Drone operations in state parks

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

Answer: While there are no state park rules specifically about people who fly drones while in a state park, there are rules that protect sensitive plants and animals, 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 fly 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.

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.

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

Answer: The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department cannot adopt rules related to drones unless the state legislature gives it permission to do so. The earliest that permission could come is 2021, and then there would be an open, public discussion about what those rules should be.

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.

Some parks are open for day-use and camping, with reduced services. Check the Park Status Map and FAQ for details. Campfire restrictions may be in place.