Can You Fly A Drone on BLM Land? (Answered)


In this blog post, we’ll explore the question, “Is drone flying allowed on BLM Land?”.

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 on BLM Land

Can You Fly a Drone on BLM Land?

Yes, you can fly a drone on BLM Land. However, it is essential to familiarize yourself with the local regulations and guidelines to ensure a safe and legal flying experience. Here drone flights are regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which has specific rules and restrictions in place to protect public safety and privacy. By adhering to these regulations and respecting the local authorities’ guidelines, drone enthusiasts can enjoy capturing stunning aerial footage while exploring BLM Land’s beautiful landscapes.

Overview of Drone Regulations

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

Maximum Altitude Limits

  • The maximum allowable altitude for drone flights is 400 feet above ground level. Any flight above this limit is considered illegal and may result in penalties.
  • For flights near structures, the drone may not fly higher than 400 feet above the structure’s immediate uppermost limit. This rule applies regardless of the structure’s overall height.

Distance Restrictions

  • All drone operators must maintain visual line of sight (VLOS) with their drones at all times. This typically restricts drone flight to a distance of no more than 1,500 feet from the operator, depending on visibility conditions.
  • Drones must not be flown closer than 500 feet to any individuals, vehicles, buildings, or structures to ensure safety and respect privacy.

Prohibited Activities and Actions

  • Prohibited Activities: Drone operators are not permitted to fly drones in areas designated as ‘No Drone Zones’, or in any areas during times of high fire risk. They are also forbidden to harass wildlife, invade privacy, or engage in any harmful or disruptive activities.
  • Required Actions: Drone operators must obtain a special recreation permit before launching, landing, or operating a drone on public lands. They are required to adhere to all FAA regulations, including maintaining a visual line of sight with the drone, avoiding people and private property, and not exceeding altitudes of 400 feet above ground level.

Privacy and Data Protection Considerations

  • All drone operators must respect the privacy of individuals and must not capture or store identifiable personal information or images without explicit consent. This includes refraining from filming or photographing private activities, properties, or individuals.
  • Any data collected by drones, including photographs, video footage, or other sensor-based information, must be securely stored and managed to prevent unauthorized access or misuse. Operators must implement appropriate data protection measures in line with current privacy laws and should delete the data when it is no longer needed for the purpose it was collected for.

Commercial Operations

  • All commercial drone operations require a Special Recreation Permit, and these operations include any activity where drone footage is used to generate income, such as real estate photography or event videography.
  • Commercial drone operators must follow FAA regulations and must have a Remote Pilot Certificate. Drones should be registered, should not exceed 55 lbs. in weight, and should always stay within the pilot’s line of sight when flying. The drone must not fly over people or moving vehicles, and must not exceed 400 ft in altitude.

Penalties for Violating Drone Regulations

Violating drone regulations can lead to serious consequences, which range from hefty fines to potential imprisonment. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the United States can impose fines up to $27,500 for civil violations, while criminal penalties can be much steeper, including fines up to $250,000 and/or imprisonment for up to three years. These penalties vary based on the severity of the violation and whether it’s a first-time or recurring offense.

It’s also important to note that violations can lead to the suspension or revocation of your drone operator license. In addition, if a drone is used in a way that endangers national security, the penalties could be even more severe. Keep in mind that local and state laws may also apply and can add to the overall penalties for illegal drone use.

Tips for Safe and Responsible Drone Flying on BLM Land

To ensure a positive drone flying experience and comply with the regulations, here are some essential tips to keep in mind:

  1. Know the Rules: Familiarize yourself with and adhere to all BLM (Bureau of Land Management) rules, regulations, and guidelines for drone operation.
  2. Respect Wildlife: Avoid disturbing wildlife by keeping a safe distance, especially during nesting or breeding seasons.
  3. Stay in Designated Areas: Stick to areas expressly designated for drone flight to prevent accidents and protect sensitive environments.
  4. Maintain Line-of-Sight: Ensure your drone stays within your visual line-of-sight at all times for safe operation and control.
  5. Be Mindful of Others: Respect the privacy and safety of others, avoid flying over groups of people, and yield to all manned aircraft.


Can I Fly My Drone at Night on BLM Land?

Yes, you can fly your drone at night on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land. However, ensure to comply with FAA regulations, including their rules on night-time drone flights, to maintain safety and legality.

Can You Bring a Drone to BLM Land?

Yes, you can bring a drone to BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land. However, it’s crucial to follow applicable laws and regulations, including those from the FAA, to ensure safe and legal drone flight.

Do I Need a License or Permit to Fly a Drone on BLM Land?

Yes, you can fly a drone on BLM land. However, if you’re using it for commercial purposes, you must obtain a Special Recreation Permit. For recreational use, a permit is not typically required, but always adhere to FAA regulations and BLM local rules.


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

This applies not only to BLM Land but also to other destinations around the world. For example, if you’re heading to Garden Of The Gods, it’s important to know the specific rules and guidelines for drone flying there. Similarly, if you have dreams of capturing breathtaking footage of Griffith Observatory or exploring drone opportunities around Dubai, 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.

Leave a Comment