From a technical standpoint, yes, nude camping is legal on federal lands. But it also depends on the agency because each handles nudity and disorderly conduct differently. It also depends on the State only because most agencies still allow state laws to apply. For the most part, nude camping is allowed as long as no one else complains.
Is Nude Camping Legal on Federal Lands?
From the standpoint of law, the federal government has not addressed public nudity. However, from the standpoint of regulation, they have. Regulation is simply a more granular detail of how government will enforce law.
When it comes to nude camping, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) remains the most popular choice mostly because BLM lands have little law enforcement. But from a legal standpoint, the National Park Service is a safe bet beacuse the NPS is the only federal land management agency that does not allow state and local laws to apply.
Bureau of Land Management
The BLM has no rules against nude camping. They do not address nudity or public indecency anywhere in their rules and regulations.
- However, the BLM does have a rule stating that all state and local laws apply, and that state and local law enforcement officials are allowed to enforce laws on BLM lands. (Reference 8365.1-7 State and Local Laws)
- The BLM does have a rule against, “creating a hazard or nuisance”, but does not define what these are. (Reference, § 8365.1-4 Public health, safety and comfort)
U.S. Forest Service
The USFS does not ban nude camping or being publicly nude in general. However, it does allow each forest or grassland to ban public nudity, if it chooses to do so…
- To do this, each forest or grassland has to declare a ban on public nudity through a “forest order”. Each forest and grassland publishes their forest orders on billboards in visitor centers and campground kiosks. They can also be found online at each forest’s website under the menu, “Alerts & Notices”. (Reference § 261.58 Occupancy and use.)
- At this point, we are not aware of which forests and grasslands have banned public nudity. Note that a forest or grassland will often adopt an order for a period of one to three years, and then let the order rescind if the problem goes away.
- The USFS defines public nudity as exposing genitalia, areolas, or anus in an area where other people can see. Children 10 years and under are allowed to be publicly nude.
- The USFS also allows state and local laws to apply. If the state has banned public nudity, then it also banned in that forest or grassland.
National Park Service
The NPS does not specifically ban nude camping, however it does ban “disorderly conduct” and it does go on to cite, “engages in a display or act that is obscene” as an example. (Reference, § 2.34 Disorderly conduct)
- The NPS does not define “obscene”, thus it would be up to each park ranger’s discretion to determine if you are being obscene.
- The same rule referenced above also bans, “creating a physically offensive condition.” Whether or not public nudity can be considered this is up to each park ranger’s discretion.
- The NPS is the only federal land management agency that does not allow state and local laws to apply. For more about this read, “Do State and Local Laws Apply to Federally Managed Lands?“
Certain National Parks Have Banned Nude Camping
- § 7.87 Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park (Hawaii) – (a) Is public nudity prohibited at Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park? Yes. Public nudity, including nude bathing, by any person on Federal land or water within the boundaries of Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park is prohibited. This section does not apply to a person under 10 years of age.
- § 7.67 Cape Cod National Seashore (Massachusetts) – (e) Public nudity. Public nudity, including public nude bathing, by any person on Federal land or water within the boundaries of Cape Cod National Seashore is prohibited.
- § 7.29 Gateway National Recreation Area (New York) – (c) Public lewdness. Section 245.00 of the New York Penal Code is hereby adopted and incorporated into the regulations of this part. Section 245.00 provides that: A person is guilty of public lewdness when he intentionally exposes the private and intimate parts of his body in a lewd manner or commits any other lewd act (a) in a public place, or (b) in private premises under circumstances in which he may readily be observed from either a public place or from other private premises, and with intent that he be so observed.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
The USFWS has a rule that bans “indecency” and “disorderly conduct” on its national wildlife refuges, but only if it is already banned within state and local laws. (Reference, § 27.83 Indecency and disorderly conduct)
- If a state or county does not specifically ban public nudity or exposure, then it’s not banned at that particular wildlife refuge.
- To our knowledge, every state has already banned public nudity to some lesser or greater extent. See, “State Laws Regarding Public Nudity” below for more details.
Army Corps of Engineers
The ACOE has a rule that addresses people being “disorderly” or “disturbing the peace”, but does not otherwise mention nude camping. (Reference, § 327.12 Restrictions.)
- As long as your nudity does not disturb the peace, technically you are not in violation of the above rule.
- The ACOE also allows state and local laws to apply. State and local law enforcement officers may enter ACOE lands to enforce laws. (Reference, § 327.26 State and local laws)
Bureau of Reclamation
The USBR does not specifically ban nude camping, but they do prohibit the creation of a “public alarm or nuisance”. (Reference § 423.22 Interference with agency functions and disorderly conduct)
- If you can be publicly nude without creating a public alarm or nuisance, then you should be fine.
- The USBR also allows state and local laws to apply. State and local law enforcement officers may enter ACOE lands to enforce laws. (Reference § 423.3 When does this part apply?)
All States Have Laws Against Public Nudity
Every state has adopted laws with respect to public nudity, public indecency, or lewd behavior in public. However in just about all states, outdoor nudity is only illegal when it’s done with the intent to offend or arouse others. As long as you’re keeping your nudity in private, or your nudity does not offend others around you, or you are well away from sight of others, you should have no problem.
You can read a full list of nudity and public decency laws by state at HG.org at this link. If that link is broken, click here, to read the PDF document we created.
Where is Nude Camping Absolutely Legal on Federal Lands?
Nude camping is only legal on federal lands managed by the National Park Service.
- This is because the NPS does not allow state and local laws to apply.
- All other federal land management agencies, however, do.
- The NPS still prohibits “disorderly conduct”, but park rangers only enforce this rule when they receive a complaint. As long as others around you are not offended by your nudity, or cannot see you, then technically you shouldn’t have a problem.
what is considered indecent exposure on blm land
Very good and complete info. We like to hike nude on forest lands National Park Service lakes so I guess the same rules apply. So far never any issues.June 9, 2020 at 1:26 pm
What if nudity is practiced for religious reasons?September 15, 2020 at 9:42 pm
I imagine then, you will still be cited (or arrested) and given the opportunity to argue in court.September 16, 2020 at 12:51 pm
I don’t take chances. There’s hundreds of square miles of Forrest where I live. It mostly belongs to the logging industry. We use those woods to enjoy nudity outside.January 11, 2021 at 6:56 pm
………………………….. L U X .. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!January 16, 2021 at 8:59 am
it still seems nudity laws on federal land are too vague . merely standing around your campsite could be judged as lewd !February 21, 2021 at 1:08 pm
Dieter, the federal agencies have vague laws on nudity because the federal government tries to stick to major issues, and let the States deal with minor issues. Nudity is a minor issue. Generally, the federal government doesn’t care if you go around naked. It’s the states that care. The only exception to this is with the National Park Service… they have declared that state and county laws do not apply to their jurisdictions.February 21, 2021 at 1:49 pm
A lot of laws have the offend word in them most people are offended by nudie because of the way people are raised most of them are scared of their on naked body.I wonder some times if people shower with clothes on LOLAugust 15, 2021 at 1:00 pm
God did not give a clothing law. God did not call the image he made indecent. God made butts. God will not say hide them. Law is evil. Law is not God’s law that Jesus kept. Psalm 119:165 Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.August 27, 2021 at 8:55 pm
“The word “lewd” is from the Saxon, and means properly “ignorant,” “unlearned,” and hence low, vicious (Acts 17:5).” That has to do with what a person says. Lewd people are Against the nude form, and everything else.
The court is Satan’s attempt to imitate God’s throne. Why do we have it knowing this? God has 24 seats around his throne. Rev 4:4, kjv. Satan has 12.
Defiled religious minds are against the nude form, and sex with another species, and sucking a dick in public, and pedophilia, and nude art, seen by all ages. Jesus says this: My burdens are light. Mans laws are incredibly heavy. Pure undefiled religon is described in Jamies 1:26 – 27, KJV. That has nothing to do with what the church teaches.
For the past few years, I’ve made nude camping available on my property. Not a lot of room, so limit to primitive tent camping, and small self contained RV’s. A certain amount of concealment may be necessary, as there are a few gaps in the trees where you may be seen. I limit the amount of campers. A safe place to leave a camp during the day to see the area. Within 40 miles of Glacier National Park. email@example.comSeptember 12, 2021 at 1:20 pm