California State Parks - Where can you really fly?

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Hi,

Since flying drones is not illegal in California State Parks (unless said otherwise in the Park's rules), I've scanned most of the California State Parks website and wrote down any drone reference I could find.

Here are the (very sad) results, I hope it will be useful for other drone pilots:

  • Seacliff SB - DRONES are only allowed above the field on the Southern end of the primary day use parking lot.

  • China Camp SP - Forbidden
  • Mount Tamalpais SP - Forbidden
  • Trione-Annadel SP - Forbidden
  • Emerald Bay SP - Forbidden
  • Bodie SHP - Forbidden
  • Mono Lake Tufa SNR - Forbidden
  • Mount Diablo SP - Forbidden
  • Pomponio SB - Forbidden
  • Pescadero SB - Forbidden
  • Ano Nuevo SP - Forbidden
  • Bean Hollow SB - Forbidden
  • Gray Whale Cove SB - Forbidden
  • San Gregorio SB - Forbidden
  • Half Moon Bay SB - Forbidden
  • Montara SB - Forbidden
  • Pigeon Point Light Station SHP - Forbidden
  • Butano SP - Forbidden
  • Castle Rock SP - Forbidden
  • Portola Redwoods SP - Forbidden
  • Big Basin Redwoods SP - Forbidden
  • Natural Bridges SB - Forbidden
  • New Brighton SB - Forbidden
  • Sunset SB - Forbidden
  • Manresa SB - Forbidden
  • Henry Cowell Redwoods SP - Forbidden
  • Wilder Ranch SP - Forbidden
  • Point Lobos SNR - Forbidden
  • Saddleback Butte SP - Forbidden
  • Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve SNR - Forbidden
  • Red Rock Canyon SP - Forbidden
  • Torrey Pines SNR - Forbidden
  • Torrey Pines SB - Forbidden
 
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Fortunately State Parks and refuges only comprise a tiny part of the State.
 
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The state technically allows them but leaves it up to the local superintendent to make the final decision. No surprise everyone says "no drone for you." Thanks for the in depth analysis!
 
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Yeah, the Governor said "Okay to fly in the CA State Parks" but left it to the decision of the superintendents who all say "No Way!" Endangers wildlife, etc.

I'll add to your list the one in Gormon called El Tejon State Park. They do have a sign posted there too about it. The super for that park is the same one at the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve who also controls Red Rock State Park and is a "No way!" person too. No one is out there the at the Poppy Reserve the other 50 weeks of the year when the poppies are out of bloom so I don't get their reasoning other than stressing whatever wildlife is there (i.e. Patrolling rangers included too.).

On Red Rock S.P., I can see them wanting no drones around the campsite side of the Park (West side of Hwy. 395), but the east side with the rock cliffs is often a large and vacant pull-off and I don't get the "No way!" there either. Probably just easier to say no to drones overall than saying yes.

I also got run off a couple of months ago from photographing at a large vacant field west of town where the water agency owns all the property for water banking and they call it "Critical infrastructure" so no flying there either. Solar farms and oil fields are also no-nos too. Nearby lake is controlled by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and they are also a "No way!" outfit. BLM rangers can get testy too on trespassing in the desert (i.e. Green stickers and federal private land much like National Parks.).

May as well sell this stuff as I'm getting tired of the hassles. The Part 107 has become a joke in that the local film commissioner sees it as commercial use and wants a pricey daily permit and an ACORD insurance form. I really am annoyed at the local TV car lot ads using drones as I know they violate the rules, but this drone life is really what you can get away with and I suspect 95% of flying has something that violates some rule somewhere - FAA or local - if one looks. Heck, even Hollywood shoots Guerilla style and runs at times. Getting a commercial permit takes days or months at times (Been there!) and the paperwork and money to sundry agencies can floor you too.
 
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Well, that being said... Where CAN we fly it? I'm planning a vacation along the pacific road (routes 1/101) and would like to get some footage of the ocean if possible.
 
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Well, that being said... Where CAN we fly it? I'm planning a vacation along the pacific road (routes 1/101) and would like to get some footage of the ocean if possible.
That would be PCH, Pacific Coast Highway, "The One" out here. I've driven that route from LA to San Francisco. No shortage of places to Stop & Fly. Unfortunately, I don't have any specific locations for you. Just avoid people as much as possible.
 
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That would be PCH, Pacific Coast Highway, "The One" out here. I've driven that route from LA to San Francisco. No shortage of places to Stop & Fly. Unfortunately, I don't have any specific locations for you. Just avoid people as much as possible.
Are you sure? Take a look here (AirMap), it seems like everything is a NFZ.
 
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They sewed up that coastal area for the seals and wildlife (birds.) along Hwy. 1. You can't even walk within some boundaries along there now.

There is this in Airmap: "Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary flight operations below 1000 ft AGL violate the NOAA regulations (15 CFR 922). For more information regarding operations in non-regulated areas of NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries and other areas where wildlife may be present, please visit: www.eco-drone.org."

I wish Airmap would also post the CA State Parks that ban drones as well. I suspect Point Lobos State Park by Carmel is a NFZ State Park too as it is populated with people heavily as there is often a drive-in wait line for vehicle traffic, but it isn't marked on their maps...yet. There are other state parks along Hwy. 1 that also may be unmarked with bans.

Adopt guerilla-style tactics perhaps. :rolleyes:
 
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Hi,

Since flying drones is not illegal in California State Parks (unless said otherwise in the Park's rules), I've scanned most of the California State Parks website and wrote down any drone reference I could find.

Here are the (very sad) results, I hope it will be useful for other drone pilots:

  • Seacliff SB - DRONES are only allowed above the field on the Southern end of the primary day use parking lot.

  • China Camp SP - Forbidden
  • Mount Tamalpais SP - Forbidden
  • Trione-Annadel SP - Forbidden
  • Emerald Bay SP - Forbidden
  • Bodie SHP - Forbidden
  • Mono Lake Tufa SNR - Forbidden
  • Mount Diablo SP - Forbidden
  • Pomponio SB - Forbidden
  • Pescadero SB - Forbidden
  • Ano Nuevo SP - Forbidden
  • Bean Hollow SB - Forbidden
  • Gray Whale Cove SB - Forbidden
  • San Gregorio SB - Forbidden
  • Half Moon Bay SB - Forbidden
  • Montara SB - Forbidden
  • Pigeon Point Light Station SHP - Forbidden
  • Butano SP - Forbidden
  • Castle Rock SP - Forbidden
  • Portola Redwoods SP - Forbidden
  • Big Basin Redwoods SP - Forbidden
  • Natural Bridges SB - Forbidden
  • New Brighton SB - Forbidden
  • Sunset SB - Forbidden
  • Manresa SB - Forbidden
  • Henry Cowell Redwoods SP - Forbidden
  • Wilder Ranch SP - Forbidden
  • Point Lobos SNR - Forbidden
  • Saddleback Butte SP - Forbidden
  • Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve SNR - Forbidden
  • Red Rock Canyon SP - Forbidden
  • Torrey Pines SNR - Forbidden
  • Torrey Pines SB - Forbidden
I fly on the north coast (Humboldt County). Was told by the ranger that the parks were closed to drones.. so went my lagoons video tour. Reasoning here was given that more than one operator has been busted for chasing wildlife (elk). It doesn't take much to give "them" the ammunition they need.
 
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Are you sure? Take a look here (AirMap), it seems like everything is a NFZ.
It may very well be NFZ. This was last year (July) right after I acquired my P3S. Never even knew about the apps back then. I made several stops along the way just to grab photos. These were by no means extended flights. More like quickies:>
 
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I was looking at the Facebook page of Red Rocks State Park in CA and read in one post: Karen White

Note near the end where she mentions, "Drone cameras are not currently allowed, but ask the park rangers as this may change.
"

Some hope maybe?
 
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If you can find a place to take off, land, and operate your drone LEGALLY outside the park boundaries, you may fly over the park as the state does not have jurisdiction over the airspace.

That being said, I would avoid wildlife refuge areas and reserves.

Oh, and if your drone goes down inside the boundaries, Good help you!
 
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You can fly at Pismo Beach State Park, which is actually located in Grover Beach, California. You can also fly at Refugio State Park and also El Capitan State Park. Both of those parks (Refugio and El Capitan) are located on Hwy. 101 on the coast, between Santa Barbara and Gaviota. I *think* you can fly at Gaviota State Park, but I am not 100% sure about that.

If you are flying at Pismo Beach State Park, just ask the person at the kiosk at the Park's entry points where you can fly. If you fly anywhere else other than where they say you can fly, they will take your drone down, or so they told me.

The entry points to Pismo Beach State Park are kiosks located at the Grand Avenue entry area in Grover Beach, and also at the kiosk at the Pier Avenue entry to Pismo Beach State Park in Grover Beach. There is a stretch of the beach and the frontage property where you can fly, but the boundaries are pretty limited at about 1 mile in length from Pier Avenue in Grover Beach to Grand Avenue, also in Grover Beach. Be sure to ask about the boundaries for drones!

There are other areas very close to Pismo Beach State Park that you are not allowed to fly, which would include the Monarch Butterfly Grove, and of course the Airport in Grover Beach.

I wrote these remarks on November 11, 2018 and I flew at Pismo Beach State Park on October 30, 2018. I also went to fly at Pismo Beach State Park on November 3, 2018, which was a Saturday. I don't recommend flying at Pismo Beach State Park on a weekend as the nearby airport is very busy, there are LOTS of people around, and there were many airplanes and paragliders flying out over the beach from the nearby airport. Both the airplanes and paragliders were numerous and flew pretty low. I had my drone, and flying the drone was allowed, but I chose not to fly on that Saturday.
 
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I fly on the north coast (Humboldt County). Was told by the ranger that the parks were closed to drones.. so went my lagoons video tour. Reasoning here was given that more than one operator has been busted for chasing wildlife (elk). It doesn't take much to give "them" the ammunition they need.
FWIW AirMap shows no such restrictions in Humboldt County. Except up in Redwood National/State Parks.
UASFM does not either.

I'll have to look a bit more to see if the actual state parks have anything posted in their rules.
Looked at the North Coast State Parks District rules and nothing specific posted on the website. Probably need to make a call to verify specific rules/locations.
 
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