Historically, outdoor activities have been viewed as a male domain. Yet, research indicates women benefit from these activities, and they may provide a unique context for resisting gender roles. Little research, however, has examined the processes contributing to these benefits. The purpose of this study was to examine the outcomes associated with a women’s wilderness canoe trip, as well as the processes that contributed to the outcomes.

Eight women participated in a three-day beginners’ women-only canoe trip offered by a university outdoor program. Daily debriefings and field observations during the trip, as well as in-depth post-trip interviews, were conducted to capture the women’s experiences. Results illuminated four major themes, including autonomy through disengagement from traditional gender roles, relatedness through connection with other women, competence through overcoming challenges, and enjoyment. These results suggested an all-women, wilderness trip can enhance the self-determination of women through the satisfaction of their basic psychological needs.