Review of Olive Dell Ranch Nudist Resort in Colton, California
Over the past couple years, Jordan and I have taken a few business trips (for Jordan’s work) to Los Angeles. Mostly these trips have been too short or too busy to travel anywhere else in California. We enjoy the LA weather, but we’ve also wanted to get out and see some more nudie places!
This past weekend we got our chance. After a few days working in LA, we had just enough time on Sunday to go visit Olive Dell Ranch in Colton, CA.
Olive Dell is about 1 hour and 30 minute drive from LA in San Bernardino County. (It’s also not too far from Glen Eden Resort, but we didn’t have enough time to see both.) It’s situated in the desert hills and surrounded by beautiful mountains.
Once you reach the city of Colton, you might see some wild donkeys roaming about and a donkey-crossing sign. I couldn’t verify this story, but a local Olive Dell resident told us that the donkeys originally came here from Death Valley when a man brought six of them to the area. When he died, they escaped their holding pen and started breeding. Now the city seems to be forced to deal with issues of overpopulation and trying to keep the donkeys safe from traffic accidents.
The donkeys seem to be nice and not aggressive. We even made friends with one.
Now more about Olive Dell – the club was founded in 1952* and sits on over 200 acres. The land was originally purchased by Bill Kiesel in 1948. It was managed by several people until Ralph Kilborn and Nate Kates partnered up and bought it. Now it’s owned by Ralph’s son Bobby (who we just briefly shook hands with) and his wife Becki Kilborn.
One thing it’s famous for is the annual Bare Burro 5k run, which started in 2008. It’s said to attract hundreds of people, though the race itself is limited to 300 participants.
It’s also famous for being the setting of a certain well-known nudist movie… Act Naturally! And its upcoming sequel, Act Super Naturally.
It was funny to actually stay in one of their little cabins that I remembered so well from the first film. More on that later.
Our first impression of Olive Dell was from a phone call prior to our arrival. A lot of times we call ahead before visiting a club for the first time, especially if we have questions, or if it’s a smaller place, or their website says to do so.
The strange thing was, the man answering the phone didn’t have many answers for us. Were their overnight cabins available? He didn’t know. Did they have any towels we could buy or rent? (Having packed light for our trip, we didn’t have any.) He wasn’t sure. He informed me that the owner, Bobby, handled the rooms, but didn’t have any other information to offer me.
So we figured we’d just show up and if we couldn’t stay overnight, we’d find a hotel in the area.
In the late afternoon, we pulled up to the Olive Dell office, which is just next to the gate that leads to the rest of the club. We walked in and met a woman who would check us in.
The check-in was also a very odd experience… This woman wasn’t mean or unpleasant, but finding out even the most basic information felt like pulling teeth.
She also had no idea about the rooms and then told us we were supposed to reserve a cabin online. When we said there was nowhere to do that on the website, she then said we were supposed to fill out the “contact us” form (still unsure why or how this process works exactly).
After a few more minutes of awkward conversation, she finally told us we could pay our day fees with her and then go find out about cabins at their restaurant. We filled out a standard form to give our basic info and a copy of our drivers licenses. There was no obligatory (or offered) first time visitors tour. She gave us a map and directions to get to the restaurant.
We drove in and followed a dirt road around to the main area where the clubhouse and restaurant are located. Across from these buildings there’s the pool, sauna and hot tub.
At the office and then restaurant, we also learned another important fact: this whole place is cash only. (They also take checks if you happen to carry a checkbook on you.) We just happened to not have much cash on us, but luckily they had an ATM in the clubhouse.
We successfully booked a cabin, which is cheap — $30 for 1 night. From our experiences so far, I was getting nervous about the cabin. Would it be clean, well-kept and odorless? Mold-free? No dead rodents hiding under the bed? Would everything work properly, especially the heating? Would there be a resident bat sharing the cabin with us?
After all the U.S. nudist places Jordan and I have been to, I would not be surprised if we walked into a dirty and / or moldy cabin that smelled like a dead animal (or hosted a living animal) and had no working or barely working heat. Seriously. I wouldn’t be surprised!
But I always prefer to get the full experience of a club (especially since I share the information and experience online), so with some apprehension we proceeded to our cabin.
My fears were for naught. It was cute, clean and smelled fine! The heater was an old toaster oven type but most importantly, it worked.
We took the red cabin. All their cabins are the same shape, but painted a different color. They’re all located in the same area, in an olive grove just a short walk from the clubhouse. It was small and simple with just a queen (or maybe full) size bed and a plastic white table next to it. There was enough floor space to move around. On the opposite wall of the heater was an A/C that we wouldn’t be using. There were little windows with red curtains. The bathroom situation is a bit inconvenient – you have to walk up to the clubhouse.
The main common area and club grounds are nice. There are pretty olive trees all around the cabins. Next to the hot tub there are potted flowers and decorations. Throughout the grounds you can find kitschy painted wood signs like the ones below.
The restaurant is cute and looks like a small diner with tables and booths. We didn’t eat anything, but seems like they serve up burgers, fries and some typical American fast food. I was disappointed to see them using STYROFOAM. It was even a little surprising because I find people in California to be so much more mindful about protecting the environment.
The pool looked nice, but wasn’t heated, so too cold for that. But there’s a big hot tub with jets and the sauna just behind it. The wall there is covered by a mural painted to look like the local desert habitat with wild donkeys and other animals, trees and flowers.
There was an indoor shower next to the sauna but it was out of order. At the clubhouse there’s an indoor shower in the men’s and women’s restroom and also 3 or 4 attached to the outside of the building but still mostly enclosed by a wall with tinted glass windows. It was pleasant enough to use the latter in this cool weather.
Between the clubhouse and pool, there are outdoor tables and chairs and a sundeck. I imagine this is a popular place to be in the summer or when it’s warmer.
It’s still warm enough to be naked outside in December when it’s daytime, and the sun is shining down. The temperature was maybe in the lower 60’s when we arrived. Given how cold and dreary it’s been in New York, this California weather felt like summer to us!
Olive Dell is open year-round, and this is its slow season. We arrived towards the end of the weekend, and it was very quiet. One of the members told us they have about 180 people living there in RVs or other mobile homes. This seems like a healthy membership. This was our first visit so I have no idea how busy it gets in the summertime.
Sunday night we shared the hot tub with two or three men and a woman with a 5-year-old child. Everyone we met was friendly and happy to talk to us.
Other facilities on the grounds include a playground and swing set, volleyball court, tennis court and an outdoor gym. All of this looked to be in shape except for the tennis court. It had cracks all over it and needs to be redone.
I’ve seen a lot of sad deserted nudist club gyms, but their equipment here looked decent (aside from the ripped fabric, which maybe used to be their rooftop that was damaged in the high winds). A member told me that people do use the gym!
On Monday we decided to explore the hiking trails in the hills above the resort. They have some narrow trails outlined by rocks and marked by street names with painted signs. These lead up to a water tower and an overlook with a 2-person swing chair and picnic table. Here you get a great view of the resort, the valley and surrounding mountains. It’s also possible to reach this area by car via one of the dirt roads.
We also spotted what look like mountain lion footprints! Members told us there were mountain lions in these parts.
We could’ve hiked further up but didn’t have time. Around midday it was sadly time for us to go. At this point the resort was pretty much empty. After dropping off our cabin key at the office, we drove out and said goodbye to Olive Dell Ranch.
It’s hard to say if our experience was odd just because it’s the off-season, and they don’t get many new visitors. Regardless we did really like the grounds, and the members were nice. I’ll bet it’s beautiful in spring and summer, and maybe one day we can visit in the warmer months!
You can learn more about Olive Dell Ranch at www.olivedellranch.com.
*Corrections: Previous versions of this article stated that ODR was founded in 1933 – this was corrected to 1952. The Bare Burro 5k run also started in 2008 (not 2010).