If you’re planning a trip to Yosemite National Park, leave your drone at home. As of May 2, 2014, the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (or drones) is prohibited within park boundaries according to regulations stated in the Code of Federal Regulations.
The CFR notes that “delivering or retrieving a person or object by parachute, helicopter, or other airborne means, except in emergencies involving public safety or serious property loss, or pursuant to the terms and conditions of a permit, is illegal.”
Who is Bringing Drones to National Parks?
Over the past couple of years, park officials have noticed an increase in the number of drones zipping around the park. Visitors have been using them to film ascending climbers, catch video up above the tree tops and take aerial photos of the landscape.
Why Drones in National Parks are Not a Good Idea
So why the no-fly rule? For one thing, it’s potentially threatening to wildlife. In Yosemite, sensitive peregrine falcon nesting areas on cliff walls have been disturbed. Also, drones can be very noisy, interfering with the natural sounds of the park and impairing the experience of other visitors. And importantly, using drones has the potential to interfere with emergency rescue operations, leading to confusion and distraction for those involved in the rescue.
Visitors who disobey the rule may face 6 months in jail or a $5,000 fine.
Drones have also recently been banned in Zion National Park, where both visitors and bighorn sheep have been negatively affected.