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Can You Fly a Drone in Jasper?

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Jasper is an alpine town in Alberta known for sights such as Whistlers Mountain, the Canadian Rockies, and of course, Jasper National Park.

Can you bring your drone with you to Jasper?

You can use your drone in parts of Jasper but not near airfields or heliports. Parks Canada and the Canadian government prohibits recreational drone usage in Jasper National Park. Commercial pilots can only gain access to the park with a Restricted Activity Permit.

You may still have more questions about using a drone in and around Jasper, and that’s fine, as we’ve got answers.

Keep reading so you can soon plan your flight route!

Can you fly a drone in Jasper? #

The municipality of Jasper stretches out 355.9 square miles. It’s a cozy little town with its own lodge, a few localities (like Geikie, Decoigne, Bedson, and Wynd), Medicine Lake, the Miette Hot Springs, and the abovementioned Jasper National Park.

You’re permitted to bring your drone to Jasper, but how far within the city’s borders you can fly will depend on your location.

For instance, let’s talk about airports. Jasper has two of them using the most basic definitions: the Jasper-Hinton Airport and the Jasper Airstrip.

Drones cannot fly near airports or airstrips without prior authorization in Canada.

Then there’s the national park, which we’ll dedicate a separate section to. We’ll give you one spoiler – if you hoped to fly here, you’re probably going to be disappointed.

Once you venture further beyond the town of Jasper, it’s all mountains, from The Watchtower to Pyramid Mountain, Mt. McKean, and Marmot Mountain.

So let’s summarize. Like flying anywhere else in Canada, you should stay away from restricted airspace with your drone.

Otherwise, you should be free and clear to enjoy the tranquil beauty of Jasper.

Can you fly a drone in Jasper National Park? #

Canada has strict rules on using drones in its national parks per Parks Canada and the Canadian government. National parks, including Jasper National Park, are designated no-fly zones.

Of course, Parks Canada makes some exceptions, so let’s clarify the rules on using a drone in Jasper National Park.

Recreational pilot rules #

Under no circumstances can hobbyist pilots operate a drone in Jasper National Park or another Canada National Park.

The official Parks Canada statement is as follows: “Recreational drone flying is prohibited across all Parks Canada locations. Please do not fly your drone in the park.”

Passersby who see others operating a drone in a Canadian national park should contact a park warden to report the incident.

By the way, if you wonder whether these rules are enforced, the answer is an unequivocal yes!

In September 2022, CTV News Edmonton[1] reported on a man who was fined $10,000 CAD for using a drone during the Chetamon fire.

Helicopters were already airborne and combatting the blaze, and the man’s drone got in the way.

That’s why he received such a substantial fine, the likes of which Park Canada has never issued before.

However, Parks Canada does state on its website that it may issue fines of up to $25,000 CAD, so there’s still yet more threshold to cross.

Commercial pilot rules #

If you’re a commercial drone pilot, you could possibly gain access to Jasper National Park, but only with a Restricted Activity Permit. The park Superintendent will issue the permit, usually only for specific applications.

For example, you should be eligible for a permit if you’re involved in site or park management that benefits the park administratively or in law enforcement, public safety, or cultural or natural resource protection and management.

If you just want to take aerial photos or videos of Jasper National Park with your drone, then don’t expect your application to go very far!

Tips and guidelines for using a drone in Jasper, Canada #

Now that you know where you can and cannot fly in Jasper, adhere to the following rules whenever you use your drone!

Use a drone mapping app #

When going somewhere new for the first time, you would use the regular maps app on your phone to track your location and find points of interest, right? So why should the rules differ when flying your drone?

From DJI Fly to B4UFLY and so many other great ones in between, you need a drone mapping app. When flying in Jasper especially, the map will be your best friend.

Uncontrolled versus controlled airspace delineations here are rather tight. You don’t want to find yourself flying too close to an airport or Jasper National Park without really meaning to.

Even if you do so accidentally, you’ll still face swift punishment.

Stay out of restricted airspace, and your trip to Jasper will go much more smoothly.

Have a valid pilot certificate #

You can’t fly in Jasper or elsewhere in Canada unless and until you obtain a drone pilot certificate from Transport Canada, the federal agency that regulates the skies in Canada.

A Basic Operations Certificate requires you to take the Small Basic Exam online. You’ll receive a Pilot Certificate – Basic Operations if you pass the test.

You can print out the certificate and then carry it on you. This certificate doesn’t expire.

You can also test for the Advanced Operations Certificate. You’ll have to take a more in-depth exam for advanced operations and launch your drone for a flight review.

Holding a Pilot Certificate – Advanced Operations grants you the freedom to use your drone for advanced and basic operations alike. You do have to pay a $25 CAD fee for the certificate.

The Advanced Operations Certificate also doesn’t expire.

Register your drone #

In Canada, drones that weigh 250 grams to 25 kilograms require registration. You’ll receive a registration number label that you must stick in a visible location on the drone.

If you don’t register your drone, you’ll receive a fine. Recreational users will pay $1,000 CAD, and commercial users $5,000 CAD.

Avoid other aircraft #

Transport Canada rules forbid unmanned aerial vehicle users like yourself from using your drone around other drone pilots and manned aircraft like helicopters and airplanes.

When you see other aircraft in the skies, steer away from them.

Keep your distance from heliports and airports #

Jasper has several heliports, and you must keep your drone approximately one nautical mile or 1.9 kilometers from any of them.

As for the Jasper airports we discussed earlier, you can’t get any closer than three nautical miles or 5.6 kilometers.

Do not interrupt emergency operations #

Don’t be like that drone pilot who got slapped with a $10k CAD fine for interrupting firefighting efforts.

Do not use your drone in the area when emergency operations occur in Jasper involving law enforcement and/or firefighters.

That even applies to advertised events like parades!

Stay 30 meters from crowds #

Under basic operations rules, your drone cannot get closer than 30 meters or 98.4 feet horizontally to any bystanders you see in Jasper or elsewhere in Canada.

If you see large crowds, find somewhere else to fly!

Only fly 400 feet in the air #

Your max altitude when using a drone in Canada is 122 meters or 400 feet. 

Do not fly at night unless your drone has lights #

In Canada, the rule is you must always have eyes on your drone. Thus, if your drone has lights affixed to it, you can fly it after dark since you can see it.

Conclusion #

Jasper is a beautiful town nestled in the Alberta region of Canada. While the town itself welcomes drones, it has a lot of restricted airspace around airports and Jasper National Park.

By reading Transport Canada’s rules and using a drone mapping app, you should be able to visit Jasper with your drone and not face the hefty fines that other pilots before you have.

Best of luck and safe travels!

References:1. CTV News Edmonton (link)


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