No "drones" allowed in Yosemite


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Sunnyvale, CA
Topic Author's Original Post - May 2, 2014 - 06:54pm PT
And by "drones" they mean RC 'copters.

Posted by the NPS here:

Yosemite National Park advises visitors that the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (Drones) are prohibited within park boundaries due to regulations outlined in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Specifically, the use of drones within the park boundaries is illegal under all circumstances. Thirty Six CFR 2.17(a)(3) states, “delivering or retrieving a person or object by parachute, helicopter, or other airborne means, except in emergencies involving public safety or serious property loss, or pursuant to the terms and conditions of a permit” is illegal. This applies to drones of all shapes and sizes.

The park has experienced an increase in visitors using drones within park boundaries over the last few years. Drones have been witnessed filming climbers ascending climbing routes, filming views above tree-tops, and filming aerial footage of the park. Drones can be extremely noisy, and can impact the natural soundscape. Drones can also impact the wilderness experience for other visitors creating an environment that is not conducive to wilderness travel. The use of drones also interferes with emergency rescue operations and can cause confusion and distraction for rescue personnel and other parties involved in the rescue operation. Additionally, drones can have negative impacts on wildlife nearby the area of use, especially sensitive nesting peregrine falcons on cliff walls.

Visitors traveling to the park should be aware that the use of drones is prohibited while visiting the park and should not be utilized at any time.

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
May 2, 2014 - 06:57pm PT
big surprise there
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Maestro, Ecosystem Ministry, Fatcrackistan
May 2, 2014 - 06:57pm PT
F*#king A! That is excellent news. Those infernal machines are the bane of freedom.


Mountain climber
the ANTI-fresno
May 2, 2014 - 07:03pm PT
The actual regulation says "delivering or retrieving a person or object..."

The way I read it, a remote control toy isn't illegal... which is essentially what half the "drones" with cameras are in all seriousness.

Trad climber
greater Boss Angeles area
May 2, 2014 - 07:14pm PT
Drones are those who can't fly a kite.

I asked at the gate before the first time I flew any kites in Joshua Tree, and the guy there said kites are OK, but radio-control aircraft aren't. That was in '08, before anyone had ever heard of a civilian R/C drone.


Mountain climber
Santa Cruz, CA
May 2, 2014 - 07:23pm PT
F*#king A! That is excellent news. Those infernal machines are the bane of freedom.

Totally agree, they're invasive, annoying and a hazard when overhead. They literally fall out of the sky all the time.

Mountain climber
Anchorage AK, Reno NV
May 2, 2014 - 07:39pm PT
MOTORIZED and not on a road.. Kinda obvious I'd say.

May 2, 2014 - 07:59pm PT
Then how about the park service encouraging rules against airlines who fly hundreds of flights a week over the park. Same thing to me just at a higher altitude.
Never have I seen a drone wouldn't want too see one either in the park. I have however been relaxing late at night on a wall and had my clear view of the stars and the cliffs disturbed by flight10:00,10:05,10:30.... 12:45 to SFO, FRESNO, OAKLAND, ETC....
Sort of a nature buzz kill in a place that's suppose to be based on quality wilderness experiences.

Guess its sorta the same as bitching about the garbage guys slamming green cans in the early morning.

Rant over

Hobart, Australia
May 2, 2014 - 08:55pm PT
Luckily true multirotor pilots don't call them "drones", which is really the term for the militarised flying robots. Nothing there in the regs about "quadcopters" ;) (though motorised and wilderness obviously conflict).

My obsession of late (past five months) has been building mini quadcopters--my two current favourites are one that flies autonomously after tapping points onto a google map on a Nexus tablet, and one that flies with a video link and I fly FPV (first person view) with goggles.

The idea that got me going is when I think of all the days we spent finding the optimal route through the Dungee Glacier to find the approach to Great Trango, how we could have saved much time and toil if we could have first done a video flyover--so a super portable quadcopter (has to fit into a small camera case) has been fulfilling all my design drive these days...

gps mini quadcopter
gps mini quadcopter
Credit: deuce4

This one I'm selling:


Big Wall climber
The Bear State
May 2, 2014 - 09:22pm PT
I cant believe those trash trucks that come around every morning. Well said Ed, where are the priorities in "wilderness experience."

Nice looking quadcopter Deuce4.

Trad climber
May 2, 2014 - 09:31pm PT

May 2, 2014 - 03:57pm PT
F*#king A! That is excellent news. Those infernal machines are the bane of freedom.


Well, no. Cars have held that title for a century. RV's aren't far behind.

Come to think of it, cell phones are third, and if you point a GoPro at me when I'm taking a dump I'm throwing you off the ledge and cutting the rope.

Yer on notice.

As far as Drones in control by citizens, I want a cop to be worried about somebody filming him beating an old lady to death.
John M

May 2, 2014 - 09:38pm PT
there goes my wall beer delivery service…


Mountain climber
Olympia, WA
May 2, 2014 - 09:43pm PT
It seems to only apply to visitors. It omits LEO activities or other government/NPS surveillance.

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
May 2, 2014 - 09:51pm PT
No drone holds a candle to the lovely sound of Harleys getting it on throughout the park system.
I don't get why they're even allowed into the parks.

Trad climber
Less than a second shy of 49 minutes
May 2, 2014 - 09:54pm PT

there goes my wall beer delivery service…

What a killer idea.

You could have a service that would deliver fresh sammies and cold beer to dadz on the wall.

Instead of AMAZON, you could call it AMAzing.


Social climber
May 2, 2014 - 10:55pm PT
Thank god I can listen to the generators and harleys in peace now.
Mateo Pee Pee

Trad climber
Ivory Tower PDX
May 2, 2014 - 11:01pm PT
As noted in the original posting "And by "drones" they mean RC 'copters." This is correct although FAA definitions are more clear and broader in scope - google FAA UA Drones for more information.

UA use is illegal under existing FAA guidelines and within the jurisdiction of land management agencies (among others). They can be used by members of the public with special permission and often a fee.

The logic behind park regulations is well reasoned. For example, a RCA (Remote Controlled Aircraft) crash at Smith Rock landed near the base of the Red Wall (see YouTube) and crashes at large gatherings illustrate the the potential danger of these aircraft. Beyond safety reasons, the unregulated use of UAs potentially can have a negative influence on wildlife habitat and behavior, impinge upon the primacy of a natural environment within recreational and spiritual sanctuaries such as Devils Tower, and can create a serious breach in the privacy of individuals and groups.

Two related observations also come to mind. First, many of us remember when fighter planes flew below the Valley rim creating - for some of us - a raised level anxiety regarding rockfall. Low flying civilian aircraft has historically been a problem at Devils Tower, and I have seen avalanches in Alaska triggered by the reverberations from Chinook helicopter. The issues associated with manned aircraft cannot be directly compared UAs for obvious reasons but they do suggest the importance of FAA regulations. I would add that RCAs are far more capable of invading "personal space" as I can attest when one flew within 30' of me while skiing.

My second observation is that what we are just beginning to experience is the tip of the iceberg as suggested by the following:

"I would guess there are already forty or fifty thousand aircraft in the hands of civilians capable of autonomous flight," Chris Anderson, former editor of Wired, told The Verge earlier this year. "That's far more than our best estimates of what the military has, and the number is going to grow rapidly over the next few years."

If UAs are incompatible with your climbing experience and you observe one consider contacting the land managers ASAP giving them the flight location. Also consider contacting the AAC and other climbing organizations if you think this is an issue climbers should be concerned with and that merits us becoming a stakeholder in the FAA decision-making process (final draft of FFA guidelines are expected during the spring of 2015).

Lastly, my apologies for the downer but these things piss me off - I have seen three, two at close range, in the past two weeks.

Edit: you can watch additional YouTube videos illustrating RCAs designed to be indestructible and capable of flying through windows. That might be off topic for SuperTopo but an interesting reality.

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
May 2, 2014 - 11:03pm PT
we climbed 4 days in seneca a few weeks ago. Two of those days there were folks running a quad copter. it almost seemed to me like it was a guide service videoing their clients? Anyways it was cool for about 30 seconds and then it was annoying as hell. I much prefer the sound of the wind and the birds....
Charlie D.

Trad climber
Western Slope, Tahoe Sierra
May 2, 2014 - 11:14pm PT
Can't wait for some smart kid to invent a surface to air missile launched from a hand held device.

Mountain climber
Olympia, WA
May 2, 2014 - 11:19pm PT
Do they yet make a laser-like instrument or radio-wave weapon that can disable intrusive, nearby drones and send them down to crash like a swatted mosquito? Until they do, how about launching a capturing net that entangles the props?
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