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Can You Fly a Drone in Ohio State Parks?

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Ohio State Parks have a lot to offer when planning a getaway into nature.

From Hocking Hills State Park to John Bryan State Park and Caesar Creek State Park, these are some of the most beloved sights in the whole state.

Can you fly a drone in Ohio State Parks?

You can fly a drone in many of the 75 Ohio State Parks at the discretion of the parks. Those state parks that permit drone activities usually have designated areas for flight and may require pilots to obtain special permissions before launching.

In this article, we’ll further explore whether you can use a drone in Ohio State Parks, including which ones and how you can be sure.

You can’t miss this article if you live near a state park here or always wanted to visit!

Can you fly a drone in Ohio State Parks? #

Ohio State Parks are a state park system overseen by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

As mentioned above, Ohio has 75 state parks in all that comprise more than 5,000 miles of beautiful land and natural resources. They’re scattered throughout the state.

Whether you live in Ohio or you’re just visiting, you’ll likely want to explore at least one of these parks.

State parks make for a popular place for drone flight since you have more room to roam and gorgeous sights to see.

Well, here’s some good news. For the most part, you’re allowed to fly a drone in Ohio State Parks.

In our overview of Ohio drone laws, you’ll recall that Ohio has no state drone laws prohibiting park usage.

» MORE: Drone Laws in Ohio

Now, local laws abound, which is why we said, “for the most part,” you can use your drone.

The policy varies from park to park. If a city or town has an existing ordinance against drone usage or otherwise restricts unmanned aircraft, steer clear. You could get in trouble flying your drone there.

Should you find a state park in Ohio that allows drones, that will usually be within the parameters of designated airspace only.

Like any state park elsewhere in the country, the Ohio State Parks system wants to maintain the beauty and allure of its parks for future generations to come.

Also, even though you might be allowed to bring your drone onto the premises, any of the Ohio State Parks might require special permissions or permits for drone pilots.

How do I know if I can use a drone in an Ohio State Park? #

With so many great parks within the Ohio State Parks system, you might wonder whether you’re allowed to explore the park nearest you to the fullest. How can you be sure?

Here’s what we recommend!

Check the park website #

The first place to start is with the Ohio State Park’s website.

Each park should have its own website, usually hosted by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, that provides some background information on the park and what kinds of activities you can enjoy there.

However, we recognize that some state park websites leave a little something to be desired as far as information goes.

If you can’t find a clear-cut drone policy on the website, know that you have plenty of other options for ascertaining whether you can fly a drone there.

Contact the park #

For instance, you can get in touch with the park either by phone or email (phone is probably faster, but it’s your choice!).

Mention that you’ve never visited and you’re wondering if you can use your drone at a specific Ohio State Park.

You’ll very soon get your answer and can proceed accordingly.

Use a drone app #

If you want to be doubly sure, load up your favorite drone map, punch in the name of the Ohio State Park, and see what results pop up.

You know by now to avoid red spaces on a map, as they designate restricted airspace. If the park shows up as a yellow warning zone, we’d suggest calling the park (or emailing) and asking what the policy is.

Check for park signage  #

If you don’t mind taking a quick trip to the state park sans drone, you can always visit and look for signage or further information on the park’s drone policy.

What happens if I use a drone illegally in an Ohio State Park? #

The Ohio State Parks system has some lenient rules on drone usage.

If you’ve read this blog enough, you’ll recall that some state parks don’t let drone pilots on the premises with their UAVs at all, so even being able to fly in designated areas is great.

If you bend the rules, what happens? Well, how a state park treats a rule infraction varies across the Ohio State Parks system but typically involves a fine of at least several hundred dollars.

You may also have to appear in court before a judge. If you plead guilty, that crime goes on your record.

Remember as well that the National Park Service or NPS oversees the entirety of the parks in the United States, including Ohio State Parks.

Depending on how egregious the offense, you could incur federal as well as local punishments. That usually means heftier fines, potential drone confiscation, and even the possibility of jailtime.

Ohio drone laws to keep in mind when visiting a state park #

As we always stress, being granted permission to use your drone in places like state parks is a privilege, not a free-for-all. Even if you do have access to a designated area within the park, you still have to follow the rules.

Here’s an overview to refresh your memory.

Carry your drone license #

All pilots must have a license before flying in an Ohio State Park or anywhere else in this great state. 

You can obtain the appropriate license through the FAA. That’s the TRUST certificate for hobbyists and the Remote Pilot Certificate for commercial pilots.

You don’t merely get handed either license but must prepare for and successfully pass an exam. 

Keep your drone license handy when you visit an Ohio State Park. A park ranger or representative could ask you to produce the license at any point.

On that note, commercial pilots must have a current Remote Pilot Certificate. If yours expired, it doesn’t count as having a license at all.

Register your drone #

Carry your drone registration paperwork on you when visiting an Ohio State Park with your UAV in tow.

You only have to register a drone once every three years, but if you add a new drone to your fleet, you have to register that in addition to your other licensed drones.

The FAA provides drone licenses for $5 each.

Limit your drone weight #

Before you take to the skies, weigh your drone.

The FAA prohibits drones weighing 55 pounds and over from operating. That can include the weight of the drone out of the box or the weight of the drone plus payload.

Keep eyes on your drone when in use #

When you use your drone, maintain eyes on it the entire time.

This means the drone should never leave your visual line of sight. If it does and you don’t have an observer, you could incur penalties for unsafe drone usage.

Fly your drone within 400 feet #

The FAA mandates that drone pilots operate no higher than 400 feet from the ground. That policy applies throughout the US, including the rest of Ohio.

Avoid flying your drone close to crowds #

Lastly, limit how closely you get to people at any point when exploring an Ohio State Park with your drone.

Flying your drone too close impedes the enjoyment of the state park for its visitors and could count as stalking or harassment in some instances.

Those are usually misdemeanor charges but can come with heavier punishments.

You can operate a drone closer to people you know, and the Operations over People law allows lightweight drones to fly near crowds. In all other situations, limit your distance.

Ohio State Parks permit drones in designated areas.

The freedom to capture the beauty of Ohio with your UAV camera does come with rules, including those instituted on a federal level by the FAA and state and local laws.

Remember to set a good example as a drone pilot so that future pilots can also enjoy the wonders of Ohio State Parks!


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