Well, the only official nude beach in Texas, anyway. Sure, there are other unofficial nude beaches, like UFO Beach on South Padre Island and McFaddin beach in Galveston, but Hippie Hollow is the only legally-recognized clothing-optional public park in the Lonestar State. Located in the liberal and slightly rebellious outlier city of Austin, the beach has been drawing nekkid swimmers from across the state of Texas and beyond for generations.
The Story of Hippie Hollow Park
So how exactly did Hippie Hollow Park, a public park owned by the Lower Colorado River Authority, come to be the state’s first and only nude beach? The story of how the park came to be clothing optional starts way back in early 20th century Central Texas, back when Hippie Hollow was known as McGregor Park. In those days, McGregor Park was a secluded spot on the shore of Lake Travis without trails, background, or parking. It was so secluded, in fact, that the park started drawing skinny dippers, and this was decades before it became an official nude beach.
Then, came the ‘60s. That’s when McGregor Park began attracting droves of hippies seeking a place to swim, smoke, and revel in the glory of Texas hill country without clothes on. By the end of the decade, McGregor Park was known by pretty much everyone in town as Hippie Hollow.
Unfortunately, this is where things get rocky for Hippie Hollow. Remember: the public park had not yet been granted legal status as a nude beach. Authorities started to crack down on skinny dippers, and local news in the ‘70s was full of reports of arrests in Hippie Hollow. Citing nude bathing, drug use, and sanitation concerns, local landowners even tried to get the park shut down for good.
But then, in the early 1980s, Travis County stepped in and took over the management of Hippie Hollow. The county parks department cleaned the grounds up and added trails, parking, and an admission fee. Instead of outlawing nudity, the county put up a sign at the park entrance: “Notice: Nude swimming or sunbathing may be occurring beyond this point.” With the resurrection of the sign, Hippie Hollow had finally become the only clothing-optional public park in the state of Texas.
Visiting Hippie Hollow Today
And so, the Texas tradition of going au natural at Hippie Hollow continues to this day. Now, Hippie Hollow Park encompasses 109 acres of clothing-optional park grounds and a swimming area. Despite being called a nude “beach”, the park is not a beach as it is a rocky shoreline on a steep slope, with limestone outcrops where sunbathers like to stretch out with towels.
Are you planning to visit Austin to scratch the famed Hippie Hollow off your nudist-beach bucket list? You’ll find the fabled park in northwest Austin, hidden in the Hill Country about a half our ride from downtown. Note that nudity is optional, and not a requirement at Hippie Hollow. The park is adults-only, so be prepared to show proof of age at the park entrance. Check out the Hippie Hollow website for COVID-19 hours and current entrance fees.
Keep in mind that there are no lifeguards on duty, so be prepared to swim, sunbathe, and scamper around Hippie Hollow at your own risk. In addition, some areas of the rocky shoreline can get pretty jagged, so you may want to pack water shoes.