by an Orange County Superior Court judge, who agreed with the naturist committee's assertion that a public hearing was necessary to change the policy. An appeals court reversed the decision, leaving nudists to fight their battle citation by citation. "What we have accomplished at this point is to get our tickets dismissed and, in fact, nothing more than that," said Oceanside resident Greg Young, who was cited along with his wife, Barbara, in September.

The state Parks and Recreation division that oversees Black's Beach in San Diego, which has traditionally been clothing optional, still observes the more tolerant policy because there have not been criminal complaints, said Black's superintendent Brian Ketterer. It is not officially a nude beach, and it is clear on the Parks and Recreation website that nudity is not allowed.

Nudists want designated sections of beaches where bathing suits aren't required. "I wouldn't have even been down there risking the ticket if I didn't believe it was important to fight for the cause," Young said. "Part of this was being prepared and being ready to go on the stand." Both sides argue that the issue is about the public having the ability to comfortably go to state beaches. "We want people to come down and enjoy their state parks and their state beaches and not fear seeing something or be exposed to something," said Haydon, the park superintendent.

The naturist committee says nudists are asking to use a small strip of sand as it's been used for decades. "Maybe it's not for everybody," said Morton, the naturist group's executive director. "Maybe running your dog off leash is not for everybody, but there are places for that. There are places for lots of different things. Nobody is suggesting that everybody be naked."


On Friday 12/10, the State Parks Commission met in San Diego and heard about 40 supporters of nude recreation urge the commission to designate certain beaches and parks as officially clothing-optional. The discussion was held during the “public comment” portion of the agenda, when people can address the Commission on anything it wants without having first to be on the formal agenda.

There were many good speakers during the hour-long discussion, with a few that were received really well. Among them were Ron Mercer, Lloyd Johnson of Blacks Beach Bares, Robert Morton of the NAC , Greg Young, Victor Farr, Allen Baylis from Friends of San Onofre, Donna McCallum, Ed Plummer, Eric Ruehr, Gene and Greg Gatewood, Claudia Keller and many others. Due to conflicting work schedules and time constraints, SCNA did not send a representative to speak at this hearing, although many of the members sent letters and emails to the commission members ahead of time.

Most of the speakers stayed on point, requesting State Parks to set aside designated clothing optional areas throughout the state and to re-implement the 1977 Cahill-Harrison policy and perhaps turning it into a formal state regulation. (This is the technical reason why last year’s legal case failed at the Appeals level.) The hope at the policy level is that Jerry Brown will replace current Parks Director Ruth Coleman with a new director who is supportive of developing clothing-optional areas in the park system and at many of the traditional clothing-optional beaches throughout the state.

Although the Parks Commissioners couldn't act on anything, they got a good earful from the naturists! Dave Cole of the Black’s Beach Bares wrote to us: “Overall I think we presented ourselves well and really put a human face on naturism for them.”


July 2010 - We had the good fortune to meet Allen Baylis of the Naturist Action Committee while at Olive Dell over Memorial weekend. Over lunch he updated for us the current status of San Onofre State Beach:

As of the first of July, no new tickets for nudity have been issued at San Onofre State Beach. There seems to be a kind of strategic pause, as both the park rangers and the nudists wait to see the outcome of the first four tickets that were issued during March and April.

Allen told us that the court date for the first case has been postponed twice as the District Attorney is still considering whether or not to prosecute. Dismissal of the cases, or having the local judge rule against the deputies would be a major blow to the effort by the local Park Superintendent to shut down the nude section of the beach.

All of the cases are being represented by legal counsel, and a vigorous defense is being planned. “All we can do is wait for the DA to decide what to do next,” Baylis told us. “We hope the DA realizes it may not be worth the cost to prosecute.”

Meanwhile, it appears that the State Department of Parks and Recreation is already suffering a significant loss in revenue at San Onofre since undertaking its assault two months ago. Park attendance at the beach is down considerably, evident by the much smaller number of cars in the parking lot above Trail 6, and fewer people on San Onofre Beach in general.

In addition to having spent over $40,000 in last year’s lawsuit against the nudist community, Baylis estimates the state will likely lose over $100,000 in day use fees and annual pass sales this summer. The typical scenario has been that the Rangers drive down the road which parallels the fence at the southern border of the park, and use binoculars to spy on the beach goers. The tendency has been to target single individuals rather than groups. All of those cited have been male.

Baylis asks everyone to come to show their support. The decision to be nude is up to you, of course, but he emphasizes “if we vacate the beach, it will surely be lost!”

Baylis is also circulating a petition to all the clubs in California asking for the Parks Department to designate 8 state park areas for nude use: Torry Pines (Black’s) Beach, San Onofre State Beach, Gaviota State Park, Gray Whale Cove State Beach, Auburn Dam Recreational Park on the Sacramento River, Bonny Doon Beach and the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park (both in Santa Cruz County) and Fort Ord Dunes State Park (in Monterey County.) Other beaches like Pirates Cove, Stimson Beach and Bates are county beaches and don’t fall under state jurisdiction.

If anyone gets a ticket or is approached by a deputy to get dresses, please let Allen know at (714) 962-0915. Email is:



02/2010 - The cold war between nudists at San Onofre State Beach and the local Parks Superintendent got a little hotter last month after officials buried a rotting sea lion carcass on the spot where nudists like to play weekend volleyball. It's the latest twist in a more than two-year dispute between state Parks and Recreation officials and nudists, who recently lost their court case to keep Trail 6 a clothingoptional beach.

Allen Baylis and the Naturist Action Committee went into action just before New Years, when he started receiving complaints about the stench from beachgoers and about the fin protruding up from the sand. Apparently the animal was found dead at the “Dogpatch” northern end of San Onofre beach on December 23 where the surfers like to congregate, but instead of burying it there, the superintendent ordered it be moved five miles south and be buried where the nudists hang out.

Park officials insist the burial of the sea lion -- estimated at 10 to 12 feet long was not an intentional jab at the group. "We just found an animal ... we had to bury it... it's something we do with every animal," said Steve Scott, district maintenance chief for the Orange Coast district. "We apologize. I guess nature just happens."

Baylis questioned parks officials about why they would bury a dead animal at one of the most heavily used portions of San Onofre State Beach. "It's either retaliation or ignorance," he said. "They had a choice. They can bury it where it is or take it to a landfill where it won't bother anybody. Instead they took it to a place where there are people they don't like, and they buried it there."

A few days after Baylis complained about the mammal's fin protruding out of the sand, maintenance crews were seen reburying the carcass even deeper into the beach sand. That prompted Baylis to issue a statewide Action Alert to the nudist community to send complaint letters to the local Superintendent Ken Kramer . In response, Richard Haydon, South Sector Superintendent (and the man behind closing the nude beach) sent out a form letter. It said, in part:

“Due to significant beach erosion and above average beach crowds, it was determined by Parks’ staff that a burial of the carcass in place was not feasible. It was further decided that the carcass would be transported by use of heavy equipment to the Trail 6 area of San Onofre State Beach, where such equipment could safely reach the beach, maneuver, and dig a hole deep enough for proper disposal.

Unfortunately, the hole that was dug was not deep enough to prevent resurfacing of the carcass.

“It was never the intent of California State Parks to…disrupt the beach experience for our visiting public. For this, we deeply apologize.”

This reply did not satisfy Baylis, who kept the pressure up with more letters to Superintendent Kramer. Finally, on January 16, a new form letter went out to all who had sent letters of complaint:

“It was relayed to me,” wrote Kramer, “that the seal could not be safely buried at Dogpatch due to the lack of sand, large beach crowds, and little area to maneuver the heavy equipment. At the San Onofre bluffs area, there exist only three routes to the beach that the heavy equipment could utilize; Trails 1, 4, and 6. State Parks staff dismissed Trails 1 & 4 in their decision making process due to significant beach erosion. In hindsight, it would have been preferable that the carcass was buried at a different location. Presently, the seal is buried at a depth of approximately 10 feet, which should be sufficient to not pose a risk to public health. The decision was made to bury the seal carcass in place because there now exists a greater risk of rupturing the carcass during extrication, which could pose a threat to public health. Should the seal resurface again, we will evaluate the situation and act appropriately, which could include moving it to a different location if possible.”

Kramer told the Orange County Register newspaper that they “don’t really know” how long it will take for the mammal to completely deteriorate. "I would just stay away from the area," he added.

Which, of course, may have been the plan all along.



11/25/09 - State officials spent more than $42,000 battling a group of nudists who wanted to keep Trail 6 a clothing-optional beach, California Department of Parks and Recreation documents show. Also, a public records request for all reports and complaints relating to public nudity at Trail 6 revealed only two written complaints. Park officials had said a growing number of complaints were one of the factors for banning nudity at Trail 6.

Ken Kramer, district superintendent of the Orange Coast District, said the money spent was well worth it. "Our approach to this issue transcends dollars and cents," Kramer said. "This is money well spent to make sure we address these concerns. We have the duty to make sure that with this type of increased popularity and visitation that we have a park where all visitors feel welcome and that there is lawful activity occurring."

When asked as to how two complaints about public nudity jived with the claim of a growing number of complaints, Kramer said that the majority of complaints were verbal. The agency, however, has not documented nor kept track of such verbal complaints, Kramer said. He did not comment about why the agency did not keep track of verbal complaints. "It couldn't have been too serious," Baylis said, questioning Kramer's reasoning. "If they took verbal complaints seriously, they would have documented them."

Kramer instead pointed to what he said was an increased level of criminal activity in the surrounding areas of Trail 6. While Kramer stopped short of blaming the nudists, he did say there was a correlation between the two. "I don't think we can ignore the fact that we have a substantial criminal activity problem where nude recreation is going on," he said.

An on-line poll showed 97% agreed that the state spending this money was a waste of money and limited state resources.


11/2009 - An article about the fight to retain the clothing optional section at Trail 6 appeared in USA Today on November 18. The reporter William M. Welch quotes both Allen Baylis and Bob Morton of the Naturist Action Committee extensively in the article.

Park Superintendent Richard Haydon warns rangers will begin issuing citations but won't disclose when. "We are going to be moving forward with starting to enforce the nudity statute down at San Onofre, and basically returning that portion of the beach to all people who want to go down there without fear of running into [nudists]," Haydon said. Baylis said nudists are ready to be arrested. "If they really want to come down there and issue citations, we have people willing and able to be cited in order to take it up in the criminal courts as a matter of civil disobedience," he said. "It's a very important issue for a lot of people."


10/23/2009 - The California Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal by nudists that challenged the State Park’s repeal of the “Cahill/Harrison Policy” governing nudity in the state parks system.The Naturist Action Committee (NAC) issued a statement calling the court’s lack of action “a tremendous setback,” but they added “the battle has not ended. [We are]carefully considering [our] remaining options and the ramifications of each. NAC will continue to issue Action Alerts, Advisories and Updates on this issue as circumstances require.”


July, 2008 - At the present time, the clothing optional section of San Onofre State Beach remains open with no ticketing activity. In 2008 the State Parks Department decided to ban nudity as a response to reports of lewd activity in the campgrounds about a mile away in the parking lot camp ground. The nudists filed suit and won in the Superior Court in August 2008. However the state won a reveral in the Appeals Court in July 2009. The nudists have now appealed that ruling to the State Supreme Court, which should prevent any threantened ticketing after Labor Day weekend. While deputies and rangers still come down occasionally to the beach to verbally intimidate the nudists into put back on their clothes, they are not ticketing and so we ask beachgoers to be polite but to remain on the beach as unclothed as you prefer at this time. Report any tickets and conversations with authorities to the legal team at Friends of San Onofre (information and links are below.)

P.O. Box 2552
Capo Beach, California 92624
Voice: 949-443-0891


Fellow California Naturists:

The non-profit Naturist Action Committee exists to serve naturists. NAC has reacted swiftly and powerfully to the threat at San Onofre Beach. Now NAC is asking for your financial help. The expenses associated with defending naturism in California have left our war chests dangerously depleted. We need your immediate help to continue the essential fight for your right to enjoy nude recreation in an appropriate manner on public lands. The battle is a costly one, but NAC believes it must be fought, and with your help, it can be won.

Please send your contribution today!

Call toll free (800) 886•7230, or send a check to:
P.O. Box 132
Oshkosh, Wisconsin 54903
Or use your credit card to donate on-line at:

“Black’s Beach” (North Torre Pines State Beach)

Current Status: Open for nude use north of the San Diego City Limits (the cliff trail) without any legal hassles. Don’t sit too close to the cliffs (falling rocks) nor the water (tides will sweep away your belongings.)
01/2011: What’s Happening at Black’s Beach


Last Updated February 2011

Spring tide is a condition of very high and very low tides in the same 24 hours. The highest tides typically occur at about 9am in the winter. This leaves us with wet sand all day. You may want to bring a chair, or tarp, just to keep dry and away from the cliff.

With a sharp horizon and a clear sky, it should be possible to see the green flash following sunset. Once the sun gets low enough in the sky and the refraction of our atmosphere separates colored images of the sun, we can see the green image after the brighter, red image goes over the horizon. Watch for a moment of green light after sunset.

Spring is the time of year when flies can become a bother. When there is a lot of seaweed and no wind, they don't leave us alone. On those days you will find seaweed covered with flies that swarm every time anybody comes near. The remedy is to move the seaweed far away, and out of the path of by-passers. You may want to bring a repellent.

Parking: The Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines Golf Course on the bluffs above the beach is January 27-30. This always impacts our parking and traffic. On these dates you may have trouble reaching the parking lot, finding a space and leaving in a timely manner. In the past, street parking has been marked a no parking zone. Attendants have also been posted at the parking lot entrance. Don't let anyone tell you that you can't park there. Tell the attendant that you're going to the beach, and they must let you through. That doesn't mean you'll find a space. If you leave late in the day, you will encounter lots of traffic.

Trail Damage: The Burro Trail suffered damage following heavy rain. Debris fell into the narrow ravine. Black's Beach Diggers have already been working on the area, clearing the debris. The stairs under the debris are undamaged. More rain is expected and more damage is likely to occur, but the Diggers stand ready to fix it. The Diggers have significant expenses: lumber, steel spikes, sand bags, and tools. If you wish to donate, feel free to give when you see them working. If you send it to Black's Beach Bares, I will pass it on. Donations of supplies like lumber are appreciated when useful. Please consult with a Digger before leaving supplies.



The articles below were submitted by various club members who visited the parks. Not all parks are included because we have not yet received trip reports from those places. The opinions expressed are those of the writer and not necessarily those of SCNA.

De Anza Springs

The Vanishing Nudist: Our Visit to De Anza Springs


by Max Hartshorne - June 23, 2005

Jacumba, Calif., just three miles shy of the Mexican border. The 600-acre property borders a 100,000-acre state park, and is surrounded by volcanic mountains and miles and miles of view. I'd packed light, since this is a clothing optional resort.

Growing up in the Northeast, I'm used to being cold most of the year. I thought the California desert would be balmy in early May. The wind and chill here took me by surprise. I put what I'd brought with me -- some socks, toiletries, a fleece jacket, three pair of shoes and three big bottles of sunscreen -- in the hotel room bureau. Then I grabbed my coat and a pair of Tevas, and I walked out -- my first half-assed attempt at being a nudist.

There was just a little sun, but it was tempered by the persistent chilly winds. I walked the desolate compound, which was not quite ready yet for the Memorial Day holiday, and checked out a number of parked RVs. The areas around many of the RVs were neatly decorated; a few had signs, such as "Bobby and Linda's Bare Buns Getaway" and "Clara's Place." No one, clothed or otherwise, was around. Later that night, I went to a poker game. The players wore bathrobes.

The next day dawned clear and sunny, and the wind finally let up. The warm weather gave me a chance to sample the naked life. I didn't put on anything for the next two days.

It is incredibly liberating -- an experience like no other. Not having pockets to carry around a cell phone or my keys was a pleasant change. It made life seem simpler, less tied down to my material world. Dave Landman, who owns De Anza Springs with his wife, Helen, has the chiseled good looks and easy smile of somebody who used to be in the movies. He told me if I heard a knock on the hotel room door, not to answer it, it would probably be a Mexican looking for water on his way over the border.

The fence that separates the two countries isn't tall enough to stop anyone. It has a gap about three feet high at the bottom. But there are many sensors and other electronic devices, so it wouldn't take long to draw the attention of the Border Patrol. When they are not chasing illegals at the border, Landman said, some of these officers enjoy coming to De Anza Springs. The resort is set on 600 acres, with indoor and an outdoor pools and a hot tub where most people congregate. There are lots of activities, and just about everyone takes part. About 100 of the people here live full time at the resort in their motor homes and RVs, and another 75 to 100 come out most weekends.

The desert winds were blowing hard in early May at De Anza Springs in Jacumba, Calif., just three miles shy of the Mexican border.

There are more than 44,000 dues-paying members of the American Association for Nude Recreation, (AANR), a lobbying group based in Kissimmee, Fla. Thousands more may enjoy nudity at home or skinny dipping at a local nude swimming hole, but the people who vacation every weekend at De Anza and at the more than 100 other naturist clubs across the United States represent the true devotees.

Landman has strong feelings about nudity. He said he'd much rather leave his kids with nudists than at a YMCA or church camp. Others echo his belief that nudists are among the most trustworthy and God-fearing people you're likely to meet. Nudists, they say, suffer a stereotype because Americans usually equate nudity with sex. That simply is not the case, they insist. Sex with strangers isn't a part of nudist resorts, though, of course, you can find such activity at other "alternative adult" resorts, which are a universe away from a place like De Anza Springs. The staff at De Anza is trained to spot the signs of potential molesters and their subset, who are known in nudist parlance as "creepy old guys," or COGs.

"We ask them to leave," said Landman. "If someone is looking a little too long, or leering, or making another person uncomfortable, then we step in." He's only had to throw out about six of visitors since he opened the resort seven years ago, and so far none have kicked up a fuss. "The staff has been trained by people who know about the tendencies, people who study child molester behavior have provided clues, tip offs," he explained. "These types don't last more than 15 minutes here. We know what to do and we act."

Nudism, he said, should not be confused with "adult alternative," which is a huge sector of the travel business. That's sex tourism, or swinger travel, where people "swap" sexual partners and recreational sex is the theme. None of this takes place at AANR member clubs, who agree to keep the atmosphere free of sexual vibes. The only sign of sexy comes at the Saturday night dance, when the guests put on (some) clothing.

"Not all nudists are swingers, but some swingers are nudists," Landman explained.

These nudists are an active bunch, with a zeal for games like bingo, water volleyball, tennis and card games of all sorts. In various states of undress, they mingle and play.

You see parts of people's bodies that you usually don't see. There are magazines, I guess, that purport to show the readers "real women" or "old women" or "one-legged women," but you never really know what bodies can look like until you observe life in a nudist resort. People have scars in every which place, and some people's legs are all tangled up, and others have tremendous gouges in their skin. Many have such huge barrel rolls of fat that their privates are nearly hidden in the fleshy abundance. One man at the resort was missing both of his arms. The mixture of svelte and fat and in-between is fascinating. I found myself distracted as we played water volleyball, watching the various people coming and going to the shower.

Bonnie is a large woman of about 50. I chatted with her at a birthday party for the 85-year old "senior" nudist of the resort. She said that women are much different than men in regard to their willingness to get naked. "Men, they'll do it at the drop of a hat," she said, wearing a T-shirt. "But women are more reserved, and more conscious of their bodies. They won't get naked nearly as quickly as men will. They like to have something on, somewhere, either on top or down below."

At night, things become sexier when the lingerie and spicy outfits come out, since it has always been true that a little bit of revealing clothing is much sexier than the whole thing open and on display.

A band called Sneaky Feet set up and at about eight began playing familiar '80s rock tunes. A couple walked in sporting leather chaps, black bikinis and leather vests. A woman came in wearing a long-sleeved fleece and only pale white chaps, with nothing underneath. The near-nakedness was dazzling and as the night wore on, less and less clothing remained on the dancers. One man wore only a belt around his waist and his shoes. At my table a woman wore a fishnet body stocking with very large holes, and a windbreaker to offer a bit of modesty. A glamorous couple came into the room in flashing boots, cowboy hats and nothing else.

I met an interesting couple, Joe and Jeana, one morning at the clubhouse. They are regular hikers and every day they head out into the desert for miles of walking with a friend's boxer named Sparkle. They've had a place here for three years, their house is up in a corner of the park, and they have been lifelong nudists. They raised their daughter, who is now a deacon in her Texas church, as a nudist. Their kids come to visit them here and go to their own local nude resorts but don't live as nudists. All their family photos, including those of their daughter and their son-in-law, were shot in the nude.

During the hike, we came upon a diamondback rattlesnake, sunning himself on a rock. Fortunately, Sparkle didn't try to rouse it. We walked though desert trails that were much more green than in previous years, owing to the more than 20 inches of rain that had fallen in San Diego this spring. We followed railroad tracks and eventually came upon another hiker wearing clothes. He didn't seem at all fazed to see us and we kept on our way. After the hike, I visited the couple in their comfortable modular home at the back of the park. Every family photo on display was nude -- their daughter nude with a motorcycle, their nude son-in-law and their other nude daughter. Jeana said that she wanted to get photos of her grandsons in the nude, but her daughter was afraid to have them developed at a local CVS. So they sent her a digital camera.

The photos brought home the point that to Joe and Jeana, nude is normal. Nude is what makes them comfortable and whole. Jeana said they cannot wait until they get here and are able to get naked and go outside (though one time Joe was doing some work on his house in the buff, and the neighbors called the cops). Some times their friends say they want to go out to the casino when they come up on Friday nights. But Jeana always says, "No, we want to stay here and not have to put on clothes." I thought about the average age of any nudist here -- about 55. So where are tomorrow's nudists going to come from? That's a challenge that the AANR is facing right now, and the numbers don't look promising. Nudists are not creating enough new nudists to sustain a active and vibrant scene into the future.

In a few decades, it seems likely that there will be far fewer people to rent these RV parks and sit by these pools. Young people, in my experience, don't even want to hear about their parents being naked, let alone see it. When I tried to recount my trip to De Anza Springs to my 24-year-old daughter, I got the obligatory waving hand saying, "No, no, no details, dad." Landman said the hard part of getting more people to join their group is the "Bowling Alone" syndrome -- people these days are not big joiners. With today's soccer mom, kids-taking-lessons lifestyle, fewer and fewer families with children are joining nudist resorts.

Still, Landman tries with some success to get younger people out to the club. One promising sign is a younger nudist, Brian, who now lives at the club. He has brought a younger crowd with him since he runs a club that offers a variety of nude excursions like whale watches, trips to other clubs, and dances. It will be interesting to come back to De Anza Springs in 25 years and see whether people in the year 2030 are still interested in nude recreation. It is not guaranteed that there'll be many left, so if you think you'd like to experience a nudist resort, the time to go is now.

Max Hartshorne is the Editor/Owner of, an alternative travel Web site based in South Deerfield.

Copyright © 1995-2005 New Mass Media. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.

Glen Eden Sun Club

3/2004: Celebrating St Patrick’s Day at Glen Eden

March 2004 - SCNA members enjoyed a St Patrick’s Day weekend at Glen Eden Sun Club recently and this report encapsulates the opinions of many of our members who attended. The park is located about 10 miles south of the city of Corona on Interstate 15, about 100 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.

Many of us have visited the park many times and enjoyed the experience. The park is over a two and a half hour drive from my home so visits are not made as often as I would like. Still, by spacing the visits I have perhaps a better perspective on changes that are occurring at the park versus someone who visits regularly.

The new General Manager Gayle Hansen was busy with meetings the day we were there, but she had arranged for our SCNA club members to pay the same entry fee as GE members and to allow our single male members entry to the park without any hassle by showing their SCNA member card (instead of the usually required AANR or Naturist Society card). We much appreciate her kindness and support!

Our only peeve was that the park failed to inform us ahead of time that the restaurant was undergoing renovation (until the end of April 2004) and no food was available for purchase after 2pm when the local Roach Coach departed. We certainly would have packed our own food had we known. This is not the first time the office has failed to notify its day visitors of similar problems ahead of time. A year ago we know of dozens of potential visitors who left quite upset when they learned the pool was under construction, which wasn’t told to them when they booked their reservation. As one staff member told me, “Yeah we messed up but we’re working on it.”

On this current visit, the park was celebrating its annual St. Patrick’s Day festivities including Green Beer Drinking (through a baby bottle), Hula-hoop twirling (don’t know how this is associated with the Irish, but oh well) and an Irish Trivia game (example: "Name the 1960 movie Disney made about the Irish." Answer: Darby O’Gill). SCNA members won both the Beer Drinking Contest (Ricc) and the Trivia (Gary M). Later in the afternoon the activities staff served free corn beef and cabbage to everyone in honor of the day, and in the evening there was a dance with a live band plus a raffle contest for various donated prizes.

According to a copy of the Board minutes received by one of our members, the club had over 1900 paid members during 2003, about 2/3 of them couples (there is a 3 to 1 male to female ratio among the singles). Sources tell us that number is starting to grow again after several years of decline. Much of the park’s revenue comes from the 200+ mobile homes situated on the upper rear portion of the property. GE is home of mostly older and retired nudists, and several of them currently serve AANR or AANR-West in some capacity.

On the day we visited we did not see many families although we understand that during the summer months the resort is packed with local families and those who travel to California on vacation from other parts of the world.Many unofficial activities at Glen Eden go on regardless of special holiday promotions, such as tennis (6 courts), volleyball (both indoor water and outside padded courts), and on weekends there is often a billiards or pool tournament. Of course the most popular recreational diversion is the large swimming pool and Jacuzzi complex.The pool was totally rebuilt last year and reopened after several months’ delay that cost GE much of their spring and early summer business.

The pool is now heated very nicely for social recreation but a little warm if you want to do exercise laps (assuming you could find a clear lane to do so on busy days.) The park provides Styrofoam noodles for floating, and during the summer we hear the pool is covered with all kinds of other floats and blow-up chairs. One advantage of not having a diving board is the splashing and “cannon-balling” is kept to a minimum (but again, with few kids in sight, perhaps we just saw the area on a good day!) As part of the remodeling they the blocked off the old access way to the pool that used to cut between the pool and Jacuzzi, and instead there is a bandstand there, rising above the pool area. A waterfall mists down the side of the band area alongside the pool, giving the area a nice ambiance.

On the other hand, many people simply choose to sit under a tree and catch a snooze or talk quietly with friends on the lawn area between the parking lot and pool area. In other words, it looks like any other typical nudist resort.

However, for all the physical changes at GE during the past few years, we find there is still an unofficial “caste system” among the residents and long-time visitors against newcomers. The caste system is just under the surface of friendly smiles, and the cliques divide between the mobile residents, the tennis players, and the non-resident weekend-only members. (If you want to play tennis as a newcomer, you may be out of luck unless you know one of the tennis “in-crowd” AND are a very good player, as the existing players are known to monopolize the courts during much of every weekend.) Each clique has its own agenda about what needs to be done to improve the park, and sometimes they work together and sometimes they are in conflict. Glen Eden is membership owned, with By-Laws as thick as a telephone book. Each year they traditionally overthrow the existing Board of Directors and replace it with new members representing a different “political” faction of residents or sports enthusiasts. Former Elysium member Hans S. served as a Board member last year, and lasted there only one term. The members who only visit on weekends are usually shut out in these elections, but for the most part they don’t mind ("just give me a lawn and my pool and don’t bother me” is their prevailing attitude). The Board meetings occur monthly and go on all day, with progress often strangled by parliamentary procedure. Somehow it all works despite itself, and I dare say any newcomer will scarcely see any of this turmoil occurring just under the surface.

We also noticed that GE has absorbed many of the former members of Elysium in Los Angeles that closed a few years ago and in so doing, the old-time culture of GE is starting to change in spite of itself. People now are allowed to hug their hellos poolside and apply suntan lotion to each other. For years such touching was deeply frowned upon. Also people can now dance nude at the monthly dances (in the old days you had to be covered up, believe it or not). I also noticed a massage tent placed way off in a corner between the parking lot and the mobile homes (run by a GE member who goes by the name Sparrow). This is definitely growth for GE who for years distained such healthful activity on its property. Perhaps it won’t be long before massage is considered more acceptable behavior (as it was at Elysium) and allowed to take place out in the open under a tree in the lawn area where it can be marketed better?

Also we observed an improved (for the moment) attitude toward single men, forever a hostile topic at GE. In past years SCNA had trouble getting our male members admitted for the day without a partner of the opposite gender accompanying them. [Editor's Note: Single male discrimination is a problem nationwide at many nudist parks as the management mindset seems to be it is the gender balance causes the problem instead of focusing on the actual behavior of the individual guest. But I digress…]

The front office has had several turnovers of personnel in the past few years, and the hardliners seem to have left. There is still in place the policy that if you are new to GE you must be given a tour of the grounds in the nude before being allowed entry, although this rule seems to be enforced differently by different front office people.

Sometimes the staff has been known to be less than gentle with “first time women” partners and teenage children, and we know of some who say they will never go back to GE because of it. However, our observation of the current General Manager and her staff is that they are far more sensitive to people across the counter, although occasional problems still occur. The point is that when you come to Glen Eden, prepare to drop your clothes in a hurry and take the required tour. If a partner or child is “not sure” about the nudity thing, then don’t bring them to this park as it is NOT clothing-optional except during inclimate weather and after it gets cool at night.

My advice to those who want to visit is book an overnight trailer well in advance as they fill up early for holidays (there is a 72-hr cancellation deadline that is strictly enforced!) Check on what isn’t open in the park, if anything, and confirm in advance that you can play tennis, volleyball, or be in the pool tournament if that is your calling If people on the lawn give you a scowl, just ignore them as they probably are one of the old timers. There are plenty of friendly people around the pool to make up for them! And then enjoy your day at one of the nicer nudist resorts in the Golden State.

Olive Dell Nudist Ranch

2004: Olive Dell Ranch Rebuilds for the Next Generation

By Gary M.

November, 2004 - A few years ago the rumors about Olive Dell Ranch were grim. After surviving for 50-plus years, many nudists feared the site was on its last legs and might not survive. The owner, Ralph (“Ray”) Kilborn, had fallen ill, and the park was falling into disrepair. Membership had dropped from over 400 at its peak in the 1960s to under 100, and people reluctantly were leaving for the nearby alternatives of Deer Park and Glen Eden.

I am happy to report that none of these rumors, if ever true, are true anymore. Olive Dell is back. During the past six months the grounds have been renovated: older trailers have been removed, there is a new pool and Jacuzzi, a remodeled restaurant, and everything has received a fresh coat of paint.

In it heyday, Olive Dell had been one of the crown jewels in the American naturist movement. Bill Keissel founded Olive Dell in 1952, purchasing the 145 acres from an Italian goat and olive rancher. After seeing the nudist film “Garden of Eden,” filmed at Lake Como. Florida, Ralph Kilborn came to the park in 1961, the year his son Bobby was born, and decided to join as a member. In 1976, Kilborn bought the park from Keissel and made the club a family operation.

“My dad was a CPA by profession,” Bobby said, “and so he did the books himself and ran the business-end of Olive Dell for over 25 years.” His wife Pat ran the restaurant, and sons Bobby and Ronnie helped out wherever they were needed. Becki first came to the Ranch when she was 3 years old, the same year Kilborn bought the club from Keissel. She and Bobby grew up together there and eventually married. Meanwhile, Bobby stepped in to run the kitchen when his mother had a stroke a few years ago. “When my Dad saw his health failing a few years ago, he decided it was time to train the next generation. So he gave Becki a crash course in bookkeeping, and she took a few college courses to fill in the gaps.”

Unfortunately his long illness prevented the elder Kilborn from investing any more money into Olive Dell and so the infrastructure there slowly began to deteriorate. Ralph died in January 2004.

Early in February his son Bobby gathered the residents together to tell them that he and his wife Becki were not going to sell the property but, instead, invest his own time and money into a rebuilding project. “Olive Dell is where I grew up and where Becki grew up,” he said. “You get spoiled living at a nudist resort…you have to love what you do, and we both love it here. So we’re staying.”

“Bobby and Becki bring an undeniable vitality to the place,” said Missy Neubauer, longtime resident and member club president. “It has energized all the residents to pitch in and help. They have really boosted morale, and everyone seems really pumped up about the improvements.” The residents responded by volunteering to help provide the muscle to renovate the park. One of the residents, Liz Uppendahl, contributed by painted a seascape mural in the Jacuzzi area complete with fish, mermaids, and other aquatic creatures.

Bobby obtained a bank loan and went to work upgrading the heavy traffic areas first, such as the main swimming pool. “We know we have a lot of work still ahead of us, but we’re going to do it in a priority order,” he said. “By next summer we will have rebuilt the clubhouse and tennis court.” He said he hopes in a few years to build a sunning deck above the pool, and bleachers for the tennis court, both of which were always a dream of his father’s.

Another improvement already made was to the seven overnight cabins, called “bird houses” by the locals because of their shape. These 8x8 rental cabins each received a new coat of paint in a different bright color so that instead of being assigned a number, each could be referred to by its shade (as “the red house,” or “the blue house,” etc.) The upgrade included putting small air conditioners into each unit to cut the evening heat during the summer months, and a small heater to help during winter. “Long overdue,” said Bobby. He plans to build more bird houses, plus a few larger cabins, over the course of the next few years.

The year-long renovation project has not been without its moments of concern. This past July, Olive Dell found that the pump in one of the two wells that supply all the water to the park had broken and was hanging precariously in the well shaft. Luckily the company hired to retrieve the pump snared it before it fell, otherwise the park would have been faced with the unplanned expense of digging a new well. “We dodged that bullet,” Bobby said.

“The biggest and hardest part of my job is the landlord part,” he said “because, frankly, the residents are the bread and butter of the place. Without them we could not have survived. Luckily, after we had our meeting they all decided to stay and help.” Bobby also has plans to expand the number of available trailer hookups but he has some natural barriers to adding too many more.

Reche Canyon, where Olive Dell is located, is essentially a semi-arid valley lined with horse ranches straddling a quiet, two-lane road. The names on the mailboxes and the canyon’s remote lifestyle have been the same for decades, but that may be about to change. Civilization has finally caught up with sleepy Colton as Riverside County has become one of the fastest growing areas in the county. We observed many of the canyon ranches with “For Sale by Owner” signs, and large tracts of land nearby also showing their owner’s willingness to sell out. Could the threat of hundreds of new tract houses and condos nearby threaten the long-term survivability of Olive Dell? Bobby says that scenario won’t happen for a few reasons.

“First, Olive Dell has 145 acres, so I have a good buffer. Second my neighbors all know about us and support us. Many of them are longtime members here. Third, the land in the canyon is all zoned so that lots can be no smaller than five acres each. Currently it is all zoned for horse ranches. If anyone tries to change the zoning and build town homes they will find that the entire area uses well water and there isn’t enough water here to support a denser population.”

He admitted that this is a “two-edged sword” because it also means Olive Dell cannot expand the resort much beyond its current size either. “We could grow to 400 residents eventually, but I see 300 as a better target that would put us in great financial shape.” Currently, the park has 80 residents and 130 paid members.

There are but a few of the original olive trees left on the property these days, but Bobby says they are maintained lovingly “to remind everyone of the park’s origins.” Full-grown pepper trees ring recreation and resident areas. “We could use a little more shade near the pool,” Bobby admits, “but we have plans to eventually extend the grass areas, add some shade trees there.”

Three former AANR presidents have come from Olive Dell: Hap Hathaway (1989-93), David Cheek (1980-83), and the late Nathan Kates (1969-72.) Three Naturist Hall of Fame recipients also have been locals: Hap Hathaway, Nathan Kates, and Cec Cinder.

In recent years, Hathaway has run the increasingly popular Friday Night Game Night, which includes a mixture of bridge, pinochle, and poker events. “The growing popularity of Celebrity Poker on cable television has helped draw visitors to us,” he said. Hathaway even teaches a class for poker novices.

The park is also “home base” for Beachfront USA, currently run by Cinder. Beachfront is a national organization devoted to opening up more nudist beaches in the country. Make no mistake, Olive Dell is a traditional nudist resort, not a clothing-optional resort. Although women are allowed to wear wraps because of the convenience of sitting, street clothes are expected to be removed as quickly as possible, even by first-time visitors. The Activity Supervisor told us only those of teenage years are given some leeway to this rule, but during our visit I observed few of them dressed any differently than their parents. Most of the kids were raised here, she said, and have never had a problem with nudity.

In fact a great many of the members consider themselves “second generation nudists,” having been brought to Olive Dell as youngsters themselves. At most other nudist parks and resorts we have visited around the country, the average age of members is in the mid-50s with a discernable void of participants in their 20s and 30s. By contrast, at Olive Dell the average member’s age is in the mid-30s, and indeed you are keenly aware that there are many people here from every age bracket. It probably helps that the owners are young themselves. (Bobby is in his early 40s; Becki is in her early 30’s.)

Whatever this park is doing to attract and keep these younger people actively involved in our lifestyle should be bottled and sold to every other nudist park in the country. Far from being an old and dying resort, demographically Olive Dell is poised to outlive all the rest.

Olive Dell prides itself in its friendly attitude toward visitors. “Our members go out of their way to make visitors feel comfortable,” says Hathaway. “I haven’t seen the same degree of friendliness at many other clubs in the country, and I have visited most of them.”

For several decades, The Olive Tree Inn, the resort’s on-site restaurant has been a great place to eat, serving a wide variety of salads, grilled sandwiches, and house specialties. Average price for a meal is still around $6.00 per entrée. Bobby still cooks many of the meals himself, although he does have help these days. “I never thought I’d be a short order cook in my mid-40’s,” he said. Yet he seems to enjoy his time in front of the grill, and it may give him some temporary relief from the countless other challenges the young owner must face every day. By the way, the next generation of Kilborns is now in training – Bobby’s son Cody works in the kitchen helping his father on weekends.

The restaurant was also completely renovated this year with new customer seating, recessed lighting, and fresh paint. Meals can also be served on the patio adjacent to the pool. Bobby says he is considering a name change. Some residents have suggested “Chez Ro-bare” but Bobby seems reluctant to accept the honor. His lack of ego is one of the reasons residents say they have been drawn to his leadership and is one of the keys as to why the volunteer effort has succeeded.

We saw very few pesky bugs or flying insects during our stay at Olive Dell – and no mosquitoes at all. Bobby explained this is because of the lack of standing water in the canyon – everything comes from wells. “It also helps that we are over 2000 ft above sea level, which discourages many species of flying insects.” However, he did admit to seeing “a snake or two on an occasional summer nights” and also there are the inevitable ants that seem to follow civilization. He pointed out that the hills behind the park harbor a pack of over three dozen wild burros that occasionally saunter into the camp seeking food handouts. The residents toss them hay.

Considering the remoteness of the park, it is remarkable they have only seriously been threatened by wildfires a couple of times. In 2001, one such fire reached the ridge above and behind the park, but was beaten back. Bobby credits their luck to the fact that Olive Dell maintains a clearance of over 400 feet all around the park, more than twice what the law requires.

Alred and Missy Neubauer supervise the club’s activity programs, including weekend Bingo, Friday night poker, pool tournaments, and special events such as the annual Labor Day Luau. They receive help from another volunteer resident named Terri, whom we saw working hard organizing the water volleyball, billiards, and horseshoe tournaments. Missy also runs an extensive Juniors program for those under age 18.

Over Labor Day weekend 2004, Olive Dell was finally ready to reveal its renovations to the world, and it did so by hosting a huge Luau party with several guest clubs participating, including the Olympians and Southern California Naturist Association.

The weather was hot and dry, with the thermometer topping 100 degrees each of the three days we visited. The pool, although unheated and feeling a little brisk, was nevertheless the best place to pass the afternoon if you weren’t involved in one of the planned activities. The water volleyball tournament, which lasted for hours, was eventually won by a group of Olympians over the Olive Dell regulars.

In the horseshoe tournament SCNA’s Marc W. won first place, and he repeated the victory in the clubhouse pool tournament.

Jeff James, a professional body painter, was busy all day designing patterns and animals on the bodies of those wishing to be adorned. His butterflies and dragons were a special hit with the kids and teenagers.

This Luau event is a Labor Day tradition at Olive Dell. Friday night the Olympians and a few SCNA members joined the residents in a spirited Bingo night. Saturday night the park hosted a DJ dance with golden oldies blasting through the night until nearly 3am.

In previous years, the Sunday night Luau dinner drew upward of 75 people, but because of all the Olympian and SCNA club guests, this year the numbers of meals served swelled to over 170. It took over 90 minutes to get everyone through the food line, but people didn’t seem to mind too much. While we waited, it was a time to meet new friends across the table and in the food line, sharing stories, and discussing the park improvements.

For dinner, the staff bought and buried several full-sized pigs to cook for a few hours in an open pit filled with hot coals, covered with spices and palm fronds. Complimenting the main course was roasted chicken, a shrimp salad, an amazing cold salad of peas and cheese, and a fruit salad consisting of over a dozen different flavors from mangos to grapes to watermelon. After dinner, Bobby and Becki thanked everyone for coming, and they made a presentation to Cec Cinder for being inducted into the AANR Hall of Fame last year.

Next came the hired entertainment, hula dancers and fire twirlers, who put on a terrific show. Following them we were entertained by a live band, which played everything from big band swing to funky rock.

Around midnight, one of the highlights of the evening occurred spontaneously. The staff brought out about two dozen hula hoops, and the band began playing songs with a good backbeat that inspired the teens to twirl them on the dance floor in time to the music. It was obvious that some of the teenagers had never used a hula hoop before in their lives, but others were quite good and entertained us by twirling multiple hoops at once or using their necks or ankles to perform other gymnastic feats. We heard the party didn’t stop until nearly 3am Monday! (These Olive Dell folks know how to party!)

With such infectious enthusiasm, it seems Olive Dell cannot help but succeed as it returns to its former glory. SCNA look forward to returning again to enjoy the park’s warm hospitality.

Lupin Lodge

2006: Lupin Lodge: A Hidden California Treasure

By Gary M

Summer, 2006 - Lupin Lodge is a 110-acre private naturist club and resort where clothes are optional and having fun is infectious. The club is surrounded by pine-fragrant hills in the Santa Cruz Mountains that separate the beach community of Santa Cruz, California from the high tech corridor known as “Silicon Valley” near San Jose. Lupin is about an hour’s drive south of San Francisco and it has blended naturist enthusiasts from this mix of Bay Area countercultures through many generations.

Next only to the natural beauty that surrounds it, Lupin’s most appealing feature may be its microclimate. While the California coast endures its annual spring and early-summer ritual of daily low clouds and fog, Lupin is located high enough in the mountains to usually avoid what the locals call “The June Gloom,” and remains perhaps the sunniest spot in the Bay Area during those months.

Newcomers are often surprised to learn that the resort began life in 1936 as a winery, and that its buildings have been built and rebuilt by many a succession of owners through the years. None of the buildings used by the guests—the registration office/store, the upper pool complex, nor the main clubhouse/restaurant—look more than a few years old, and that’s because they aren’t. A spirit of rebuilding and renewal is one of Lupin’s ongoing cultural traditions. And it is that spirit that saved them from more than one hurdle in their history.

Glyn Stout, the present owner, purchased Lupin Lodge in 1979 and renamed it Lupin Naturist Club. The club thrived through the boom years of the 1980s and 90’s as the computer geeks in nearby Silicon Valley literally invented all the personal computers and cell phones and personal data toys that we take for granted today. Most of these engineers were in their 20s and 30s with new families, and many were attracted to nearby Lupin as an escape from their stress-filled work weeks.

When the high tech boom ended in 2000, the club’s membership began to decline. Several of the planned renovations to the water tank and swimming pool were postponed. By 2003, the local economy began to recover, and Glyn began to think about finding new ways of managing the club. In the course of a couple of years, Glyn, his wife Lori Kay, and other Lupin stalwarts invited others to assist with management. Sometimes it worked, others times it didn’t; but Glyn and Lori Kay had just had twin girls, and both wanted to spend more time at home.

Eventually Lori Kay Stout—who had always had a leading hand in steering Lupin along—decided to become the new Chief Operating Officer. Ardis Williams, a longtime Lupin member, stepped forward to became Chief Operations Officer. Professionally, Ardis had been a successful real estate agent for many years. “I just love people,” she said, and had written the club’s monthly newsletter for quite some time. Williams supervised a group of volunteers to run the registration office, and has “put together a working system” that will serve until she hires permanent staff.

Lori Kay is confident that the new staff is ready for the 2007 season, and adds—noting how Lupin continues to be particularly attractive to women—“We’re female run and female friendly!”

Since its beginning, Lupin has paid attention to multiple aspects of full, flourishing human life. Care about bodily health is seen in its massage workshops, healthy diet options in the café, and the development of excellent tennis and volleyball courts (for years, the latter was known throughout the west coast as the best nudist volleyball court around). Acknowledging that creativity and aesthetic appreciation are distinctly human features, Lupin has encouraged photographers, painters, sculptures, musicians, and performers to hone their skills in this clothing-optional environment, and to use their art—when possible—to express an open acceptance for the human body.

Lori Kay organizes regular art shows in the clubhouse, where the visual arts are displayed on the walls for all to appreciate. Guest and club-member musicians play everything from classical, to jazz, to blues—and draw visitors not usually inclined to naturist venues. With its sincere and insightful support of local artists, Lupin has made a regional name for itself as both an outstanding naturist and art-centered recreational facility.

Jon and Shiela Springs organize the Lupin Camera Club, hosting get-togethers on a regular basis to share ideas for photo projects at or away from Lupin. Not all of the photos taken by the photo club pertain directly to naturism, and the club members understand that there’ more to life than just being naked. Their contribution to Lupin’s atmosphere is manifest, however, in their work shown in the clubhouse and in their contributions to various club events—recording the activities for Lupin’s history and showing others what men and women can do when they look at life with unrestricted vision.

Lupin’s recognition of the humanity’s potential for more than pure recreation sets it apart from most other naturist parks in the country. Still, for those there for the day or week who are just looking for some naked relaxation, Lupin offers more than enough to stay occupied. The swimming pool, hot tub, sauna, tennis court, sand and hard volleyball courts and nature trails are all here, as well as a basketball court and two play areas for the kids.

The NudeDome is a social center of the park. It’s a yurt: a round canvas-sided structure some fifty feet in diameter with lattice-like inner siding that rises about eight feet in the air and then slopes up into a teepee-like point in the center. In years past, the Dome was used to show nearly new released movies each week, it was where the Lupin Camera Club met for those serious about learning the art of nude photography, and it was where the Lupin Massage School met every week. Lupin was rare among American nudist resorts in actively promoting massage as a part of naturism, and for years professional massage therapists held classes there for those who wished to earn a certificate as a masseuse. According to Ardis Williams, “All these workshops may be brought back. They are part of our history and our heritage.”

Naturists for decades have known Lupin’s restaurant to serve some of the best food available regionally to naked people. For years, the club has been fortunate to attract chefs interested in providing healthy gourmet meals to guests who appreciate the difference some extra care and time in preparation can provide. Lupin’s chef Brandy Franks this past summer has offered such menu items as wild mushroom-stuffed pork roast, mashed maple-glazed sweet potatoes, and butternut squash sauté. A local newspaper cooking review recently spotlighted her cooking prowess.

The TV & game room adjacent to the restaurant remains the club’s social center after dark. The club has rebuilt its library of movie videos, paperback book, and jigsaw puzzles and has created there a “hot zone” so people with wireless laptop computers can get in a little office work or check their email if they must (after all, a naked computer geek, is still a computer geek.)

Some things about Lupin have not changed, however. As long as any of the staff can remember, visitors who sat quietly outside the Clubhouse past sunset have seen local deer venture onto the main lawn to munch on the grass, usually in groups of twos and threes. The area also harbors a family of raccoons, plus a few other mostly-harmless four-legged creatures.

Overnight guests may rent a furnished yurt with queen-sized bed, camp in their own tent, or rent an RV hookup. Clothing-optional beaches within an hour’s drive to the north include Bonny Doon. Officially sanctioned as "clothing-optional," Gray Whale Cove and Baker Beach are just a half hour further north. 

Esalen Institute

Esalen Struggles to Find its Next Generation

In an emerald expanse of California's majestic Central Coast, a series of intense human explorations are underway. In a large white yurt, several yogis are breathing, bending and meditating to deepen awareness of their Divine Inner Self. Next door, artists are painting doves, dolphins and goddesses as they create mandalas, an ancient symbol of the psyche, in search of self-understanding. Down the road, another group is propped against pillows, shoes kicked off as they analyze one another's dreams and unlock long-buried memories.

At one time, these scenes at the fabled Esalen Institute would have been considered avant-garde. Esalen once stood as the nation's leading laboratory of the human potential movement, the freewheeling center of social outlaws who experimented with LSD, Eastern meditation and in-your-face encounter groups to explore and expand themselves.

Today, as Esalen enters its fifth decade, it has settled into a comfortable middle-aged mainstream. Google turns up 7.7 million results for human potential, including yoga retreats, art therapy classes and other self-help offerings commonplace around the country. The hippies and seekers who once made the place a youth paradise have aged, with just 14.5% of its 10,000 annual visitors younger than 35. What's more, Latinos, Asians and blacks, who compose the majority of Californians, are comparatively scarce at the institute. Along the way, longtime observers say, Esalen's creative spark has dimmed. Among other things, critics say, it has failed to explore in-depth many of the trends on the horizon today that are rooted in science and technology.

When Esalen started, it was definitely the flagship of the human potential movement, says Marion Goldman, a University of Oregon professor of sociology and religious studies who is writing a book on the institute. It will continue to be one of the major pilgrimage centers in the U.S… but it no longer dominates the market.

Put simply: Is Esalen passé?

The seed that eventually grew into esalen was planted in 1950, when Stanford University student Michael Murphy accidentally stumbled into what would become a life-changing lecture on Hinduism by religion scholar Frederic Spiegelberg. His passion for Eastern religions stoked, Murphy went to India in 1956, after graduating from Stanford and serving in the U.S. Army, to spend 16 months at the ashram of Sri Aurobindo, an Indian yogi and philosopher. He returned to the Bay Area, where he worked odd jobs and meditated as much as eight hours a day. In 1960, he met Richard Price, a fellow seeker and Stanford graduate who would become Esalen's other founder.

Two years later, in October of 1962, Murphy and Price formally opened the doors to a philosophical and literal paradise. In its youthful heyday, Esalen was renowned for its alternative education, attracting some of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century: Historian Arnold Toynbee, theologian Paul Tillich and two-time Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling all came to speak. Brilliant gurus presented provocative workshops in psychotherapy and spirituality. Esalen leaders took aim at social and political taboos, holding marathon encounters in race relations during the civil-rights struggle.

The place was edgy and hip, the talk of the town even in the New Yorker and other East Coast media. It attracted Hollywood stars and Sacramento politicians. It provided the stage for concerts by Joan Baez and Bob Dylan, George Harrison and Ravi Shankar, Simon & Garfunkel. It became grist for books and films, including such parodies as Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice. It was emulated by a profusion of spiritual growth centers around the nation. When it opened, Esalen offered only a dozen or so programs a season, but they tended to be intellectually dense explorations of the latest ideas in subjects such as evolutionary theory and psychotherapy. Seminars on major religious traditions featured study of the Upanishads, Tantra and Christian contemplative life decades before religious pluralism became commonplace.

A string of ground-breaking teachers soon brought international attention to Esalen. Timothy Leary preached a gospel of enlightenment through psychedelic drugs and physicist Fritz Capra explored the mysticism of science. Frederick Perls helped launch Gestalt therapy and Will Schutz made confrontational encounter groups famous. Abraham Maslow developed a hopeful view of human psychology by studying high-performers rather than the neurotics favored by Freudian analysts. Ida Rolf made rolfing a household word in self-help circles with her deep-tissue bodywork.

Opening the American mind to Eastern mysticism, onetime Episcopal priest Alan Watts blended East and West in a synthesis of Zen Buddhism and Western psychology. Murphy promoted the mind-body movement in sports, while institute president George Leonard published radical visions of educational reform. But that was then. The buzz has died down. Mention you're writing about Esalen and the two most common reactions are: Is Esalen still around? Or, isn't that the place where hippies do drugs and get naked?

On its website, Esalen lists 47 noteworthy accomplishments in psychology, education, bodywork and holistic medicine. But 75% of them took place in the 1960s and '70s. Its U.S.-Soviet initiatives, which included Boris Yeltsin's first visit to the United States, took place primarily in the 1980s.

Still, many of the initiatives have stood the test of time. We're all different because of Esalen, says Kevin Starr, former California state librarian and historian. He particularly credits the institute for popularizing Eastern teachings and making them part of a California sensibility that would eventually influence the nation: a respect for mind-body connections, holistic health, explorations of interior spiritual and psychological landscapes.

Other ideas, however, have fizzled. Murphy says Esalen leaders no longer endorse the sometimes vicious encounter groups or experimentation with illegal drugs, he adds. William Coulson, a retired Northern California psychotherapist, says that Maslow himself came to regret his own influential teachings on self-actualization that promoted the freedom to pursue your own destiny and potential. Central to Esalen's philosophy, such ideas were important four decades ago to help unshackle oppressed spirits-women shoehorned into domesticity, blacks denied equal opportunities, men afraid of intimacy. But Coulson, who studied Maslow's ideas with famed psychologist Carl Rogers at the La Jolla-based Western Behaviorial Sciences Institute, says they are potential civilization killers for their excessive individualism at the cost of community.

Esalen leaders also acknowledge the shortcomings of navel-gazing and say they are switching gears. It's not enough to look at ourselves; we have to see how we are connected with others,' says Andy Nusbaum, Esalen's tall and lanky executive director. We're moving from ‘me’ to ‘we.’ 

But now, like other baby boomers, Esalen is aiming to recapture its faded glory. As it enters its fifth decade, it is embarking on a 10-year face-lift, improvements prompted by a disastrous storm four years ago. With a stunning new bathhouse, plans to refurbish much of the rest of the 163-acre property, a first-time capital campaign to raise $25 million and six new program initiatives, Esalen's leaders hope to rebound with a roar.

We're on the edge of what could amount to a second birth for Esalen, Murphy says.

Esalen is tucked between the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Lucia Mountains, 45 miles south of Monterry, and has five acres of organic gardens in addition to large stands of California cypress and Monterey pines.

At first glance, all seems perfect in paradise. enter the property, tucked on a ribbon of jagged coastline between the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Lucia Mountains 45 miles south of Monterey, and you are immediately swept up in its ethereal, almost mystical beauty. California cypress and Monterey pines, twisted by powerful winds, dot the landscape. The senses come alive with the smell of mint here and sulfur there, the sounds of gurgling mountain streams and chirping birds, the sensation of cool ocean breezes against your cheek. Hinting of hidden realities, fog rolls in and out to reveal a mysterious play of shadow and light across the land. Five acres of lush organic gardens splash the grounds with the bright colors of violet lobelia, red poppies, magenta snapdragons, yellow sunflowers and rows and rows of green vegetables.

The land, long sacralized by Spanish missionaries and the indigenous Esselen Indians for whom the center is named, features testaments to myriad spiritual traditions. The grounds include a stone Buddha, a garden goddess, a Native American sweat lodge, a circular meditation hut, a Judeo-Christian Tree of Life, a picture of the Virgin Mary and a Taoist inscription on a large stone next to a burbling creek:

Tao follows the way of the watercourse
As the heart/mind through meditation
Returns to the sea

The rhythms of life here harken to simpler days. Workers tend and harvest more than 100 varieties of vegetables and edible flowers, which are used to prepare more than 600 meals a day, on average. The leftovers are composted, helping to nurture a new cycle of growth.

The distracting beeps, rings and clatter of modern society are largely absent. There is no cellphone reception, no high-speed computer lines, few TVs. The nights are black and the stars brilliantly clear, owing to the near absence of street lamps in the vicinity. With few lures of electronic isolation, people congregate in the lodge for lively conversation. With few means to multi-task, the mind can rest.

In 1998, however, Mother Nature savagely intruded on Esalen's idyllic existence. A fierce El Niño storm destroyed the outdoor mineral baths, depriving the institute of its most famous physical attraction. Mudslides closed Highway 1, the main route to Esalen, for three months, causing a serious decline in revenues.

The crisis prompted a moment of truth for Esalen's backers. Could they raise the millions of dollars needed to rebuild? Could they muster the engineering talent to overcome the formidable challenges of securing new baths on the side of 50-foot-tall cliffs? Could they craft a solid business plan and implement it in a place accustomed to freewheeling management? Should they even try? There was a question as to whether Esalen could survive at all, recalls Nusbaum.

But Leonard, the institute's president and an aikido master, stepped in with advice gleaned from three decades of martial-arts practice: Take the hit as a gift. The believers in unlimited human potential have begun to do just that. For starters, they have revived the glorious baths. The rebuilt bathhouse, designed by award-winning architect Micky Muennig, has drawn rave reviews. The airy and elegant concrete structure features arched doorways, a mosaic fountain, sandstone floors and the hushed ambience of an outdoor temple. On a clear day, bathers can see otters, seals, birds and migratory whales with their young.

The baths are central to Esalen's legend and lore. It was the hot springs that lured Michael Murphy's grandfather, Henry, to first purchase the property in 1910. A Salinas doctor who delivered novelist John Steinbeck, Henry Murphy envisioned a therapeutic spa and resort; eventually the family turned it into a modest tourist establishment called Slate's Hot Springs. By the time the younger Murphy took over in 1962, the baths were haunts for bohemian writers such as Henry Miller and gay men from San Francisco. Big moments include Yeltsin's 1989 visit to Esalen to relax and rethink U.S.-Soviet relations in what came to be known as hot tub diplomacy.

Beyond the bathhouse, Esalen plans to reposition some of its buildings for increased solar energy use and ultimately dreams of getting off the electrical grid. Plans are also in the works to upgrade its aging buildings, add more private rooms and build a new 200-person conference room and meditation center.

To pay for the improvements, Esalen has launched a capital campaign for the first time in its history. Elements include benefit events by celebrities, such as actor John Cleese, and appeals to 20,000 former workshop participants to become Friends of Esalen donors. The nonprofit institute, governed by a nine-member elected board of trustees, has no endowment. Its budget — $10.2 million this year — has relied almost entirely on workshop fees. But the storm forced a reappraisal. When El Niño hit, we realized we had to do something to reestablish our plant and make ourselves more sustainable for the future, Nusbaum says. We can't do it by ourselves. No way.

How to actively solicit support, however, is a question Esalen is grappling with for the first time, never having overtly marketed itself. But a plan is in the works that will allow the institute to reach specific audiences, starting with the launch of an e-mail campaign to previous visitors, with dreams of an expansion.

I think there is a sense of urgency to get the knowledge about Esalen out to a more mainstream audience — people who aren't necessarily into alternative medicine or yoga, like someone in Topeka, Nusbaum says.

He added that the new development plan will not increase room capacity, reassuring those who initially worried that Esalen leaders would turn it into a high-priced tourist resort. (Weekend rates covering a three-day workshop, lodging, three meals a day and unlimited use of the mineral baths range from $545 per person for shared rooms to $260 for sleeping bag space in meeting rooms.)

Esalen's spectacular setting, which the capital improvements will only enhance, offers the most compelling argument for why the institute is likely to remain a singularly special retreat center. Esalen fans say magic is made here, thanks to an alchemic confluence of so many natural power elements — the ocean, the mineral hot springs, freshwater creek and rising mountains. The result, they say, is an experience that cannot be found at the local gym or urban self-help center.

In today's troubled world, says psychologist Ken Dychtwald, Esalen's healing environment has assumed a new urgency.

We need Esalen now more than in the 1960s and '70s, says Dychtwald, who heads the institute's alumni network. With the world becoming increasingly distressed, and conflicts building at every level, there is a need for a peaceful, beautiful, magical environment where people can talk and share and interact with the great thinkers of our times.

Esalen, however, faces other questions, ones that are voiced by people such as Asher Padeh. The Miami Beach psychiatrist has been coming annually to Esalen with his wife, Ilonka, for the last 25 years. He adores the center's rugged beauty, sacred energy, organic meals, welcoming staff and opportunities to grow through workshops that include dream analysis and Chi Gong training. But he says the place has lost its genius gurus and bold, questing quality.

There's no place like Esalen, Padeh says, with an affectionate sigh. But it was more avant-garde in the early days. Personal freedom was paramount. Today it seems more mainstream. People do not dare come up with contra-establishment ideas. I believe freedom is the only environment where new ideas can come up.

In contrast to the programs of the early years, Esalen's offerings today are more varied and less startling. They have multiplied to 500 workshops a year spanning religious studies, dance, health, psychology, relationships, bodywork and yoga. Seekers can learn to Garden for the Soul, Get the Love You Want or explore their inner selves through golf while studying principles of psychosynthesis as they play the Monterey Peninsula's world-class golf courses. The largest offerings, however, are creative art classes. They include workshops such as Vision Painting: Evoking the Light, Basic Acting: Setting the Spirit Free and Floral Arts as Spiritual Practice.

Such workshops, popular though they may be, fail to offer the kind of intellectual breakthroughs that once characterized Esalen, according to Pierre Grimes, a Huntington Beach philosophy professor who leads dream analysis workshops here.

People are seeking different spiritual directions but are avoiding the mind, he says.

Grimes is urging Esalen leaders to recapture the cutting edge by exploring the most interesting innovations in science — for instance, he says, cellular biologist Bruce Lipton's research into the innate intelligence of cells. He also says Esalen should present more speakers who flout conventional wisdom — political activist and MIT linguist Noam Chomsky, say, or archeologists whose discoveries are challenging biblical claims.

Walter Truett Anderson, a futurist and author of a 1983 book about Esalen, says the institute's proximity to Silicon Valley could position it to play a larger role in exploring the latest technological research. To my knowledge, Esalen is not seriously out front in talking about genetics, biotechnology or the various convergences of technology to improve human performance, he says.

The debate over direction is not new. From the earliest days, Esalen was a breeding ground of powerful egos and intellects who competed for control. The most notorious rivalry was between Perls, who wanted Esalen to champion the self-introspection of his Gestalt therapy, and Schutz, who pushed group dynamics through encounters, according to David Price, Esalen's information services manager and son of the co-founder. (Richard Price was killed by a falling boulder during a hike in 1985.)

But Esalen's hallmark has been a steadfast refusal to allow any one guru to capture the flag, Price says — an attitude he says eventually drove followers of the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh from Esalen to Oregon to start their commune there. To ensure that spirit remains after the founders pass on, Esalen recently changed its bylaws to strengthen the checks and balances on the board of trustees.

Esalen has always tried to present as many different ideas as possible, Price says. It avoids things cultish or guru-oriented. Nancy Lunney-Wheeler, Esalen's program director, says she is considering ideas such as Grimes' to bring in more intellectually rigorous topics — but wonders aloud how they would sell. In January, for instance, Esalen offered a workshop on novelist Aldous Huxley's life and work that drew fewer than 10 people, a third of what the more popular classes attract. The biggest draws, Lunney- Wheeler says, are yoga, arts, meditation and classes on relationships.

Esalen needs to keep ahead of the curve, but at the same time keep popular, she says. What's cutting edge is not necessarily what's popular.

Esalen's edgiest programs are not found in the public courses. They are offered by the institute's little-known Center for Theory & Research, which organizes projects and conferences on what it calls frontier inquiry. Among other things, the center held citizen diplomat conferences with Soviets during the Cold War, explored more sustainable methods of capitalism with leading CEOs; launched early programs in alternative and holistic heath; and taught meditation and mindfulness to AIDS patients and inner-city youth. The center has compiled an archive of 10,000 cases studies of supernormal human functioning, such as acts of telepathy and extraordinary strength, and a bibliography of scientific research on meditation.

And now the center, as part of Esalen's overall rejuvenation, is set to unveil six new research initiatives. They include programs on Western esoteric studies, supernormal human capacities and whether consciousness survives bodily death. Other initiatives will seek to improve the effectiveness of environmental groups and gauge methods to improve human performance, including raising IQ, known as Integral Transformative Practice. In addition, just as Murphy and others reached out to Soviet thinkers during the Cold War, they are now exploring similar citizen-diplomat initiatives with Islamic mystics.

We're in outlaw country, the road less traveled, Murphy says.

Murphy, 73, believes that Esalen is overly identified with the 1960s and unfairly lampooned as the vanguard of California's touchy-feely New Agers. Too often, he says, the institute's solid intellectual achievements are ignored. Whatever changes have transformed Esalen over time, Murphy says, the mission to help people fulfill their potential remains evergreen.

Bill Schier, 43, is a case in point. The New York native says he was a hard-driving prosecutor in Northern Virginia when his world suddenly fell apart a few years ago. A 14-year marriage ended in divorce. Shortly afterward, his uncle and best friend died.

What am I doing with my life? he asked himself. At his therapist's recommendation, he visited Esalen in October 2000. During a workshop, Experiencing Esalen, he sat in a circle and studied his feet, as instructed during a sensory awareness session. He says he found the whole thing ridiculous — and blurted that out to the group. Then, Schier says, a startling thing happened. People offered support and companionship. Total strangers who cared? Clearly, he thought, this was not New York.

After a weekend of art, deep conversations, steaming baths and nourishing organic food, Schier says he felt transformed. In 2001, he quit his job and enrolled in the institute's extended student program. Working jobs in the kitchen and at the entry gate, Schier says he's resolving lifelong problems stemming from a troubled childhood. I'm a lot less stoic than I used to be, Schier says. I'm less afraid of my emotions. I'm more able to express my disappointments and joys, and deal with the disappointments of others.

Such testimonies suggest that Esalen maintains its value as a self-help mecca. Nusbaum, the institute's executive director, says, Everyone who comes here leaves different than when they arrived.

Now all they have to do is get more people to come.


These venues no longer exist as naturist opportunities. The stories below are provided for historical reference.

Swallows/Sun Island

2006: Swallows/Sun Island Rises From the Ashes

By Gary M.

June, 2006 - Driving up Harbison Canyon recently to visit one of Southern California’s oldest established nudist clubs, one is struck by all the changes that have taken place since the big fire three years ago. In October, 2003, the eastern half of San Diego County was destroyed by a raging inferno that swept away homes and hillsides full of trees and dried grass indiscriminately. The fire burned over a million acres and took nearly two weeks to extinguish. And the fifty-year old Swallows Sun Island Club, nestled in this quiet and underdeveloped canyon, was nearly wiped out. Of the 50 residences there, only two mobile homes survived. Fortunately, there was no loss of life.

At that point, nobody was sure if the resort would ever reopen. Owner Jim Shafer had been trying to sell the park for several years but had few takers. The odds of keeping the site nudist were even slimmer. But that’s when the miracle happened. Nudists from all over the country responded with money and material to help Shafer rebuild. Both AANR (The American Association for Nude recreation) and The Naturist Society channeled their members’ donations to help with the effort.

When I last visited the park in 2005, the transformation was already underway. The “South 40”residential area had many new pre-fabricated homes lining its main street and several others were under construction. Some of the long-time residents – but not all – had returned and were volunteering their time also to bring back the recreational infrastructure. The perimeter fence had been rebuilt and is being repainted, and both the clubhouse and restaurant were open for business. The motel is 90% renovated as of this writing. People were again lounging by the pool and the traditional afternoon water volleyball game was in progress. And, even better, Shafer had found a buyer who promised to keep the park nudist.

Earlier this year, the sale of the park was finally completed. The new owner is Fernando Gonzales, 45, a resident of the park and a building contractor by profession. Gonzales had volunteered during the months following the fire and he and Shafer “started taking” and the decision to sell “just evolved” according to a farewell letter sent by Shafer to the residents last month.

The word from the people living at the park is that the new owner “exudes enthusiasm” with an engaging personality that makes everyone feel welcome and “energized to pitch in.” Jay Goldby is the new General Manager and Jim McDonald has returned as chair of the resident’s Activity Committee. The three of them are hard at work planning building upgrades and scheduling the summer activities. One of the first things they decided was to jettison the old name for the park.

Swallows, the original name, was christened in 1954 by original owners Doc and Georgia Zehner. During the first decade, an outside nudist club named Sun Island, which was based in nearby El Cajon, used Swallows as its base of operations. In 1964, “Big Sue” Latimer purchased the park from Zehner and renamed it “Swallows Sun Island Resort.”

The stories about “Big Sue” are legend in the nudist community. She ruled Swallows with a tight grip and loud mouth for nearly a decade. Often she got on a loudspeaker at 10am to remind everyone, “This is a NUDIST resort! It’s a sunny day so get those clothes off!” Sue sold her ownership share in 1989 and died a few years later.

The name Swallows Sun Island remained through several more owners in the 1990’s until now, when Gonzales and the new team decided to drop the “Swallows” and keep just the “Sun Island Resort” if just to remove the connection in people’s minds to the park that was destroyed by the 2003 fire.

“People still think Swallows is closed,” said Goldby. “By changing the name we break out of that stigma.”

For the 2006 season, Goldby said the motel and clubhouse are completely remodeled, and there are as many as 20 of the newly constructed homes now available for sale. “We are also bringing in cable TV for the first time as well as high-speed Internet lines.” He added that many of the roads are in the process of being repaved, and the front entrance to the park is also being changed. The RV and camping areas are also open and hookups improved.

Goldby says Sun Island also has maintained a “good relationship” with its neighbors in the canyon and sees no problems with the proposed Indian Casino being built a few miles away. “We are talking to them about running shuttle buses to and from the park for those residents and park visitors interested in doing a little gambling” once the casino is completed next year. Anticipating some additional residential growth in the canyon during the next decade, Golby also said a new grove of tall trees will be planted at that end of the Sun Island “to insure our future privacy.”

Hiking trails have always surrounded the park and the general manager says that since the fire there is less foliage around to shield nude hikers in a few spots. So far there have been no complaints from neighbors and Golby said the plants and shrubs are “slowly growing back.”

He added that Sun Island now has 200 paid members with an ambitious goal of 800 within the next three or four years. The old Swallows was always known for its younger, family atmosphere and the management team hopes to create enough youth-based activities to win them back again.

“We are speaking to several of the outside nudist clubs and beach groups in the San Diego area, and we also are advertising at the local colleges,” Goldby said. “We now have two massage therapists on the grounds, which we hadn’t before. We are also going to sponsor some tennis and volleyball tournaments in hopes of attracting nudists interested in those activities.”

Another project that has seen an enthusiastic response from the members is creating a “Swallows Retrospective” on one of the clubhouse walls. “We want to include pictures and articles beginning at or near the time of the opening of the original resort to the present time,” Gonzales said. Many pictures were lost in the fire and he is asking for the nudist community to look through their old scrapbooks and to donate copies to the club.

The club also has a brand new Internet web site with a new link address:

On it, the new owner thanks everyone for their ideas and hard work in bringing the resort back to full operation. “You’re doing a great job and we appreciate you very much!”

One fifty-year old tradition does remain, however. The Sun Island web site and all of its literature reminds visitors that “We are a NUDIST resort (not clothing optional). Weather permitting, clothing shall not be worn in recreational areas.”

Somewhere “Big Sue” is smiling.

Mystic Oaks/McConville

Remembering Mystic Oaks/McConville (Inland Empire)

03/04/2007 - Mystic Oaks survived raids, Peeping Toms and fires, but not a divorce. Never in her 80 years has Flora "Flo" Nilson felt so exposed. After spending most of her adult life buffing up the image of nudists, the owner of Orange County's only nudist resort and one of the longest-running such refuges in the West is calling it quits.

"It's time to move on," Nilson said. "For 53 years, it was quite a religious experience, chasing sunshine and health. Now it's over, and it's not easy."

For nearly three-quarters of a century, Mystic Oaks, formerly known as McConville, has nestled among towering oak, sycamore and pine trees off winding Ortega Highway between San Juan Capistrano and Lake Elsinore. Accessible only by an unmarked dirt road behind a padlocked gate, it is 2,500 feet up in the Cleveland National Forest. For generations, nudists have gathered here year-round, playing tennis, shuffleboard and volleyball; hiking; sunning and lounging around the pool. Hundreds have roughed it overnight in tiny, rustic cabins with no electricity.

The nudist camp, a peaceful, uninhibited setting, enabled the few hundred dues-paying members to relax with nature au naturel. Nudists paid annual fees of $400 to $600. But lately things have changed, Nilson said. "Most members were happy with our rustic retreat, but newer members wanted to change it into a country club-type setting. People don't enjoy camping out like they used to. They want all the amenities."

But after a long-drawn-out divorce, Nilson had no deep pockets with which to upgrade the site. Declining financial circumstances, coupled with dropping membership, caused her to give up the 129-acre property. The sale is pending.

In 1933, nudist camps were becoming popular in the United States. Psychotherapist Hobart Glassey, his wife, Lura, and a former New York grocer, Peter Joseph McConville, leased a piece of forested land they called Elysia. The next year, they bought 330 acres three miles uphill from the initial site and named it Olympic Fields.

Here, astride the border of Riverside and Orange counties, the founders battled neighbors and county officials. Peeping Toms and trespassers climbed the gate. Sometimes, 100 members fought off raids by sheriff's deputies bent on breaking up their naked volleyball games and barbecues, according to Times articles of the era.

A 1934, a 35-minute movie called "Elysia, Valley of the Nudes," was filmed in the naturists' paradise. Hobart Glassey appeared in it and was listed as a producer. The film was about a reporter named Mac who was sent to cover the habits of "primitive" people. Mac came to understand the camp and its benefits when he disrobed and joined in activities including baseball, leap-frog and horseshoes. By 1935, a financial rift had destroyed the partnership. The Glasseys, considered by some to be the founders of Western nudism, moved to Los Angeles County, creating a new nudist club in La Tuna Canyon in Sun Valley called Fraternity Elysia.

McConville stayed at Olympic Fields. He built a modest brick recreation hall in 1938, where members enjoyed community dances, potlucks, dominoes and card games. "Their dream," according to a camp newsletter charting the early days of the nudist camp, "was to assist people by providing a place where the pressures of our artificial civilization might be removed."

In 1938, McConville allowed Hollywood to use the resort for a second film, "Unashamed," starring Rae Kidd and Robert Stanley. The heroine entices her workaholic boss to a nudist camp in hopes of winning his heart, while members of the resort cavort in the buff. McConville plays the gatekeeper.

"Both 1930s movies are packed away now," Nilson said. "But we often showed them to members in the recreation hall." In April 1945, McConville helped to fight a bill by state Assemblyman Ralph Dills (D-Gardena) that would have outlawed public nudism. McConville and other members — fully dressed — drove to Sacramento to show the Assembly Crime and Corrections Committee they were just like other people. "Their faces aren't marked by debauchery or depravity," The Times reported.

Dills' bill was defeated in committee, 7 to 2. In 1952, Nilson's husband, Wally, a printer, made an intriguing proposal. "My husband had come home with a nudist magazine, tossed it down and said, 'How would you like to try something different?' " she said.They went for a weekend visit.

"I was nervous at first but found it so uplifting, the most natural thing in the world," Nilson said. "My mother, who was from Sweden, always said: 'If you haven't seen what God has shaped, let them stand and gape.' "In 1954, McConville, then 74 and ailing, sold the retreat to the Nilsons. They paid $7 an acre and renamed it in his honor.

"Naming it McConville made it sound like a little village, which it was," Nilson said. "McConville was a single man who [still] lived in a trailer on the grounds. I made him three meals a day, with spinach, which doctors said would help cure his cancer."

It didn't. He died in 1959 at 78.

After the Nilsons purchased the property, they boosted membership by putting in a pool, a bathhouse and tennis courts.

But sometimes nature seemed to conspire against them. Their first year, Nilson recalls, fire left the surrounding area as bare as the nudists. Women had to duck for cover when fire trucks rumbled through the property. "One firefighter stared so hard, he almost fell from the back of the truck," Nilson recalled with a laugh. The mountain hamlet was a getaway for about 100 families, along with some couples and singles looking to escape from the pressures of urban life. "The park attracted a variety of people, from construction workers to attorneys," Nilson said.

Some members had attended as children, she said. Others visited with friends and liked it so much that they joined. "There were rarely ever more than 200 people here at a time," she said.

People liked to keep their membership a secret, knowing that their way of life could make colleagues or clients squirm. By shedding their clothing, Nilson said, they also shed such traits as pretense and fear.

The Nilsons managed the camp and reared three children there, driving them up and down the mountain to school in Lake Elsinore, seven miles each way. But life in paradise wasn't idyllic. Wally and Flo Nilson divorced in 1981, and she ran the club herself. In 1996, McConville was divided in the property settlement.

"I got about 129 acres … and spent years fighting off developers," Nilson said. Her former husband's portion is covered with houses today.

In 2000, Nilson renamed her land Mystic Oaks, changing it from a traditional all-nude park to "optional clothing" to attract younger families. "We wanted to make people feel more at ease in the beginning," she said.

But, over the last several years, fun- and sun-seekers stopped attending weekend events because they were too busy or were unwilling to drive on the twisting mountain road.

Nilson blames the club's demise on "lazy people who want to be waited on." She acknowledged that people changed but the club didn't: It remained a simple, no-frills outdoor camp.

Last week, Nilson — still a veteran nudist, weather permitting — was bundled up in a sweater and slacks as she hiked around her property for the last time. She recently moved to Sun City in Riverside County. Mystic Oaks is closed — as is the biggest chapter in her life.

The new owner, a member of the Buddhist community, will use the property as a church retreat.

Red White & Blue Beach

Red White & Blue Beach (Santa Cruz) Closes


11/13/2006, Santa Cruz, CA – It’s a tough job overseeing a nude beach, and after 41 years, the owner of Red, White and Blue Beach says it's time to throw in the towel and sell his property. Ralph Edwards, 83, and his wife Kathleen raised their five children in the white two-story house that sits on 170 acres above the beach off Highway 1, six miles north of Santa Cruz. The clothing-optional beach has been host to visitors from all over the world who come to bronze in the sun, camp overnight and fire up a barbecue pit.

"You can go any way you want, it's clothing-optional," Edwards said while walking his dog, Spike, on the deserted beach. But Edwards, who says he isn't a nudist, is ready to go his own way. "It's too much work for me," he said.

He purchased the land from the Scaroni family in 1965 without a plan but with a bunch of ideas, from building condominiums to opening a mobile home park. He teased about running a nudist operation. It turns out a nude beach was the only plan taken seriously by the county. "I couldn't get permits for anything else," he said.

He said his wife, who is living with Alzheimer's disease in a care facility in the city of Santa Cruz, at first didn't care much for the idea of a nude beach. But it grew into a family business that has attracted 60,000 people a year, mostly tourists from San Jose and the San Francisco Bay Area.

The pristine beach gets plenty of attention through nudist publications and the Internet. It's on the Travel Channel's top 10 list of best nude beaches in the world — the only such beach in California to be revealed. Santa Cruz resident Toby Gray, a frequent visitor to the Red, White and Blue, said he and his wife have been enjoying the beach for many years. They've always gone back because of the family-friendly atmosphere, he said, and to hear bands play around the campfire. "The whole campground would fill up," he said.

A few hard-core nudists would bare it all, he said, but most people in the camping areas wore a wrap or sarong. Down on the beach, most people laying out don't cover up.

"It's always been very safe and friendly there," he said.

The private setting is a big reason people feel comfortable at the beach, Edwards said. "I was real lucky to have something like this," he said.

While refusing to name a price for the property, saying he prefers to sell it privately, Edwards said the next property owner can live the life of a movie star, and make it their own private estate, as he has since 1965. "Except I got these naked people coming into my backyard," he said. "Yes, it's funny when you think about it."


On CA 1 between mileposts 24.9 and 25.0
Look for the red, white and blue mailbox and sign and turn west on Scaroni Road
The telephone call box numbered SZ-001-249 is a good landmark. The entrance is just south of it.
There is a toll booth and gate before the parking lot. This is where you pay Ralph or whoever is on duty.



• Red White and Blue Beach was more like a nudist campground, with camping, barbecue pits and volleyball courts. Operated for over 30 years.
• It was usually a little windy, which is why people tended to congregate on the northern end of the beach nearer to the cliffs.
• This was a very safe beach. There are none of the peepers on the cliffs like at Bonnie Doon. If you want to feel safe, this is the place. Many single women frequent this beach for the same reason.
• The male to female ratio was pretty equal, super nice people and very low pressure.
• They also usually had a hotdog cart on the weekends.

Deer Park Nudist Resort

2003: Deer Park (Devore, CA)


A Trip Report By Tony W

The first half of Memorial Weekend saw a deep overcast and cool temperatures over the entire Los Angeles basin. Lucky for us, the sun broke through within minutes of arriving at Deer Park Nudist Resort. A sign in their Registration Office window reminds us this is NOT a clothing-optional resort, but it is obvious from the various states of dress and undress throughout the park that this policy is only loosely enforced (besides, it was not a warm day to that point.)

The staff is extremely friendly and gives a free day pass to SCNA members visiting DPNR for the first time. There are two swimming pools, a smaller heated one near the clubhouse and a much larger one that is unheated and is used basically for lap swimming and water exercise. The cold pool is surrounded by deck lounges, occupied by people intent on improving their tan even through the partial cloudy skies. It is adjacent to a built-in Jacuzzi which is anything but cool, and it is most popular at sunset when the evening temperature drops to “clothes-level.”

On the Sunday we visited we participated in the planned holiday weekend activities such as the pie-eating contest and clothes-toss. (Take note: you need to stuff your pants with your tennis shoes to get them to go any distance.) We were told we missed an outrageous Magic show, dinner-dance, the free kegs of beer plus Karaoke the night before (Karaoke is a big tradition here), but we did enjoy the Sunday band who played our favorite music from the 60’s and 70’s.

Management and volunteers are working hard to turn the clubhouse into a forest-themed motif, complete with deer (after all it is “Deer Park”!) The indoor Jacuzzi is operational and very popular, as is the new sauna and resurfaced tennis courts.

[Editor's note: 4 months after this report was written, Southern California suffered major damage from forrest fires that endanged many of the nudist parks, including Deer Park. The fire destroyed the hillside behind the upper pool and took out the trees in that section of the park. It also destroyed the clubhouse and restaurant in the upper section of the park. Luckily there were no injuries. It forced the owners to commit to rebuilding the park's infrastructure including a new ell for water, better roads, and a removal of many of the old trees, buildings and trailers. More about this transformation in future reports.]

Terra Cotta Inn

Places to Go: Terra Cotta (2005)


August, 2005 - Palm Springs was a famous retreat for celebrities, royalty, politicians, artists and millionaires from the early 1930s to the 1960s and has recently been rediscovered. Guests relaxing by the pool at The Terra Cotta Inn, a clothing optional resort and spa, enjoy a pampering experience and re-creation of the sybaritic life that has made Palm Springs so famous.

A private 17-room hideaway designed by modernist architect Albert Frey in 1960, The Terra Cotta Inn is nestled in a quiet residential neighborhood five minutes from downtown Palm Springs. In years past, it was a celebrity retreat named the “Monkey Tree” and was a favorite of Hollywood stars such as Marilyn Monroe, Lucille Ball and Spencer Tracy. In 1995, husband and wife, Mary Clare and Tom Mulhall, bought the property and renamed it “The Terra Cotta Inn.” (Forbes Magazine reported that nude recreation is the fastest growing vacation segment of the travel industry.)

So, what is it really like to visit a “clothing-optional” resort? First of all, the big question is, “what will the other guests be like?” In this particular (first time!) experience, the other guests (couples only) ranged from their late 30’s to the 60’s; mostly “baby boomers”...and honestly, the second question is, “how will we compare!” If this resort is any indication, people of all shapes and sizes are represented. In fact one couple was celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary and we all stood around au naturel toasting the fortunate couple with a case of Veuve Clicquot champagne that they had kindly provided.

Every afternoon at 4:00 PM, the owners and hosts, Mary & Tom, served a choice of White or Red wine along with fresh strawberries around the main pool. Tom looked very dapper wearing only a bow tie.

We didn’t mingle much, but did visit with a few very pleasant and unpretentious couples. A number of ladies comfortably wore swim suits, although all but one had shed them by the second day – after a few hours, or at most, a day, it seemed very natural and relaxing to luxuriate al fresco in the beautiful desert garden setting. Activities in the resort are marvelously benign. One either sun bathes; swims or floats using foam “noodles”; reads a book under the mist-cooled bougainvillea-draped canopy; and all this just in the main pool area. Other diversions include a large (4 couple) hot tub/Jacuzzi. Although the weather was the expected hot & dry (but honestly quite comfortable) high of 45°C in July, the reason for a hot tub is evident in the winter when temperatures go down to below 20°C. For this reason, a romantic fire pit and barbeque facilities are also provided. Our room had a private garden in the back with a small table and two chairs; two chaise lounges; and a 2 couple Jacuzzi. Some rooms have a full kitchen.

Having arrived directly from Hong Kong and not wishing to rent a car, we had been advised that the nearest modern and comprehensively stocked supermarket was within walking distance. Even at 10:00 AM, a walk to the store was quite pleasant with hats/caps recommended, along with a camera to record the beautiful desert flowers and shrubs along the streets. (Be forewarned that this is suburban California and there are often no sidewalks – one sometimes walks in the street, ideally facing the on-coming traffic side for safety.) The round-trip walk at a leisurely pace takes about 45 minutes and provides an opportunity to put on some clothing. Our reason to shop was to purchase a bottle of wine, because we elected not to go out for lunch. The resort provided a comprehensive choice of Palm Springs restaurants that deliver; charged lunch to one’s account along with a reasonable gratuity; and brought it to the room. We always elected to dine at the wrought iron garden table and two chairs that were located just outside every room.

Regarding the pleasant staff (especially the delightful Manageress Penny), the housekeeping ladies (clothed) make every attempt to be discreet and invisible. Housekeeping was excellent, as were the VERY large rooms. Tastefully done in desert décor, all Deluxe Rooms (approximately 300 square feet) include a king-sized bed; separate seating area; mini-refrigerator; microwave oven; in-room coffee maker; cable equipped color television with remote control; VCR; free video library; and telephone with direct-dial international service.

There is daily pool-side breakfast included, with fresh fruit, juices, breakfast food; yogurt; Danish & bagels; great coffee and tea.

Other amenities include luxurious spa services in the privacy of your room. There are fax services available and if you aren’t traveling with your PC, Tom will allow you to use one of his computers to check your e-mail (as we did).

In conclusion, our measure of a holiday experience is, “would we do it again?” In this case the answer is a resounding “YES”. We found out that truly “less is more” and when all material embellishments are absent (except perhaps a watch!), we tend to look upon our fellow human beings as no more nor no less equal – accepting all as being the beautiful creatures that mankind represents.

Originally published in the Hong Kong Culture Magazine, August 2005 by an unnamed author:


January, 2006 - Four months ago, Tom and Mary Clare Mulhall (photo, above) thought they had been made an offer they couldn’t refuse: a couple from Redding wanted to buy the Terra Cotta Inn!

Rumors started to fly through the nudist community about the price along with some wild conditions of the sale (which will not be repeated here.) We are here to report that the couple could not obtain the necessary financing so Tom and Mary Clare will continue to own and run their 17-room nudist hideaway in Palm Springs for the foreseeable future.

Tom told SCNA that they are not actively looking to sell, but that with real estate value going through the roof, we occasionally get someone who expresses an interest in the property. “We’ll always listen to the right offer,” Tom said, “but we are very happy with what we are doing in the meantime.”

“Our sales are better than ever, especially for those nudist travelers who don’t want to pay the top dollar charged by other hotels in the area.”

If a sale ever does happen, Tom said he and his wife would stay in the Palm Springs area and perhaps open a travel business. “But no matter what, we’re not going to sell to anyone who doesn’t pledge to keep Terra Cotta as a nudist resort.”



LA County Sheriff Baca Says No Law Against Hiking Nude in Angeles National Forest

December, 2006 - Naturists scored a “significant local victory” last month when the Sheriff of Los Angeles County admitted in a letter “simple nudity in the unincorporated county area of the Angeles National Forest is not prohibited by law.”

The letter was dated November 8 and addressed to Allen Baylis, Naturist Action Committee Board member. It was written in reply to an inquiry by Baylis on behalf of a local nude hiker who had been harassed by a Forest Service technician.

The hiker, Brian K. of Altadena, had hiked nude around sunset for years on a remote mountain trail above his home. In a telephone call to SCNA, he said he occasionally met other hikers and Forest Service employees along the way, but had encountered no problems. “I always carry my shorts just in case, but nobody ever seemed to care.”

That is until October 23, when he encountered a FS employee who did care – enough to report the incident to the local sheriff station.

Brian said the sheriff’s staff issued a warning that if he was seen hiking nude again, they would come after him “with a helicopter, if necessary.”

The hiker then called AANR, who referred him to Debra Sue Stevens, who is the AANR-West government affairs chair, who, in turn, referred him to Baylis. Baylis, who is a California attorney, wrote a letter to the LA Sheriff’s Department on Brian’s behalf and pointed out that the Penal Code states that a person cannot be cited for indecent exposure unless the offender “willfully” exposes his/her private parts “where the intent is to offend or annoy” others. He also cited the California court case In re Smith where the state Supreme Court had established these rules.

On November 8, Baylis received a reply from a Captain J.L. Gutierrez, writing on behalf of Sheriff Leroy D Baca, admitting that Baylis was correct, stating, “Your client appears to be within his legal rights to hike in the forest in the nude.” The letter continued, “Altadena Station Deputies will be briefed that simply hiking nude in the forest is not a violation of the law.”

The Angeles National Forest covers more than 650,000 acres of the San Gabriel Mountains that run approximately from Mt. Wilson all the way to Big Bear.

Nude Sailing and Houseboating

Nude Sailing and Houseboating

By Gary & Peter

October, 2009 - For several years, members have requested we add a nude sailing trip off the coast to our list of preferred events. But until this year, when Peter made his boat available, that request lay unfulfilled. Thanks to Peter’s kind generosity, SCNA members and guests were able to enjoy the ultimate nude adventure - sailing to the Channel Islands with only the ocean breeze on our skin.

When Peter proposed hosting a series of weekend voyages during the spring and summer he was hit with a long list of enthusiastic would-be sailor and sailorettes eager for the experience. His sailboat, named the Talisman is a 41-footer and can hold about a half dozen people at one time comfortably. Signup sheets were posted for each proposed voyage so if one trip was filled an interested person might have another choice to go. Nevertheless most of the slots filled up within weeks. The first event was a party on the dock April 19 to introduce everyone to the boat and to all the safety things we need to know about sailing. Peter also had available charts and books to discuss the Channel Islands National Park.

On May 3, Peter took the boat out for a 5-mile cruise touring the Channel Island Harbor. Staying within the breakwater this is mostly for those who have never sailed on open water and want to confirm that their sea legs are worthy of the wave action we surly will encounter in the future. A selection of hors d’ oeuvres and drinks were provided by Sonya and Peter. June 20-22 was a trip to the city of Santa Barbara to see the annual Solstice Parade down State Street. Dropping anchor Friday afternoon near Stearns Warf gave us easy access to restaurants, shopping, and to pick up those coming up by train to meet us.

Saturday we met up with other club members who were there watching the parade from the sidewalk. After some lunch, shopping, wine tasting, and dinner, it was back to the boat to relax with the lights of the city as a backdrop. Those who made the trip still rave about sleeping on deck watching the full sky of stars. Sunday after breakfast and a refreshing swim it was time to pick up the anchor, set the autopilot, and sail home.

Being the intrepid sailor he is, Peter returned to shore on June 22, dropped everyone off, and then set sail again for Catalina and Santa Barbara Islands with Debbie. It was fun to join all the cruise ship tourists for shopping and dining in Avalon. After spending 2 nights in Avalon harbor it was time to set sail for Santa Barbara Island to watch hundreds of sea lions in their rookery.

Twice In the evening flying fish landed on the deck of the boat while try to escape the feeding sea lions. July 5 was a day trip to Anacapa and Santa Cruz Islands, lying between 11 and 16 miles offshore. Sailing out of the Oxnard marina at around 8am meant some people traveling longer distances had to bunk in on the boat overnight. Why the early cast off time? So we could be sure to arrive back around sunset. A full day of sailing means a full day of sailing! This trip we were greeted by some dolphins that playfully followed the boat for several miles.

July 25-27 was a three-day trip to explore Santa Cruz Island. Again, some of the crew arrived the night before departure for dinner and to bunk on the boat overnight. Friday morning with all the crew present we reviewed the sailing charts, and questions were answered about the weekend’s itinerary. There were foggy conditions and light winds for the crossing of the channel. The light winds provided us with flat seas and the opportunity to view hundreds of dolphins who surrounded the boat and acted like an escort. The sky cleared to blue skies as we approached Santa Cruz Island. We found an anchorage a small beach, and privacy.

After the anchors were set, the dingy was launched, kayaks set up for use, and a pitcher of margaritas were blended. For the next two days the crew spent swimming, kayaking, exploring, and just relaxing. Sunday morning after breakfast it was time to host the dingy on deck, and haul the anchors, it was sad to have to leave our private home for the weekend. As with the crossing to Santa Cruz we encountered hundreds of dolphins again. They came very close to the boat - 2 to 3 feet way – and they wanted to play.

But the highlight was seeing a pair of blue whales, wow! These are true mammoths, the largest creature to have lived, even larger than the largest dinosaur. We gave chase but Talisman’s speed was no match for these giants, whose speed can easily be triple of our maximum!

August 2 was a repeat of the July 5 trip. Again, on this voyage, we were greeting by a couple of blue whales who followed the boat for over an hour. We arrived at Santa Cruz Island and set anchor just in time for lunch. Peter found us a small cove with a narrow beach. While some go ashore to explore, others spend the time jumping off the sailboat into the ocean water. After lunch we sail around the west (lee) side of Anacapa and circle for home. Some of us have been nude now for almost the entire day since leaving the breakwater. What few boats we saw in the channel never came close enough to confirm we weren't wearing clothes. Well, except for one guy in a speed boat who took a long hard look before he motored on.

Interestingly enough, once we started publicizing these sailing trips we were contacted by members of other clubs who wanted to come along also. As long as there was room, they got to enjoy the experience also. We also were contacted by others with sailboats docked in Marina Del Rey and Long Beach who want to get together next year for some coordinated events offshore. A nude flotilla off Southern California.

Who would have thought?

Burning Man Festival

Directions to the Burning Man Festival, Black Rock, NV

Directions To Burning Man from Reno, NV:

From Reno, Nevada, take Hwy I-80 east for approximately 30 miles.

Take the Wadsworth/Pyramid Lake exit #43 to Hwy 447.

Go 1.0 mile to Wadsworth and turn left, staying on Hwy 447 north. It's 75 miles to Empire, NV where gas and supplies are available. Continue 3.0 miles to Gerlach where gas is also available.

From Gerlach, go northwest on Highway 447 for one mile to the fork. Take the right-hand fork, Hwy 34, and continue 11 miles to the Burning Man entrance.

Note: The 3-mile playa entrance (first turn-off) used in previous years should not be used. The 12-mile playa entrance just beyond ours will not take you to Burning Man and will be patrolled by BLM Rangers.

Distance from Reno: 107 miles.
Driving Time: Approx 175 minutes

For directions from locations other than Reno, check Yahoo or Google Maps.

Traveler's Advisory

The state highways leading to Gerlach (the closest settlement to Black Rock City) and all other roads in the area are patrolled by the Nevada Highway Patrol. 25 MPH, as posted in nearby towns, means exactly that. Local kids and pets play in the road -- be careful. Outside of town, be prepared to share the road with livestock and wildlife. Most vehicle accidents in which participants are injured occur on Hwy 447/34 on the final approach to Black Rock City. It is sadly ironic that people have often made it across the country only to have a serious injury in the last few miles. Please be cautious! Tired? Then stop to rest! Be alert for cattle and deer that will dart into the road in front of you, especially at night.

A note about jackrabbits - there is an overabundance of them and they are "kamikaze." It is not worth jeopardizing your safety to swerve in an attempt to avoid them.

Stop and look carefully at all train crossings. Estimating the speed of trains is misleading in the broad desert expanse. Always wait for any oncoming train to pass before crossing railroad tracks.


Be advised that the Nevada Highway Patrol have been known to make random stops and conduct unwarranted searches of vehicles with out-of-state license plates. Do not park alongside Highway 34. The county Sheriff will ticket any vehicles that are parked by the roadside. The road to our encampment is your only access to Black Rock City. There are no other routes.

The federal Bureau of Land Management has declared an off-road closure throughout a two-mile area around our city. It will be patrolled by law enforcement agencies. Anyone attempting to enter the playa off-road will be subject to substantial fines. Furthermore, the margins of the lakebed are saturated with water flow. You will get stuck. Mired vehicles may remain stranded for days or weeks.


Burning Man FAQ

When: Approximately Labor Day Weekend each year
Where: Black Rock Flats, Nevada

Admission Price:

Tickets are sold on a first come, first serve basis and are NOT refundable if you leave the grounds.

In 2006, ticket prices were $250/person (available through mid-August) by mail order, Internet and walk in outlet. Unlimited tickets at $280 available after 8/14/06 could be purchasd on the Internet and Walk-in Outlets only. Check the Burning Man official site for current prices.

What to Bring:

Everything you need to survive 4 days in the burning desert! Including: Water, food, shade, sunblock, comfortable clothes, and knowing your) limits are all important to being able to enjoy the experience. Bag or box juices are great, because the containers are easy to pack back to camp when they're empty. Bring energy snacks. The heat can keep hunger down, so snack frequently. Bikes are good for older kids and adults, and wagons or bike trailers are good for younger ones.

The playa can get very hot during the day, and quite chilly at night. Loose, breathable clothes provide comfort and protection from the sun, and can be layered with warmer things as the sun goes down. Hats are a good idea, as are sunglasses. The dry, alkaline playa dust can be hard on tender feet, so socks are a good idea, even with sandals. Don’t forget medicines! Bring the things that make little discomforts easier to deal with, such as chewable acetaminophen, stuff for tummy upsets, aloe sunburn lotion with lidocaine, cough syrup, bandaids, moleskin for blisters, and so on.

Be sure to bring your “comfort icons” along, such as pillows, books, iPods (don’t forget extra batteries!) etc.

What Not to Bring: Inhibitions


Bare to Breakers 5k Race

2007: Bay to Breakers - a Race Overview & Map

May, 2007, San Francisco — Top international runners were joined by pirates, space aliens, leprechauns and naked people as they took to the streets of San Francisco on Sunday for the 96th Bay to Breakers cross-town jaunt. The event, as always, combined world-class athleticism with drunken debauchery as 60,000 people ran, walked or stumbled their way toward the 7.46-mile (12 Kilometers) course's finish line.

"With divine faith and honor, we steer this vessel through the crowds!" said Pirate Captain Nathan James, 29, of San Francisco. James and his crew of scurvy-ridden shipmates rolled their wooden boat, stocked with kegs of Pabst Blue Ribbon, down the road. They offered beer and pirate-talk along the way.

The skies were slightly overcast when the race got under way minutes before 8 a.m., but the sun was shining most of the day. Few knew it, but the event was struck by a tragedy early on. A 53-year-old man collapsed at the course's finish line around 9 a.m. He was pronounced dead at 10:03 am. The San Francisco Medical Examiner's office later identified him as Joe Spinale of El Cerrito, but few details about his death were available.

Lost among the beer bongs and impromptu dance parties was the fact that, for some, Bay to Breakers is a real race — and one that attracts top international talent.

Edna Kiplagat of Kenya made history by becoming the first woman ever to cross the finish line first in a Bay to Breakers race. Women runners were given a 4:40 head start over the men as they competed for a $25,000"Battle of the Breakers" prize. Kiplagat clocked in at 38 minutes, 55 seconds, finishing ahead of John Korir, also of Kenya, who finished the race in 34:44.

The Bay Area's top men and women finishers were Tommy Greenless of Walnut Creek at 36:44 and Magdalena Lewy-Boulet of Oakland at 41:44.

Both said the costumed and drunken masses behind them did not take away from their enjoyment of the day. Quite the contrary. "You can't take yourself too seriously here," said Greenless, a middle-school physical education teacher. Lewy-Boulet agreed. "If anything it relaxes me a little bit more," she said.

A group of Elvis impersonators jumped onto the course mid-race Sunday, briefly surrounding a group of leading women runners. Lewy-Boulet said they couldn't keep up for long. "Only a few steps," she said. "Maybe less than 50 meters." The scene got zanier and zanier as more people approached the finish line.

After the runners came a posse of Star Wars storm troopers, Austin Powers-inspired Fembots and two naked guys on skateboards. At least one woman used the event as a job fair. Marianne Dove carried a sign reading, "Google recruiter hiring brilliant minds."

She said she did the same thing in 2006, and ended up receiving 500 resumes, including some that were sent via BlackBerry before she made it to the finish line.

Few costume ideas were off limits. Dozens — mostly men, but also a few women — wore nothing other than running shoes.

One group dressed as doctors, pushing along a woman who was symbolically “giving birth” as she went. Others, inspired by a certain Justin Timberlake "Saturday Night Live" skit that became a YouTube phenomenon, donned cheap-looking suits and strategically placed cardboard boxes. "Reach in the box," called Chad Walter, 32, of San Francisco, from the side of the road. His box was filled with phallus-shaped gummy candies.

Before noon, officials began diverting people off the course in order to reopen roads for vehicle traffic. By that point, some were headed for an afternoon hangover as they slept off their morning indulgences in Golden Gate Park. Still, many were ready to do it all again next year. And some were already looking ahead to the 100th Bay to Breakers in 2011.

"Six years ago was our rookie year," said Walter, gesturing to his group of friends. "Now we do it nonstop." [At press time we had not yet received a report from the “Bare-to-Breakers” contingent that left by bus from LupinLodge that morning and ran/walked/skipped/whatever across the city wearing only running shoes (and perhaps those two guys with the skateboard). We’ll write some more after we hear back from more participants. – Ed.]

Original article by Kelly Rayburn, staff writer for the Alameda Times-Star on 05/21/2007. Reprinted with permission.


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