You Want to Fly a Drone in Your State Park? You need This!
When I first started flying drones, one of my biggest questions, every time I flew, was, would it be okay for me to be flying here? Am I going to get in trouble? Who's going to bother me and am I going to get attacked or approached by someone of authority or someone who's angry?
Fast-forward almost six years later, and I have much more confidence because I've educated myself on the rules and also on the ways that the rules can be bent a little bit.
And one question that I and many other drone pilots get asked regularly is, can I fly in my own state park or parks?What are the rules? The rules are set by the parks themselves, and in the United States, at least, most state parks do not allow you to fly from within the boundaries of the park.
But five summers ago, I really wanted to fly in one of our state parks because there was a pretty fun event happening that I wanted to record. So instead of just flying and breaking the rules, I found someone in authority, and I asked him if I could have the rules bent just a little for me on that day. It is amazing what a little bit of courtesy and professionalism will get you.
Education should always come first. Coming in at a very close second is respect. Those two things combined will give you so many more opportunities to fly. So enjoy this video from a few years ago. And yes, I know this video was COVID-19 pounds ago, so bring on the comments about how much weight I've gained. But anyway, go ahead and enjoy this video.
Ask the park ranger if you can fly in your state park
So today I'm at Graham's Island State Park in the beautiful state of North Dakota, and there's actually a Walleye fishing tournament going on. And this is one thing that I wanted to get some awesome footage of because I love fishing, I love Wildlife fishing, I love everything about it.
And so, I wanted to put my drone up and get some footage, but the problem is we're in a state park. Now, every state park has different rules, so what I wanted to do, I wanted to see if I could get some permission to fly over certain areas in the state park. I didn't have plans to fly over people or over the campers or the tents or the cabins or anything like that. I just wanted to fly over the water and get some footage of the boats.
So, what I did is I sought out the park Ranger and I just asked him politely, told him my situation, told him I have a YouTube channel and I wanted to get a video of this event.
I also wanted to get a video to show people that, you know what? If you're nice, and you use common sense, and you ask permission, you're probably going to be able to fly wherever you want to fly. You just need to ask the right person, and you need to ask in the right way.
And I sought him out, and he was really gracious. He was really nice, you know, he understood that there are rules and regulations, but he also told.
Yes, you can fly your drone, and you can get the footage that you want, but you have to stay over the water and stay away from people, which is common sense. And that's basically what it comes down to.
So, I asked him if he knew the state laws, local regulations, and things like that, and he actually did.
He said there are regulations regarding state parks and drones, but he was also very cordial. And he said you know what? Sometimes we want to have a drone. We want to be able to fly around and get some footage of our boundaries, get some footage of things that are going on in the park. He said, but the problem is there's really so many gray areas when it comes to flying in state-run areas.
You know, even he as a ranger, still understands that. You know, drones are popular. People want to fly them around and get some really cool footage, and you know, he understands that it's recreational, and it's just one of those things that is not going to go away.
But he also understands that there is a need for some type of regulations because you can't have people flying right overhead of someone and being able to spy on them or whatever, making them uncomfortable.
So, you know, and I think that's kind of how it goes among other state parks and other areas like this where people aren't quite sure exactly, you know, what should the limits be when it comes to flying a drone?
So what I want you guys to get out of this video, if you go somewhere and you want to get some cool footage, but you're not sure what the local laws are or what the state laws are or anything like that, find somebody in charge.
And just ask them, you know, sometimes they say it's easier to ask for forgiveness than it is permission. But I think for the sake of drones and for the sake of people that fly drones, if you want to keep this hobby open and not regulated, you should be cordial all the time. You should always ask permission.
And if you're going to fly in a national park or state park and just say, oh, I won't get. Don't do that, you guys. Please ask permission. Find somebody you never know. You know the rules are there, but there's also people in charge that will say, you know what? I know there's regulations and there's. But if you fly over here and you don't bother anybody, we're going to be fine with it.
And that's what this person was saying to me. So he's going to let me fly, he's going to let me fly over the water and he's going to let me get some footage of the boats coming off the dock and going out for their fishing tournament.
And so, I thought that was really cool and that's really nice of him. And all it takes, you guys, is common sense. Common courtesy and ask permission.
So, what do you think? Is it worth it to fly in state parks, like to approach the park ranger or to approach someone of authority who has that decision-making ability? Because I know our state parks are very beautiful and there's a lot of things that I want to capture in them.
So, I've actually developed a relationship with some of our park rangers in the state over the years, and so I feel comfortable, you know, being able to fly in those areas. I still go and approach them and I still let them know, hey, I'm, you know, in the area, can I fly?
And sometimes they won't let me just because there's so many people and maybe the park's so full, and they just don't want to be bombarded with questions.
Or maybe there's another reason that we can't fly. So anyway, develop those relationships, you guys. I think that's really important. And it's just going to let you have so much more fun. So if you got anything out of this video, hit that thumbs up. Also, subscribe if you want to see more videos like this.
I'm working on a video that I think a lot of you are going to appreciate. I'm going to make it something that can be shared with authorities, with lawmakers, and decision-makers in every state of the United States.
And you can, you're going to be able to share this video with them to help educate them because I'm seeing so many rules that are being like brought before the legislature to limit what drones can do and what people c with drones can do.
And all of them just don't understand the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) drone rules. So, I want to create something that's really valuable for those people and something that their constituents can send to them and say, look. This person's done the research, and he knows how it's, and if you want to research it, you know there's going to be links for everything.
So, I'm working on that video, so please subscribe if you want to see that video, if you want, have access to it, because I think it's really important that we share this information with some of our lawmakers because the lawmakers don't take the time to learn. And so, I want to make something that's quick and concise to share that with them.
So, so, also follow me on social media. You guys, I'm having a lot of fun on TikTok and Instagram, and Twitter. I post a lot of content on there that you're not going to see here on my YouTube channel.
So have a great day everyone, and as always, fly safe and fly smart.
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In Utah and in Oregon I believe, it has been a while since I flew Oregon. The regulations for state parks are set park by park. You generally go to the main visitors center and pay $10 and get a little permit with the park specific rules for that park.. Even so, the park can only preclude you from launching or landing from within the park. BUT, you can only fly as far as you can see as all other FAA rules are still in effect. I prefer this route. (Park by Park rules) as it prevents situations like what we are seeing in our national parks today. We all own the parks… A great solution would be park by park regulations that governed use on Drone Mondays around wildlife and geologically sensitive areas.