Drone operations in state parks

A work group is evaluating drone use in state parks. Visit https://www.oregon.gov/oprd/PRP/Pages/PRP-drone-workgroup.aspx for additional information

Question: Are there places and times a visitor can’t fly a drone?

Answer: While there are no statewide rules specifically about using drones while in a state park, park managers may adopt temporary rules that protect sensitive plants and animals as well as public and private property, and allow managers to smooth over conflicts between visitors. Some parks, like Silver Falls and Smith Rock, have temporary limits on places and times a person can use a drone while in a state park. In other cases, park rangers may respond to a complaint by asking a drone operator to move to a different area or stop flying. Please check specific park web pages for temporary limits in place. Visit Find A Park for a list of parks.

Common sense helps. Don’t fly near people, traffic, historic structures, or hog Oregon’s scenery. Respect other people and wildlife, and if a park ranger asks you to stop or move, cooperate. When in doubt, ask uniformed park staff or send your question via email to Park Information well in advance of your trip.

Follow all Federal Aviation Authority requirements at all times.

Question: When will the Oregon state park system pass rules to control drones?

Answer: The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) began formal administrative rulemaking related to take-off and landing of drones in state parks and the ocean shore in November 2021. After several months of work and public comment, it became clear more background work was needed for rulemaking to advance, so OPRD Director Lisa Sumption paused the rulemaking process in April 2022 and instructed staff to convene a workgroup. The workgroup will propose criteria for mapping take-off and landing spots, and work with park managers to apply the criteria and develop draft maps. The suggested criteria and maps will be delivered to Director Sumption later in 2022.

With this work as a starting point, the rulemaking process will resume and OPRD will form a Rule Advisory Committee to draft proposed rules guiding drone use using the workgroup’s suggestions as a starting point. The advisory committee will invite the public to review and comment on the new proposed rule with the goal of adopting rules before the 2023 summer season.

Question: Are state park rules the only requirement guiding drone pilots?

Answer: The Federal Aviation Authority has rules and guidelines for drone operators, and these are in effect whether the state park system adopts rules or not. They are online at https://www.faa.gov/uas/getting_started/

Question: How do I find out whether I can fly my drone in a state park or not?

Answer: Ask uniformed park staff at the park or send your question via email to Park Information well in advance of your trip.

Question: What do I do if a drone is bothering me at a park?

Answer: Contact uniformed park staff or volunteers at the park, or call 1-800-551-6949, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. and ask to be connected to the closest state park office.

clear guidelines for where people can fly their recreational drones safely