Nude in the Grand Canyon
By Bev Price
I’m sure many AANR members have enjoyed a designated nude beach, whether that beach was legally designated as such or just became known as a nude beach because of traditional use. Unlike these sanctioned beaches, I have created my own nude “beach” in any number of venues, both alone and with others in relatively large groups.Nothing in this article should be misconstrued to endorse or encourage reckless or flagrant nudity on public land. Discretion is always the better part of valor, and if I am leading the group, it is ALWAYS required that some sort of cover-up be close at hand. Not only do I not wish to offend some textile, but I also do not want to have to explain myself to a law enforcement officer – or a judge.
The larger and more isolated the venue, the better. Most folks who come upon a nude group in such a setting are pragmatic about it. If the nude group has already established a campsite, they should have the right to continue using it as they prefer. I have shared campsites and my viewpoint: I don’t ask them to take their clothes off if they don’t require that I put mine on. Done deal, nude beach.
So where have I established (temporary) nude beaches? One place is Lake Powell on the Arizona-Utah border. It is a huge reservoir on the Colorado River, and, in many of the side canyons, even a relatively large group of houseboats and runabouts does not attract any undue attention at all. Many nude groups that I have led have camped, hiked, and splashed on either a sandy beach or a slick rock bench for several days in a row – undressed the entire time. Although I have not led a group there, Lake Mead (above Hoover Dam) has the same advantages.
Another place has been along hiking trails both in the Rocky Mountains and in the local area north of Phoenix. Usually called “free hiking,” it is no more than a planned or spontaneous outing. If along a creek or creek bed, there will be some opportunity for a nude beach – even if the “beach” is a pebble bar. I find it helpful to have more than just a couple of people, as long as everyone knows the ground rules. There is some truth to the statement, “Safety in numbers.”
Of course, for me, the ultimate nude beach is along the miles of whitewater rapids on the Colorado River within the Grand Canyon. I have now done 11 trips in the Grand Canyon – with as many as 35 other nudists each trip – since 1999. During those trips, we have had but one complaint about nudity, and it was more because the complainant was startled to unexpectedly find nudists in the Canyon. I now make every effort to let the other rafters and boatmen know that a nude trip is on the water, and it prevents the surprise and, thus, much of the discomfort for others.
The Canyon truly meets the “large and isolated” criterion for establishing one’s nude beach. It is 280 miles long, up to a mile deep, and at least 10 miles across in many places. It was the last place in the lower 48 states to be mapped. Ideal!
Many of today’s sanctioned nude beaches have begun the same way. Someone was determined, set up a “temporary” nude beach, and stayed the course. To anyone who thinks they are that person, rally the troops, use discretion in establishing the ground rules, and give it a try.