Today marks the first day of summer. It is also, unofficially, Nude Hiking Day — a lesser-known holiday observed by a select but enthusiastic few. If you’ve ever had the urge to feel the wind between your legs while rambling up and down the trail, today is the day to do it. Really. The law is on your side, if you play your cards right. Here’s what you need to know.
Nudity in National Parks
“Nudity is legal in national parks — little known fact,” says Leah Pappajohn, the climber who just made Yosemite Valley history by becoming the first to climb the nose of El Capitan in a day, naked. You may get a few weird glances, but as long as the intent of your public nudity is solely to be naked and is not to “incite or satisfy sexual arousal,” you’re totally within the boundaries of federal law.
Technically, federally owned U.S. Forest Service and BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land doesn’t have any federal law banning public nudity, but local and county laws can make things tricky. Each national forest, grassland, and all BLM lands honor state and county laws, which vary widely and can result in public nudity warranting a ticket. BLM officials have said that they will take situations of public nudity on a case-by-case basis, and will only ticket naked visitors if their nudity “presents a nuisance or hazard to public land users.”
The U.S. Forest Service says they will take a similar approach to monitoring nude hikers. “Each national forest and grassland has occupancy and use rules in place to protect public health and safety,” Lawrence Lujan, Forest Service regional press officer, said in a report from The Denver Channel. “Before heading outdoors, visitors need to contact the national forest or grassland they plan to visit to check conditions and restrictions.”
We suggest heeding Lujan’s advice and calling in to your local public lands office and getting the “go ahead” before embarking on your naked hike. Otherwise, get permission from private landowners to use their trails for your unclad trek.
Your Local Naked Hiking Group
There is strength in numbers. Joining a nude group on an organized outing can help ease the stark shock of other, fully clothed hikers encountering you on the trail. Oftentimes, these groups will have already obtained permission from local officials to host a naked hike or will send a clothed hiker ahead of the group to warn others enjoying their time on the trail that a naked group is en route. By joining a group, you can mitigate any unwelcome run-ins and reassure other hikers that your naked hike isn’t a threat. Check out the Northwest Backpacking group in the Pacific Northwest, the Southern California-based So-Cal Freehikers to find a meet-up in your area and join an organized nude hike.
Word to the wise: Be sure to wear sunscreen, everywhere.