Desert Garden Ranch aka. “The Nude Bowl” (Desert Hot Springs, CA)

Want to get naked in the desert? The concept doesn’t sound so foreign considering the plethora of nudist resorts and hot springs scattered across the California desert. The Desert Garden Ranch on the outskirts of Desert Hot Springs was serving up nude recreation some 60+ years ago (There are conflicting reports as to when the ranch was built. Some sources state the 1930’s, while others the 1950’s or 1960’s.). Little has been written about the nudist resort’s past, and information on the subject is rather scant.

The ranch now lives on as an iconic Southern California skateboarding hotspot; considered a secret to those that frequent the semi-isolated desert concrete playground. While only a few miles off of Highway 62, there are no paved roads reaching the crumbling graffitied ruins which have been turned into an impromptu skate park. Very little remains of the actual ranch that once stood here, having been reduced to concrete slabs, railing, and the now famous kidney bean shaped swimming pool, which has been aptly dubbed, “The Nude Bowl.”

 

Ryan Halub, ripping up The Nude Bowl.

Ryan Halub, ripping up The Nude Bowl.

 

Ryan Halub, ripping up The Nude Bowl.

Ryan Halub, ripping up The Nude Bowl.

 

Ryan Halub, ripping up The Nude Bowl.

Ryan Halub, ripping up The Nude Bowl.

 

Steve Badillo in the nude.

Steve Badillo in the nude.

 

Steve Badillo in the nude.

Steve Badillo in the nude.

 

Steve Badillo in the nude.

Steve Badillo in the nude.

 

Steve Badillo in the nude.

Steve Badillo in the nude.

 

When the Desert Garden Ranch closed down in the late 1970’s it didn’t take long for the pool to be discovered by skate rats looking for a thrill. In 1987, Santa Cruz Skateboards released the video, “Wheels of Fire,” featuring Rick “Spidey” Demontrond and Steve Alba skating at The Nude Bowl. This video made The Nude Bowl world-famous, and soon skaters from all over seeked out the location of the desert gem.

 

Santa Cruz Skateboards – “Wheels of Fire” – The Nude Bowl is featured at 24:00.

 

In the 1990’s, The Nude Bowl became infamous for wild parties. On one occasion a fight broke out between a punk and a jock, resulting in one of the two being stabbed repeatedly.  In another instance a bonfire got out of control which nearly burned down homes a few miles south. Rumors of murders and satanic rituals made their way around about The Nude Bowl. Shortly after the stabbing the city of Desert Hot Springs responded by filling in the swimming pool. For a long time it was believed that the pool had been demolished, and the site sat idle.

 

Simon Carrol in the nude.

Simon Carrol in the nude.

 

Simon Carrol in the nude.

Simon Carrol in the nude.

 

Simon Carrol in the nude.

Simon Carrol in the nude.

 

Simon Carrol in the nude.

Simon Carrol in the nude.

 

Fifteen years went by until in 2015, Rodney Rodrigues, and Jeremiah Risk rented a backhoe and began digging. They soon found that the pool had not been demolished, but simply filled in with dirt. It took them two nights to fully unearth the lost skateboarding gem.

Now well into 2017, and The Nude Bowl has managed to remain despite rumors constantly suggesting otherwise. A fear amongst the skateboarding community is that Desert Hot Springs will soon demolish pool, forever putting an end to the legend of The Nude Bowl.

 

This little guy decided to watch the session from nearby, under a piece of concrete slab.

This little guy decided to watch the session from nearby, under a piece of concrete slab.

About the author

Jim Mattern

Jim is a scapegoat for the NPS, an author, adventurer, photographer, radio personality, guide, and location scout. His interests lie in Native American and cultural sites, ghost towns, mines, and natural wonders in the American Deserts.