About 85,000 people visit Hippie Hollow every year.
The park on the shore of Lake Travis, just outside Austin, is well-known as a place where you can go to get some sun – without the tan lines. It’s thought to be Texas’ only clothing-optional public park.
But how did it get that way?
I went out to visit – for the first time – on the day the Hill Country Nudists were holding their annual Big Nude Day at the park. Like on most weekends, dozens of people were lounging in the sun, swimming in the lake and drinking beer (discreetly).
The event’s organizer, Mitch London, shows me around Hippie Hollow. It’s important to point out that it’s not just “nudists” at the park; there are many more visitors for whom nudity is not a particular lifestyle.
“If you come out here and just sit here and not do anything and not talk to anybody, yeah everybody is going to look at you kind of weird,” London says. “But if you come out here and [say,] ‘Hey, how you doing? I’m new,’ or whatever, they’re going to welcome you into this family, basically.”
Most of the people at this particular event are 50-plus. They’ve been coming to Hippie Hollow for decades. There are many younger people in other parts of the park.
“Young people are usually more uptight about their body image,” says Becky Kent. “At this stage, who cares? I’ve done everything I can do. It didn’t work or it did work, you know? Who cares what we look like?”
All but a handful of the people at this part of the park, known as Radio Rock, are not wearing clothes. (Full disclosure: I am wearing shorts and a T-shirt.)
Remember: This is public property, owned by the Lower Colorado River Authority and managed by Travis County. So why is it legal for people to be fully naked at this public park?
Peter Babb, the digital content manager at KUTX, asked about how Hippie Hollow became clothing-optional as part of our ATXplained project.