Utah's Best Gay Nude Swimming Holes
By Mike Boisvert
I've combed Utah for the wildest gay swimming holes to fit your skinny-dipping need, be it a happening scene, mixed crowd, or a waterfall-misted solitude.
Capitol Reef National Park
Utah RT 24 goes east out of the Capitol Reef along the Fremont River, going toward Hanksville. As it comes out of the reef, the river tumbles over a waterfall making a large pool below. A great swimming hole with a smooth chute which you reach from a ledge hidden behind the falls. The scenic region of Capitol Reef where these falls are located is a popular recreation area. This area of Capitol Reef is popular with gay men, and nude sunbathing is common here. Rangers warn everyone that this is a desert so the soil and vegetation is very delicate and should not be trampled at all. Please stay on the paths. Don't step on the biological soil crusts!
Directions: From the town of Escalante (about 100 miles east of Cedar City), take RT 12 to the northeast to RT 24 to the Capitol Reef Visitors Center. To reach the waterfall and swimming hole from the Capitol Reef Visitor Center take RT 24 east for 6.6 miles to mile marker 86.5. There is a large paved pull-out on the north side of the highway with several information signs. The waterfall is next to the parking area. The river tumbles over a waterfall making a large pool below. CAUTION- DO NOT SWIM HERE IN HIGH FLOW CONDITIONS!
There's no fee to enter the park as long as you stay on the main highway and not head south down the waterpocket fold area. The main highway includes the swimming hole. there are no facilities at the swimming hole, just a pull off beside the road and then several trails down to the water.
Calf Creek - Upper Falls
America's newest National Monument is an awesome desert landscape and it sure is hot about half the year. Fortunately, in the heart of the Grand Staircase-Escalante N.M. is Calf Creek with camping, pools and falls to cool the fevered brow. Take plenty of drinking water and respect the land (and look in your boots to be sure a scorpion hasn't taken up residence while you were swimming!)
You'll find clothed bathers at the lower falls but continue further at the remote Upper Falls for the nude beach. A short, steep, strenuous hike to a lush desert oasis of thick stream-side vegetation, hanging gardens, and deep pools will bring you to the 87-foot high Upper Calf Creek Falls. Some or all of the pools may be too shallow to swim late in season. This is almost exclusively used by gay men, most of whom swim and sunbathe nude. Because of the difficulty getting here you typically will see very few folks here.
Directions: From Bryce Canyon N.P. take RT 12 to the northeast until you get to Calf Creek Recreation Area (well signed).
To get to trailhead, continue on RT 12 east (past the Calf Creek Recreation Area/Campground). Before you get to Boulder, look sharply for the unmarked dirt road to the trail head located on the north (left) side of the road between mile markers 80 and 81. A good landmark indicating that you have the right road is a large black boulder with a wide white stripe that sits on the right side of the entrance to the road. It is less than 0.25 mile to the trail head on the dirt road which is very rough, sandy, and recommended for high clearance vehicles only. Park and walk if this road is too rough.
The hike begins on the canyon rim and makes a 500-foot descent down steep slickrock to a sandy trail visible at the bottom of the slope. As you approach the creek, the trail splits. The left side of the fork follows a trail down slickrock ledges and leads to the base of the falls. The right fork stays high and leads to the top of the falls.
SAFETY: Heat exposure and lack of water are safety concerns along this route. Heat-related injuries and dehydration could be potential problems. Hikers must carry adequate water. Calf Creek is a sensitive riparian area and requires special "Leave No Trace" principles. Camping and fires are not permitted near the falls."
Zion National Park
There are a number of swimming holes in Zion - here are a few but you might discover your own too! Must pay fee to enter Zion N.P. - you must leave your car and use their free shuttle bus service if you plan to go up the canyon north of Canyon Junction. Here is the link to Zion National Park (see especially the maps on this site): http://www.nps.gov/zion/
MIDDLE PINE CREEK: A more strenuous 4 hour hike into beautiful slot canyon areas of Pine Creek with swimming holes also. This hike requires a permit from the NPS (get yours early, it is popular with the more serious "canyoneering" crowd) and, depending on how far you go, requires rapelling as well depending on how far you go. To get here, continue up the Zion- Mt. Carmel highway through the tunnels and stop at the small Canyon Overlook parking lot (at the upper entrance of the tunnel). Enter the creek canyon just behind the parking area and follow the creek. The whole length requires about ten rappels, hiking and bouldering down the creek to join up with Route 9. There are some good swimming holes along the way.
ORDERVILLE CANYON: At the north end of the valley in Zion is "The Narrows" - where the Virgin River comes out of a deep, narrow canyon. You can get a permit (and a shuttle) and hike the entire Narrows from north to south (usually done as an over night trip). Click here for more information on the hike: http://www.zionadventures.com/one-day_thru-hike.html
You can also take a shorter hike up into the Narrows - take shuttle to the north end of the valley and walk the narrows trail north. For the first mile, it is paved. Then walk north in the Virgin River canyon another 1.5 miles (sometimes in the water - wear shoes that can get wet) to where the Narrows really begin. Here, on the right, Orderville Canyon comes in. Hike up this canyon about .5 mile and you will come to small falls with several swimmable pools.
Salt Lake City
Exit 84 Salt Flats
Nudity has long been common along the shore of the Great Salt Lake, but the location of the "beach" seems to keep moving west. So now there has been yet another site established, this one off Exit 84. It is on unused and remote land administered by the Bureau of Land Management. The initiative to start the Exit 84 site was taken by an informal group called Utah Male Naturists, which networks through a Yahoo group (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/utahmalenaturists)
Finding It: Starting point: Exit 84 (the State Route) 138/Grantsville exit) from Interstate 80, about 35 miles west of downtown Salt Lake City. If approaching from SLC, make a left at the end of the exit ramp, but - rather than following signs to Grantsville - continue straight ahead. (If approaching from the west, you'll need to loop around to the north side of I-80, then turn left.) The road will curve to the right and head north, eventually becoming a dirt road. At about 6 miles from the interstate exit, watch for the entrance to a working quarry on the right. Immediately past this drive, turn left (west) onto an unmarked dirt and sand track. When you reach the open salt flat, you've reached the nude beach.
This story was researched with the help of Michael Boyd's book, Naked Places, A Guide for Gay Men to Nude Recreation and Travel, which may be purchased at Amazon.com, by clicking here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0965608948?ie=UTF8&tag=gayoutdoorsco-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0965608948
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