Can I Fly a Drone in a National Park? Regulation & Guideline

Confused about 'Can I fly a drone in a national park?' Learn the latest regulations and guidelines to ensure responsible and legal drone use in US parks.

Drone photography and videography have become increasingly popular in recent years. However, when it comes to flying drones in national parks, it is important to understand the regulations and guidelines set forth by the National Park Service. Failure to comply with these rules can result in fines, legal action, and potential harm to the park’s safety, wildlife, and resources. Let’s take a closer look at what you need to know before taking flight with your drone in a national park and answer ‘can I fly a drone in a national park‘.

Key Takeaways:

  • Drone use in national parks is subject to regulations and guidelines set by the National Park Service.
  • Understanding and following these rules is crucial for a safe and legal experience.
  • Flying drones in national parks can have negative impacts on park visitor safety, wildlife, and resources.
  • Specific national parks may have unique regulations and considerations for drone use that operators should be aware of.
  • Responsible drone use in national parks involves adhering to rules such as keeping the drone within line of sight and within park boundaries.

Understanding the National Park Service Policies

The National Park Service has established policies regarding the use of unmanned aircraft drones within national parks in the United States. It is essential to understand these policies before operating a drone in any national park to ensure compliance with regulations and guidelines.

Drone Ban in National Parks

The National Park Service has implemented a ban on drones in all national parks. This ban is in place to protect park visitors, wildlife, and resources from the potential negative impacts of drone use. Flying a drone in a national park without permission constitutes a violation of federal law and may result in fines or legal action.

Park Boundaries

It is crucial to understand the boundaries of a national park before operating a drone. While it is illegal to fly a drone within the park, it is also illegal to fly a drone over park boundaries without proper authorization. Therefore, drone operators should familiarize themselves with park maps and consult with park officials before flying a drone near park boundaries.

Special Use Permit

Drone operators may be able to obtain a special use permit for operating drones in national parks for research or other approved purposes. However, obtaining a permit can be challenging, and operators must follow specific guidelines and restrictions. Drone operators should plan well in advance if they intend to apply for a special use permit.

“Drones can be disturbing to both people and wildlife, and can also interfere with emergency rescue operations and park maintenance activities.”

The Impacts of Drone Use in National Parks

Drones can have significant impacts on national parks, affecting park visitor safetypark wildlife, and park resources. As drones become more popular, it is crucial to understand how their use may impact the natural environment and take steps to ensure responsible drone use in national parks.

Park Visitor Safety

One of the most significant concerns with drone use in national parks is park visitor safety. Drones can potentially collide with people, causing injury or damage. Additionally, the sound and sight of drones can be disturbing to park visitors and wildlife, detracting from the peaceful enjoyment of the park.

Park Wildlife

Drones can also have negative impacts on park wildlife. The sound and sight of drones can cause animals to become stressed and alter their natural behavior patterns. This can lead to significant negative ecological impacts, including changes in migration patterns, decreased reproductive success, and habitat disruption.

Impacts on Park Resources

The use of drones in national parks can also negatively impact park resources. For example, drones may cause soil erosion and vegetation damage if flown too close to the ground. Drones may also interfere with scientific research or create a disturbance during cultural and educational activities in the park.

In summary, drones can have significant impacts on national parks, including park visitor safety, wildlife, and resources. As drone use becomes more prevalent, it is essential to educate drone operators on responsible drone use and the potential impacts of their actions in national parks.

Regulations for Drones in National Parks

Drone use in national parks is regulated by the National Park Service. Drone pilots must follow the rules and guidelines set forth by the agency to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all park visitors. Here’s an overview of the regulations for drone use in national parks:

  1. Drone Regulations: Drones are not allowed to take off, land, or operate from national park lands or waters, except when authorized.
  2. Drone Pilot: A drone operator must possess a valid remote pilot certificate issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
  3. Flight Over National Forests: Drone use over national forests must comply with U.S. Forest Service rules and regulations.

The National Park Service may issue a special use permit for drone operations that are not permitted by regulation. In such cases, the operator must follow the conditions and terms of the permit.

Drone hovering over green mountains

It is the responsibility of the drone operator to be aware of and follow all drone regulations in national state parks. Failure to comply can result in fines, confiscation of the drone, and potential prosecution.

Fly a Drone in Specific National Parks

Each national park has its own set of regulations, guidelines and rules for flying a drone. Below are the drone regulations for some of the most popular national parks:

Yosemite National Park

In Yosemite National Park, drones are not allowed to take off or land within the park, except in designated areas. Additionally, drones are not allowed to fly over any wilderness area or any location closed to aircraft. Violators may face fines or even imprisonment.

Yellowstone National Park

In Yellowstone National Park, drones are completely banned as they can disturb park wildlife and disrupt the natural environment. There are no designated areas for drone takeoffs or landings, and the use of drones is strictly prohibited.

Grand Canyon National Park

In Grand Canyon National Park, drones are only allowed to fly in certain areas with a valid special use permit. Drone pilots should also obtain permission from the park’s aviation management before flying their drone. Violating these regulations may result in hefty fines written out by park rangers.

Impressive mountain sight

“There is no exception to the prohibition. Drones can have negative impacts on wildlife nearby and in remote areas, so the best thing to do is to leave them home.”

It is important to note that regulations and guidelines for drone use may vary from park to park and it is the drone operator’s responsibility to research and follow them. Always prioritize the safety of park visitors, wildlife, and park resources when flying drones in national parks.

Tips for Responsible operation of a Drone in a National Park

If you plan to fly a drone in a national park, it is important to do so responsibly and in accordance with regulations and guidelines. Here are some tips to ensure responsible drone use:

  • Keep the drone within line of sight: Always keep your drone within your line of sight to avoid collisions with other objects or people.
  • Stay within park boundaries: Make sure you are aware of park boundaries and fly your drone within them. Avoid flying over private property or other restricted areas.
  • Respect wildlife: Do not disturb wildlife with your drone. Keep a safe distance from animals to prevent any harm or stress.
  • Follow drone regulations: Adhere to the regulations for drone use in national parks, including requirements for drone operators and pilots. Avoid flying drones in prohibited areas and during no-fly zones.
  • Be considerate of other park visitors: Be mindful of other park visitors and their experience. Avoid flying over crowded areas and be courteous when approached with questions or concerns.

By following these tips and guidelines, you can enjoy your drone flight while respecting the safety, wildlife, and resources of the national park.


Flying drones in national parks is a thrilling experience that requires responsible use. It is essential to adhere to the regulations and guidelines set by the National Park Service to preserve the safety, wildlife, and resources of these protected areas. As a drone operator, it is your responsibility to ensure that your actions do not pose any danger to yourself, other park visitors and park resources.

By maintaining line-of-sight with the drone, keeping it within park boundaries, and understanding the specific rules for drone use within individual parks, you can enjoy your aerial photography or videography without causing harm to the environment.

If you are flying in specific national parks like Yosemite, Yellowstone, or the Grand Canyon, make sure to follow their unique drone regulations to prevent any mishap.

In conclusion, responsible drone use means respecting the rules and guidelines for drone use in national parks. It allows you to capture stunning images and footage while preserving the natural beauty of these areas for future generations to enjoy.


Can I fly a drone in a national park?

Yes, you can fly a drone in a national park. However, there are certain regulations and guidelines that you need to follow to ensure a safe and legal experience.

What are the regulations and guidelines for flying drones in national parks?

The regulations and guidelines for flying drones in national parks include restrictions on flight over certain areas, maintaining visual line of sight with the drone, and obtaining necessary permits for commercial drone operations.

Is drone use allowed in all national parks?

While drone use is generally allowed in national parks, some parks have specific regulations and restrictions in place. It is important to check the rules of the specific national park you plan to visit before flying your drone.

Do I need a special use permit to fly a drone in a national park?

If you plan to fly a drone for commercial purposes in a national park, you will need to obtain a special use permit from the National Park Service. However, for recreational drone use, a permit is generally not required.

What are the impacts of drone use in national parks?

Drone use in national parks can have negative impacts on park visitor safety, park wildlife, and park resources. It is important to be aware of these potential impacts and fly responsibly to minimize any harm.

Are there specific drone regulations for certain national parks?

Yes, some national parks, such as Yosemite National ParkYellowstone National Park, and the Grand Canyon National Park, have their own specific drone regulations. It is crucial to familiarize yourself with these regulations before flying your drone in these parks.

What are some tips for responsible drone use in national parks?

Some tips for responsible drone use in national parks include maintaining visual line of sight with your drone, keeping it within park boundaries, respecting wildlife and park visitors, and following all applicable regulations and guidelines.


I'm Martijn, your dedicated drone enthusiast and writer here at Drone Operator. With a passion for all things UAV drone related, I'm committed to providing you with insightful and unbiased content.

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