Are Drones Allowed in National Parks?

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No Drones Allowed in National Parks

The National Park Service has recently banned drones due to the noise and safety reasons. National parks today are considered to be a no drone zone. This rule for no drones allowed in these parks spans an area of over eighty-four million acres throughout the United States. The area also includes National Monuments, National Battlefields, historic sites, coastlines and seashores, rivers and walking, biking and hiking trails. Drones produce a negative impact for these parks. The most appropriate policy is still being considered. The FAA also have their say in the no drone zone.

Drones Disrupt People, Wildlife, and Birds

This is a rule that is sweeping every National Park in the U.S. Beaches and forests that are part of these parks are also included in the no drone fly area. Even a few individual parks have enacted the no drone ban due to park visitor safety and privacy concerns. Loud and noisy drones often interrupt visitors when view the peaceful and natural beauty of landscapes. Drones have also been known to cause disturbances to wildlife and birds. If you are caught flying a drone in a National Park, then high fines and penalties will be imposed.

Cost of Fines

Fines for flying drones in these banned areas can range from as little as fifty dollars to over a thousand dollars. The National Park Service intends to protect the environment from these flying robots. Precautions continue to escalate. The prohibited drone use in National Parks has even led to a drone’s pilot being tasered by a park ranger.

State Parks Are Creating Drone Bans Too

The National Park Service manages 58 National Parks located all across the United States. The drone ban is just a temporary ban for the launch of drones, operating drones and landing them until a permanent can can out in place. The temporary ban intends to stop the problem now until a long-term solution that is suitable for everyone takes place. Drones can be very invasive like causing damage to artifacts, the environment, and ecosystems. State parks are beginning to follow the footsteps of the National Park Service by creating their own drone bans.

Who May Fly Drones in National Parks

Drones can still be piloted in National Parks, but only by licensed professionals with permits for fire safety, search and rescue missions, and for science studies and research. Even responsible filmmakers are not allowed to fly their drones in any National Park until a permanent set of regulations are in place. For the next twelve to eighteen months, the NPS will evaluate the important effects of the unmanned aircraft or drones on visitors of the parks and natural park resources. This will help them to draft a permanent new rule and it will certainly be open for public comments.

Drones Produce Both Positive and Negative Impacts

If drones are used carefully and in the correct way, they can certainly contribute to a very positive and influential way of helping people to appreciate these breathtaking and beautiful parks from a long distance. It all has to do with the hands of the drone pilot. You can use the drone in a positive way that promotes the park or in a negative way that disrupts the park. The NPS is evaluating both the positive and the negative ways in order to determine the best laws for drones in these parks.

Drone Pilots Need Balance in Parks

There is an extreme need for balance for drone pilots in National Parks. Certain mishaps of drone usage can lead to changing appearances of the natural beauty these parks have to offer, like when a drone crashes into something. Sometimes the aircraft cannot be recovered and leads to litter. You must have experience to keep your drone under complete control. No, drones are not allowed in National Parks right now, but maybe someday soon they will be.

22 Responses

  1. Ridiculous, I think. America leads e world in excessive regulations of everything. Drones are a great new technology for people to enjoy beautiful views, large spaces and more. Leads to artistic and creative enhancements in many ways. Before you had to rely on NAT geo or some other TV show to discover and view places where now you can explore yourself. America is so over regulated now you can barely take a step somewhere without worrying about some stupid regulation. Takes the free out of freedom, yet more dangerous obsessions like weapons, drugs, etc have more freedoms and cause more damage. A complete misplacement of perspective IMO.

    1. Take your drones elsewhere. Stay out of the parks. If we let you people fly them at will they’d be buzzing all over the place, spoiling the experience. We don’t need that.
      On the other hand, I love drone videos. It’s fun to watch them on YouTube. They give us beautiful shots. Hopefully, there will be enough places they can be flown so you can still enjoy your hobby. I’m thinking of getting one myself. On my camping trips I’ve seen a lot of places in rural areas where they could be flown, as long as you don’t run into a landowner with a shotgun.

  2. What do they think is gonna happen in the hundreds of national parks? Are all drone owners going to show up on the same day…duh. . there’s miles and miles of open spaces for flights to enjoy our countries beauty but noooooo you can’t see it from the air unless you watch TV….Duh. and OMG the animals may see it….. I’m sure one drone crashing in the park is not going to endanger the eco system, unlike all the campers that leave their crap around. our national parks should be an encouraging place to fly to show off our beauty on youtube and face book not stifle it and keep us away.

  3. that is because some jerk with power felt like their privacy was invaded, so they called some big shot in the park service and had them stop drone flights. I say if you see them with a camera, swat it out of their hands and say it is disrupting your privacy! if you can’t fly drones then people and their a**hole opinions shouldn’t be aloud in the park either. People do more damage than drones will ever do!! You hear about people harassing animals all the time! The parks have signs all over, if you know how to use a drone and are responsible then there would be no problems!! that is the problem with this country right now!! A bunch of babies who have to have their way regardless of whoever’s rights are infringed upon!! Unless I am totally stupid, I believe it is my park also, I do pay taxes to the government!! So it should be my right to use the park for my pleasure as much as anyone else! Obviously responsibly I am not talking about flying in a crowd of people or going directly in an nest or group of animals!! I am talking flying at a reasonable distance that is safe for all!!! especially the wildlife. Oh but wait!!! you can hunt and kill animals in certain parks!! I guess that is not harassing or harming the animals!!

    1. Quite a rant there rich! 😛 You’re right though, I’m sure more people disturb the animals or cause damage than a drone ever would.

  4. I would go to a National Park to enjoy the beauty. I don’t wish to have drones or helicopters with camera laden tourists disrupting the experience.
    Flame on …..

    1. Two things, they can’t prevent you from making an overflight. Only the FAA can regulate the sky, meaning if you take off and land outside the park they can’t do a thing. That’s why you can still do helicopter over flights, because the FAA hasn’t banned them.

  5. I’ve noticed the many people have an immediate negative reaction to even the mention of a drone. Yet would not be able to hear or spot one flying at a few hundred feet overhead. Many of them are photographers. I have great difficulty understanding their objections, they do not appear to be based on any rational reason but more on some visceral fear of something they do not understand.

    Perhaps if companies like Amazon manage to make drones an everyday thing, they will change their minds.

  6. Time will tell. Some fear is d/t ignorance, but there is some truth behind this. There are some operators out there who are too careless and don’t fly responsibly, ruining for the rest of us. I love the view from up high. When you get back to your home with in image or video that is breathtaking. It is an indescribable feeling!


  7. This absolutely ridiculous! You can snowmobile in National Parks, but a drone makes too much noise???? Typical Government idiocy!

    1. Not to mention a motorcycle without mufflers….bam! bam! bam! Pop! Pop!
      disturbing the peace as they go down the road thinking “look at me”! Loud motorcycles in national parks are bigger nuisances than a responsible photographer with a drone.

    2. Stupid policy. I agree with the note about motorcycle pipes and snowmobiles. That is because someone is making money renting.

  8. There are people who think that this earth lasts forever. These permanentalists believe that we are in control while in fact we are only part of the nature. In every affiliations and endeavor, there will be good responsible as well as reckless people. They are like a Gaussian curve in most of the nature we see. Let the responsible drone pilots capture it’s beauty. Regardless, one day the earth will be uninhabitable, so enjoy the beautiful earth in all the ways you can until there is no more. Yes, punish the irresponsible reckless people but allow those legal aerial videographers to create and share the beauty of nature. Labeling all drone pilots as reckless is akin to labeling all drivers as irresponsible.

  9. As a photographer, I wince at the thought of missing those beautiful shots that can be taken only from the air, but the depth of the loss when a drone crashes into something damaging it forever–or a drone crashing and littering the landscape–is too high a price to pay for all in exchange for the fleeting enjoyment of a few.

  10. I have an issue with our government, that allow’s mountain climbers to use equipment to jam their tools into the, cracks, and crevices of these beautiful mountain’s. How many times have some of these climbers had to be rescued, because of carelessness, and at what cost? It takes them hours, if not, a day to reach the top, to enjoy the beauty the parks has to offer, compared to a few minutes it will take me to send my drone to the same location. Maybe, I should learn how the rock climb!

  11. My understanding after reading the actual regulation is that you are not allowed to be standing in the park flying a drone. However, if you are outside of the park the NFS can’t regulate the air space above the park. At that point it’s up to the FAA to regulate the air space. Usually with the exception of a few parks the FAA only regulates near airports.
    From what I understand the NFS may not like you flying over the national park but they don’t have the power to stop you from doing it either.

  12. No matter how responsible humans are, the sun will eventually supernova, destroying any remnant of earth and everything on if forever.

    Sweet dreams.

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