Can You Fly Drone In National Park And Grand Canyon? In this article, we’ll be discussing the legalities of flying a drone in national parks and the Grand Canyon.
The Grand Canyon is one of the most popular destinations in the United States as a national park and is equally attracting a lot of international visitors. Statistics show that Grand Canyon attracts over five million visits annually.
In June 2014, National Park Service (NPS) prohibited flying recreational drones within all national parks. Therefore, flying your drone in Grand Canyon is not allowed.
Also, the Grand Canyon will also come within the range of GC Airport and flight paths. FAA’s airspace restrictions ask drone pilots not to fly their drones near airports.
If you are an aerial photography and videography enthusiast, Grand Canyon could be one of the topmost attractions in your list you will want to explore with your drone for some amazing pictures and videos.
Nevertheless, Grand Canyon is not a place to fly your drone. Here are some reasons why you must not fly your drone in the Grand Canyon.
Can You Fly Drone In National Park And Grand Canyon?
Can You Fly Drone In Grand Canyon?
The urge to fly a drone in Grand Canyon is justified due to several interesting facts connected to the region. The control of this national park is under the National Park Service.
To aid in the park’s administration, the National Park Service has enacted some laws, which also deal with the flying of drones in the national park. Also, you will need to abide by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) rules regarding flying drones.
There is a general ban on flying drones inside any national park is applicable to Grand Canyon also. Flying a recreational drone over the Grand Canyon might result in receiving a citation.
The drones fly over the park could fly too close to the wildlife thereby causing severe disturbances to them. Also, the noise of drones may disturb wildlife.
One of the FAA laws that regulate flying drones over the Grand Canyon says the flight of drones must never interfere with the wildlife. Therefore, flying drones over the region can break this law.
The distractions caused by the sight and noise of drones can affect the experience of tourists visiting the park who will like to enjoy the park’s scenic beauty.
We can say flying your drone over the Grand Canyon is prohibited since whether flying the drone inside or outside the park, you are still within the environs of the national park. The consequences of a flying drones over the Grand Canyon can be severe.
Where In Grand Canyon Flying Drone Is Allowed?
If you wonder if there is any way to take advantage of the scenic beauties of the Grand Canyon by flying your drone in an unquestionable manner, the answer is here.
There are a few places where you can fly your drone without defying drone laws or the rules and regulations of the National Park Service.
Flying drones in National Forests: There are not many restrictions on flying drones in national forests. The forest service has issued guidelines and general rules to guide drone pilots on the areas of the national forest where flying drones is prohibited.
Flying drones in Local Parks: There are no rules to prohibit the flying of drones in local parks. However, in case any threat to the safety of visitors is spotted, the park staff can always ask a drone pilot to stop flying a drone.
Flying drones in State Parks: Every state-level park administration can create its own rules regarding flying drones.
The three categories of parks connected to the Grand Canyon can be explored with your drone. Though these regions cannot match with the quality of views provided by the Grand Canyon, you may hope to get something similar to the Grand Canyon sceneries.
When you take steps to comply with the FAA regulations and guidelines on flying recreational drones, you can fly your drone in the areas listed above.
At the same time, the best approach is to obey the rules issued by the concerned park’s authorities on drone flying.
While flying your drone for recreational purposes, you must ensure not to disturb the people and wildlife in these areas or breach their privacy in any way.
While flying your drone in any of these approved areas, you must always carry a paper or electronic copy of your approval along with the FAA registration certificate.
What Are The Repercussions Of Violating The Drone Ban In Grand Canyon?
As a national park, the Grand Canyon is one of the world’s seven natural wonders and is highly secured. Therefore, flying recreational drones within the park and its immediate surroundings is illegal and highly prohibited.
Flying recreational drones on the Grand Canyon and its borders can invite severe consequences. The National Park Service upholds the ban on flying drones very seriously. Therefore, the park authorities may take severe measures against those that refuse to abide by the rules.
The consequences you will have to face for flying your drone within the Grand Canyon can depend on what caused that action.
If you state that your ignorance of the laws was the reason for the said defiance and the security believes you, you may be asked to pay a fine.
The safer decision is to bear in mind that this is never an excuse. Before flying your drone in any region, it is necessary to study and understand the laws and rules in place on recreational drones flying.
Therefore, you must ensure not to break the laws of the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Park Service, or other authorized administration.
If you are found flying your drone in the Grand Canyon even after knowing that your action is banned, you may have to face up to six months in prison.
You may also have to pay a fine up to five thousand dollars. In addition, the drone may be confiscated from you never to be returned. There is also a possibility that you will be banned from entering the park for a specific period.
A good number of drone pilots who attempted to fly their drones on the Grand Canyon have faced a prison sentence for disobeying the rules.
However, we have not known any case where the fine of five thousand dollars was collected. Nevertheless, it is a good idea not to disobey the National Park Service laws on flying drones so that you do not have to face imprisonment or pay a huge sum of money as fine.
Which Types Of Drones Are Banned In The Grand Canyon?
There is a general ban issued by the National Park Service on flying drones on the Grand Canyon and also the other national parks.
The ban applies equally well to both recreational and commercial drones. However, you will be surprised to know that some drones were allowed in the Grand Canyon.
If your reason to fly a drone on the Grand Canyon belongs to an exceptional category as defined by the National Park Service, you can apply to the administration to get a Special Use Permit.
The following are some exceptional circumstances when the National Park Service may permit flying your drone.
Flying a drone for fire safety: at times of fire outbreak in the forest, drones can be sent with extinguishers to put out the fire quickly. This is an easier method of extinguishing the fire than using humans for the task.
Flying a drone for search and rescue: If any visitor to the park reports a case of a missing friend or family member in the Grand Canyon, drones managed by the security department of the Grand Canyon may be deployed to carry out a search mission of the missing person.
Flying a drone for research: Researchers may be allowed to use a drone in the Grand Canyon provided they have a permit.
Researchers mostly use a drone to study the wildlife and other things that are found in the park. Their drone flying mission in the Grand Canyon might involve taking explicit videos and pictures for the purpose of their research.
If you are found flying a drone in the Grand Canyon without any permit, you will have to face serious consequences.
Looking at history, we can conclude that getting the National Park Service’s permission to fly a drone in the Grand Canyon is almost an impossibility.
So, recreational drone pilots may never be able to get permission to fly their drone despite having a valid reason to apply for the permit.
Till date, we have come across two popular instances when Special Use Permit was given to drone pilots which are described below.
In August 2015, the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park administration granted a permit to take pictures at the park for the purpose of creating a large size illustrated map to guide the visitors.
In 2017, the National Park Service gave permission to take pictures of the Great Sand Dunes National Park to gather the necessary aerial data for creating accurate geospatial maps.
There are valid reasons for the National Park Service to have banned flying drones in the Grand Canyon and also in other national parks.
The majority of these reasons are connected to the previous actions of the drone pilots that displayed their lack of respect to the privacy of visitors and the peaceful life of the wildlife.
Where To Fly Drone In Grand Canyon?
Stating it technically, there is absolutely no place in the Grand Canyon where you can fly your drone. However, a good idea is to launch and land your drone outside of the area managed by the National Park Service.
However, in this case, it is necessary to get permission from the land owner. If you do not do this, you may be sued for infringement.
After launching your drone outside the Grand Canyon, you may always fly it over the park. One of the best places adjacent to the Grand Canyon to launch your drone is the Little Colorado River’s canyon gorge, which lies to the east of the park’s boundary.
The areas from where you will be attempting to fly your drone will not be a part of the Grand Canyon and hence you will not be penalized for flying your drone.
The parking lot is situated on the edge of the gorge cliff. From here you can launch your drone to descend from the cliff into the Canyon.
Launching your drone from the cliff, you can fly it to the west which will not break the FAA laws regarding flying drones in national parks.
On the north side of the cliff, there is a road that lies outside the boundaries of the national park. This is a legal flight area and many people are excited to fly their drone in this area.
Though it can be highly tempting to fly your drone in the Grand Canyon, violating the ban can result in several serious consequences.
The Grand Canyon is an amazing destination to capture some great pictures and videos. Nevertheless, you will have to ensure that you comply with all the FAA rules and the rules of the other agencies regarding flying drones.
Jon is a passionate photographer and videographer who has been flying DJI drones for over 5 years. He loves the freedom and creativity that comes with capturing aerial footage and the unique perspective it provides. Jon is always on the lookout for new locations to explore and capture with his DJI drones. His favorite DJI drone is the Mavic 2 Pro, which he uses to capture stunning 4K footage with its Hasselblad camera. Jon is always eager to share his knowledge and experience with other drone enthusiasts and is a member of several online drone communities. When he’s not flying his DJI drone, Jon enjoys hiking, camping, and spending time with his family.