This weekend I had the absolute pleasure of visiting the good folks at Lake of the Woods Club (lowc.org) in Valparaiso, Indiana. Overall I rate this club to be outstanding and perhaps the finest example of a nudist club I have visited in my relatively short naturist career.
Getting There: Coming from Wisconsin, getting there was not an easy task and I would argue downright awful. Battling Chicago traffic for nearly two hours, I almost gave up halfway there to return home. But I really wanted to see this place! After three-plus hours of white knuckle driving, plenty of stopping in six lanes of traffic, a few “near misses” and a fuel stop, I finally got there with a high heart rate and a need to relax. The club is just steps south of US 30 in Valparaiso. Depending on the direction you are coming from, you may have to turn on a different road since US 30 has a barrier and you can only turn at certain intersections. GPS or smartphone apps would be recommended. Travelers from Michigan or Indiana would obviously have a much easier time getting there than I did.
First Impressions: Arriving at the gate, instructions were very clearly marked. Press 000 on the keypad to get someone’s attention. I told them I was a fist time visitor and they buzzed me in and instructed me to go to the main lodge with my drivers license and plate numbers.
Inside I met Louise, a wonderfully nice 60-ish lady who stood in stark contrast to my regular place in Burlington, Wisconsin. She was friendly, welcoming, and extremely nice to me. We had a great chat before she made copies of my ID and AANR card, took my payment (yes credit cards are accepted) and then proceeded to give me a short tour of the grounds.
The Grounds: In a word, beautiful!
Inside the main lodge there is a TV room, hot tub, restrooms, sauna, showers and a kitchen area that anyone is free to use on the condition you clean any dishes and label your foods in the refrigerator.
Outside, the pool is the first thing you will see as it is immediately adjacent to the parking lot. It has two outdoor showers with plenty of hot water and adequate seating in both sun and shade. The grounds slope down to the lake, which is the gem of the place. The lake is entirely within the boundary of the club and can be explored without worry of intruding on non-naturist grounds. Provided are canoes, kayaks, a small sailboat, fishing boat, and paddle boats to explore the lake. Oars and life vest cushions are kept in a small boat house off to the side.
There is a pier with a “mostly sun” seating area right adjacent to the lake with a great view and plenty of chairs. Shade seekers need not worry as there is plenty of it on the grounds immediately behind the pier with chairs and picnic tables throughout.
Louise pointed out the hiking trail that goes around the lake is 1.5 miles total (map – pdf). Do bring shoes and a cover up! I tried without shoes and that was a major mistake as parts of the trail are gravel. Ouch! Also, expect to lose your way on the south side of the lake. The trail is very clearly marked in most locations, but on the south side there are so many different routes that you will get turned around. My best advice is to keep going, you’ll find the trail again. Cover ups are needed in three locations that are visible from adjoining properties and are clearly marked with fun signs.
As one hikes around the trail, there is yet another beautiful pier at the eastern end of the lake. A handful of chairs and an outdoor kitchen area with refrigerator and microwave were here as well. The view is beautiful and it was a nice little quiet place to get away from the main grounds.
The clientele: Being in my forties I am usually the youngest one at most resorts. On a July weekend here, there was a nice range of ages, from about 30-70. I was one of the younger ones, but not the youngest! Surprisingly as a “single male” I was in the minority as most visitors were couples. One could be as social or quiet as one wants as the grounds are big enough. The few people I chatted with were very friendly, which is universal in naturism.
What I did: After leaving my clothes behind in the car, I headed out with a towel and water to the hiking trail to explore. There was plenty of wildlife and quiet places to sit along the lake. I explored the eastern pier and enjoyed some sun before continuing on my loop around the lake. At a few places, I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to be covered or not as there were some houses, but rest assured, they are on the club property and it is safe. After getting lost a few times I headed back for some reading in the shade while I gauged whether or not to be in the sun any more as I didn’t want to burn. A mix of sun and shade followed but I particularly enjoyed kayaking. The lake was so quiet (except as described below) and being naked in such a setting is indescribably relaxing. I’ve not yet figured out why that is but it is amazing nonetheless. Some more walking around and skinny dipping in the pool, and by 7pm the skies started to thunder. As usual, I hated getting dressed again but the skies opened up with a downpour of rain shortly after I left so I got the most out of my day.
I wish I would have referenced the map as in hindsight I missed a few locations along the way including the tennis courts and camping area so I cannot comment on those. But for $30 a day, I found this place to be excellent!
What the? The only thing I didn’t care for was something called a “gong shower.” At the east pier, about 15 people gathered at 5 o’clock and laid out in the sun while one of them banged the heck out of a small gong. As a conservative I’m not into the “hippie new age” part of naturism so I did not care for nor participate in this. I was in the kayak at the time trying to enjoy the quiet so I did overhear the gonging and I can only imagine I would have left with a headache after thirty minutes of that. But to each their own!
Overall: I would absolutely return to Lake of the Woods Club! A really outstanding place in a beautiful location and there is enough for everyone to do. The club has been here since 1933 so they are certainly doing something right. The only negative for me personally was the drive, but if I was ever in the area again, this would be a definite go-to place! I hiked, kayaked and skinny dipped. I met new people from all over the world and managed to not sunburn this time. Wonderful hosts and beautiful grounds, who can argue? Just go!