America's Best Gay Nude Swimming Holes
By Mike Boisvert
TANQUE VERDE FALLS
East of Tuscon, this is the best gay swimming hole in the world, when there is water in it. The brook is often dry, but it does catch snowmelt from the mountains in spring and rainwater in late summer during the rainy season. Near the beginning of the trail that descends into the canyon, you'll find a sign for Upper Tanque Verde Falls that has been marked over by locals announcing nude use of the area. As you walk upstream from the brook bed in the canyon, you'll find the gay nude area.
Directions: From Interstate 10, take Exit 275 and go north on Houghton Road for 13 miles. Turn right on Tanque Verde Road, which becomes Redington Road and will turn to gravel after 6 miles. Continue another 1.5 miles beyond the end of the pavement. (The road continues winding up a mountain.) Park on the left side of the road and take the trail on the right side of the road. The trail is marked by a metal sign that says "Upper Tanque Verde Falls." After descending into the canyon, hike upstream along the very rocky creek bed past an old dam, which is the gay nude area.
KENO ROCK ROAD QUARRY
East of the Ashland-Medford area
Located east of the Ashland-Medford area, this pond in the quarry covers less than acre. The water is cold and very deep. Great for swimming in the summer. This swimming hole attracts up to 50 bathers on a hot summer weekend. Quite a few bathers are gay men. The atmosphere is low-key but sometimes straight clothed bathers are here to party.
Directions: From Interstate 5 in Ashland, take Exit 14 and go east on State Route 66 for .75 mile. Turn left onto Dead Indian Highway and continue for about 18 miles. At milepost 18, turn right onto Keno Access Road. Drive across the cattle guard and up the hill a mile to the large gravel piles on the left. Turn right onto the dirt road in front of the gravel piles. Drive to the edge of the quarry until you reach the parking area. Nude bathers sometimes hang out at the far end of the pond. The quarry is in a remote forest area but is very accessible. It requires little walking.
Near Oakhurst (north of Fresno, south of Yosemite National Park)
Willow Creek is near Oakhurst, north of Fresno, and south of Yosemite National Park. Willow Creek cuts through smooth rock that forms mini-waterfalls and whirlpools. It's awesome. After 5 to 10 minutes upon leaving the parking lot, you'll will find Angel Falls. During late summer, you'll find skinny-dipping is popular below these falls.
Keep walking along the road for a few more minutes and watch for an opening in the woods on the right.
As some point, you'll begin to notice a huge rock slab in the distance. You'll have to bushwhack your way there since there are not any trails to this rock area. The creek flows around this large area of smooth rock. This is a popular area, and it is located 20 minutes from the parking lot.
From this large area of rock, you can continue hiking upstream to reach yet another nude area after you cross the creek. Find a safe place across, then hike upstream for an additional 20 to 30 minutes. You'll see a fence by the trail for safety. Below this fence is Devil’s Slide (a.k.a. Devil’s Falls). In late summer it is a cascade flowing over a huge slab of rock. You can slide down the cascade into the deep pool below.
Willow Creek is busiest on weekends with late summer being the most popular. You may find about 25 bathers between Angel Falls and Devil’s Slide, half being clothed.
Directions: From Fresno, head north on State Route 41 about 45 miles to Oakhurst. At the junction of SR-41 and SR-49 in Oakhurst, continue north on SR-41 for 3.3 miles. Turn right onto County Road 222. After 3.5 miles, CR-222 will veer off to the right but continue straight ahead on CR-274 for 0.8 mile. Then turn left into an unmarked paved drive. After turning, take a right through a metal gate to a dirt parking area. The parking area is not signed but it is 0.6 mile past the Mountain Government Center.
As you drive into the small parking area, the trail you want si on the left-hand side. Hike upstream along the creek and you will find the nude areas.
This swimming hole is in the Russian river resort area, east of Guerneville. On good days the riverbank beach attracts 50 or more swimmers. Nude sunbathing is popular at a meadow near the beach. Since this swimming hole is near the popular Russian River gay resort area, the majority of swimmers are are gay men. Be careful of the poison oak in the woods and the river current.
Get off the River Road exit (toward Guerneville) of US 101. Head west on River Road about 7.5 miles. Turn right onto Wohler Road and go 1.4 miles. Before the bridge over the Russian River, there is a green steel gate with a large "Keep Clear" sign. This is the trail to the nude beach. (Your biggest challenge will be to find parking which is restricted. Try crossing Wohler Bridge and look for parking on the other side.)
Directions: Walk along the paved road behind the green gate and watch for trail on the right. Take the trail until you reach a clearing along the river. You will find the nude swimmers congregating here, on this stretch of sand. The walk from the gate is not bad at all, about 15-20 minutes.
Bethel (in the White Mountains of southwestern Maine)
Frenchman’s Hole is in Bethel, in soutwestern Maine's White Mountains region. There are actually two deep pools in the brook. The upper pool has a waterfall and a natural rock water slide and you'll usually find clothes swimmers here. But walk a short distance downstream and you'll find the the lower pool with nude bathers.
Directions: From Bethel, head east on US Highway 2 for 2.6 miles. When you reach the Sunday River Brewery (big building with red roof great home brew and food), turn left onto Sunday River Road. After about 4 miles, you'll see an old covered bridge to your left.
Continue on Sunday River Road a short distance until the pavement ends, and soon you'll see small twin logging bridges to your left. Turn left and cross the bridges, then take the first right and proceed 0.6 mile to a parking area on the right. The upper of two swimming holes is located here. To reach the lower hole, climb down the ledge and walk downstream.
(Editor's Note: A reader indicated that cruising and overt sexual behavior will be prosecuted. It is patrolled regularly and people have been evicted on occasion.)
North Beach is in Alameda, north of Albuquerque. This is not an official spot for nude bathers. Don't flaunt nudity here, especially in the area to the north of North Beach. Walk well beyond clothed bathers before stripping. Remote parts of the beach attract only a handful of bathers, if any. Water levels in the Rio Grande can be as high as six feet in the spring to just a few inches in late summer.
From the junction of Interstates 25 and 40 in Albuquerque, go north on I-25 about 6.5 miles and take Exit 233. Head west on State Route 528 for about 3 miles. Just past the intersection with South Rio Grande Boulevard, turn left into the parking lot where the sign says "Alameda/Rio Grande Open Space. Take the asphalt path to the right from the parking lot, cross under the bridge, and then go left over the bridge that crosses a small canal.
Directions: When you get to an open area, head to the right on the path near the river. Soon you will come to a sandy beach called North Beach. This is the nicest beach area, so of course, limited to clothed bathers. Continue down the lesser worn trail where you'll cross through a metal and cable barricade several times. In a few minutes, you'll come to sandy areas on the river which is the gay nude area.
BARTON CREEK GREENBELT
Barton Creek runs right through Austin, and, at many points along the greenbelt, you'd swear you were miles from civilization instead of inside the city limits. The greenbelt can be accessed from several points in the city. Twin Falls and Sculpture Falls are swimming holes in the creek that are about a mile apart, and these are the most popular skinnydipping holes. A little discretion is in order. Of course, you should feel free to lay claim to an area that no one else is using and declare it clothing optional for the time you are there. The best skinnydipping times are spring and autumn; the creek is often bone dry in summer.
Directions: In Austin, take Mo-Pac Expressway (Loop 1) a few miles south of the Colorado River (Town Lake) and take the Capital of Texas Highway (Loop 360 North) exit (not the left exit, which goes southeast). Do not turn onto Loop 360. Instead, stay on the frontage road and go straight through the red light at the intersection. Shortly you will reach a point where the frontage road makes a U-turn under the freeway. Just before this U, park on the right shoulder of the frontage road, where there will be a trailhead with a "Twin Falls" sign. Follow this trail, which leads you west along the top of a bluff before descending to the creek, then go right along the trail that parallels the creek. Continue until you see a large pool in the creek beneath small waterfalls that cascade over large rocks. This area is called Twin Falls. The total hike takes about 10 to 15 minutes. Another popular swimming hole, Sculpture Falls, is about a mile farther upstream from Twin Falls.
Rock River, is Vermont's most popular place for gay nude swimming and sunbathing. It's known for being very cruisy. Running into people having sex in the woods is not uncommon. If this is not your scene, just stay near the water. It's known to have a good social atmosphere and everyone seems to look after each other. A popular activity is taking the rocks and building beautiful cairn structures. It's between Brattleboro and Newfane, VT, and has several natural pools. The first pool you reach is the largest, and users may nude, clothed, a mix of both. As you walk further upstream, you'll come to a second pool, which has probably nudity, but is made up of mostly straight folks. Further upstream, you will come to a third pool, which tends to be all nude and all gay.
Directions: From Brattleboro, take State Route 30 north. After 7 or 8 miles, when you see the turnoff for Maple Valley Ski Are, continue north on SR-30 for another 1.5 miles, until you reach the Williamsville Road turnoff on the left. The turnoff is just before a large bridge over Rock River. Pull over and park on the east side of SR-30 just before the bridge. Cross to the west side of SR-30, then walk up Williamsville Road a short distance until you see the first spur trail on the right that heads toward the river. Take this road to the river, then hike upstream about a mile to reach the gay area. Along the way, you should pass two natural pools in the shallow river that is usually where the straight folks hang out. The third swimming hole is your destination.
TEXAS BEACH, Northbank Park
Northbank Park is located along the James River south of downtown Richmond, between Robert E. Lee Bridge (US Highway 1) and Boulevard Bridge (State Route 161). If you make your way to river level from the entrance of the park, you'll reach a secluded and little known sandbar sometimes called Texas Beach (because access is from Texas Avenue). Beyond the sandbar is an area of rocks where men often sunbathe in the nude. This is a popular summertime hangout that is visited mainly by gay men. Vice cops have conducted sting operations here in the past in response to complaints about sex, but their presence seems to have diminished over the past several years.
In a 2004 article in Richmond.com about Richmond's swimming and sunbathing areas, the manager of the James River Park System was quoted as saying that "This is a very isolated area and it seems to me [nude sunbathers are] going out of their way to be discreet. However, I do have to point out it [nudity] is illegal." Discretion is indeed the key. Cover up if you see rafters or kayakers to avoid potential complaints. families with kids away.
Directions: From the intersection of South Meadow Street and West Main Street in downtown Richmond, about 1.5 miles west of the state capitol go south on Meadow, toward the James River, for 1.3 miles to its end, then turn left [east] onto Kansas Avenue and go 4 blocks. Turn right [south] onto Texas Avenue, which will almost immediately end at the entrance to Northbank Park. Find parking and follow the park walkway across a pedestrian bridge over railroad tracks and then down about 70 steps. Once a river level, go upstream [right] a few hundred feet to a sanbar and continue to the rocks beyond.
Mohonk Preserve in near New Paltz, in the northern Shawangunk Mountains. There are signs posted along Coxing Kill Creek that inform folks of nude use. There are several pools for skinny-dipping and rock areas for sunbathing. A small number of bathers are in the nude area, that includes some gay men. This area is very popular on those hot, hazy, and humid summer weekends.
Officials are quite vocal about cruising and having sex in the woods. This is not the place to test this out. Parking at the Coxing lot fills up quickly on summer weekends. If the lot is full, return to the to the Mohonk Preserve Visitor Center, located on US Highway 44 a half mile west of State Route 209 and 1.5 miles east of Clove Road. You can get information about getting to Coxing Trailhead from other lots and trails in the preserve, although a long walk will be required.
Directions: From Interstate 87 in the Poughkeepsie area, take Exit 18 and head west on State Route 299. Continue about 7 miles through the town of New Paltz all the way to the end of the route at the junction with US Highway 44. Turn right on US-44 abd go 4 miles. Turn right onto Clove Road. After 0.3 mile, bear right to stay on Clove Road and continue about a mile farther to the Coxing Trailhead parking lot on the left. Cross the road to reach Coxing Kill Creek. There is a footbridge over the creek near Split Rock swimming hole (bathing suits). Cross and turn left, following the trail along the creek downstream about 10 minutes. Look for a sign posted on a tree that says "Beyond this point you may encounter nudity."
If you have any information on these areas, please Contact Us so we can update. This story was researched with the help of Michael Boyd's book, Naked Places, A Guide for Gay Men to Nude Recreation and Travel.
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