Look, Ma! No Tan Lines!
A hard look at nude Eugene
By Camilla Mortensen
Oregon has two seasons: rainy and naked.
Once the weather starts to warm up, the clothing starts to drop off. For a place that’s fairly cold for much of the year, the state of Oregon is pretty prone to nudity.
According to Oregon law, it’s actually not illegal to be in the buff around others. It IS considered “public indecency” and illegal to expose “the genitals of the person with the intent of arousing the sexual desire of the person or another person.” It’s also illegal to engage in sexual intercourse (or “deviate sexual intercourse”) in public. In other words, you can be naked; you just can’t be excited about it or try to excite anyone else.
Eugene law isn’t much different; the city code defines “public indecency” the exact same way the state of Oregon does. Eugene also has in its city code a section on “prohibited nudity” which bars anyone older than 8 years old from exposing their genitals in public where someone of the opposite sex might see them. So ladies can be naked, but only around other ladies. There’s no transgender clause, so that part of the code might need some clarification.
The Lane County code is similar to Eugene’s nudity stance. But the county commissioners have the power to designate certain areas as exceptions, particularly if the areas have been traditionally clothing-optional.
Seeing that breasts are not genitalia, there seems to be nothing in Oregon law or the Lane County and Eugene codes that ban women from going topless (or topfree, as some prefer to call it) in Eugene. This little legal blip has resulted in periodic spates of toplessness in downtown Eugene over the years.
If you are in the mood to bare all this summer and you’d rather be au naturel in nature, there are lots of place to go. But first a word of caution from John Kinman, president of Willamettans Family Nudist Resort in Marcola: “Sunscreen is a good idea,” he says. “There’s some areas that have never been exposed to the sun before.”
In addition to sunscreen, Kinman says there are some basic rules to follow for newbie “naturists.” First, he says, “Leave the camera at home.” Second, “act appropriately.” Public sexual activity is “not permitted at the club and frowned on by beach users.” Finally, he says that at Willamettans, “We don’t have a requirement to strip off at the gate or anything.” He recommends starting off with something like a loose T-shirt to get comfortable.
Once you’ve made up your mind to get naked, you can start off somewhere like Willamettans (day passes and memberships are available, according to Kinman), or you can go to some of the officially or traditionally naked spots in and out of Lane County.
During the colder (aka rainy) season, Cougar (Terwilliger) Hot Springs up the McKenzie gets a lot of use, as does McCredie Hot Springs out on Hwy. 58, but when the weather hits the 90s in the summer, it’s the refreshingly cold waters of Oregon’s rivers that naked bathers are looking for.
If you don’t mind a long drive, Oregon has not one but two public nude beaches. Rooster Rock is a state park just off I-84, east of Portland. It has clothing optional as well as clothed areas. North of Portland off Hwy. 30, and also on the Columbia River, you can find Collins Beach, the clothing-optional portion of Sauvie Island. Collins Beach, like the Willamettans, has volleyball courts. (Volleyball is apparently quite popular with the clothing disinclined, and the American Association for Nude Recreation has a national naked volleyball tournament each year).
If you are looking for a naked natural experience close to Eugene, there’s the ever-popular “Nudie Rock,” about a mile up McKenzie View drive on the way to Coburg and just past Armitage Park. The water is still cold and pretty high and fast for swimming right now (let’s think about how many people have needed rescue lately … the photos, the headlines … ), but come mid-July things should be just right for skinny dipping.
Another traditionally clothing-optional bathing spot has been getting some clean-up lately. BRING Beach at Glassbar Island, where the brushy areas and trees burned in 2006, has been getting attention from the newly formed Glassbar Island Nude Beach Volunteers, who call themselves a “largely gay-led nudist group.” The beach is frequented by people of all ages and orientations and is located at the confluence of the Coast and Middle Forks of the Willamette River. Just take I-5 south from Eugene to the 30th Avenue exit; go left over the freeway; left again on Franklin Boulevard; take your next right and park near the old BRING Recycling Center.
Finally, in case you missed the last one (and what was almost the Eugene cops’ first nude-Tasering incident), the time has come again for the World Naked Bike Ride: “Less gas, more ass!”
Naked, nearly naked, painted and decorated riders, as well as clothed
riders-who-support-naked-bike-riding, will gather at 11:30 pm June 7 at Monroe Park (10th and Monroe). Organizers request you come with helmets, lights and human powered vehicles to “protest indecent exposure to cars.” They also are requesting that riders follow leaders who know the route and obey traffic laws.
So if you’re ready to start the summer with no tan lines and proud of the skin you are in, then welcome to naked season; it’s time to strip off and check out all that
nude Eugene has to offer.
Go to www.orcoba.org for information on Oregon’s nude beaches. Check out www.willamettans.com for the Pacific Northwest’s largest nudist club. Go to www.glassbarisland.org to find out more about cleaning up BRING Beach. Drop EW a comment at blogs.eugeneweekly.com and let us know about other clothing-optional areas in Lane County.