Denali National Park is one of the most beautiful locations in the United States, meaning it would be really great to get some aerial shots in this location! But, are you allowed to fly a drone in this park? Here’s what I discovered.
You can’t fly a drone in Denali National Park because the National Park Service (NPS) has banned the taking off and landing of recreational drones from within a national park in the United States. Only drone pilots with special permission, emergency services, and government officials may fly in national parks such as Denali.
Even though you might not be able to fly in Denali, there might be some ways to get around this rule, so keep reading to find out how you can legally fly your drone over Denali National Park!
Can You Legally Fly Your Drone Over Denali National Park?
Denali National Park is the most well known National Park in Alaska. Visitors to this amazing park are always rewarded with amazing views that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
However, national parks are very sensitive areas, with this park’s scenery being unmatched as a fantastic place to fly for some amazing aerial shots. However, because Denali is a National Park, you can’t just fly a drone as a recreational pilot.
The law created by the NPS only states that you can’t take off or land in a national park. It is actually perfectly legal to take off and land outside of a national park, which will then give you the ability to fly over the park. As long as you do not take off or land within the National Park, you shouldn’t have any problems with the NPS.
In fact, on the NPSs official website, they have an article confirming that doing this is perfectly fine.
A lot of pilots tend to try and find an open space near the National Park to take off and land from, then they can fly over the National Park, capture what they need to, and land outside safely.
But there is a risk to this method. Taking off from outside the park but still flying over the national park is still dangerous. Something could always go wrong with the drone and it could crash inside the park, which could put you in a lot of trouble with the NPS and even law enforcement.
Another issue that arises from using this method, is the fact that you could potentially lose sight of your drone, and that is going against the FAA rules and regulations. If you do not, you could find yourself in some serious trouble!
If you’re not sure what these rules are, then keep reading to find out!
What Are The FAA Drone Laws?
The very first law that every drone pilot should know is that you need to register your drone if it weighs over 0.55lbs and less than 55lbs.
The FAA allows pilots to register a drone on their website known as the FAADroneZone website.
Drone Rules For Recreational Flyers/Hobbyists
- Your drone must weigh less than 55lbs, and you must register the drone.
- Always fly your drone below 400 feet.
- Never interfere or fly near emergency response efforts.
- It is illegal to fly directly over people.
- The drone must always remain within visual line-of-sight.
- You must register your drone with the FAA.
- You must only fly for recreational purposes.
- You must follow community-based safety guidelines.
- You must never fly near other aircraft.
- Must fly in class G airspace.
- You cannot fly over a moving vehicle.
These rules need to be followed at all times. If you ignore the rules set by the FAA, you could be heavily fined or much worse.
Why Are Drones Banned in National Parks?
The National Park Services(NPS) banned the use of drones in and around National Parks, mainly due to the fact that drones can be disturbing to both people visiting the park and the wildlife within the park. The ban was put into place in 2014 after multiple incidents around the country caused bans in various national parks.
“The drone ban stems from serious concerns about the negative impact that flying unmanned aircraft is having in parks.”– Jonathan Jarvis, Director of the National Park Service
The noise created by the drones worried the NPS. Not only that, but drones are also a visual distraction that could cause a negative experience for all the people trying to enjoy the park’s beauty.
Some pilots have tried to argue against this reason by stating that they could just try to avoid the more populated areas of the park. This, however, did not eliminate the concerns that the NPS had, but that wasn’t the only concern.
The NPS was also worried about the negative impact the drones would have on the animals and the environment. When the ban was first introduced in 2014, drones were only just starting to become a regular item amongst hobbyists.
We can only imagine how many drones would be flying around the National Parks now, with their increased popularity and accessibility, if this ban was not implemented.
Drone Incidents at National Parks
Drones had always caused some serious problems at National Parks both before and after the ban.
Here are just a few of these incidents:
- In 2013, a drone pilot landed his drone right on top of President Lincolns’ head at Mount Rushmore.
- A Helicopter used by the Yellowstone National Park was once forced to land abruptly as park officials were afraid it could be involved in a collision with a rogue drone being used in the park.
- In August 2014, a Dutch tourist crashed a drone into the Grand Prismatic Spring geyser at Yellowstone National Park. He received a 1-year ban and was also fined $3,200.
What Are The Consequences of Flying a Drone in a National Park?
Everyone seems to think the National Park Service has no power when in actual fact they have a lot of power within the parks that they control. They take the ban on drones very seriously and will not hesitate to take action against anyone who decides to go against the rules.
Making the decision to violate any of the rules relating to drones within the National Park could result in you having to pay a hefty $5,000 fine or even spend up to six months in prison.
While it may not be possible to fly your drone within this national park, you can fly it over the park so long as you do not lose sight of your drone in the process! It’s always better to be safe than sorry, so rather avoid flying your drone near national parks unless you are very confident in your flying ability.
Are There Any Exceptions to The Drone Ban in National Parks?
The ban on drones put in place by the NPS does not allow for recreational pilots to fly drones within national parks but it does allow for a Special Use Permit for uses like research, fire safety, and search and rescue. However, these permits still seem almost impossible to obtain. The NPS themselves have even utilized drones in the past.