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A guide to scattering ashes in Arizona

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Better Place Forests creates and maintains conservation memorial forests for people who choose cremation and don’t want their ashes to end up in a traditional cemetery.

Scattering your loved one’s ashes is a beautiful way to honor their memory and fulfill their final wishes. However, some states have special laws around scattering ashes, so it’s important to do your research to comply with regulations. 

Because each state is different, our guide below focuses explicitly on the rules regarding cremation and spreading ashes in the state of Arizona. 

BETTER PLACE FORESTS IS NOT A LAW FIRM AND DOES NOT PROVIDE LEGAL ADVICE. The information provided in this post does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information is for general informational purposes only. Contact an attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter.

The 2022 guide to scattering ashes in Arizona

Every state sets its own laws about spreading ashes, so sorting through all the red tape is sometimes confusing. That’s why we’ve provided you with answers to your frequently asked questions regarding Arizona burial laws. These answers can help when it comes time to fulfill a loved one’s wishes or make your own cremation plans in the state of Arizona.

Is cremation allowed in Arizona?

Yes, cremation is permitted in Arizona. However, the county examiner must first approve it, and then the deceased’s next of kin or executor needs to sign an authorization form within 15 days of the death. 

What is the cost of cremation in Arizona? 

The average cost of cremation in Arizona is $1,500 to $3,000. 

Read more: Choosing cremation? Here are some unique options.

Is it illegal to spread ashes in Arizona?

No, it’s not illegal to scatter ashes in this state.

Are there rules around spreading ashes in Arizona? 

Yes and no. There aren’t any rules or restrictions around scattering ashes in Arizona at the state level. However, that’s not to say there aren’t any at the city or county level. We suggest further researching specific locations you have in mind to ensure you’re not breaking any local regulations or zoning laws.

Where can I spread ashes in Arizona? 

There are many beautiful scattering ashes options and locations in Arizona. But as we mentioned, always look into local laws first. 

  • Private property: In Arizona, it’s perfectly legal to spread ashes on your own private property, such as under your favorite tree or next to your rose bushes. But that’s not necessarily the case with someone else’s property. You’ll need to receive permission from the landowner before doing so on private property, such as a stadium, golf course, museum, or amusement park. 
  • Public land: In the same way you need to seek permission for spreading ashes on private property, you’ll need to research to see if it’s possible to spread ashes on public land, too, as there could be special zoning laws or city regulations that prohibit it in certain areas. 
  • Scattering gardens: You’ll find several designated locations where you are encouraged to scatter ashes, such as the memorial forest in Flagstaff or one of the many crematorium gardens around the state. 
  • State and national parks: This is one area where you’ll need to consult with the specific park, as rules and regulations will vary from one to the next. Some parks, such as Saguaro National Park, require a special permit and impose ash dispersal guidelines. Meanwhile, scattering ashes at the Grand Canyon is currently prohibited. Contact the state or national park in advance to ensure you’re following the applicable policies and laws. 
  • Water scattering: According to the Federal Clean Water Act, you may spread ashes on a waterway, such as Lake Powell, as long as it occurs at least three nautical miles from shore and you adhere to the other rules set forth under federal law. Also, you must notify the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) within 30 days of doing so. 
  • Aerial scattering: No Federal Aviation Regulations prohibit you from scattering ashes in the sky from an airplane. Arizona state law does not prevent this either. In fact, several private airplane companies offer this service in Arizona. 

Do I need a permit to spread ashes in Arizona? 

No, you don’t need a permit to spread ashes on your own private land, but you may need one to do so at a national or state park. If it’s public land, you’ll still want to consult with the local governing agency and inquire about any special permits or permission needed. 

Are there rules for scattering ashes in Arizona? 

In many cases, you’re free to spread ashes in Arizona as you please, but here are some guidelines you’ll want to follow:

  • Don’t spread ashes on private property without permission.
  • Avoid spreading ashes on trails or places with high-foot traffic.
  • Research local laws to comply with specific regulations.
  • Release the ashes downwind, and avoid doing so on a windy or rainy day.
  • Use a biodegradable urn if you plan on leaving the container behind. 

Can I store ashes in the state of Arizona? 

There are no Arizona burial laws dictating how or where you store your loved one’s ashes. If you don’t want to scatter them, you could consider keeping them in one of the following ways:

  • Columbarium: This is a wall structure with compartments that hold the ashes of individuals, often located at cemeteries and churches. 
  • Mausoleum: Another option is to entomb the ashes in a crypt in a mausoleum. 
  • Urn: There are many variations of funeral vases and special containers meant for storing ashes.
  • Jewelry: Some jewelry, like lockets and charms, can be specially designed to hold ashes.
  • Grave: You can bury ashes in the ground at a cemetery, burial reserve, crematorium garden, or on private property. 

If you have the opportunity, we suggest speaking with your loved ones about their final wishes, such as whether they’d like you to scatter their ashes outdoors or keep them somewhere special. Doing so lets you determine your state’s rules in advance and make the appropriate arrangements, but it can also offer you a sense of peace and comfort, knowing that you’re honoring their specific instructions. 

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