Yes, nude camping is legal in Arizona. However, it depends on whether other people around you are offended by it or not. It also depends on which state or federal agency has jurisdiction. The way the law is written in Arizona, public nudity is legal as long as nobody else has a problem seeing you naked.
Is Nude Camping Legal in Arizona?
Arizona has a law under its Criminal Code addressing indecent exposure…
A person commits indecent exposure if he or she exposes his or her genitals or anus or she exposes the areola or nipple of her breast or breasts and another person is present, and the defendant is reckless about whether the other person, as a reasonable person, would be offended or alarmed by the act.§ 13-1402 Indecent Exposure
In other words, it’s legal go around naked outside as long as the other people who can see you don’t mind. The only exception to this law is breastfeeding. In this case, breastfeeding is always legal, no matter the situation.
Penalties for Illegal Public Nudity in Arizona
If you are arrested for indecent exposure and found guilty in an Arizona court of law, the minimum penalty is six (6) years in prison. The maximum sentence is fifteen (15) years. It varies on the age of the person who is offended, if the exposure was sexually motivated, and if the offender committed a repeat offense.
Tips for Going Nude Camping in Arizona
If you want to enjoy your camping experience by removing clothing, consider the following…
- Make sure to ask others within visible distance if they will be offended by you being nude. It’s important to ask, “Will you be offended”, because it demonstrates that you were not reckless with your nudity, and that they will have to answer yes or no.
- Stay close to your camp. Once you have wandered far enough away from your camp, towards an area that can be considered public or common, it could be argued that you have become reckless. However, if you remain close to your camp, you could argue that you tried to respect other people’s rights.
- Go naked in National Parks! The National Park Service is the only federal land management agency that does not allow state laws to apply. However, the NPS still has a rule against “disorderly conduct” which cites “physically offensive condition” as an example. But, as long as you are far enough away from others, or have received permission from others around you, then technically you are no longer committing disorderly conduct.
Public Nudity in Arizona State Parks
Arizona State Parks & Trails does not specifically cite public nudity as being prohibited, however because it’s a state jurisdiction, the state’s indecent exposure law applies.
Public Nudity on Arizona State Trust Lands
The Arizona State Land Department does not specifically ban public nudity on its lands, however because it’s a state jurisdiction, the state’s indecent exposure law applies.
Other Federal Land Management Agencies
Most federal land management agencies have rules addressing public nudity, indecent exposure, or disorderly conduct…
- Bureau of Land Management – The BLM only has a rule prohibiting the creation of a “public disturbance”. It does not cite public nudity or indecent exposure, however it does cite “creating a hazard or nuisance” as an example. The BLM also allows Arizona’s indecent exposure law to apply, however. (Refer to § 8365.1-4 Public health, safety and comfort)
- U.S. Forest Service – The USFS does not ban public nudity on a nationwide level, however each specific forest and grassland has the power to ban public nudity by a forest order. This order must be posted on its website, and on billboards within campgrounds, picnic areas, and visitor centers. The USFS also allows Arizona’s indecent exposure law to apply, however.
- Apache Sitgreaves National Forest, no known nudity ban
- Coconino National Forest has banned public nudity within the Childs Dispersed Recreation Area, see Forest Order 16-0412-97
- Kaibab National Forest, no known nudity ban
- Prescott National Forest, no known nudity ban
- Tonto National Forest has banned public nudity across its entire forest, see Forest Order 03-12-00-22-04
- National Park Service – The NPS has a rule against disorderly conduct. It goes on cite “physically offensive condition” as an example. However, the way the rule is written, disorderly conduct only exists when you intend to create a public alarm, or you are being reckless with your nudity. Hence, if you have received permission from others around you to be nude, you can argue that you did not create disorderly conduct. The NPS does NOT, however allow Arizona’s indecent exposure law to apply on their lands. (Refer to § 2.34 Disorderly conduct)
- Army Corps of Engineers – The Army Corps of Engineers does not operate any recreation areas in Arizona. They do, however, operate two reservoirs here, however all nearby recreation is outsourced to either Arizona Department of Parks & Recreation, or the Bureau of Land Management. See also, “Army Corps of Engineers Campgrounds in Arizona“.
- U.S. Bureau of Reclamation – The USBR does not specifically ban public nudity, but they do prohibit the creation of a “public alarm or nuisance”. The USBR also allows Arizona’s indecent exposure law to apply to its lands. (Refer to § 423.22 Interference with agency functions and disorderly conduct)
- U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service – The USFWS has a rule that says any act of indecency adopted by the State also applies to its system of national wildlife refuges. (Refer to § 27.83 Indecency and disorderly conduct).
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