Can You Fly A Drone in Great Smoky Mountains National Park? (Answered)


In this blog post, we’ll explore the question, “Is drone flying allowed in Smoky Mountains?”.

So, let’s jump in and discover everything you need to know — regulations, penalties (if any) and safety tips to keep in mind!

Can You Fly A Drone in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Can You Fly a Drone in Smoky Mountains?

No, flying a drone in Smoky Mountains is not allowed without proper authorization. There are strict regulations regarding drone flights to ensure public safety and protect privacy. According to the regulations set by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), individuals must obtain specific permits and licenses to fly drones in certain areas or for commercial purposes. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in legal consequences. It is crucial to thoroughly understand and adhere to drone laws before attempting to fly a drone.

Overview of Drone Regulations

Let’s take a look at some of the key points for drone regulations:

Maximum Altitude Limits

Strict regulations prohibit the use of unmanned aircraft systems, including drones, within the park’s boundaries to protect wilderness experience, prevent disturbances to wildlife, and avoid potential safety risks to visitors.

Distance Restrictions

The use of drones is expressly prohibited within the park’s boundaries. This rule is enforceable regardless of launch or landing locations, ensuring the airspace remains undisturbed and preserving the natural tranquility and wildlife safety.

Prohibited Activities and Actions

Drone operations are explicitly forbidden within park boundaries. This ban, due to safety and noise concerns, extends to all areas, regardless of altitude or distance from park features, ensuring a serene, undisturbed environment for all visitors.

Privacy and Data Protection Considerations

Drones are strictly prohibited in the park due to concerns over wildlife disturbances and visitor privacy. This rule enforces a protective measure to maintain the natural serenity and prevent the potential invasion of personal space for individuals enjoying the park.

Commercial Operations

Under the regulations of the National Park Service, unmanned aircraft systems, including drones, are prohibited within the park’s boundaries. This policy ensures the safety of both wildlife and visitors, while also preserving the natural tranquility of the environment.

Penalties for Violating Drone Regulations

If you violate drone regulations in the Smoky Mountains, the penalties can be quite severe. The National Park Service (NPS), which oversees the Smoky Mountains, has the power to issue hefty fines and penalties to those who don’t follow their strict rules. Fines can range anywhere from $100 to $5,000, depending on the severity of the violation. In some instances, you could also face jail time, up to six months.

Additionally, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the governing body for all U.S. airspace, may also penalize violators. They can levy civil penalties, which can exceed $30,000 per violation. In extreme cases where a drone poses a threat to national security, the FAA can refer the case to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution. This could lead to even higher fines and longer imprisonment durations. It’s clear that the consequences for breaking drone regulations are serious, designed to deter potential violators.


Can I Fly My Drone at Night in Smoky Mountains?

No, you cannot fly your drone at night in the Smoky Mountains. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park prohibits the use of drones at all times, including nighttime, to protect wildlife and prevent disturbances to visitors.

Can You Bring a Drone to Smoky Mountains?

Yes, you can bring a drone to the Smoky Mountains; however, flying a drone within the boundaries of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is strictly prohibited as per park regulations.

Do I Need a License or Permit to Fly a Drone in Smoky Mountains?

Yes, you need a license to fly a drone. However, even with a license, drone flight is prohibited in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to protect the area’s wildlife and preserve visitor experience.


Before you launch your drone into the Smoky Mountains skies, it’s crucial to understand the area’s drone laws and regulations.

This applies not only to Smoky Mountains but also to other destinations around the world. For example, if you’re heading to Monument Valley, it’s important to know the specific rules and guidelines for drone flying there. Similarly, if you have dreams of capturing breathtaking footage of Cannon Beach or exploring drone opportunities around Lake Mead, it’s essential to be aware of the local drone regulations in those locations as well.

Drone laws are subject to change, and information in this blog may become outdated; always consult official sources for the latest regulations.

So, whether you’re planning a leisurely flight or engaging in commercial drone operations, make sure to fly responsibly, and stay informed.

Resources and Further Information:

Photo of author
Peter Karanja is a licensed drone pilot from Kenya, freelance writer and drone enthusiast. He has been using drones for land survey, GIS, and photography for the past three years. Being a drone user, he loves writing about drone applications, safety tips for using drones, and the best ways to get the most out of a drone.

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