No Drones in Wilderness or near Wildfires

No Drones near wildfires posterDrones, or unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), can pose a hazard to airtcraft and crews fighting wildfires and are not allowed near active wildfires.

Drones are not allowed in or over Wilderness areas.  

Following are some tips to remember when flying UAS over national forests.

Know what kinds of UAS flights are permitted

  • The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has authority over all airspace.  Ensure that you comply with all FAA regulations and guidance for flying UAS, available online at
  • UAS may not be flown for commercial or business purposes without FAA approval.
  • UAS may be flown for recreation or hobby purposes in compliance with the Special Rule for Model Aircraft (Section 336 of Public Law 112-95).
  • Model aircraft may not be flown for payment or commercial purposes.
  • UAS may be flown by public entities (i.e. federal, state, and local government agencies and public universities) that obtain a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization from the FAA.

Know where you can – and can't – flyNo Drone Zone sign

  • Fly UAS for recreation or hobby purposes no higher than 400 feet above the surface, in compliance with FAA guidance.
  • UAS are considered “mechanized” equipment and aircraft -- and consequently cannot fly over, take off from, or land in, congressionally designated Wilderness Areas. See Wilderness Areas on Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest
  • UAS are not permitted to fly in areas that have “Temporary Flight Restrictions” in place, such as wildfires.  

Fly safely

  • Take lessons and learn to fly safely.
  • Do not fly near manned aircraft.
  • Do not fly beyond line of sight of the operator.   
  • Do not fly over or near populated and noise-sensitive areas, such as campgrounds, trail heads and visitor centers.
  • When flying within five miles of an airport or backcountry runway, contact the airport or control tower.
  • Do not fly over or near wildfires.  Unauthorized UAS flights could cause serious injury or death to firefighters on the ground and could have midair collisions with aircraft engaged in wildfire suppression missions. 
  • Do not fly from or over congressionally designated Wilderness Areas. This is a violation of the Wilderness Act and violators are subject to fines and prosecution.
  • Do not fly over or near wildlife as this can create stress that may cause significant harm, and even death.

The FAA provides guidance on “Flights Over Charted U.S. Wildlife Refuges, Parks, and Forest Service Areas” at 

Federal laws prohibit certain types of flight activity and/or provide altitude restrictions over “designated Forest Service Areas.

Go to for additional information about responsible use of UAS on National Forests and for more information watch the “Know Before You Fly” video on YouTube ( and visit the Know Before You Fly website at: