Can You Fly a Drone in Sedona?

Situated near Flagstaff, Sedona is a desert region in Arizona with forests, canyons, and buttes. It’s beloved as much for its natural beauty as for its arts.

If you’ve always wanted to visit Sedona and you’re finally making it happen, naturally, you may wonder – can you bring your drone with you?

Can you fly a drone in Sedona?

You can fly a drone throughout much of Sedona but not in Wilderness Areas or Sedona Airport and Flagstaff Pulliam Airport. You’re also required to follow FAA guidelines when in the skies.

If you have a trip to Sedona in the cards, this is the article for you.

In it, we’ll discuss in-depth whether you can use a drone in this part of Arizona, highlight all the off-limits areas, and go over Arizona’s flight rules.

Don’t miss it!

Can you fly a drone in Sedona?

Under Public Law 112-95, Section 336 and the FAA, commercial and recreational pilots can operate a drone in Sedona.

However, the desert town has a lot of off-limits places, so let’s review.


Sedona is only 18.31 square miles, yet still contains several airports. One is the aptly-named Sedona Airport, and the other is Flagstaff Pulliam Airport.

As a drone pilot, you’re prohibited from flying within five nautical miles of an airport. Given the tiny size of Sedona, this will make planning flight routes difficult but not impossible.

Military bases

Across Sedona’s borders, you’ll find a couple of military bases. These too can complicate your flight plans, as you’re not allowed within five nautical miles of a military base either.

Wilderness Areas

Drones are strictly prohibited in Wilderness Areas throughout the United States. That’s been the case since 1964, when the Wilderness Act went into effect.

The goal of that act is to prohibit industrialization that prevents designated areas from existing that solely protect wildlife and nature.

Sedona has two Wilderness Areas, Red Rock-Secret Mountain Wilderness and Munds Mountain Wilderness.

Neither area is small. The Red Rock-Secret Mountain Wilderness is 47,195 acres, while Munds Mountain Wilderness is 18,150 acres.

Designated Primitive Areas

Further, Sedona law restricts drone access in designated Primitive Areas.

The United States Forest Service once used these lands, which have since mostly converted to Wilderness Areas. 

Other restricted airspace

Always use a drone map when operating your UAV in Sedona. The above areas all constitute restricted airspace, but other restrictions could exist throughout the town.

Also, stay vigilant for temporary flight restrictions, which only affect your drone plans for a limited time but are still enforceable.

4 fantastic places to fly a drone in Sedona

Although Sedona restricts drone access to many places throughout the town, if you know where to look, you’ll find an exceptional selection of spots where you can take breathtaking footage.

Here are some of our favorites.

West Fork Oak Creek Trail

About 9.5 miles from Sedona is the West Fork Oak Creek Trail. As you stroll along the trailhead, you’ll spot canyons, a stream, and cliffs.

The buttes here are a trademark red, and when autumn arrives in Arizona, the fall foliage will take your breath away.

Charge up your drone battery, as you’ll surely want to stay here for a while!

Devil’s Bridge Trail

Venture out to Yavapai County to hike the Devil’s Bridge Trailhead.

Only moderately difficult, the entire hike (round trip) is 1.8 miles, so you won’t have to sweat it out too much if you’re trying to look professional for a drone project.

The route takes you across sandstone arches, so you’ll have lots to film or photograph here.

Schnebly Hill Vista

Along Schnebly Hill, you’ll find a vista with a clearance area to witness the beauty of Sedona.

While the Schnebly Hill Vista isn’t all that far from the Munds Mountain Wilderness, it’s well outside of the wilderness boundary line.

Many drone pilots have flown here before, so you shouldn’t have to stress about restrictions. If anything, keep in mind that the crowds here can be rather plentiful.

Since it’s often such a populated area, consider scheduling your drone flight either earlier or later in the day to avoid the crowds.

Courthouse Butte

We also recommend exploring Courthouse Butte while you’re staying in Sedona. The butte near Oak Creek in Yavapai County is just a bit southward of Sedona. The peak of the butte is 5,454 feet.

You don’t have to ascend that high up, of course. That’s what you have your drone for!

You can take some aerial shots of the tall, tree-lined butte that will make a fantastic addition to your portfolio.

Drone operation rules to know before visiting Sedona

With your plane tickets and hotels booked, it’s time to jet off to stunning, warm Sedona.

Before your plane touches down, make sure you’re privy to the following drone rules, which apply to Arizona as a whole.

Do not launch your drone closer than 328 feet to wildlife

Sedona drone law prohibits drone pilots from vertically approaching birds or animals with their UAVs.

Further, you cannot launch your drone any closer than 328 feet or 100 meters from local wildlife.

It’s no secret that drone exposure can cause unfortunate behavior in wildlife, including aggression and sometimes even abandoning their young.

Do your part to preserve Sedona’s great wildlife!

Have your drone license and registration ready

As a safe drone pilot, you must have a current drone license and an active registration (as required), both issued by the FAA or another body with authority.

Let’s start by discussing your registration. Commercial pilots must register their drones, but it’s optional for recreational pilots, depending on the weight of their UAVs.

If your drone weighs 0.55 pounds or under, you don’t have to register it. For all other drones that require registration, you can register for up to three years.

Next, let’s go over licenses. Hobbyists must carry a TRUST certificate issued by the FAA after passing The Recreational UAS Safety Test.

That license doesn’t expire but don’t lose it on your trip to Sedona, or you’ll have to take the exam again.

Commercial pilots need the Part 107 license, aka the Remote Pilot Certificate. You can only obtain this license by passing the Part 107 exam administered by the FAA.

Your certificate is good for only two years, but you can recertify online for free.

Avoid critical facilities

Arizona drone law mandates that pilots fly no closer to critical facilities than 250 vertical feet and 500 horizontal feet.

Examples of these facilities include hospitals, courthouses, power plants, and water treatment facilities.

Do not interfere with emergency response efforts

When firefighters, police departments, and other emergency responders arrive on the scene, do not get in their way with your drone.

You could prevent people from receiving the life-saving services they need!

Do not fly higher than 400 feet

You cannot operate your drone more than 400 feet from the ground throughout Arizona. It’s your responsibility to gauge the allowable height and fly your drone within that range.

Maintain a visual line of sight on your drone

You must also keep eyes on your drone the entire time you fly. If you operate your drone so far out of range that you can’t see it with the naked eye or when wearing contacts or glasses, you’re beyond VLOS range.

You must bring your drone back or operate it with a spotter who can watch it beyond your visual line of sight.

Do not fly your drone in inclement weather

Arizona is known for its hot and humid weather, but the sun can’t shine every day.

On those less-than-perfect days with strong winds and rain, refrain from operating your drone. The weather makes flying a UAV too dangerous.

You could also end up with a damaged, broken drone!

Sedona is a desert town in Arizona known for its towering buttes and appealing arts scene.

You can fly your drone here but must avoid designated Wilderness Areas, Primitive Areas, military bases, and airports.

Follow FAA drone rules when you take to the sky, and remember to avoid wildlife with your drone especially. Stay safe and have fun out there!

Can You Fly a Drone in Moab?

Surrounded by rugged deserts and red rock canyons, Moab is one of the most iconic places to visit in Utah. 

Whether you’re planning a rafting trip down the Colorado River or a more family-friendly vacation in town, you may wonder if you can bring your drone along. After all, Moab offers a landscape unlike anywhere else in the United States.

But before you pack your bags, you need to be aware of Moab’s drone rules and regulations. 

Though stunning, Moab isn’t all that welcoming of UAV pilots because of its close proximity to Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. Per Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) guidelines, drone flight is strictly prohibited in these areas. 

Continue reading to learn more about drone laws in Moah, Utah. 

Federal drone laws in Moab

Maybe you want to capture footage of the mighty Green River. Or, perhaps you want to take photos of your rock climbing friends ascending a soaring red cliff. 

Either way, you will need to be mindful of Part 107 rules mandated by the FAA. These federal laws apply to every place in America, not just Moab. 

What are these rules? 

  • Take the test: As a hobbyist drone pilot, you are required by the FAA to take The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST) [1]. You must carry proof of passing the exam at all times when flying. 
  • Register your drones: Does your drone weigh more than 0.55 pounds? If so, you must register it with the FAA (link) and carry proof of registration when flying.

As a recreational drone pilot, you should also:

  • Keep your drone within your visual line of sight
  • Not interfere with other aircraft
  • Fly at or below 400 feet
  • Avoid flying at night or during bad weather
  • Avoid flying over crowds

State drone laws in Moab 

If Moab is on your bucket list, you’re not alone. More than two million people flock to this southwestern destination each year, many hoping to explore the desert and canyonlands from the sky. 

But before you take flight, you must familiarize yourself with Utah’s many drone laws. 

We discuss these in more detail in our overview of Utah state drone regulations.

» MORE: Drone Laws in Utah

Though we encourage you to read this blog post closely, we have distilled the main points below. 

  • Do not fly above private property. According to 76-6-2-206(2)(A), which is also known as Title 76 of the Utah Criminal Code, using an unmanned aircraft to enter private property is considered trespassing. In Utah, trespassing is a Class B misdemeanor that could result in a $1,000 fine and/or a six-month jail sentence.
  • Avoid wildfire areas. According to 65A-3-2.5 (a.k.a. Title 65A, Forestry, Fire, and State Lands), flying in an area that is under a temporary flight restriction because of a wildfire could result in a Class B misdemeanor punishable by a $2,500 to $5,000 fine.
  • Do not harass livestock: According to HB 217, “…a person is guilty of harassment of livestock if the person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly chases, with the intent of causing distress, or harms livestock…” through the use of an unmanned aircraft system. To be safe, avoid flying your drone around a rancher’s herd.
  • Do not use your drone with malicious intent. According to SB 111, flying a drone that is carrying a weapon or has a weapon attached to it could result in a Class B misdemeanor.

Utah’s SB 111 also establishes several safety precautions for drone pilots.

These include:

  • Maintain a visual line of sight
  • Do not fly near an airport without prior permission
  • Do not fly your drone in a way that interferes with traffic patterns at any airport, heliport, or seaplane base
  • Do not operate your drone from a public transit rail platform or station, under 50 feet within a public transit fixed guideway right-of-way, or directly above electrical lines used to power a public transit rail vehicle
  • Fly below 400 feet

If you violate any aspect of SB 111, you could face a Class B misdemeanor. 

Local drone laws in Moab 

Compared to other places like South Carolina and Montana, Utah has fairly stringent drone laws. However, there is good news: This state doesn’t have any local drone laws. 

That means cities, towns, villages, and counties haven’t established any additional rules besides what is already mandated by the federal and state governments. 

Does this mean you can fly your drone anywhere in Moab? Not exactly. There are still several no-fly zones to be aware of. 

Can you fly a drone in Arches National Park?

With more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches and thousands of other geological spectacles, Arches National Park is a natural wonder. 

Considering its fascinating beauty, you may be tempted to fly your drone in Arches. However, drone usage is strictly prohibited in any National Park. 

Why the restriction? According to Jonathan Jarvis, director of the National Parks Service, the drone ban is rooted in “serious concerns about the negative impact that flying unmanned aircraft is having in parks.”

More specifically, NPS officials fear that drones could disturb endangered or threatened wildlife. Unmanned aircraft could also disturb park visitors, causing noise that detracts from the overall outdoor experience. 

Can you fly a drone in Canyonlands National Park?

With more than 250,000 acres of stunning canyons carved by the Colorado River, Canyonlands National Park is another natural wonder located near Moab. 

Though beautiful, Canyonlands is also off-limits to drone pilots since it’s a National Park. 

Consequences for flying a drone in a National Park 

What happens if you can’t resist flying over Arches or Canyonlands? 

Unfortunately, flying an unmanned aircraft in a National Park could result in a $5,000 fine and six months of jail time. 

No drone flight is worth these steep consequences. 

Can you fly a drone in Dead Horse Point State Park?

With more than 5,000 acres of high desert, Dead Horse Point State Park in Moab is a great place to hike, mountain bike, and camp. But can you fly a drone there?

Yes and no. 

Since this park sees many visitors during the warmer months, drone usage is strictly prohibited from March through October. 

However, between November 1 and the last day of February, drone usage is permissible with a permit. Permits cost $10 per day and can be obtained online or at the visitor center. Permits must be approved by park staff at the visitor center before you can take to the skies. 

Even if you do have a permit, you must fly within designated zones. These areas are listed on the Dead Horse Point State Park website

Can you fly a drone on BLM land?

If you want to spend some time off the beaten path, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages thousands of acres in and around Moab, Utah. Rugged and wild, this land offers a unique desert experience. 

Generally speaking, drone flight is allowed on BLM land. But there’s one exception: If the land has been designated by Congress as a wilderness area, drone flight is strictly prohibited. 

Since Moab is surrounded by thousands of acres owned by various state and federal agencies, we recommend using the B4UFLY App when flying. This app will help you avoid no-fly zones. 


With red rock formations and high-elevation deserts, Moab is truly a spectacular place. However, there are many federal and state drone regulations you must be aware of before taking to the skies. 

You should also be mindful of Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. These are strict no-fly zones. For most of the year, Dead Horse Point State Park is a no-fly zone as well.

Additionally, you should fly with caution when recreating on BLM land. Though drone flight is generally allowed on BLM land, you cannot fly on BLM land that has received a “wilderness area” designation. 

If you follow these drone rules and regulations, you’ll be sure to enjoy the wild, wild west that is Moab, Utah.

The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST)