Can You Fly A Drone in United States National Parks? (Answered)


In this blog post, we’ll explore the question, “Is drone flying allowed in United States National Parks?”.

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 United States National Parks

Can You Fly a Drone in United States National Parks?

No, flying a drone in United States National Parks 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

FAA regulations prohibit the operation of unmanned aerial systems within national park boundaries, effectively establishing a zero altitude limit. This ensures the preservation of natural and cultural resources, as well as visitor safety and enjoyment.

Distance Restrictions

Under the guidance of the National Park Service, drone flight is explicitly prohibited within park boundaries, irrespective of distance, due to concerns about wildlife disruption and visitor experience interference. This applies uniformly across all parks nationwide.

Prohibited Activities and Actions

Drones are categorically forbidden, stemming from a 2014 policy enacted to prevent possible disturbances or harm to wildlife and the natural quiet of these protected areas. This includes both recreational and professional drone use.

Privacy and Data Protection Considerations

The National Park Service (NPS) strictly prohibits drone usage, addressing privacy concerns and safeguarding wildlife. This policy ensures uninterrupted enjoyment for park visitors, protection for indigenous species, and the preservation of natural tranquility and scenery.

Commercial Operations

Drone usage, under commercial operations, is banned unequivocally due to regulations preserving environmental integrity, wildlife protection, and visitor safety. Compliance with these prohibitions ensures minimal disturbance and maintains the sanctity of these preserves.

Penalties for Violating Drone Regulations

If you violate drone regulations, the consequences can be severe. Penalties can range from hefty fines to potential jail time depending on the severity of the violation. For instance, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) can impose civil penalties up to $27,500. Criminal penalties can be even more significant, including fines of up to $250,000 and/or imprisonment for up to three years.

If you fly a drone in a National Park without proper authorization, the National Park Service could also issue its own penalties. This may include additional fines and potentially getting banned from the park. These penalties are not just for the purpose of punishment, but more to ensure the preservation of nature and wildlife, as well as the safety and enjoyment of visitors.


Can I Fly My Drone at Night in United States National Parks?

No, you cannot fly your drone at night in United States National Parks. The National Park Service generally prohibits all drone use, regardless of the time of day, to protect natural resources and ensure visitor safety.

Can You Bring a Drone to United States National Parks?

No, you cannot bring a drone to United States National Parks. The National Park Service prohibits launching, landing, or operating unmanned aircraft within its areas to protect wildlife and visitors.

Do I Need a License or Permit to Fly a Drone in United States National Parks?

Yes, you need a special permit to fly a drone in United States National Parks. However, these are rarely granted as the default rule is no drone flight. This is to protect wildlife and maintain the natural environment and visitor experience.


Before you launch your drone into the United States National Parks skies, it’s crucial to understand the area’s drone laws and regulations.

This applies not only to United States National Parks but also to other destinations around the world. For example, if you’re heading to Yosemite National Park, it’s important to know the specific rules and guidelines for drone flying there. Similarly, if you have dreams of capturing breathtaking footage of Pompeii or exploring drone opportunities around Washington, D.C., 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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