Wisconsin Nudist Beach Alive and Well
By Bruce Moran
Mazomanie Beach has been a legal nudist beach friendly to both straights, gay men and lesbians in Wisconsin since the 1960s. It is nationally known and written about in nudist, gay/lesbian websites, and travel publications. It has existed not without some controversy.
The beach is located on the Wisconsin River near Mazomanie, a small town
about 30 minutes northwest of Madison, WI, or about a 3-hour drive from Green Bay, WI. The Wisconsin DNR manages the beach.
I have been to this beach a few times. Each time the beach looks a little different, primarily because there is a dam upstream that releases water on occasion. This can change the character of the beach. On one visit you may think there is a lot of beach, while on another visit the
beach may seem somewhat small.
The beach offers a lot of quiet. There are no traffic noises. You hear running water, feel the warmth of the sun, smell the sweetness of the air. The beach is in a completely rural area, with almost no sign of humanity except for those on the beach. I say “almost” because occasionally a canoeist or two will come down the river. The canoeists sometimes are
checking out the beach as they go by. There have been reports of canoeists getting caught on sandbars because they were looking left at the beach and not looking straight ahead.
The beach bathers are like those found at any other beach. Attendance will be much higher on warm, sunny days, and on weekends and holidays. A good many of the nudists are from Madison, Chicago, and the Minneapolis-St Paul areas.
People arrive from all over, though: Nebraska, Dakotas, Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Canada, and, of course, from across Wisconsin.
I have been to one other nudist beach, Haulover Beach in North Miami Beach, FL. What strikes me about comparing the two beaches is that Mazomanie is a very social beach. At Haulover. people seemed to keep to themselves and not intermix with the rest of the beachgoers. At
Mazomanie, it is just the opposite: people want to get together and perhaps chat for hours.
There are no vendors on the beach. People bring in their own food, blanket, beach chair, or perhaps a beach umbrella. The DNR provides portable toilets at the edge of the entrance to the beach.
Access to the beach has changed
in recent years. The DNR has built a sizable parking lot approximately 1.25 miles from the beach. Accessing the beach after you park your vehicle requires you to walk or ride your bicycle the 1.25 miles. The walk or bicycle ride is a pleasant one on a tree-covered, two-lane dirt road.
This 5-acre, popular clothing-optional beach is divided into a straight part and a gay/lesbian part. To view the beach go
to http://www.cybernude.com/mazo/. Click on any photograph to enlarge it.
This beach has not gone unnoticed by the Wisconsin Legislature. In 1999 the legislature questioned the management of the beach and there was even a failed attempt by some in the legislature to close the beach. The DNR made some changes to the beach management: creating the parking lot, eliminating car-access to the 1.25 miles to
the beach, eliminating overnight camping at the beach, restricting the beach’s open hours, and increasing the security patrol of the beach. Overt sexual behavior is not permitted. During a recent year, 18 people have been arrested for sexual behavior on the beach. The upshot of all this brouhaha is an improved beach; public nudity being allowed with the cooperation and tolerance of local authorities. In essence, the nudists have won the day.
If you want to read more about the beach, go to www.google.com and type in “Mazomanie Beach” in the search area. There will appear about 130 articles to read.
If you want to go to the beach, the directions from Madison are to take Highway 12 west and north toward Sauk City. Before Sauk City, turn
left on County Y and go 5.2 miles. Turn right onto Laws Road. Be attentive because the sign for Laws Road is the size of an ordinary street sign and is somewhat easy to miss. Look for the first gravel road on the left, about one-third mile from Laws Rd. When I’ve been to the beach, this gravel road had no street sign, but it is called Conservation Road. Go down Conservation Road .25 mile to the parking lot.