Hot Springs – At One With Nature Or Too Much On Display?

Bathing nude can be liberating, refreshing, even empowering – the ultimate connection to nature. It can also cause discomfort and embarrassment. Whichever side of the bridge you stand, read on…

There are a plethora of “clothing optional” hot springs in the country. The label “clothing optional” simply means that when you get there, you should expect to see people soaking in their “birthday suits,” letting it all hang out in the sunshine. The idea is that if you choose to go for a soak in a “clothing optional” hot springs, you should accept that some people will choose to wear nothing, while others will choose to cover up. The naturist concept is based on tolerance, acceptance, and respect. That means you should be able to feel comfortable both stripping off or choosing not to. Bathing nude, far from the way the hippie legends paint it, is not a choice connected with sexuality, but one that sees the naturist soaker wishing to connect with nature, feel at ease with themselves, and to enjoy their small but impactful place in this world. And if you go to a clothing optional hot springs, you should not be judged either way you choose to soak – clothed or not.

Montecito Hot Springs, California.

The Dodgy Ones

While naturism and soaking naked in hot springs is not an act that leans towards sexuality, we have heard of odd cases of voyeurs heading down to their local “clothing optional” spot, hiding in the woods, and…enjoying the show. If you witness such a person, consider contacting the local police. To avoid exacerbating the situation, and especially if you are alone, think about giving up your soak and coming back another time, or heading for a soak elsewhere.

It’s up to you!

Taking The Kids Along

This is a very personal choice. Some parents are comfortable with their kids experiencing naturism and soaking naked – and seeing others soaking naked – in hot springs, others avoid such locales like the plague. Some “clothing optional” commercial sites, such as Valley View Hot Springs, have no issues with adults and children sharing pools naked – leaving the decision-making and responsibility in the hands of the parents. Others, such as Mercey Hot Springs, have a special naturist soak zone but forbid children from entering, regardless of how their parents feel about it. The advice here is to do your research before you head out. Check the Policies and FAQs pages on commercial hot springs websites, and phone ahead if you have questions or doubts. We at Traxplorio usually provide relevant links to these pages to help you quick-search when you’re considering visiting a hot spring. For non-commercial hot springs, Traxplorio provides clear descriptions of each hot springs it reviews – clothing optional or clothing required, to help you decide.

Kids at Valley View Hot Springs. Colorado.

If You Choose Nude…

Be aware of personal space and others’ comfort, even when enjoying your own. No uninvited physical contact, no unnecessary displaying of what you’ve got, no inappropriate behavior. Not everyone is comfortable with nudity, even if they come along to a clothing optional hot springs – so while naturally expecting them to respect your choice without comment or judgment, you should show them the same courtesy. And it goes without saying that if kids are around, the above points should be doubled down on.

Rainbow Hot Springs, Colorado.

…And If You Don’t…

If you have chosen to soak in a “clothing optional” hot springs, then you should go with the expectation of seeing others bathing with no clothes on. Respect, tolerance, and understanding are important here. Don’t stare or make rude or judgmental comments (unless you see inappropriate behavior – in which case we advise you to ask nicely, and if the person continues with such behavior, walk away and report the offender rather than get into a fight). If you choose to take your kids along, it is, of course, your responsibility to make sure they are safe and comfortable, and that their personal space is being respected.

Wild Willy’s Hot Springs, California.

Other Safety Considerations Of Nude Soaking

Natural spring water can contain a variety of bacteria. If you choose to soak nude, you are putting yourself at higher risk to the effects of exposure- such as skin rashes or infection. Don’t bathe with open wounds or sores, and always wash off in clean water before and after soaking. Avoid putting your head under water and definitely do not get the water up your nose! 

The Law On Nudity

In some states going nude is illegal – don’t even try it in Nevada or Utah, for example, or you will be cited for indecent exposure! Always check the rules before you go and accept that even if the law of the state DOES allow you to bathe nude, there will be those who are against it.

The Takeaway

It ultimately comes down to a mix of what the law and locals say as to whether you can soak nude in a hot springs, closely followed by your personal choice on the matter. All that we ask, as responsible hot-springers ourselves, is that we all try to understand, respect, and tolerate each other, whatever our bathing styles, and to responsibly and carefully share the nature we are out there to enjoy and find peace in.

Check out our Hot Springs Etiquette page for more advice on good and responsible hot spring soaking.


  • Plan before you go. Read official sites, FAQs, and reviews written by previous visitors regarding water temperature, water content, bacteria levels, wildlife, landslide or avalanche risks, and other hazards in the area.
  • Pay attention to warning signs posted near or on the site – they are there to guide you.
  • Don’t get in a hot springs pool without checking the temperature with your elbow first.
  • Stay hydrated (drink plenty of water!) and don’t sit too long in a hot spring pool – listen to your body! If your heart is beating fast or you feel drowsy or dizzy, get out and cool off fast.
  • Don’t drink alcohol in or near a hot springs pool.
  • Don’t put your head in the water – and keep the water out of your nose.
  • Don’t take glass to a hot springs pool.
  • Don’t do your doo within 200 feet of a water source.
  • Pack out your trash – LEAVE NO TRACE!

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