DeAnza Springs (Clothing Optional) Resort, Jacumba, California
I’m writing this review after my third visit to DeAnza Springs Clothing Optional Resort (March, 2021) in an attempt to co-mingle my impressions of each of those stopovers, over a ten-year period of time. DeAnza was the subject of one of my very first posts on this blog, and I’m happy to report there have been some positive developments since then. (See that original blog post here.) Namely, in that report, I whined a good bit about the self-deprecating signage and nomenclature at American nudist places. I don’t know if the management has changed since my last visit in 2013, but it seems they’ve largely abandoned the goofy signs and “cheeky” names on the restaurant menu. That’s an upgrade, I think. My most recent visit was intended to be a two-night stay during which I would meet friends for a naked hike out to the Goat Trestle on the Carizzo Canyon railbed, but a cold front blew in and my friends coaxed me into joining them in the sunny LA Basin instead. That didn’t stop me from braving the brisk wind for a few photo-ops and trail reconnaissance for future trips, but the desert feels all the more lonely when it’s cloudy and cold. Also intriguing is the graffiti art that has evolved on the abandoned rail cars over the years – worth a visit just for that. I had a difficult time rating this place. The park model was nice; Wifi was a disaster. The guy in the (closed) restaurant was super helpful; check-in was a nightmare. The railroad walk is still an amazing opportunity for free-hiking enthusiasts, but you need to be prepared for high desert exploration. In any event, it’s a bucket list kind of place for the seasoned naturist.
WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO GET THERE? Fly to San Diego, rent a car, and start driving east! Rumor has it that somebody just bought the entire town of Jacumba, California, though when I drove through on this drizzly morning the place literally looked like a ghost town. The only place to find anything that resembled a breakfast sandwich and a cup of coffee was at the gas station near the highway. DeAnza Springs Resort is across the highway at the end of a dirt road that backs of to the massive Anza-Borrego State Park, which makes this the perfect place for high desert hiking – naked or not.
WHAT’S THE FAMILY VIBE? You could certainly bring your kids here, and they would love playing in the pools, especially since there are two of them – one indoor, one outdoor. Given the warning signs about rattlesnake sightings, I don’t know that I would turn my young children loose to explore on the rocky landscape, but there’s plenty of space to run and play. I’ve never visited DeAnza on a weekend during high season, but my guess is the Jello-shot Crowd comes out in droves on the weekends. One would have to figure out how to navigate that with kids in tow.
HOW ARE THE ACCOMMODATIONS? I reserved a park model which was pretty nice – decently furnished, good bed, and forced-air heating. At about 4000 feet, the temperature can fluctuate greatly from daytime to night. Tent campers beware! What I did not think to ask for before arrival was wifi information! As I arrived after dark, and well after the office had closed, I found myself wandering the grounds without a cell or wifi signal, looking for my unmarked trailer. I thought I had found it, but the TV was blaring in the front room, which led me to believe I was about to walk in on an unsuspecting nudist. (A dude in the hot-tub warned me, “Don’t get yourself shot!”) Turns out they leave the TV on to make you feel welcome upon arrival, but it’s not quite the same effect as checking into the downtown Marriott. And oh! Only plastic drinkware, limited cooking utensils, no dish soap, and no grocery store within 45 minutes of the place. My unit had a grill, but I didn’t get a chance to try it out. And even after I got the wifi password the next morning, there was no viable signal in my unit next to the hotel. It’s not likely you’re going to do anything requiring broadband here unless you have your own satellite dish.
ANYTHING ELSE WE SHOULD KNOW? When we first visited DeAnza Springs back in 2012 most of our naturist travel experiences had been in Europe, where generally speaking, social nudity is an entirely different experience. American nudist parks tend to draw heavily on the Boomer crowd looking for a party environment where “I get to be me!!!!” I should reiterate that I’ve yet to visit DeAnza on a holiday weekend, so I can only surmise from the events bulletin board that there are good times to be had on Saturday nights. While that may not be our style, I think it aligns pretty well with the preferences of the typical naked American crowd.
I’m still very much intrigued with the abandoned railway that runs by the resort and refuse to give up on my quest to walk naked to the Goat Canyon Trestle one day. It’s eight miles out, and then back again, which presents a significant challenge given the lack of connectivity and the timing of dealing with the elements of high desert hiking. When you look up that hike on All-Trails you see that’s a challenge textile trekkers as well. Someday…
DeAnza Springs – then and now. Note how the railroad cars have changed over the years!