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A vacation from your clothes
Having nothing to wear isn't a problem at this resort
by Leah Duran
published on Thursday, April 12, 2007
Leah Duran / STATE PRESS MAGAZINE
A nudist and a child play in the pool at nudist resort Shangri La
Ranch in New River, Ariz. “Kids are natural nudists,” says Beverly
Price, owner of a nudist adventure club in Phoenix.
In a quiet corner of New River, Ariz., residents and visitors hike, play
volleyball and swim - naked.
Welcome to Shangri La Ranch, a family-friendly resort 45 minutes north of
Phoenix where nudity is the norm. Although nudity is only required at the
pool, vacationers usually only don clothes when they are needed as
protection from sun or rain, says Horst Kraus, who co-owns the ranch with
"To some nudists, being clothes-free is an expression of freedom from the
pressures of society that say you have to wear certain clothes to belong to
certain groups," Kraus says. "[Being naked] is a natural instinct for us."
Northern Arizona University student Danielle Faber, 19, was introduced to
the nudist lifestyle when she was 10. "It's relaxing and comfortable," says
Faber, who is Kraus' granddaughter. "My friends will sometimes say, 'Ew, you
see old people naked,' but the response to that is that I just don't look at
Far from a sexually-charged or awkward atmosphere, the mood of this
60-acre ranch is laid-back and non-judgmental, although being fully clad
will earn you a few questioning glances.
The whole world has the wrong impression about nudists, Kraus says. "They
have this fantasy that it's a free-for-all orgy pit," he says. "We are no
more or less sexually active than anyone else."
Faber confirms the lack of a sexually-charged atmosphere. Although many
people think men would have problems with getting erections in public, for
example, Faber says it's rare.
"It doesn't really happen because you're so relaxed," Faber says. "It's
embarrassing if it does happen. Guys want to get rid of it as quickly as
possible, so they cover it with a towel."
Faber, who occasionally works at the resort, says she is trying to organize
a nudist club at NAU.
"I talk to people on Facebook who go naked to the beach but would never
think of going to a club," Faber says. Faber says she hikes and cooks naked.
"It hurts if the grease pops," Faber says. "Some people I know have gone
skydiving naked, but I refuse."
Nudists shed stress when they take off their clothes, says Caroline Hawkins,
public relations coordinator for the American Association for Nude
"You don't have the barrier of clothes restricting you," Hawkins says. "Nude
recreation is not for everyone, but we're all about body acceptance. Not
everyone here is a 10."
People wearing tight dresses and expensive suits are judged on the way
they're dressed, Hawkins says.
"Society judges on how people look, like if you have a designer suit. If you
don't have clothes, there's nothing to judge," she explains.
The AANR has more than 50,000 members in the United States and Canada.
Although AANR is affiliated with nudist resorts in both countries, each
resort determines its own policies, Hawkins says.
While some retirees live full time at nudist communities, others residing in
nudist resorts have regular day jobs where they wear clothes, Hawkins adds.
AANR membership caters to those 35 and older, but the group does operate a
college program and youth camps.
While some nudists stay in a specific area, others travel. Beverly Price
owns and operates Arizona Wildflowers, a nudist adventure club based in
"I've organized naked rafting trips through the Grand Canyon and Cataract
Canyon in Utah, and houseboat trips on Lake Powell," says Price, who started
the club with a friend more than 25 years ago. "We still have to wear life
jackets," she adds.
Price says she has been a nudist for 42 years.
"People's first reaction when they find out is curiosity," Price says. "I
almost never get a shocked response."
People of all ages participate in Arizona Wildflowers. The club has 12
regular members, though anyone can join trips, Price says.
"You are certainly expected to be a person of good character," says Price,
who conducts background checks. "We don't want a pedophile around when there
are kids involved. We protect ourselves."
Young children are the easiest ones to get involved in nude recreation,
Price says. "Kids are natural nudists. They have to be taught to wear
Arizona Wildflowers occasionally visits other Western resorts, Price says.
"It's something you have to experience (for yourself)," Price adds.
"Anything you're afraid to try is something you're missing out on without
knowing whether you like it or dislike it."
If you go…
Shangri La Ranch
44444 N. Shangri La Road, New River
Open all week. First visit is free.
Reach the reporter: firstname.lastname@example.org