Can You Fly a Drone in Oklahoma State Parks?
The Oklahoma State Parks system includes 33 parks for camping, fishing, hiking, and exploring nature.
They’re a perfect refuge from everyday life. You’ve fallen in love with the state parks here and wish to capture their magnificence with your drone.
Can you fly a drone in Oklahoma State Parks?
You can fly a drone in any of the Oklahoma State Parks, provided the parks don’t have a temporary restriction. You should not use your drone around any park in the state near a critical infrastructure facility.
This article will act as your guide to flying a drone in Oklahoma State Parks. We’ll go more in-depth on the flight rules so you can have an enjoyable experience!
Can you fly a drone in Oklahoma State Parks?
Peaceful, picturesque, beautiful: there’s a lot you can say about the Oklahoma State Parks system. These parks are premier attractions for tourists and residents alike.
But can you use your drone in these parks? You can indeed!
Oklahoma is a state that’s sparse on drone rules. Please don’t take that to mean that rules don’t exist.
Every state in the United States has federal drone laws, so even in the absence of state and local laws, you must abide by those.
» MORE: Drone Laws in Oklahoma
In the case of Oklahoma, the state has no local laws and only one state law, 2016’s HB 2559, which we must discuss further as you begin planning your Oklahoma State Parks itinerary.
HB 2559 prohibits drones from flying near critical infrastructure facilities, which HB 2559 defines as “one of the following, if completely enclosed by a fence or other physical barrier that is obviously designed to exclude intruders, or if clearly marked with a sign or signs that are posted on the property, are reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders, and indicate that entry is forbidden or flight of unmanned aircraft without site authorization is forbidden.”
Looking for more specifics? The full list of Oklahoma’s critical infrastructure facilities is as follows:
- “Any aboveground portion of an oil, gas, hazardous liquid or chemical pipeline that is enclosed by a fence or other physical barrier that is obviously designed to exclude intruders”
- Natural gas distribution utility facilities like pipeline interconnections, city or town border gate stations, metering stations, aboveground piping, regulator stations, and natural gas storage facilities
- State or federal government-regulated dams
- “A facility identified and regulated by the United States Department of Homeland Security Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program”
- Facilities that produce steel with electric arc furnaces
- Licensed radio or television station transmission facilities
- Gas processing plants “used in the processing, treatment or fractionation of natural gas or natural gas liquids”
- Ports, railroad switching yards, trucking terminals, and other freight transportation facilities
- Wireless communication infrastructure like cell towers
- Telecommunications central switching offices
- Liquid natural gas storage terminals or facilities
- Natural gas compressor stations
- Water intake structures, water treatment facilities, wastewater treatment plants, and/or water pump stations
- Chemical, polymer, or rubber manufacturing facilities
- Power-generating facilities, substations, switching stations, and electric control centers
- Petroleum or alumina refineries
We’d recommend using a drone map to determine your proximity from an Oklahoma State Park to any critical infrastructure facility.
You cannot get within 400 feet of the critical infrastructure facility according to HB 2559.
Which parks are a part of the Oklahoma State Parks system?
As you plan your tour of the Oklahoma State Parks system, we thought it’d help to include a full list of parks available to drone pilots:
- Twin Bridges State Park in Ottawa County (63 acres)
- Tenkiller State Park in Sequoyah County (1,190 acres)
- Talimena State Park in Le Flore County (20 acres)
- Spavinaw State Park in Mayes County (35 acres)
- Sequoyah/Western Hills State Park in Cherokee County (2,200 acres)
- Sequoyah Bay State Park in Wagoner County (303 acres)
- Roman Nose State Park in Blaine County (540 acres)
- Robbers Cave State Park in Latimer County (8,246 acres)
- Raymond Gary State Park in Choctaw County (263 acres)
- Quartz Mountain State Park in Greer County (4,284 acres)
- Osage Hills State Park in Osage County (1,100 acres)
- Natural Falls State Park in Delaware County (120 acres)
- McGee Creek State Park in Atoka County (2,600 acres)
- Little Sahara State Park in Woods County (1,600 acres)
- Lake Wister State Park in Le Flore County (3,428 acres)
- Lake Thunderbird State Park in Cleveland County (1,874 acres)
- Lake Texoma State Park in Marshall County (1,882 acres)
- Lake Murray State Park in Love and Carter Counties (12,496 acres)
- Lake Eufaula State Park in McIntosh County (2,853 acres)
- Keystone State Park in Tulsa County (714 acres)
- Hugo Lake State Park in Choctaw County (289 acres)
- Honey Creek State Park in Delaware County (30 acres)
- Greenleaf State Park in Muskogee County (565 acres)
- Great Salt Plains State Park in Alfalfa County (840 acres)
- Great Plains State Park in Kiowa County (187 acres)
- Gloss Mountain State Park in Major County (640 acres)
- Foss State Park in Washita County (1,749 acres)
- Fort Cobb State Park in Caddo County (1,872 acres)
- Disney/Little Blue State Park in Mayes County (32 acres)
- Clayton Lake State Park in Pushmataha County (510 acres)
- Cherokee State Park in Mayes County (43 acres)
- Cherokee Landing State Park in Cherokee County (146 acres)
- Boiling Springs State Park in Woodward County (820 acres)
- Black Mesa State Park in Cimarron County (349 acres)
- Bernice State Park in Delaware County (88 acres)
- Beavers Bend State Park in McCurtain County (3,482 acres)
- Arrowhead State Park in Pittsburg County (2,200 acres)
- Alabaster Caverns State Park in Woodward County (200 acres)
Can you fly a drone in a public park in Oklahoma?
For as many expansive, incredible state parks as Oklahoma has, this southern state is also home to its fair share of appealing public parks.
Some can’t-miss parks include the Martin Park Nature Center, Scissortail Park, and Lake Overholser Park.
Should you find a state park too crowded or too close to a critical infrastructure facility for your liking, can you change tact and use your drone in an Oklahoma public park instead?
Yes, you can.
The same rules apply when operating a drone in an Oklahoma State Park.
In other words, both recreational and commercial pilots can fly subject to airspace restrictions. The District Superintendent can also declare certain parks or sections of parks off-limits to drones.
You must also avoid using your drone near critical infrastructure facilities.
Oklahoma drone flight rules to be aware of
It’s a perfect day, and you found an Oklahoma State Park you’re chomping at the bit to visit. Make sure you brush up on these federal drone laws before taking off.
Drone pilots must be licensed and registered
A drone pilot must have a license to enjoy the Oklahoma State Parks system to the fullest. Flying without a license or with an expired license is illegal.
Commercial pilots must carry a current Remote Pilot Certificate. Since the Part 107 license expires two years after it’s issued, take the time to recertify if necessary ahead of your trip to Oklahoma.
Recreational pilots must have the TRUST certificate. This doesn’t expire.
The FAA issues the TRUST certificate and Part 107 license. You must pass different exams to obtain these licenses.
Do you have to register a drone? If yours weighs 0.55 pounds or less and you’ll only use it for entertainment purposes, no, you don’t.
All drones over 0.55 pounds and commercial drones must have FAA registration.
Don’t use your drone in poor weather conditions
Although most people wouldn’t consider visiting a state park in inclement weather, we have to mention this anyway. Besides being majorly inconvenient, using your drone in poor weather is illegal.
If the forecast calls for any rain, snow, hail, fog, or haze, ground your drone for another day. You don’t want the weather wreaking havoc on your UAV anyway!
Do not fly higher than 400 feet
From ground height up, drones must not ascend more than 400 feet at any time.
Don’t launch a drone that weighs more than 55 pounds
Check your drone weight before launching it in an Oklahoma State Park. You can’t fly if you’ve added enough payload to push the drone’s weight over 55 pounds.
Lighten the load and try again!
Do not fly near crowds
The FAA’s Operations over People law expressly prohibits drone pilots from meandering too close to crowds with a UAV.
You can fly closer to groups of people you know who consent to your drone operations, but no one else.
Oklahoma State Parks are majestic places for relaxation, and all welcome drones.
That said, you must be aware of the park’s proximity to critical infrastructure facilities and limit your distance in those situations. Also, follow park rules and FAA guidelines when flying.