Thursday, September 21, 2023


Can campgrounds outlaw drones? Should they?

“I can’t stand the constant buzzing!” Walt complained. “I want to hear the birds, not that ridiculous noise!”

Lynnie agreed. “I don’t like being watched. And my dog won’t stop barking at it!”

Not everyone noticed when the newest campground folks arrived, but most RVers noticed their drone. That’s because if the dad wasn’t flying it, the teens would take turns.

“Can’t campgrounds outlaw drones?” Walt wondered.

Regulating drones

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (drones) are not allowed in any of our National Parks. FAA Policy Memorandum 14-05 strictly prohibits the launching, landing, or operation of unmanned aircraft in National Parks’ airspace, with very few exceptions. (You must be licensed, apply, and receive authorization from the FAA.)

Drone restrictions also apply to rivers, trails, monuments, battlefields, and any other designated place within the National Park Service (NPS). State and local parks and communities set their own drone regulations and restrictions. When in doubt, always check with authorities.


In case you’re wondering if using your drone to take a one-of-a-kind closeup photo of George Washington’s nose on Mount Rushmore may be worth the risk, forget it! Penalties for unauthorized drone usage can mean up to six months in jail and a $5,000 fine. Ouch!

Back to the campfire

Lynnie plans to complain to the campground manager about the drone in the campground. She says, “It disrupts the peace and quiet. I paid for my campsite and that includes the airspace directly above my RV site parameters.”

Ron entered the conversation. “I can see I’m outnumbered here, but I learned to fly drones at a campground much like this one. My uncle took me camping and let me practice with his UAS. It never occurred to me that it might bother anyone. Maybe before you talk to the campground manager, you should just tell the guy how you feel.”

What do you think about drones in campgrounds?

Have you ever camped where drones were allowed? Tell us about your experience in the comments below. Then take the poll: Should drones be allowed at community and privately-owned campgrounds?

Last time in “Around the Campfire”:


Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh is an avid RVer and occasional work camper. Retired from 30+ years in the field of education as an author and educator, she now enjoys sharing tips and tricks that make RVing easier and more enjoyable.


  1. Our campground being heavily wooded pretty much makes drones unflyable. By the time you clear the canopy(if you can), and get to open sky you would not be able to have a good view of your drone, so maneuvering it would be iffy at best.

  2. Being a privately owned campground, we do not allow drones in our park. If I notice one, I’ll go over and ask them to put it away, as the campers have the right to their privacy while they are staying here. If they refuse, I’ll ask them to leave, not open for discussion.

  3. Thank you, Gail. Nope, never been at a campground where drones were being flown (at least that I noticed). I do have a former colleague who moved from the Department of Energy to the Department of Transportation, specifically FAA. If I understood him correctly the last time we had lunch (spring of 2017). He had a role in the writing of the rules for drones. I’ll try to track him down the next time I’m in DC and see if my recollection is correct.

  4. Maybe before you talk to the campground manager, you should just tell the guy how you feel. Maybe he won’t shoot, as he is: Standing His Ground.

  5. Use of air space is regulated by the FAA. Even NPS cannot relate overflight they can limit launch And landing. There are limits on licensed flight imposed by FAA

  6. Only armed, military grade drones should be allowed, to take out those barking dogs (and internet scammers who run their clandestine operations from their RVs)! JUST KIDDING!
    Really, I don’t mind. It gives me something to shoot at.

  7. Really, don’t care to see a drone flying over our personal space. One questions the need for snooping, granted the flyer of the drone may not be snooping but who knows. It is shocking to think a privately owned Rv campsites, Federal Parks, State Parks are allowed to set the rules; weird huh.

  8. And there is the crux of the matter: “It never occurred to me that it might bother anyone.”

    We focus on “I’ and too little on “We”.

  9. Sorry campgrounds, HOA etc do not control the airspace, the FAA does. The campgrounds and HOA’s can stop you from launching on there properly but you can go outside the property and launch your drone. There are FAA rules for flying drones and everyone must obey the rules or face prison time and or fines. It doesn’t mean you can launch outside a property and then fly slightly above people, cars and houses. Also the rule is you can’t fly more than 400 feet above ground even though my drone will fly 1400ft. Even at 400ft it will tell me if there is a commercial or private plane approaching for me to go down to 150ft. I’m sure there are kids with these toy drones that drive everyone crazy.

  10. First, not fair to lump community and private campgrounds. Community has to follow a different set of regulations, different expectations than a private business.

    If there is a valid reason to fly a drone (mainly campground inspection, management) yes they should fly. IF there is a large enough area, away from campers, if might be OK to have a “drone playground”. But, kids (of any age) flying drones over, into or around others’ campsites is never OK.

  11. I think I detect some “drone derangement syndrome” here. But, as usual, it just takes a couple of thoughtless users to cause problems for the rest of us. Drones are fun to fly, and you can get great pictures from them that you would otherwise be unable to get. And, as they mentioned in that boondocking myth video, they are also a great way to check out an area before you commit to a questionable road. I know, I know, they DO produce some noise where otherwise there would be none. You can’t fly a drone all day. 30 minutes max on a battery. Next time you see one of those dastardly drone fliers, walk up and ask how it works. You might like it.

    • If they weren’t super loud and they weren’t sometimes operated by amateurs who have been known to hit random objects while trying to land them, I wouldn’t care…. But, both things are real factors and, therefore, I’m not a fan. One time, a guy was operating his drone on a small, low traffic street while I was walking and, with his face buried in the screen, he mindlessly stepped into the street, not realizing that a car was coming straight at him, and barely jumped out of the car’s path in enough time. I looked at him, smiled and said “you almost died there, didn’t ya?” And he smiled back sheepishly and said “yeah, I really almost did.” 😀

      • You’re right Al, and I know exactly what you mean. I do (or used to) always fly out in the wild or at least nowhere near any people or campers. Certainly not in my neighborhood.

  12. I neither own or fly drones, but I have enjoyed watching others fly them a few times. While I have not seen any being flown in any campgrounds we’ve been in I doubt it would bother me much as long as it isn’t hovering closely and/or repeatedly over my campsite or being operated in a dangerous manner.

  13. Just because you can go to the store, or online, and order a drone does not mean you can just fly it anywhere. It is not a radio controlled car. So here is a link to drone rules. Also if you fly a drone past your line of sight you also need an Amateur Radio license! I am sure lots of drone owners are unaware of these rules, I was.

    • My drone will fly 7 miles away from me, not that I would do that of the fear of losing control and to losing it in a lake. You’re suppose to keep your drone in line of sight.

  14. I’m a decades long photographer (amatuer but using pro level equipment). There are rules about when and where you can operate photo gear; and they don’t just apply to pro level gear. I just purchased my first photography drone. Guess what there are rules and regulations. And just like an unlicensed bicycle is still subject to traffic laws, unlicensed drones are still subject to FAA flight rules. And drone photography is still photography and subject to rules.

    A few of those rules may seem silly, but they are there for a reason. I wouldn’t outright ban drones from campgrounds, but FAA rules already ban most of the uses people complain about.

  15. Not all drones require a license from FAA. I fly a small one and in my state is is legal, but not to fly or spy on others property, and not on State or federal parks as mentioned. This is another case of a few people abusing the rules to ruin it for everyone, so they have to create more rules and restrictions! IMHO!

    • FAA requires all drones weighing 0.55lbs or greater to be registered. Beginning in September of this year, ALL drones must be equipped with “Remote ID”. If your current drone doesn’t have the Remote ID, you are required to have a module added.

  16. At the park we just moved from, Holiday RV Village in Leesburg, FL, it was strictly forbidden. Between the noise and privacy concerns that’s enough to forbid them.


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