new bridge over Indian Canyon Drive, connecting two halves of a nudist resort

Only in Palm Springs

New bridge to open

A new bridge is set to open later this month in Palm Springs, and it has stirred up a lot of excitement — everywhere but here!

The bridge spans Indian Canyon Drive, one of two main north-south arteries, providing pedestrian access from one side of the street to the other, and it is scheduled to open 13 February.

What some find interesting, amusing, or scandalous is that the bridge connects two halves of the Desert Shadows Inn Resort and Villas, one of the world's most upscale nudist resorts. The bridge has been cleverly designed to shield those crossing the bridge from the prurient gaze of passers-by below.

Some refer to it as "the naked bridge." CNN today called it the "bridge of thighs," a word-play on Venice's Bridge of Sighs.

According to the article on 28-Jan-03 in The Public Record, the desert's business newspaper, it is the first bridge in the Coachella Valley — excluding interstate overpasses — to span a street. The full story follows:


By Janice Kleinschmidt

Stephen Payne wasn't looking for international publicity when he decided to put up a bridge between two developments of his Desert Shadows Inn Resort & Villas.

This astounds me, he says. It's a bridge!

Well, yes, but Desert Shadows is a naturist resort whose new expansion across Indian Canyon Drive in Palm Springs is being connected by what has been dubbed the naked bridge.

All jokes aside, the bridge is just as significant in the Coachella Valley as the first bridge excluding interstate overpasses to span a street. The superstructure was put in place Jan. 15; grand opening ceremonies for the public take place Feb. 13 at 10 a.m.

Desert Shadows opened at the former Breakaway Inn as an 11-room bed and breakfast in 1992. The following year, Payne and his wife, Linda, acquired the abandoned Chaparral Lodge and contiguous land (site of Errol Flynn's hotel, destroyed by fire) for expansion. By 1994, the $1.1 million renovation and expansion was completed, adding 22 hotel rooms, a second pool, exercise room, tennis court and full-service au naturel restaurant. A $5.6 million villa project comprising 38 two-story luxury condominiums sold out in 1996 before the building was completed in 1997. Further expansion added a third pool, second outdoor spa, putting green, activity room, gated parking, three waterfalls and a river and the country's first full-service naturist spa. In 1998, the Paynes bought the last hotel on the block: the Chandler Inn, once owned by Doris Day. Again, 21 villa suites were sold out before completion in 1999. The lot across Indian Canyon Drive, which had been vacant for 40 years, was acquired in 2000 and expansion began on Desert Shadows III.


The 17-home community was signed off by the Palm Springs building department on Jan. 14, clearing the way for residents to begin moving in.

The new development features 2,000-square-foot, two-story homes; pool and spa; events center; and access to all of the amenities on the five-acre Desert Shadows property on the east side of Indian Canyon Drive.

Providing access to those amenities is the reason for the bridge. Desert Shadows III residents have the privilege of crossing the pedestrian bridge, including bringing guests over from the east property. East property residents and hotel guests do not have bridge privileges.

The Baxandall Bridge named for The Naturist Society founder Lee R. Baxandall consists of more than 25 tons of steel spanning 80 feet, is higher than a freeway overpass (18 feet vs. 13.5 feet) and is designed to withstand sustained 80 mph winds. It cost in excess of $500,000. The two concrete and steel supports set in 14-foot square, 4-feet-deep footings alone cost $32,000.