Drone flying is a popular hobby for many people, but knowing where you can and can’t fly your drone is important. There are many best places to fly a drone, but there are also many places where drones are banned.
Before you take your drone out for a spin, check the local laws to ensure you’re not breaking any rules.
Where to Fly Drones: Things Need To Know
Do not enter controlled airspace except when necessary
Controlled airspace is the first thing to avoid if you’re first flying a drone. These no-fly zones are usually located near airports. The shape and size of controlled airspace can vary based on the amount of air traffic that an airport receives. These areas are generally forbidden from allowing drone flight to avoid collisions with manned aircraft, which continues to be a problem for the drone community.
It is possible to fly a drone in controlled space, even for recreational drone pilots. You can request airspace authorization through the LAANC system if necessary. This feature is available in many drone flight planning apps, such as KittyHawk and Airmap. LAANC allows you to request authorization from the FAA. You will need to provide your personal information, the details of your drone, and the operations you plan to perform.
LAANC allows you to obtain authorization for airspace in minutes. This means you don’t have to plan for operations in controlled aviation space. The FAA has taken this initiative to reduce the paperwork that drone pilots must go through for commercial and recreational purposes.
National parks are permanent no-fly zones
National Parks like Yellowstone or Yosemite Valley are great places to fly drones. Can you imagine how amazing these natural sights will look from the air?
But there is a problem with this plan. The National Parks Service (NPS) states that drone flights are strictly prohibited in all National Parks within the United States. This restriction does not apply to National Parks but to all other sites within the NPS’s jurisdiction. This includes approximately 100 nature trails, rivers and historic sites, monuments, biking trails and seashores.
Why is this restriction so broad? NPS claims that drones are a danger to National Parks personnel and visitors. They can also disrupt the experience of visiting these sites. This is hard to dispute – drones at low altitudes can be noisy and disruptive.
The NPS is implementing this rule with great care. There have been instances where people were fined for violating this rule, such as a man who flew a drone above the Grand Prismatic Spring of Yellowstone National Park. This rule is very strict, and the NPS will not allow drone operations except for research or scientific studies.
Read up about local regulations
Another layer of complexity must determine if your drone can be flown over a specific area. You’ll need to be aware of local drone laws. These laws may not apply to you or your state. Texas’ HB 2167, for example, allows certain professionals to take aerial photographs if no identifiable persons are present.
Public parks and state parks are unlike National Parks. They fall under the authority of the local government. The rules regarding drone flight can vary from one state park or another. In California, drone flying is prohibited in Del Valle Regional Park. However, drones are allowed in Salt Point Park, Sonoma Country.
Many drone pilots find it difficult to understand that states and cities can create their own drone laws. The FAA doesn’t keep track of such unique restrictions. It strongly recommends that drone pilots review the local laws before operating drones.
If in doubt, you can do some research on the website of your state or city. Contact park administrators for public parks to inquire about the park’s status. You can also look for signs inside the park. The FAA recognizes that states and municipalities have the right to decide where drones may take off and land in their jurisdiction.
Use a drone flight plan app
It is tedious and inconvenient to search for a sectional map every time you take off with your drone. Instead, you can download a drone flight planning application to your smartphone. This will allow you to scan any no-fly areas nearby quickly. There are many good options, including the FAA’s B4UFLY app. Kittyhawk, DJI FlySafe, and Airmap are other notable options.
These apps show you a map of where you are currently located, along with no-fly zones. You can use the map’s search function to plan future drone operations. These apps rely heavily on FAA data and display only zones that are no-fly according to FAA rules. Most drone flight planning apps also incorporate restrictions for drone flights in National Parks.
A drone flight planning app can ensure you receive current information. In anticipation of VIP movements and crowded areas, some areas might have Temporary Flying Restrictions (TFR). This information you won’t see on a sectional map can be helpfully provided by a flight plan app.
These apps don’t usually provide information on drone-related laws, so be careful. You might receive a “good-to-go” message from one of these apps but still violate one or more laws you didn’t anticipate.
Reconciling FAA and local rules
The FAA holds the ultimate authority over all national airspace. However, local governments have established drone restrictions out of concern for privacy and security. These restrictions mainly focus on the location and time that drones can take flight, as these local governments do not have authority over national airspace. This is all semantics. You can still be sent to jail or fined for violating these laws.
Is there a foolproof way to ensure that all your bases are covered, given that drone flight planning apps can’t capture local drone flying rules? There isn’t. These apps can be used to avoid no-fly zones or request airspace authorization. However, they do not assist in ensuring that local laws are followed. This is even more difficult than the FAA’s B4UFLY app.
You will need to research your local laws to ensure compliance. You can find bulletins on the websites of your state or city, or you can ask your local police department. You can also seek out drone experts in your area to get their opinion based on their experiences. This is the only way until standard drone regulations are established in the US.
Top Best Places to Fly Drones in the US
Bitterroot Valley, Montana
The stunning showcase of the American West, Bitterroot valley, is located in Montana’s southwest. It is a great place for drones to fly across vast open spaces, thanks to its majestic mountains, ranges, and hills.
Flying above dense forests and nature can be done from a bird’s-eye view. You can also fly close to the ground and zigzag between trees and rivers. Some of the Valley’s most iconic wildlife, including elks, upland birds, and waterfowl, might be possible to capture.
Key Largo (Florida)
Are you looking for something warm and tropical? The Florida Keys could be the perfect place for you. Key Largo is a popular destination for drone pilots and tourists alike. It boasts clear blue skies, sandy beaches and transparent oceans. You’ll be able to capture the vibrant seawater and look at the fauna beneath or focus on the white sands of the palm trees and collection of palm trees.
Mount Evans, Colorado
Are you adding one of America’s most iconic landmarks to your drone bucket list? Mount Evans, Colorado, is the highest peak in the Front Rage of the Rocky Mountains and lives up to its long reputation. The peak dominates the western skyline with stunning views of the sky, other mountains, and water bodies.
Prince William Sound, Alaska
You will be so impressed by the magnificent views of Prince William Sound that you’ll forget you’re cold. The area is located in the Gulf of Alaska and is well-known for its stunning scenery. You can take your drone to see forests, waterfalls, glaciers and, if you plan well, the northern lights. You can also view some of the famous wildlife in the area, including huge humpback whales.
Arkansas, Ozark Mountains
Arkansas is a great place to go if you are looking for another stunning mountain range. The state has many famous destinations for drone pilots. But the Ozark Mountains is one of the most loved for its breathtaking views of forests, hills and other landforms. As you can see in the video, sunsets are common in this area.
Sandy Beach Park, Hawaii
There are many great locations for drone photography in Hawaii. Sandy Beach is a popular choice for both locals and tourists to Hawaii. It is famous for its powerful shore breaks/waves and fine, delicate sand.
Although you should avoid swimming in the park’s water unless you are a skilled surfer or swimmer, you can still enjoy fantastic drone views. Sandy Beach, a beautiful stretch of sand located just beyond the Halona Blowhole rocks formation, is a stunning scene you should not miss.
ShoShone WaterFalls in Idaho
The Idaho location offers a rare combination of natural and manufactured beauty. ShoShone has stunning waterfalls that cascade above snow-capped mountains and is perfect for flying your drone through beautiful canyons. You can also visit the Perrine Bridge nearby, an architectural marvel that is straight from a Western movie.
Bar Harbor, Maine
Bar Harbor, Maine, is a busy port that connects with charming small towns set against beautiful New England scenery. It’s a lovely coastal community rich in history and beautiful nature. This makes it an ideal destination for you and your drone. Enjoy the scenic views and end your day with Maine lobster.
It’s hard to imagine a tour through the United States that would be complete without a visit to sunny California. You can feel the sunshine in Malibu’s above video. Drone piloting in Malibu is a relaxing and remote alternative to bustling cities like Los Angeles or San Francisco. You can take in the stunning waves and sands at a pace that suits you.
White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire
The White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire, is our last featured spot. This is a great time to plan your fall trip. The stunning combination of orange, yellow and red tree leaves makes it even more spectacular when you use aerial photography to get a bird’s-eye view.
There are many places to see in the forest, including the Saco Lake and Albany Covered Bridge, Lower Falls Scenic Area, Rocky Gorge bridge, and Lower Falls Scenic Area.
Cape May, NJ
Visit Cape May to see the wreckage of the SS Atlantus. It can be found just off Cape May Point. A great subject for drone videography or photography is the wreckage of a concrete warship.
Staten Island, NY
New York City can make it difficult to fly your drone. The legal aspects can be quite difficult. However, New York City is filled with people who could get annoyed if your drone falls on them or if you are filming them from above.
There is one location on Staten Island where you can fly your drone safely. It’s the Arthur Kill Ship Graveyard. It is located very close to Linden Airport.
Purgatory Falls (VT)
Vermont is a great place to drone-film. It is worth driving up to Vermont to see the Purgatory Fall. This location is ideal for nature lovers.
Mount Monadnock (NH)
The 3800-foot peak at Mount Monadnock, accessible by hiking, is an amazing place to fly your drone. This nature landmark can be reached easily from the Boston area.
Point Judith, RI
Rhode Island has a beautiful coastline and is very scenic. Photographing photos and videos at the lighthouses along the coasts adds to their charm. Point Judith is a great place to capture the sunrise over the bay. Point Judith is a legal place to fly your drone.
Bailey Island, ME
Maine’s Bailey Island is home to walking trails, beaches and charming inns. Bailey Island is ideal for flying your drone and capturing the beach vibe. The stunning harbor can be captured, or the rugged shore with rocks can be seen.
Lock 12, Farmington Canal CT
Lock 12 is one of the few remaining gates to the famed Farmington Canal. This canal runs from New Haven, Massachusetts, to Northampton, Massachusetts. You can fly your drone at many spots along this trail.
Walden Pond, MA
Walden Pond is a tranquil and peaceful water body that makes Walden Pond a great location for drone flying. Hanscom Field is located less than 3 miles from Walden Pond. Before you fly your drone, inform the ATC.
Cherokee Reservoir, TN
The Cherokee Reservoir is located in Tennessee. It is home to a lot of water. The reservoir is a great place to fly your drone above water bodies. Flying over Cherokee Dam will require some caution. There is plenty of space for your drone to move about.
Foamhenge is a unique structure in Virginia. This work of art is a copy of Stonehenge in the UK. This is an amazing place to fly your drone and also take videos. According to reports, the Foamhenge artist has been asked to relocate his work as the area it is currently located will be a state park. Before you go, make sure to double-check.
Reading Pagoda, PA
The Reading Pagoda was originally intended to be a bustling hotel. Unfortunately, the original hotel was not built. You can fly your drone to capture panoramic views of the pagoda and the city. Reading airport is only 5 miles from the pagoda, so you must notify them in advance. Drones can also be flown here.
Point of Rocks (MD)
Drone flying in Maryland is difficult. The state has many airports that do not allow drones to fly. Point of Rocks, however, is an exception. This charming spot has a river, rail tracks, bridges, and quaint houses. If you’re in Maryland, fly your drone there.
Old Sublimity Bridge (Ky.) – Take a picture of a bridge and winding river high up. The Old Sublimity Bridge area of Daniel Boone National Forest offers many beautiful natural landscapes. This is one of Kentucky’s most tranquil and picturesque places to fly a drone.
Pilot Mountain, NC
Pilot Mountain is the heart of a prehistoric volcano. It dominates the skyline in the surrounding area and the state park where it is situated. The state park prohibits the use of drones. Many other spots offer views of the volcano mountain.
Rehoboth Beach (DE)
Delaware is a small state. It does, however, have one beach that’s perfect for drone flying. Rehoboth Beach, a beautiful beach on the east coast with many houses along the coast, is the ideal spot. It is also beautiful in color, and a drone flight early in the morning will beautifully capture the sunrise.
Monongahela National Forest (WV)
It can be very exciting to fly your drone through a forest. Overhanging branches and obstacles could cause your drone to fall. Monongahela National Forest, a great place to fly a drone, is worth the trip. Many landscapes and natural backdrops can be used as photographic backgrounds.
Stone Mountain Park, GA
One of the most iconic Confederate landmarks is located just east of Atlanta. Stone Mountain Park is an area that contains a huge stone carving made of volcanic rock. You can fly your drone in this area and capture stunning footage.
The Countries Where Drones Are Banned
These are some of the things I noticed while researching for these pages:
Drone adoption is increasing. About 45 countries have passed drone laws in the past year, out of 200. This is quite a number and suggests a global trend in drone adoption.
Many countries lack drone laws. While drone legislation is now in place in 25% more countries than when we last reviewed these pages, many countries still lack it. Our research revealed that 70 countries still don’t have drone laws on their books, which is about 35% of all countries.
Only a few countries ban drones. Although drone laws don’t exist in many countries, a small number of countries prohibit the use of drones entirely – just 15 countries or 7.5% of all countries.
WHY BANN DRONES
We found two main reasons why countries ban drones in general:
1) They aren’t sure what to do with drones, so they decided to ban them until they have the right legislation.
Similar to this, we have come across several countries that require you to get approval from three government entities, pay a large registration fee, or request permission before each flight. These policies are similar to those in the United States, which effectively ban drone use.
If you don’t know the registration process for your drone, refer to this guide: Where Do I Register My Drone
2) They want information control and to limit the population’s access to it.
Although we won’t name any names, the list below will show you some of these countries. These authoritarian states often impose severe restrictions on the freedoms of their citizens. It’s not surprising why drones have been banned in these cases. Things like Facebook or open access to the internet might also be banned.
We expect drone adoption to grow around the globe. Many countries that don’t have drone laws or have banned drones for the reasons listed above will pass drone legislation. It won’t take long for drones to be accepted as a tool for delivery, agriculture, and other commercial work. Those countries that don’t regulate drones will be left behind.
Some areas have organizations that promote drone adoption to boost the economy.
Many African countries have not yet adopted drone laws or banned them altogether. However, some, such as South Africa, Namibia and Rwanda, have developed strong drone laws and are helping other nations do the same.
27 Countries have banned drones or made it difficult for people to fly
Algeria has an absolute ban on UAVs. All UAVs are to be confiscated upon entry.
The entire Antarctica region is under a total ban on UAVs. Antarctica is home to the world’s largest natural reserve, and drones are prohibited to protect wildlife.
There was a temporary ban against drones in Barbados until 2 May 2020. This ban was extended to October 2020. You can now apply for a temporary import license 6 weeks before arrival by downloading the form from their website.
Do not attempt to enter Bhutan using a drone. Customs will confiscate it.
Brunei bans drones, and customs will confiscate any drones brought into the country.
Drones are banned in Cuba. Customs will confiscate your drone.
Although it is technically legal to fly drones in Egypt, permission must be obtained from the Egyptian Civil Aviation Authority. This might prove difficult for foreigners.
Ethiopia doesn’t have any UAV laws or published drone laws at the time of writing (February 2020). However, that doesn’t mean you can bring your drone into Ethiopia. It is a good idea to contact the Ethiopia Civil Aviation Authority if you plan to fly to Ethiopia with your drone.
You should not even consider taking your drone to India as a foreigner. You will need to declare your drone through the Red Channel. It may be confiscated and not returned to you.
You must lease the drone from an Indian national to conduct commercial operations. He or she will be issued a Unique Identification Number and UAOP. Visit the DGCA website for more information.
Drones are banned in Iran and will be confiscated upon arrival.
Two Iranian travel bloggers were arrested for flying drones illegally in a documented case. Although they were eventually released, it was an alarming incident for all drone pilots.
You will lose your drone if you attempt to bring it into Iraq.
Cote d’Ivoire bans drones, and if you bring a drone to the country, customs will confiscate it.
Kenya is a complicated country. The KCAA published Draft Regulations for UAVs in 2019. They claimed they would lift the drone ban but, at the time this was written, it had not been made law. If you are interested in flying in Kenya, do your research and keep checking.
Kuwait is another Gulf state that has banned drones. They will seize them at the border or airport.
Your drone is prohibited in Kyrgyzstan. They are prohibited, and your drone could be confiscated if it is found.
In March 2015, Madagascar banned personal drone use and will confiscate any that arrive.
Unfortunately, you can’t capture these stunning desert landscapes with your drone because Morocco bans drones. Customs will confiscate any drones brought into the country.
Drones are prohibited in Nicaragua. They will be confiscated upon arrival.
No guidelines say whether you can take your drone into North Korea. I believe the attitude toward foreigners would make it difficult for me to even consider taking my drone there.
Only commercial flights are permitted to use drones in Oman. Drones are not allowed in Oman. Before you can enter Oman, commercial flights require a permit. You can find more information on Oman’s PACA website.
Saudi Arabia bans drones from entering the country.
Interestingly, the Saudi Arabia General Authority for Aviation website now has a button for UAV registrations. However, I believe it is only for Saudi citizens. They might open registrations to foreigners at some point in time.
Senegal is against using drones and may confiscate them at the border or airport.
After the 2019 bombings, drones were banned in Sri Lanka. After looking at the Sri Lanka Civil Aviation Authority website, you are now allowed to fly in 2022.
You will need to go through many steps and pay a fee if you wish to fly your drone in Sri Lanka.
First, register your drone with Sri Lanka’s CAA. After you get approval, you can apply to fly in different areas. You must submit this application at least five days before you plan to fly. If the area in which you wish to fly is restricted or historical, you will need to obtain “No Objections”.
Drones are prohibited in Syria. They will be confiscated upon arrival.
Tunisia does not have drone regulations, but this doesn’t mean you can fly your drone anywhere in the country.
Drones are permitted in the UAE. However, strict rules must be followed. You can find more information at the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority website.
Uzbekistan bans drones. You could be sentenced for importing or operating them.
Flying a drone can be a fun and exciting hobby, but knowing the rules is essential before you start. There are many great places to fly drones, but make sure that you check the local laws first.
So now get out there and start flying!