If you haven't gone skinny dipping -- felt the one-of-a-kind sensation of submerging naked in a natural body of water -- it's something to put on your bucket list. For naturist and nudist organizations and clubs around the country, it's a way of life, but for others, it's a once-in-a lifetime, spur-of-the-moment event. That's partly to blame on U.S. law and social norms. While other countries are lax on nudity, here it's crucial to find the right spot to swim without a suit. Here are some of the best places to go for good, old-fashioned skinny-dipping, one of the most exhilarating forms of free entertainment.
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Yosemite National Park is a large, diverse, and beautiful Northern California park, with seemingly infinite paths leading to waterfalls and pools. Many are secluded and perfect for a quick dip sans bathing suits. It's common for people to take advantage, so if you see others indulging, don't be too surprised. A seven-day pass to the park for a car holding four people costs $30 during swimming weather.
The sprawling mountains of Northern New York are a sought-after summer camp and vacation location beloved for their serene beauty. They also have hundreds of ponds and natural pools along hiking trails that are sheltered from public view. While these swimming holes are not officially bathing-suit optional, it's a long-standing custom to have a dip au natural. A good place to start is Jones Pond in the Saranac Lake area.
This destination features 100 acres of shoreline beauty -- some parts, by popular demand, designated for swimmers who prefer to wear their birthday suits. The trails at McGregor Park, also known as Hippie Hollow, feature a sign that proudly declares the space "yours to enjoy naturally." There are plenty of prime locations where skinny-dippers don't have to worry about offending passers-by.
A popular spot among locals and tourists alike, this nude beach is at one end of a larger clothing-required beach with warm breezes and breathtaking views -- of the ocean, that is. It's something of a skinny-dipping mecca, in part because it provides an entirely different experience than a quick nude dip in a secluded swimming hole off a hiking trail. Expect to be in the company of people who are passionate about experiencing nature in their most natural state.
Kentucky is home to many swimming holes and backwoods streams that are just waiting for skinny-dippers. Most of these common areas are public; while there are no rules one way or the other about swimsuits, it's always best to avoid offending others. Gabe's Branch Falls, though, has become a go-to spot for those who prefer their swimming suit optional. Swimmers don't have to worry about surprising anyone by baring all.
Managers at Haulover strive to create a comfortable environment and fulfilling experience for everyone -- suit-wearing swimmers on the southern portion and nude swimmers on the northern part, which is legally designated as clothing-optional. Visited by people of all ages and backgrounds, the beach lets visitors experience another culture and mode of recreation, rather than just a casual skinny-dip. Haulover offers a thorough set of etiquette guidelines that apply to all group nudity situations.
At Prairie Haven, a nudist resort that offers clothing-optional camping and outdoor activities, first-time visitors are invited to experience the park free of charge, as well as free of clothing, on open house weekends. Kansas is home to many other swimming holes, lakes, and ponds that are prime skinny-dipping spots. It is one of the few states with a nude-recreation Meetup group, a way to meet like-minded people and find the best spots.
Montana is known for natural beauty, and skinny-dipping is part of that; many of the state's swimming holes are considered bathing-suit optional. Mill Creek Falls is a skinny-dipping favorite, with winding trails that connect many falls and pools, making it easy to find a private spot for a quick dip. The Montana Skinny Dippers Union has a Tumblr where swimmers post pictures -- although there's no guarantee the (obviously NSFW) pictures came from Montana, let alone Mill Creek Falls.
Remote, picturesque, and high on the list for those who love camping, the Porcupine Mountains in Michigan's Upper Peninsula are famous among outdoorsy travelers. Campsites along the lake that runs through the mountains offer clandestine spots to take a dip, and they are well documented -- the area has earned a reputation for being one of the best sites for skinny-dipping in the country.
Vermont is home to many natural-minded folks and swimsuit-optional areas; there are no state laws against public nudity. At Red Rocks Park, those who prefer to keep covered can enjoy a beach near the parking area, while skinny-dippers can follow a trail to a more secluded spot. A quick look at documented swimming holes identifies other spots where swimmers can feel free to ditch their suits.
This is no ordinary skinny-dipping experience. These Southern California springs offer a chance to submerge au natural in a natural hot spring known as the "lobster pot" because of how red it turns the skin. Deep Creek Hot Springs is remote enough to feel properly removed from judgmental society and let swimmers focus on relaxation and rejuvenation.
Not many people will travel to one of the farthest points in Mexico just to swim naked -- but this island offers much more than a skinny-dip. Although it's a cruise ship port of call, resorts and beaches aren't often packed with tourists. It's best to stick to private beaches that are not in the center of resort property, but even in the light of day, no one is likely to raise an eyebrow at visitors scooting to the edge of the area and taking a quick plunge. Flights here are less than $400 from New York and just over $500 from Los Angeles.
If a Mexican vacation sounds nice and packing minimal clothing sounds even better, consider booking at a clothing-optional resort such as Intima in Tulum. Here, like-minded individuals don't have to hide or be discreet about dropping their swim trunks, as the entire resort property is friendly to people in the buff. Daily rates are as low as $140 a night, which is not much more than other all-inclusive resorts around the country. Travelers can often find cheap flights to Cancun, about an hour and a half by car from the resort.