The 4th annual Naked in a Cave event was held on Saturday, September 17th at Howe Caverns, NY. This unique event was started by Howe Caverns in 2018 as an opportunity for people to celebrate body positivity by taking a naked stroll in the cave at Howe Caverns. The facility is closed to the general public all day Saturday so this event can take place.
I missed the first year in 2018 and only heard about the event in time to sign up for my first visit in 2019. Though there is a motel on site at Howe Caverns, in 2019 I opted to visit Full Tan Sun Club and rented an RV for two nights. Full Tan Sun Club is only a short drive from Howe Caverns and is a convenient naturist spot to visit. The Naked in a Cave event included an optional naked yoga class and a full-course dinner, both of which I signed up for. After signing in you’re given a wrist-band and complimentary robe which you wear when entering the cave. The yoga class was attended by maybe 40 or so guests and was certainly a unique event, especially since I had never done yoga before, clothed or otherwise. After the class, it was time to dress for dinner. Yes, you have to be dressed for dinner! The dinner was well-organized, and the food was delicious. The view of the valley from the dining room in the Howe Caverns lodge is also spectacular. A guitar player provided live music during the dinner.
After dinner it was off to the car to disrobe and don the robe in preparation for the descent into the cave. Small groups are taken down the elevator to the cave where you check your robe and then proceed to stroll the cave at your own pace. It’s 52 degrees in the cave year round, so it’s cold, but it didn’t seem unbearable to me, probably because of the excitement that accompanies doing something so unusual. About half-way along your way they have a welcoming table with hot coffee, hot chocolate and a cookie. Also, there was a harpist playing live music that eerily reverberated through the cave. The music was unique and certainly added to the experience. You can also take the boat ride at the end of the stroll though I opted out of this since I had done it the day before, clothed and toting my camera. (No cameras are allowed at the Naked in a Cave event).
In 2020 the event was canceled due to the pandemic like many other events that year. I returned in 2021 and stayed at the Howe Caverns Motel on site Friday and Saturday nights. Friday I did some local sightseeing and practiced my photography hobby. 2021’s optional event was a clothing-optional painting class. I have no artistic ability whatsoever, but the class was fun, and you ended up with a souvenir to take home and display. Mine didn’t make it to the wall at home. Dinner and the service was top-notch again, as was the cave stroll. No music in the cave this time, but there was live music at dinner. After the stroll some people congregate in the lobby of the lodge and have their photo taken with a unique backdrop provided by the caverns. Most people take tasteful, discreet photos, but I saw a few that “let it all hang out” for the photo. I’m not sure I’d want my full frontal shared on the Internet! And, although not officially sanctioned by the host, people milled about au natural throughout the grounds and at the motel.
So, this year, 2022, was my third visit. The optional event this year was a plate-painting class. Despite a rowdy bunch of people in attendance who couldn’t seem to stop talking long enough to hear the instructions being provided by the leader of the class, the event was fun. We all painted the same design provided by the instructor, and she attempted to step us through step-by-step until we had a finished plate. Then, they will kiln-fire them and mail them to us. I think this one might make it to my wall somewhere in my home. After the class it was off to my motel room to dress for dinner. The dinner was good, but the servers were a bit stretched, and the dinner would probably benefit from being held in smaller, staged groups to give the servers a chance to keep on top of things. Also, it was really cold at dinner. I didn’t know how this was going to affect my cave stroll, but I was to soon find out. It took longer than normal to be served dessert, but finally it came and afterwards I was off to my room to prepare for my cave stroll.
As I entered the lodge I was still cold from dinner. You are only allowed to wear shoes in the cave, so no other clothing is allowed. I stalled a few minutes but then took my place in line for the elevator. Upon entering the cave I was immediately colder than I remember being in the two prior years. I knew the temperature in the cave doesn’t vary, so it must be the effect of sitting in the cold dining room during dinner. I immediately started shivering in a way that’s most unusual for me. I hustled to the coffee station and got a hot chocolate. Holding it firmly between my hands and even against my chest seemed to do little to warm me up. I decided to go no further and turned back towards the entrance. The whole way I was shivering to the point where I was shaking the hot chocolate out of the cup and all over my hands and arms. I have never shivered so much in my life. I cursed the cold temps in the dining room as the problem. Once back upstairs I went outside and walked around the parking lot a few times to warm up, even though it was probably only in the high 60s outside by now.
So, new memories were made, and that’s really what this is all about. I’ll definitely be back in 2023 to see what new experiences are in store for the event’s 5th year. I kept thinking that this event should be a model for other places to have closed, special events that are clothing optional. What a great way to promote the facility and to support the naturist community. Check it out, and maybe I’ll see you at Howe Caverns in 2023.