Can You Fly a Drone in Grand Teton?

Northwestern Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park encompasses part of Jackson Hole (its northern areas) and the 40-mile Teton Range.

It’s also 10 minutes from Yellowstone National Park, with the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway connecting the two.

You’d love to fly over the quaint mountain regions of Grand Teton. Are drones permitted here?

Without written permission, drones are prohibited at Grand Teton National Park and the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway. You’re barred from flying a drone in Yellowstone without a permit.

The many national landmarks that surround Grand Teton make it an incentivizing place to fly, but that doesn’t mean you can.

Ahead, we’ll go deeper into the National Park Service’s flight rules so you can visit Wyoming without incident.

Can you fly a drone in Grand Teton National Park?

Like all national parks across the United States, Grand Teton National Park is overseen by the National Park Service.

On its Laws & Policies page[1], the NPS outlines the laws for both Grand Teton and the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway as part of its Superintendent’s Compendium.

The law on drone usage is short but sweet: “Launching, landing, or operating an unmanned aircraft, such as a drone, is prohibited.”

The Superintendent’s Compendium[2] digs a little deeper, adding that the above behaviors are outlawed “within the boundaries of Grand Teton National Park and the John D.  Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway…except as approved in writing by the Superintendent.”

The compendium does not detail what lengths you’d have to go to obtain written permission, but it seems unlikely that most drone operations would be permitted. Likely, only commercial and agency pilots would receive permission, but the circumstances for when and how are unclear.

As the compendium says:

“The Superintendent has determined that unmanaged or unrestricted recreational use of UAs within Grand Teton National Park will conflict with, or impact, a variety of park uses including visitor experience of unimpaired view sheds; the disturbance, displacement or harassment of park wildlife to include threatened and endangered species, present potential for impacts or damage to sensitive geothermal areas, creation of public safety hazards per operation near roadways or large aggregations of visitors, and visual or aural impacts to wilderness character and values within the park boundary.”

Grand Teton isn’t far from the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, which is roughly 22 million acres of protected land between Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.

The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem has intact ecosystems that feature native flora and fauna as well as animal species such as moose, beaver, elk, and gray wolf.

Unsurprisingly, the NPS wants the area to remain intact, hence the strict drone rules around Grand Teton.

Can you fly a drone at Yellowstone National Park?

Since it appears you won’t find much leeway to fly a drone at Grand Teton, you figure you’ll just make your way across the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway (without using your drone, of course) and fly at Yellowstone. Can you?

Sorry, but no, you can’t. As of 2014, the NPS prohibits drones in Yellowstone National Park.

The park has three Wilderness Areas:

  1. Teton Wilderness
  2. Bridger Wilderness
  3. Gros Ventre Wilderness

As you may recall from our post on the blog, Wilderness Areas across the US bar drones under the 1964 Wilderness Act. That act went into effect to prevent widespread urbanization.

» MORE: Can You Fly a Drone in a Wilderness Area?

The other reason that drone use is staunchly regulated is to preserve the park itself. An article on the Yellowstone National Park Trips website[3] mentions that drones are one thing of many that have plugged the park’s geysers.

Misusing the geysers damages them and risks their longevity. Future generations might not be able to enjoy Yellowstone’s geysers based on the decisions we make today.

As with the drone laws at Grand Teton, the NPS does sometimes grant permission to fly in Yellowstone’s general forest lands, but usually more for the Greater Yellowstone area than the national park itself.

Can you fly a drone at Jackson Hole?

Hmm, okay. So you can’t use your drone in Grand Teton or Yellowstone in most instances. What about Jackson Hole? That’s close enough to the two national parks.

Jackson Hole is a valley that spans the Teton and Gros Ventre mountain ranges. It itself is not a national park, so the NPS can’t ban drone use.

As for the many mountain resorts the area is known for? Those places don’t want drones, either.

According to the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort’s Aerial Drone Policy, “Out of safety concerns for guests, employees and resort property, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort prohibits the operation or use of unmanned aerial vehicles, or aerial drones, by the general public – including recreational users and hobbyists.

This prohibition includes drones for filming or videotaping, as well as any drone use by media or journalists operating above property owned or managed by Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. This prohibition on drone use extends to any drones launched or operated from resort property, as well as drones launched from private property outside of the resort boundaries.

Any violation of this policy may involve suspension of your skiing or snowboarding privileges, or the revocation of your season pass, as well as confiscation of any equipment. Violators will be liable for any damages, including but not limited to physical or personal injuries, property damage, damages for violations of privacy, regulatory fines and legal fees.”

What we find most interesting about this policy is that you can’t launch a drone from private property outside of the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and then operate your drone on the resort.

The resort makes it clear there exist no loopholes or exceptions in its policy, so don’t try any!

Can you fly a drone just outside of Grand Teton?

Let’s circle back around to Grand Teton National Park. Now that you’ve learned that flying your drone in the park (as well as Jackson Hole and Yellowstone) is nearly impossible, what if you were to venture beyond the realms of Grand Teton? What are the rules then?

Well, Grand Teton is 310,000 acres, so you’d have to go a long ways out. By the time you were outside Grand Teton’s parameters, you’d probably be close to Yellowstone National Park if you headed north.

Even if you avoided Yellowstone, now you’re upon Caribou-Targhee National Forest. On this page, the NPS makes it quite clear that drones are not welcome there either. 

If you find an area of Wyoming far enough away from Grand Teton National Park that you’re no longer on the park grounds but not so far away that you can’t see its majestic mountains, you would more than likely be able to operate your drone there.

We say more than likely because it depends on where the area is. As we’ve made clear, Wilderness Areas, national parks, and national forests are off-limits.

If you’re flying on someone else’s property, it’s always best to seek their permission to confirm you aren’t violating any laws.

However, you would no longer be under NPS jurisdiction once you leave Grand Teton.

What happens if you’re caught flying a drone at Grand Teton?

The NPS makes it quite clear that without permission, you shouldn’t bring your drone on the grounds of Grand Teton National Park (or the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway), but what happens if you do?

Well, any number of things could transpire. A park ranger might ask you to leave with your drone. The ranger or a passerby could call the police, and in that case, matters would escalate as the National Park Service Law Enforcement Rangers get involved.

What does this mean for you, the drone pilot? You could risk punishments such as drone confiscation, fines, or imprisonment. You might even be banned from returning to Grand Teton again, even if you don’t bring a drone.

We must remind you that the NPS is a federal agency, so you could be charged federally for your crimes.


Grand Teton National Park is one of the US’s most beloved landmarks. It and the nearby Yellowstone National Park are under National Park Service jurisdiction. The NPS makes it abundantly clear that drones are not allowed at Grand Teton without written permission.

You also can’t fly a drone at the nearby Jackson Hole resorts, so your options are quite limited in this area. The bans exist to preserve the integrity of the parks, maintain peace for travelers and tourists, and preserve wildlife.

Laws & Policies – Grand Teton National Park (U.S. National Park Service)
Superintendent’s Compendium
Things Stuffed Down Yellowstone’s Damaged Geysers

Can You Fly a Drone in Big Bend National Park?

Big Bend National Park in Brewster County, Texas encompasses part of the Chihuahuan Desert and all of the Chisos mountain range. It’s within proximity to the Sam Nail Ranch, Langford Hot Springs, and Santa Elena Canyon.

You wish to fly your drone among these beloved Texas landmarks, but are you legally allowed in the park?

As of 2014, drones are prohibited from being used at Big Bend National Park on any of its waters or lands. The ban extends to the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River and is enforced by the National Park Service.

Ahead, we’ll unpack the drone usage rules at Big Bend National Park to dispel any confusion.

If you’re soon visiting this Texas national park or it’s always been on your bucket list, this article is a can’t-miss!

Can you legally fly a drone in Big Bend National Park?

Texas is very strict on drone usage in its parks, which is why you’re barred entry into Big Bend National Park with a UAV.

Sign welcoming visitors to the Highway 385 North Entrance of Big Bend National Park in Texas.

That’s been the rule since August 2014, when the National Park Service posted its new regulations on drone flight in the park.

According to the law, drones are forbidden from launching, flying, or landing “from or on the lands and waters administered by the National Park Service within the boundaries of Big Bend National Park and the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River.”

Interestingly, a writeup from StateImpact Texas, which does environmental and energy reporting for the state, said of the ban the year it was implemented that the NPS’s prohibition was supposed to be an “interim” rule.

We saw the use of the word interim on several other resources mentioning the ban. This suggests this was supposed to be only a temporary change, yet as of this writing, the NPS has not lifted the ban.

We have to talk about the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River too, as it’s included in the NPS’s rules about the prohibition of drone use in Big Bend National Park.

The Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River is a protected river that’s 260 miles long. It’s classified as a U.S. National Wild and Scenic River and spans the Rio Grande in Texas and New Mexico.

Up to 69 miles of the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River are within the boundary of Big Bend National Park, as are the canyons Mariscal Canyon and Boquillas Canyon.

Santa Elena Canyon, which is a hotspot in Big Bend, is not classified as a U.S. National Wild and Scenic River in the same way that the other two canyons are, but you’re still forbidden from using your drone here because of the NPS’s rules.

The NPS says that it enforced these rules “for the maintenance of public safety and the protection of environmental and scenic values as well as the avoidance of conflict among visitor use activities and visitor experience.”

The statement also mentions that “The prohibition is completed through the use of 36 CFR 1.5 which provides the park superintendent the authority to close all or a portion of the park or otherwise limit an activity to maintain public health and safety, protect environmental or scenic values, protect natural or cultural resources, implement management responsibilities, equitably allocate and use facilities, or avoid conflict among visitor use activities.” 

Can you fly a drone just outside of Big Bend National Park?

It’s disappointing but not altogether surprising to learn that you cannot fly your drone within the spacious confines of Big Bend National Park.

What about outside of the park? The NPS, per the link above, states that “This new prohibition applies only to lands administered by the National Park Service and does not apply to unmanned aircraft that is launched, landed or operated outside the park boundary.”

Therefore, way outside the 801,163 acres that make up Big Bend National Park, you can fly your drone legally.

So what exactly is beyond the park, anyway?

Well, you can’t go any further south from Big Bend, or you’ll officially be in Mexico.

At that point, the drone laws are totally different since you’re no longer in the United States and the Federal Aviation Administration (and the NPS, for that matter) does not make the rules.

To the north of Big Bend National Park is Big Bend Ranch State Park (which we’ll talk more about in just a moment) and parts of Texas such as Terlingua, Shafter, Marathon, Sanderson, and Dryden.

If you read our post on Texas drone laws, then you should recall that only Harris County and nearby Metropolitan Houston have local laws in place prohibiting drone usage.

» MORE: Drone Laws in Texas

However, that does not mean that your drone would be allowed in the cities and towns listed above, per se.

You’d have to find a park that either allows drones or has a designated drone flight area. If you wanted to fly in a Texas neighborhood, you should get permission from the landowner if your drone will be on their property.

Further, you have to follow all FAA regulations when flying a drone in Texas, such as:

  • Commercial pilots must have a Remote Pilot Certificate on their person.
  • Recreational pilots must have a TRUST certificate on their person.
  • You cannot fly above 400 feet.
  • You must keep your drone within your visual line of sight without the aid of binoculars.
  • You should only fly your drone during daylight hours.
  • You cannot use your drone to harass or bother people.
  • You shouldn’t fly a drone over people’s heads or in large crowds.

Can you legally fly a drone in Big Bend Ranch State Park?

As we said we would, let’s talk a bit more about Big Bend Ranch State Park.

Big Bend Ranch State Park is between Presidio and Brewster counties and is Texas’ biggest state park. It’s a whopping 311,000 acres.

The biggest attraction at the state park is Colorado Canyon, which stands out from the limestone canyons in the park, as it’s made of volcanic rock.

All state parks throughout Texas save for San Angelo and Lake Whitney State Parks prohibit drones unless you have a permit.

You’d have to reach out to Big Bend Ranch State Park management and request a commercial filming and photography permit.

It would likely be several weeks before your permit request is approved or denied, so make sure you send that application in early to avoid delays.

Pilots who are permitted to fly must follow FAA guidelines when taking to the skies.

What happens if you get caught using a drone in Big Bend National Park?

With both Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park off-limits to drone pilots (the latter unless you have a permit, just to make clear), that’s a huge swath of land that you shouldn’t ever be on with your drone.

You can fly outside of the boundaries of Big Bend National Park just fine, but the NPS does not want you in the park.

So what will happen if you get caught operating your drone there?

We couldn’t find specifics on the NPS’s website, but the standard punishment for violating rules in a national park would likely apply.

That is, you could be fined $5,000 (or less) and possibly sentenced to jail for six months or longer.

The NPS has enforced these rules because drones are becoming ever more popular.

Unfortunately, with the influx in the use of drones, more national parks across the country have faced destruction to precious natural landmarks (often accidentally, but still!) and complaints from park visitors about the nuisances that drones can cause.

By staying out of national parks like Big Bend, you’re preserving these beautiful places for everyone to enjoy. You’re also avoiding adding a needless crime to your permanent record, so it’s worth it, we’d say!


Big Bend National Park in Texas is a huge, sprawling park that also includes the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River.

The NPS prohibits drone pilots from operating a UAV in both the park and the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River.

You are allowed to use a drone outside of the park if you can find a suitable place to do so, as that land is outside of the NPS’s jurisdiction.

When flying your drone in Texas, always follow FAA guidelines and be a smart, safe, conscientious pilot!

Big Bend National Park (U.S. National Park Service) (link)
Big Bend National Park Bans Drones | StateImpact Texas (link)