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Are Drones allowed in Canadian National Parks? (COMPLETE GUIDE)

Updated in 2022 by Paul Posea
Flying drone over Canadian national parks

With the advancement of drone technology in Canada, taking aerial shots of nature in its finest glory has never been easier. Canada is full of beautiful sceneries which are irresistible to capture; among them are the fantastic Canadian national parks. However, the question is; can you fly drones in national parks in Canada?

All Canadian national parks are 'No Drone Zones,'; meaning you are not permitted to take off or land within park boundaries for recreational purposes. You can make commercial flights, but you have to get prior authorization.

That's not all, and there's more regarding flying drones within Canadian national parks. Luckily, you are in the right place! In this article, I will take you through this topic in detail. If you are interested in learning more about flying drones within Canadian parks, keep reading!

Why Aren't Drones Allowed in Canadian National Parks?

As you've learned, flying drones within Canadian national parks is strictly limited, but why? You may wonder.

The flight of drones in Canadian national parks was banned because drones can disturb both people and wildlife. They may cause noise pollution, be a nuisance to other park users, and even disturb wildlife. 

Drones also can get in the way of emergency activities such as searching and rescuing animals and firefighting, putting the parks, their staff, and users at significant risk.

When Are Drones Allowed in Canadian National Parks?

While drones are not permitted in Canadian National Parks, they are allowed in some Provincial and Territorial Parks under special circumstances. Each park has different rules regarding drone use, so it is important to check the regulations before flying. 

The Canadian government prohibits the recreational flight of drones, but it permits non-recreational use under the following cases:

  • Law enforcement
  • Cultural and natural resource management 
  • Public safety
  • Management purposes directly relating to park administrative purposes

What Permit Do You Need to Fly in Canadian National Parks?

Say you want to make a non-commercial flight within a Canadian national park. What authorization should you have? Here's a little guidance.

You need to have a permit from Canada Parks Field Unit Superintendent and meet the requirements for drone flight that are in the Canadian Aviation Regulations. This permit is required for all flights, regardless of whether the drone is flown for recreational or commercial purposes. 

Additionally, depending on your intended use of the drone (scientific research or commercial purposes), the park where you seek to fly may require you to file a separate permit application.

 For example, in Banff National Park in Alberta, you must have a written proposal for otherwise restricted drone use. 

What Does the Permit to Fly Drones in Canadian National Parks Require?

One question that often comes up when answering the question," are drones allowed in Canadian national parks?" What do you need to have for your permit to be processed? 

First, you'll need to submit an application form that's available on the Parks Canada website. You'll also need to submit a detailed flight plan, including the purpose of your flight, proposed dates and times, emergency contact information, and proof of third-party liability insurance. 

You may also be asked to provide additional information depending on the park you're applying to fly in and the specifics of your flight. 

Here is a breakdown of what you are required to have. 

  1. Completed application form, which you have to submit at least seven days before shooting for small projects, and 15 days for large ones.
  2. A detailed and specific film itinerary. A good example would be April 10, 2019, filming on Adventure Ventures between Caribou street and Buffalo street from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
  3. A fee; is usually around $263 per day or for any hours of a day. You can make the payment in person at the specific park or by calling between the park's work hours and days. 
  4. Insurance in which the minimum requirement is $2 million.
  5. Additional information. Some national parks may require additional information, such as street use permits, site maps, and communication plans.

How Do You Submit a Permit to Operate a Drone in Canadian National Parks?

At this point, you know the permit you need to operate your drone within Canadian parks for non-commercial purposes and its requirements. However, you may still be confused about how you can submit your request to get a permit. 

Visit the local park website, find the respective contact form, fill it and email it back to the park. Remember to include the following information in your email:

  • Pilot certificate number
  • Your flight experience
  • Drone registration number
  • The location where you intend to fly
  • Confirmation information

Apart from this, you should also check with the local air traffic control and obtain the required NOTAMs. You do not want to be in a situation where you are flying your drone and get caught in an accident. Take all the necessary precautions and always fly responsibly

What Happens If You Fly Your Drone in Canadian National Parks Without a Permit?

Canada's national parks are so vast that it may be tempting to quickly capture an image or video when no one is watching, but this may be a bad idea. Here is why:

Canada has a "drone incident report program" in place, encouraging public members to report unsafe drone flights. The Canadian government has implemented strict fines and penalties for non-compliance, which can be up to $15,000 and, in some cases, $25,000.

Which Other Way Can You Take Aerial Photos of Sights in Canadian National Parks?

With the tight restrictions regarding flying drones in national parks in Canada, you may be wondering if there are other ways to capture shots of all the stunning sceneries of the country's national parks. Well, there is!

You can fly just outside the National Park boundaries of a national park and look for a vantage point. You may not get the best angles of the available natural features, but you will get some fantastic shots with creative framing.

 You can also secure authorization from the government for scientific research or studies. Once you have written permission from the government, contact the national park's management and let them know of the permit.

Can I Fly a Drone in Banff National Park?

We've determined that you can't fly your drone in Canada's national parks, alright, but is Banff National Park World's third and Canada's first national park, an exception?

Unfortunately, you cannot fly drones in any Canadian national parks, including Banff, without a permit. There are many areas outside the parks where you can fly your drone, but they are less accessible.

Is There an Alternative to Flying Drones in National Parks?

Although you can't make a flight with your drone in Canada's national parks, there are other beautiful outdoor areas where they are not strictly banned.

Some alternative locations to fly your drones in Canada include:

  • Provincial parks
  • Territorial parks
  • Municipal parks

Before flying your drone in any of these locations, make sure to check the regulations. Each type of park has different rules when it comes to drones.

The table below shows some of the restricted and non-restricted areas. 

Area  Authority Drone Activities
Wilderness areas Canadian Forests Service Not Allowed
State and county parks Canada’s State Government Varies from park to park
National parks National Park Service (NPS) Not Allowed
National forests Canadian Forests Service Allowed

To ensure you're compliant with the regulations in the specific place you want to fly, look into the particular drone laws governing the area where you want to fly from the controlling authority's site.

Final Words

Canadian national parks are no doubt excellent spots to fly your drone. After all, their heart-thrilling natural features that look good on the ground have to look even better from up high. After reading this article, I hope you've learned that you can't use your drone to take aerial shots within Canada's national parks – lest you risk jail time or a hefty fine.

The inability to fly drones over national parks in Canada creates many lost opportunities. Still, we can view the dilemma from the context of historic and natural preservation. Most of these landmarks are essential, and we wouldn't want to risk damaging them for fantastic shots.

Is there a possibility of a change regarding the restriction of flying drones within Canadian national parks? We wouldn't say that it's impossible, considering all the current and upcoming changes in the landscape of drone-related legislation within Canada. 

author-paul-posea-picture
Hi, I'm Paul.
A big drone enthusiast, reviewing, comparing and writing about drones since 2015. I'm all about helping people enjoy and even monetize their hobby.
paul posea
Paul Posea
Hi, I'm a long-time drone reviewer and I hope my articles and comparisons on this site as well as Dronesgator's youtube channel are of as much help as possible.

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