No, nude camping in California is not legal. The Golden State has a statewide law that makes being nude outdoors illegal, even if no one can see you. However, enforcement of this law has been very lenient in recent years. Generally speaking, nude camping in California remains a popularity activity on state and federally managed lands.
Is Nude Camping in California Legal?
The State of California addresses the issue of public nudity within its Penal Code…
Every person who willfully and lewdly, either: 1. Exposes his person, or the private parts thereof, in any public place, or in any place where there are present other persons to be offended or annoyed thereby; or, 2. Procures, counsels, or assists any person so to expose himself or take part in any model artist exhibition, or to make any other exhibition of himself to public view, or the view of any number of persons, such as is offensive to decency, or is adapted to excite to vicious or lewd thoughts or acts, is guilty of a misdemeanor.Penal Code § 314
Note that the wording of the law doesn’t care if you are in a public or private setting…
- The law requires that other people be present in order for a misdemeanor to occur.
- A misdemeanor can only occur if the person being nude had done so both “willfully” and “lewdly”.
- California does not define, “lewdly”.
Nude Camping is Only Illegal if You’re Being Lewd
Based on the wording of the above law, nude camping is only illegal if you are conducting yourself in a lewd manner. The State of California, however, does not define “lewd” in this purpose. But, if you are naked outdoors and…
- You are touching yourself in a sexual manner, then it could be considered “lewd”.
- You are moving or speaking in a manner to evoke a sexual or offensive response, then it could be considered “lewd”.
Otherwise, if you’re just going about your daily routine of camping, hiking, cooking, or enjoying other outdoor activities, then technically is not a misdemeanor.
Nude Camping in California State Parks & Beaches
Nude camping is prohibited in both state parks and state beaches. Note that this only includes parks and beaches managed by the California Department of Parks & Recreation. This is codified under the following regulation…
No person shall appear nude while in any unit except in authorized areas set aside for that purpose by the Department. The word nude as used herein means unclothed or in such a state of undress as to expose any part or portion of the pubic or anal region or genitalia of any person or any portion of the breast at or below the areola thereof of any female person.Cal. Code Regs. Tit. 14 , § 4322
However, we’ve learned that park rangers don’t enforce this rule unless there has been a complaint filed or if they witness someone acting lewdly.
Nude Camping on Federally Managed Lands in California
California lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), U.S. Forest Service (USFS), and the National Park Service (NPS) each have their own laws and rules. You can read more about this at, “Is Nude Camping Legal on Federal Lands?“