A friend of mine made a comment in the summer of 2003 that applies nicely to
nude hiking. He said that it's only skinny-dipping (or nude hiking) if you're with someone else. Otherwise, it's just swimming (or hiking).
I first discovered the freedom of hiking without clothes 25-30 years ago while living in Chilliwack, in the southwestern corner of the Canadian province of British Columbia. My passion has always been for wilderness travel, and this was a difficult, steep, off-trail hike in remote country on a hot day. It didn't matter how many layers I took off, I was still sweaty and uncomfortable. As alone as I was in that valley, removing my shorts, though physically very comfortable, was psychologically rather troubling. What if someone saw me? Never mind the fact that there was virtually no chance of anyone being on this slope, or probably even in this valley,
Following that initial experience, I starting choosing my hiking locations partly for their suitability for nude hiking. As the area became more and more crowded, though, finding those locations became increasingly difficult, particularly on weekends. But, the more I hiked that way, the better the experience became, and since moving to the sparsely populated Yukon Territory, I seldom hike or canoe with clothes on (on warm days!).
The tourism departments of both the Yukon and Alaska warn visitors that
"This is Bear Country", but it's also accurate to say that "This is Bare Country"!
Living in a remote area such as this, the major objection to nude recreation -
being seen by, and possibly offending, "textile hikers" - is almost non-existent if you choose your locations and times appropriately. Although the season when the weather is warm enough to allow for it is very short, mountains and beaches with no other humans on them abound.
Of note, the legality of nude hiking in the Yukon was established way back in 1977 by a court decision that commented regarding the anti-nudity law (Section 174 of the Criminal Code): "this offence is not aimed at conduct such as swimming nude at an isolated beach, even where the accused misjudges the loneliness of the beach." In Alaska, you are safe unless you "intentionally expose [your] genitals to another person with reckless disregard for the offensive, insulting, or frightening effect the act may have on that person."
Although trails are needed to get through the thick coastal forests common in most of southeast Alaska, in the interior of the state and in the Yukon, the climate is much drier and the forests are easy to hike through in whatever direction you choose. Treeline is easy to reach in the North, too - in the southern Yukon, you're up in the great views within about 2,000 feet of the valley floors! Once you get above treeline you're also up above the mosquitos - which aren't really a big problem anyway, despite the legends.
Nude recreation has little or no stigma attached to it in most of western
Europe, but is only very slowly being accepted in North America. Despite an apparent huge
increase in the numbers of people who practise what is usually called a naturist lifestyle, it's often a "closet" activity. While there are many Northern residents in that closet, North Americans generally just don't seem to be able to get past the idea that sex and nudity are firmly connected. While the Internet is a great tool for educating people, there are, unfortunately, some Web sites whose creators can't get past that idea either.
Nude recreation is about feeling good - both physically and mentally.
I can't tell you what sports such as nude volleyball and other naturist resort activities are like, but I can tell you that being in the wilderness in a state that allows you to feel every breeze is wonderful.
Many people who have never tried it think that they "just couldn't" take their clothes off in front of anyone because they weigh too much or have some other "imperfection". If you're one of the people who think that way, several of the Web sites linked below will, I hope, make you more comfortable with the idea. The other option, of course, is to hike by yourself. I usually go alone, partly because I don't know anyone in the area who shares my views on the subject, but also because it's easier than trying to coordinate my wanderings (which are usually spur-of-the-moment decisions) with someone else's schedule.
The region between Carcross, Yukon and Skagway, Alaska is one of the most
popular recreation areas in the North due to its combination of crystal-clear lakes, glacier views and easy access to the mountains from the South Klondike Highway. The photos on this page show you some of the beaches and hiking areas in this area, but other locations such as Whitehorse, Kluane Lake, Haines, Valdez and Anchorage offer excellent opportunities for nude recreation as well. Even published trails such as the Upper Dewey Lake Trail in Skagway and the Chugach Mountain trails in Anchorage are often only lightly used except on weekends, and the higher elevations seldom used even then. The locations of each of the photos on this page can be seen by just putting your mouse over each photo.
Whether you prefer short walks or extended canoe or backpacking trips, the
Northern wilderness is accessible, and is a naturist's dream. In 2006, under the pseudonym of George Walker, I did an interview with Up Here magazine, and the July cover photo of me hiking in the nude caused a bit of controversy - click here to read the article. For lots more information, see the nudist/naturist links and books pages.
If you have any comments or questions about this type of recreation in the North (or if you'd feel more comfortable travelling with an experienced naturist guide), feel free to email me. To find nudists in your own area, check out the links page or NudistFriends.com. And finally, to receive brochures from Naturist Resorts - click here.
Among the books that will help you find some of the great places to hike nude in Alaska and the Yukon are:
- Hiking Alaska: A Guide to Alaska's Greatest Hiking Adventures by Dean Littlepage
- Scenic Driving Alaska and the Yukon by Erik Molvar
- Alaska Off the Beaten Path by Deb Vanasse and Melissa DeVaughn
The first major nude cruise to Alaska happened in July 2007. It was a full-ship charter of Holland America's Amsterdam by Texas nude-cruise travel company
Bare Necessities. I've posted a lengthy review and photo album from the cruise (without nude photos) at
by Kahlil Gibran
And the weaver said, "Speak to us of Clothes."
And he answered:
Your clothes conceal much of your beauty, yet they hide not the unbeautiful.
And though you seek in garments the freedom of privacy you may find in them a harness and a chain.
Would that you could meet the sun and the wind with more of your skin and less of your raiment,
For the breath of life is in the sunlight and the hand of life is in the wind.
Some of you say, "It is the north wind who has woven the clothes to wear."
But shame was his loom, and the softening of the sinews was his thread.
And when his work was done he laughed in the forest.
Forget not that modesty is for a shield against the eye of the unclean.
And when the unclean shall be no more, what were modesty but a fetter and a fouling of the mind?
And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.