Can I Fly Drone in National Parks? A Handy Guide


Are you planning on flying a drone in national parks?

Before you take off, it’s important to know whether or not it’s legal to do so. The rules and regulations regarding drone flight can vary depending on the location, so it’s important to do your research beforehand.

In this article, I’ll answer the question: can you fly a drone in national parks?

In short, the answer is NO! You cannot fly drones in national parks due to safety and security concerns.

The laws around drone flight can be complex. So, I’ll also let you know about FAA regulations, security concerns, permissions needed, and penalties (if any) so that you’re fully informed.

Can I Fly Drone in National Parks

FAA Regulations on Flying Drones in National Parks

Due to the following FAA regulations, you are not allowed to fly drones in national parks:

  1. Policy Memorandum 14-05 prohibits the launching, landing, or operation of unmanned aircraft in National Parks, with very few exceptions.
  2. This ban applies to lands and waters administered by the NPS, with jurisdiction ending at the park boundary.
  3. The policy memorandum does not modify any FAA requirements for operating unmanned aircraft in the National Airspace System.
  4. Drone operators must still comply with all FAA regulations and guidelines when flying in or around National Parks.


Security Concerns

Flying a drone in national parks comes with its own set of unique security concerns, which are worth considering before launching your drone. Here are some potential security concerns to keep in mind.

Security Concerns for Flying Drones in National Parks

  1. Wildlife disturbance: Drones can disrupt the natural behavior of wildlife, causing them stress and potentially affecting their survival and reproduction.
  2. Privacy invasion: Drone usage in national parks can lead to invasion of privacy for park visitors and staff, taking away from the natural and peaceful experience.
  3. Air traffic interference: Drones can interfere with aircraft operations, such as emergency helicopter rescues or fire suppression efforts, posing a danger to both pilots and park visitors.
  4. Property damage: Accidents involving drones can result in damage to park facilities, natural resources, and historical landmarks, which may be costly and difficult to repair.
  5. Unauthorized surveillance: Drones could potentially be used for unauthorized surveillance or illegal activities within the park, compromising the safety and security of all park visitors and resources.

Permissions and Permits

Flying drones in National Parks typically requires obtaining special permissions and permits. To legally operate a drone, an unmanned aircraft pilot must first receive authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Additionally, drone usage must adhere to the line of sight rule, meaning that the pilot must maintain a clear, unobstructed view of the drone at all times during flight. It is essential to research and comply with specific regulations for the National Park you plan to visit, as rules may vary depending on the location.

Penalties for Flying a Drone without Authorization

Violating the ban on flying drones in National Parks is considered a misdemeanor. If caught flying a drone without proper authorization, individuals may face penalties that include a maximum of six months in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. It is crucial for drone enthusiasts to be aware of these consequences and obtain the necessary permissions before considering any drone activities in National Parks.

Also check:


1. Can I Fly Drones in National Parks if I am not a Licensed Drone Pilot?

No, you cannot fly a drone in National Parks if you are not a licensed drone pilot. The National Park Service has a strict policy prohibiting the use of drones or Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) within the boundaries of the parks. This rule applies to all visitors, regardless of their license status, in order to protect wildlife, ensure visitor safety, and preserve the natural and cultural resources within the park.

2. Who can Authorize the Use of Drones in National Parks?

The use of drones in National Parks is generally prohibited to protect the wildlife and natural resources, as well as to ensure visitor safety. The National Park Service (NPS) has the authority to grant permission for drone usage in special circumstances, such as for scientific research, search and rescue missions, or other administrative purposes. In order to obtain authorization, a specific permit must be requested from the park superintendent, who will assess the proposal based on its potential impacts and benefits.

3. Can the Police Fly Drones in National Parks?

Yes, the police can fly drones in National Parks, but only under specific circumstances. Law enforcement agencies are permitted to use drones for official purposes, such as search and rescue missions, emergency operations, and public safety requirements. However, they must follow the guidelines and regulations set forth by the National Park Service and obtain the necessary permits or authorizations before conducting any drone operations.


In conclusion, before flying a drone in national parks, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the appropriate resources and tools. Download the B4UFLY mobile app to easily find safe and legal flying locations.

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

And if you have a related query, kindly feel free to let me know in the comments.

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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