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Mexico, Central America, Caribbean
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Supplemental Information
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Middle Atlantic & Upper South
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United States of America

Map of the United States
Getting Acquainted with the United States
Naturism in the United States
Nudity and the Law
Supplemental Information
Websites / Organizations
Recommended Reading

Map of the United States     [ ↑ ]

We've divided the U.S. into nine regions, with states in each region listed alphabetically.
      New England 
Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont
      Middle Atlantic & Upper South 
Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia
      The South 
Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee
      The Midwest 
Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Wisconsin

      Texas & The Great Plains 
Kansas, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas
      The West 
Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah
      The Pacific Northwest & Hawaii 
Oregon, Washington, Hawaii

There are no listings for Alaska, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota or Wyoming.
Getting Acquainted with the United States     [ ↑ ]
The United States of America is one of the world's largest countries. Only Russia and Canada cover larger areas... and maybe China. The U.S. and China are so similar in size that determining which is third and which is fourth involves technicalities like land area versus water area. About 84% of the U.S. land area is contained in the contiguous states, often called the Lower 48. These are the 48 of the 50 states (plus the District of Columbia) that are connected to one another. Almost all the remaining area is Alaska, the vast northerly state that borders Canada but not the rest of the U.S. Less than one percent of the land area is comprised by the island-state of Hawaii and island territories such as Puerto Rico. Although the United States is just one of 35 countries in the Americas, we have usurped the term "American" to describe ourselves. We had to. "United Statesian" sounds utterly ridiculous.

The coastline of the U.S. is vast and varied. From Maine to Miami, the Atlantic coast is about 2000 miles long (very generally, not counting every twist and turn). From the southern tip of mainland Florida to the southern tip of Texas, the Gulf Coast of the U.S., along the Gulf of Mexico, stretches about 1600 miles. On the other side of the country, stretching approximately from San Diego to Seattle, the Pacific Coast of the contiguous U.S. is about 1300 miles long. (Surprise, surprise. The Gulf Coast is longer!) Then there are the Great Lakes—five inland seas on the U.S. and Canadian border. The coastline of the Great Lakes, just along the U.S. side, is over 2300 miles long. Cross-country trips across the United States cover tremendous distance no matter what the extremes. Los Angeles to Savannah, 2400 miles. Galveston to Grand Forks (ND), 1500 miles. San Diego to Bangor (ME), 3300 miles. Seattle to Miami, 3400 miles.

The United States has an astounding diversity of climates and natural wonders. Sunny Florida is tropical at its southern extreme, as is all of Hawaii. Much of Alaska is in the Arctic. Very generally, the East is humid and the West is arid. California is the only state with a Mediterranean climate, which figures heavily into California dreaming. Winters are biting in Buffalo and Boise but timid in Tampa and Tucson. There are old mountains (the Appalachians), new mountains (the Rockies), wetlands (the Florida Everglades), a rain forest (on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington), the most spectacular chasm in the world (the Grand Canyon), the world's longest barrier island (Padre Island on the Texas coast, stretching 130 miles), the world's tallest and largest trees (the redwoods and sequoias of California), one of the world's largest river systems (the Mississippi-Missouri, which drains all or part of 31 states), vast plains of the interior (from Mexico all the way to Canada), vast deserts (much of the West) and vast inland seas (the previously noted Great Lakes). Within the contiguous states, the highest point (Mount Whitney at 14,505 feet) and the lowest point (Badwater Basin in Death Valley at 282 feet below sea level) are both in California, just 75 miles apart.

The United States is the third most populous country in the world. With about 326 million people according to 2017 estimates, it is a very distant third to China and India. The U.S. population is not evenly distributed. The Eastern Seaboard—all the states with Atlantic coastline plus Vermont, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia—comprises 15% of the land area of the contiguous U.S. but contains 36% of the population. The 450-mile-long corridor from Boston to the District of Columbia that includes New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore and a number of smaller cities accounts for almost half the Eastern Seaboard population and 17% of that of the entire nation. Beyond the Eastern Seaboard, the U.S. has large populations across the Midwest and the South, with an especially heavy concentration of people in the southern Great Lakes region that includes Chicago, Detroit and Cleveland. The 15 states that are within the eastern half of the U.S. but that are not part of the Eastern Seaboard constitute about 29% of the population. Beyond the South and the Midwest, the 98th meridian is a line of longitude that is significant geographically, climatically and demographically. This line bisects all six states that are shaded in red in the map above (toward their eastern borders), and, going south to north, the cities of San Antonio (TX), Austin (TX), Dallas (TX), Oklahoma City (OK), Wichita (KS), Lincoln (NE), Sioux Falls (SD) and Fargo (ND) are all within 65 miles of this line. If the contiguous U.S. could be folded along the 98th meridian, the resulting halves would be roughly equal. Going west across the 98th meridian, the climate becomes more arid and the trees get shorter or else disappear altogether. This is the start of the Great Plains that extend from Mexico to Canada, and as the trees disappear, so do the people. These six red states contain about 11% of the nation's population. Of that percentage, over two thirds live in Texas and 90% live in cities and towns that are either near or east of the 98th meridian. Farther west, the Great Plains blend into the rugged and legendary region known as The West. The eight states shaded in light blue in the map above comprise nearly 30% of the land area of the contiguous states but just 7% of the total population. The West has a number of large cities like Denver, Phoenix, Las Vegas and Salt Lake City along with vast areas that are uninhabited. The west of the West is less cowboy and more bohemian. The three Pacific coast states contain about 15% of the U.S. population, and 80% of that 15% are Californians. California is the most populous state by far, with more people than the entire country of Canada. The remaining few percent of Americans reside outside the Lower 48.

Naturism in the United States     [ ↑ ]
Considering the vast size, large population, diversity of climates and thousands of miles of coastline of the United States, it is easy to visualize a nude beach at every bend. Alas, it just isn't so. The U.S. lags far behind Europe and neighboring Canada in its attitudes toward the naked body. Public officials rarely defend nudity as a right. Their default setting seems to be that the sensibilities of religious conservatives—who wield more than their fair share of influence—must be appeased. Consequently, most of the nudist potential remains untapped. There are relatively few beaches where nudity is accepted, and only a minute fraction of those that do see nude use are legally sanctioned as clothing optional. To grasp the comparative dearth of American nude beaches, just scan through some of the European listings. Any single European country considered in the guide would fit into the contiguous U.S. at least a dozen times, yet there are more nude beaches in Spain and France (individually, not combined) than in the entire U.S., and any individual European county has a much higher proportion of nude beaches than does the U.S., adjusting for physical size, population or both. Despite a general social climate that is not terribly tolerant of nudity, there are some wonderful places in the U.S. where nudity is acceptable. Furthermore, public sentiment varies widely from region to region.

Along the Eastern Seaboard, the greatest number of well established nude beaches are located in the Northeast. There are popular Atlantic nude beaches on Cape Cod (MA), Long Island (NY) and the Jersey Shore. There is also a surprising selection of interior nudist sites in Vermont, which is the most naked-friendly state in the Union. From the southern border of New Jersey to the northern border of Florida, there are no legal or really well-established Atlantic nude beaches. The few sites that do exist require discretion. The Atlantic coast of Florida has a few very popular nude beaches, but Florida has far fewer nude beaches than one might expect considering that is has over 1,000 miles of coastline and the nicest beaches in the country. There is just a scattering of nude beaches on the Gulf Coast, but none of them rank in prominence with the best of the Atlantic beaches, and most of them are characterized by some difficulties of access. The Great Lakes are similarly lacking. The Pacific coast has the country's largest concentration of safe, well-established coastal nude beaches, and all of them are located in California. None, however, are located in the immediate vicinity of Los Angeles, the nation's second largest metropolis. The lack of nude beaches along the northern Pacific coast is a reflection of actual climate, not social climate. The coast of Oregon and Washington is coolish even in summer and frequently foggy, so it does not draw throngs of sunbathers, nude or otherwise. In the vast interior of the United States, there are scattered nude beaches along lakes and rivers. The best of these are located in Portland (OR), Austin (TX) and along the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe. Isolated in the vast Pacific and over 2300 miles from the nearest point on the North American mainland, Hawaii has two popular nude beaches and a scattering of more minor sites.

A unique feature of the western and west coast states is a large number of natural thermal springs. While some are developed into commercial soaking establishments, at others the springs are left more or less in their natural states, with human interference limited to shoring up soaking pools. Most of the non-commericialized springs are on public lands accessible to anyone free of charge, and many (but not all) of them have traditions of nude soaking. At some the nudity custom is so ingrained that they are gathering places for naturists. In this guide we have detailed a few dozen of the most notable naked springs spread out over eight states of the West and West Coast. We have also included a number of commercial soaking establishments where nudity is allowed (or even required, in a few cases).

What the U.S. lacks in nude beaches is partially compensated for by a high number of naturist retreats. Many of these are private membership establishments that serve local populations of naturists and promote naturism as a family pursuit, but some—especially in Florida and California—are better described as resorts that advertise to naturist vacationers. Some parts of the country are notably lacking in naturist retreats, but the bulk of the U.S. population lives within a reasonable drive of one of these establishments. Another notable phenomenon of the U.S. is the world's largest collection of small resorts and campgrounds that advertise exclusively to a gay and lesbian clientele. These tend not to be naturist per se but nonetheless allow the option of swimming and sunbathing without swimsuits. The gay meccas of Palm Springs, Ft. Lauderdale and Key West are full of small resorts with clothing-optional swimming pools, and there is a considerable collection of gay clothing-optional campgrounds, most of which are located in the eastern half of the U.S. and a surprising number of which are located in conservative Southern states.

Nudity and the Law     [ ↑ ]
The legality of nude beaches in the U.S. is convoluted, and part of the difficulty lies in deciphering what laws apply to what places. There is no federal law that addresses nudity. Summaries of the various state laws can be viewed at Most state laws regarding nudity address nakedness in the context of lewd behavior and do not directly address the issue of nude sunbathing on public lands. These laws are usually written in language that clearly outlaws displays of nudity that are intended to shock or offend, but wording like willfully, with intent and with reckless disregard makes the question of non-affrontive nudity subject to interpretation. So if Person A is sunbathing naked at a sufficiently isolated location and Person B wanders by and is irked by the sight of nudity, Person B can claim offense but Person A can claim that his or her nudity was not intended to offend, which starts a debate about whether nudity is illegal when it causes offense or only when it is intended to cause offense. Furthermore, smaller administrative entities like county or municipal governments often have laws that more definitively ban all nudity in public, regardless of whether or not lewd intent is involved, effectively closing any loopholes that exist in state laws.

In the U.S., there are very few beaches that are legally designated for clothing-optional use. By "legally designated," we mean that there is a specific government provision that protects the right of people to be naked at a particular location. We do not use this term to refer to places where there is a lack of a law that addresses nudity.

Hippie Hollow is a popular lakeshore nude beach located in a county park in Austin, Texas. It is one of a small number of nude beaches in the U.S. where nudity is perfectly legal, with no ambiguity. The government of Travis County has formally designated Hippie Hollow as a clothing-optional park, and that designation cannot be arbitrarily overturned by any single official.

There are few such examples where the legality of nudity is so clearly defined. There are some beaches that are commonly presumed to be legal nude beaches. The best example is Black's Beach in La Jolla, California (near San Diego). Black's was designated as a clothing-optional beach by city government for a three-year period in the 1970's. That official designation was withdrawn by voters in 1977, by a very narrow margin. Nudists responded by shifting to the adjacent state-owned part of the beach, and there have never been any serious efforts to prohibit nudity. Black's remains an immensely popular nude beach, to the extent that most visitors mistakenly assume that it is a legal nude beach. Technically, it falls into a gray area. Since 1979, an edict known as the Cahill Policy has been applied to Black's and other beaches within the California State Park System. These excerpts give the gist of that policy: "No clothing optional beaches will be designated within the California State Park System at this time [because] designating such areas will focus opponents' attention upon what seems to be a victimless crime at worst, and certainly an innocuous action... Therefore, it shall be the policy of the Department that enforcement of nude sunbathing regulations within the State Park System shall be made only upon the complaint of a private citizen. Citations or arrests shall be made only after attempts are made to elicit voluntary compliance with the regulations."

Nudists frequently argue that nudity is okay on any public land where there is not a law that specifically prohibits nudity. This is a tricky issue. For example, nude beach advocates often reason that because there is not a federal law that prohibits nudity on federal land, it is okay to be naked at places like national seashores. In a certain sense, that is true, but there are a few very important "buts."

First of all, although there is not a universal anti-nudity law that applies to all federal lands, some federal park areas have special provisions related to nudity. For example, the two established nude beaches of Cape Cod, Massachusetts—Herring Cove Beach and Truro Beach—are both part of Cape Cod National Seashore (CCNS), which is administered by a federal agency: the National Park Service (NPS). The NPS has a specific provision that prohibits nudity on all CCNS beaches, but the CCNS provision has no bearing on any other federal lands. Oddly enough, although CCNS is one of very few federal areas where nudity is specifically prohibited, CCNS rangers are very amicable toward nudists and do not make any heavy-handed efforts at regulating nudity at Herring Cove or Truro, which are safe havens for nudists despite the nudity ban.

Secondly, there is the issue of "concurrent law enforcement." Basically, this is a situation where there is a cooperation between federal and local government whereby federal officials have the authority to enforce local laws on federal land. This is the case at Chincoteague National Seashore in Virginia. Part of Chincoteague used to be popular with nudists, but some local religious zealots did not like having a nude beach in the area and pressured Accomack County to pass an anti-nudity ordinance in 1984. County laws do not necessarily apply to federal land, unless federal authorities choose to enforce them. At Chincoteague, park rangers do enforce the county ordinance—vigilantly, in fact—and the place has died as a nude beach.

At places where there is not a specific nudity prohibition, it may be acceptable to disrobe completely in a remote area, but it is almost never acceptable to get naked in an area occupied by people who are not naked. If a nudity law cannot be applied because it does not exist, the naked person will almost invariably be charged with something else, like disturbing the peace. There is also the issue of plain old ignorance on the part of law enforcement authorities, no matter what kind of public land you are on. Even in the absence of a law that prohibits nudity, police or park rangers may just assume that nudity is illegal. Ultimately, such a mistake on the part of law enforcement may not hold up in court, but that will not erase the aggravation you may have to endure as a result of someone else's misinterpretation of the law.

In the U.S., it is probably better to assess regional attitudes more carefully than the strict letter of the law to determine whether or not nudity can be practiced in relative safety. Obviously, you need to exercise a lot more caution in Alabama than in northern California, and the previously mentioned situation at Cape Cod's nude beaches illustrates the point of regional attitudes vividly. Except in areas where there is an excess of fundamentalist religious influence, nudity can usually be safely practiced so long as appropriate discretion is used. Despite the fact that much of the U.S. is very conservative, it is usually not the top priority of government or citizens to have police hunt down naked people in remote places. The Supplemental Information page contains a section entitled Nude Beach Classifications that gives guidance on assessing the risks involved in being nude at various locations.

If you do find yourself in a situation where you face legal trouble for the mere condition of being naked, either at an established nude beach or in a remote place sufficiently away from clothed people, do not let the charge go uncontested. Attempts to prosecute people for simple nudity are usually thrown out of court. (If lewd behavior is involved, that's another story.) The Naturist Action Committee (NAC) is a non-profit adjunct to The Naturist Society (TNS), and their mission is to "... advance and protect the rights of naturists throughout North America.... [and] support the responsible recreational nude use of public lands." Among its other activities, the NAC offers legal advice and assistance. You should contact the NAC if you need help with legal trouble related to nudity, or if you just want to donate to their cause.

Supplemental Information     [ ↑ ]
The Supplemental Information option on the blue bar near the top of this page contains more information about nude beaches in North America, including explanations of the numbers (1 - 4) that are assigned to each beach.

Websites / Organizations     [ ↑ ]
The oldest naturist organization in North America is the American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR), which originated in 1931 as the American Sunbathing Association (ASA). The name was changed in 1995. AANR is primarily an umbrella organization and advocacy group for about 250 naturists retreats and other clubs throughout North America, mostly in the U.S. Most of the family-oriented retreats listed in this guide are AANR affiliates and offer discounts to AANR members. AANR establishes certain standards for its affiliates, foremost of which is adherence to family-friendly policies. If you are seeking a naturist retreat or a non-landed club that is appropriate for families with children, an AANR affiliation is generally regarded as a trustworthy seal of approval. (To be fair, though, there are a number of family-friendly entities that choose to be independent.)

The Naturist Society (TNS) is a much younger organization that came about in 1980. While it also serves as something of an umbrella organization for naturist retreats and clubs (which in turn offer discounts to TNS members), a major part of its mission is advocating for nude recreation on public lands. The legal arm of TNS, the Naturist Action Committee (NAC), promotes naturist rights and serves as a watchdog group that stays on top of proposed legislation that would adversely affect nudists. TNS and NAC have been responsible for stopping countless attempts at all levels of government to impose unreasonable and unwarranted anti-nudity laws, and they have been effective in preserving a number of public sites as safe havens for nudists and in promoting better cooperation between authorities and nudists at many locations across the continent. TNS publishes a quarterly magazine, Nude & Natural.

Gay Naturists International (GNI) and International Men Enjoying Naturism (IMEN) are gay organizations that emerged in the 80's and early 90's to promote naturism in safe, gay-accepting environments and to network the growing number of local, independent gay naturist clubs. GNI and IMEN maintain affiliations with over 100 local clubs worldwide, most of which are in the U.S. (It should be noted that GNI and IMEN are gender-specific in that they serve the interests of men, and in general all gay naturist entities are de facto all male. GNI, which arose as a special interest groups of TNS, was originally founded with the intent of attracting both gay and lesbian members. That never happened, and over the years there has been a tacit acceptance that integrated gay and lesbian naturism is not a realistic goal. Lesbian naturism, as a movement per se or as part of a broader gay naturist movement, is something that thus far has not registered on the naturist Richter scale.)

Clothes Free International (CFI), formerly known as the International Naturist Association, originated in 1999 with the mission of using the internet to promote naturist places and happenings. CFI has injected a lot of much-needed youthful vitality into the naturist movement and is notable for the sleekly produced video content of its website. If you are interested in finding out about events like World Naked Bike Rides, nude music festivals and the like, CFI is a good starting point.

Recommended Reading     [ ↑ ]
The two books below are the best available resources for locating natural hot springs not included in this guide.

These two companion guides collectively provide nearly exhaustive coverage of hot springs in North America. Hot Springs and Hot Pools of the Southwest details places in Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah and Baja California. Hot Springs and Hot Pools of the Northwest mainly details places in Alaska, British Columbia, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming but also has coverage of a small number of mainly commercial, textile places in other U.S. states and Canadian provinces. These two books cover both commercial establishments and more primitive springs on public lands, complete with directions. While these guides are not naturist oriented per se, they are very naturist friendly, and for each listing the swimwear requirements (for commercial places) or customs (for natural springs) are included. New editions are published about every five years.

Both guides are available from    Southwest guide    Northwest guide

To download the complete KMZ file for the United States (viewable in Google Earth), CLICK HERE.
See the DOWNLOADS page for a list of all available KMZ files.