The Grand Canyon is a beautiful place and is home to some of the best views you will ever see, perfect for drone footage! But can you fly a drone at the Grand Canyon? Here’s what you need to know.
You can’t fly a drone over the Grand Canyon because it’s a National Park in the United States. Since the start of June 2014, the United States National Park Service (NPS) banned the use of all recreational drones within national parks across the United States.
National Parks have banned the use of drones, but you can fly OVER national parks? Keep reading to find out more.
Can You Fly a Drone OVER National Parks?
The NPS (National Park Services) may have made it a law that drones or any other aircraft are not allowed to take off or land in a national park.
However, there is still one way you can capture the beauty of a national park!
If you can find a location close to the National Park, in the case of the Grand Canyon, and take off from there, you will be allowed to fly over a National Park. However, this is a risky move because the National Park might not be in a visual line of sight of the spot you will take off from.
Another reason why this method does not always work is that the drone you are flying might crash into the National Park.
The NPS does acknowledge that there is this loophole in the drone ban that will allow you to fly over a National Park, but they still do not recommend it as you can still receive a citation if you fly too close and disturb wildlife.
There is also the fact that as a recreational pilot you have to follow a few other rules and regulations.
Some of those include:
- You are not to interfere with any wildlife.
- You need to remain in the line of sight of your drone at all times.
- Don’t become a nuisance to others, and don’t risk anyone’s safety.
If you would like to learn more about the policy of drone bans in National parks, The Grand Canyon included, then you can find it here.
Why Are Drones Banned In National Parks?
Drones may be great for photography, videography, and just generally being fun to fly but because they are growing in popularity. This means there are more people flying them around and that makes them disturbing to both people and wildlife in the park.
Various incidents have happened in national parks around the United States, which caused the NPS to take action back in 2014.
Here’s a breakdown of why NPS banned drones from National Parks:
- The NPS banned drones from National Parks as they were worried that the noise and visual distraction from the drones would make visiting the park a bad experience for anyone who is just trying to enjoy the beauty of the park.
- In the past, the parks received a lot of complaints about the noise drones make when flying in the park. This ban has been contested by many pilots and the drone community over the years. Many argue that the pilots could simply just avoid the highly populated areas of the park so that they avoid people.
- The NPS also believes that the drones that would be flown over the park would also cause issues for the many animals that reside in the parks.
When the ban was originally put in place, drones were a lot less popular. Now the droning community is huge and constantly growing day by day. Imagine how many drones would be flying over the Grand Canyon if the NPS were to allow drones to fly over National Parks?
Are There Any Other Areas You Can Fly a Drone?
Trying to fly a drone in a National Park like the Grand Canyon is illegal. There are ways around the legal issues but it does not make flying your drone easy or fun.
So the next thing you should be thinking about is where else you can fly your drone. Drones might be banned within Grand Canyon borders, however, there are still quite a few places to fly drones that will be easily accessible to you.
These places are beautiful, with stunning scenery to capture. There is no limitations put on these locations by the NPS, therefore you are free to fly your drone as much as you would like.
These areas include:
- Local Parks
- National Forests
- State Parks
As long as you comply and pay attention to all the FAA’s rules and regulations for recreational drone pilots, you should not have any problems flying in these locations.
One thing you need to always try to remember is that you need to be mindful of the people around you, as well as the wildlife that may be in the area when you fly. You do not want to disturb anyone or breach their privacy at all.
What Happens If You Violate the National Park Drone Ban?
Because the Grand Canyon is a National Park and one of the 7 natural wonders of the world, needless to say, it will be highly protected and illegal to fly within the park. Because of this, the consequences of flying a drone within the Grand Canyons borders are also very extreme.
The NPS does not hesitate and takes the ban it has placed on drones at their parks very seriously. They are willing to take extreme measures on whoever decides to ignore the rules they have placed and fly a drone in a National Park.
Depending on your reason for breaking the drone rule, you could face a number of different consequences. You could simply not have known about the ban and flown your drone in the Canyon without knowledge of what you are doing is wrong.
This could land you a fine based on whether or not security was feeling lenient or based on whether they believe your story of not knowing the rules.
This is why it is always important to do your research before you fly your drone, this way you keep out of trouble, and I am really hoping that you are reading this article before your trip to the Canyon.
Violating the drone ban in the Grand Canyon with knowledge of the ban could land you up to 6 months in prison and you may also need to pay a fine of up to $5,000! Leaving your drone behind is definitely worth staying out of jail if you ask me.
A lot of pilots have been banned from National Parks for ignoring these rules and in some cases, they have even received a prison sentence for this.
Will you be stopped if you take off from another location?
When you choose a location outside of the Grand Canyon to try and take off from, you might still receive a little hassle from NPS staff that might try to stop you. When this happens, it is important that you know that the NPS does not have any authority outside of the park’s boundaries.