Can You Fly a Drone in White Sands? – Droneblog


White Sands Nationwide Park in New Mexico is a 145,762-acre park within the Tularosa Basin.

The park is called after the gypsum crystal white sand dunes, with the dunes the most important on the planet of its type.

You’d like to see the white sands of this nationwide park with your individual two eyes and seize its magnificence through drone.

Are you able to fly a drone in White Sands?

You can’t fly a drone in White Sands Nationwide Park with no allow. The park is in approximation to the White Sands Missile Vary, so flying in sure components of the park would violate navy airspace.

This text will take a deep dive into White Sands Nationwide Park’s drone restrictions, so in case you’re planning on visiting New Mexico quickly, you may’t miss this!

Are you able to fly a drone in White Sands Nationwide Park?

Whereas the FAA establishes drone legal guidelines for the broader United States, in the case of state and nationwide parks, that’s the territory of the Nationwide Park Service.

In line with the NPS through the White Sands web site and the part entitled Drones, the coverage is as follows:

“Launching, touchdown, or working an unmanned plane, reminiscent of a drone, inside White Sands Nationwide Park is prohibited…Unauthorized plane exercise throughout the park additionally violates navy airspace and doubtlessly creates security hazards to navy operations.”

The coverage mentions the White Sands Superintendent’s Compendium §1.5 G, which was enforce in late 2019.

In line with the compendium, §1.5 Closures and Public Use Limits, (a)(1),

  • “The Superintendent, or his her/designee, could shut half or all the nationwide park for customer, worker security and to guard the useful resource.
  • …Launching, touchdown, or working an unmanned plane from or the lands and waters administered by the Nationwide Park Service throughout the boundaries of White Sands Nationwide Park is prohibited besides as authorised in writing by the Superintendent and Regional Director.

This restriction is critical to take care of public well being and security, shield nationally important cultural sources, shield wildlife, implement administration duties and keep away from battle amongst customer use actions till the NPS can decide whether or not particular makes use of of unmanned plane on lands administered by the NPS are applicable and won’t trigger unacceptable impacts on park sources and values.

This closure is a mandatory, interim measure till the NPS considers how one can tackle this new use on a long-term foundation and that permitting using unmanned plane earlier than the park has correctly evaluated whether or not this use is suitable might end in unacceptable impacts to park sources, park values, and customer security. Moreover this regulation is critical to stop unauthorized plane exercise that may violate navy airspace with the potential to create security hazards to navy operations.”

Though the verbiage makes it sound just like the NPS’s restrictions are solely momentary and will be lifted at any time, that appears unlikely. In any case, the NPS blanket bans most state and nationwide parks for drone use, not solely White Sands.

What occurs in case you illegally use a drone in White Sands Nationwide Park?

The NPS and the FAA are federal entities. Violating legal guidelines will result in federal punishments, which often carry with them the stiffest penalties.

For those who’re caught flying your drone with out permission in White Sands, count on greater than a warning. You’ll probably obtain a high-quality, and also you’ll have to seem in courtroom.

Throughout your courtroom appointment, the decide might concern you a further high-quality. Since these are federal crimes, the fines are historically larger than a non-federal high-quality.

You possibly can even be imprisoned and should pay the high-quality.

Are you able to fly a drone exterior of White Sands Nationwide Park?

Okay, so you understand higher than to enterprise onto the grounds of White Sands Nationwide Park together with your drone. What concerning the lands proper exterior of the park?

These lands are usually not beneath the NPS’s jurisdiction, however that doesn’t essentially imply you may fly there. Let’s discover what’s round.

North of White Sands Nationwide Park is the White Sands Missile Vary. That is the navy land the NPS referred to in its drone utilization coverage on the park.

The White Sands Missile Vary is a navy firing and testing space nonetheless in use at this time. You’re strictly prohibited from utilizing your drone inside 5 nautical miles of a navy airbase or facility, and the White Sands Missile Vary counts.

To the west of White Sands is the San Andres Nationwide Wildlife Refuge. This nature refuge throughout the San Andres Mountains contains streams, springs, seeps, woodlands, bajadas, and desert grasslands. The realm exists to safeguard desert bighorn sheep. Oryx additionally reside right here.

Because it’s protected land, don’t count on to fly your drone in and across the San Andres Nationwide Wildlife Refuge.

What about to the east of White Sands Nationwide Park? You’re nonetheless out of luck, because the Holloman Airforce Base isn’t terribly removed from the park. Though past which can be New Mexican cities and cities, keep in mind that you’re prohibited from utilizing your drone inside 5 miles of a navy base.

Thus, lots of these cities and cities can be off-limits to you.

South of White Sands is about the one place you may moderately count on to make use of a drone close to this nationwide park. There, you’ll discover such components of New Mexico as Organ, White Sands, and Orogrande.

You could possibly use your drone in these cities or cities, however that is determined by the native ordinances.

5 nice locations to fly a drone in New Mexico as a substitute

It’s disappointing that you just’ll should forego your plans of utilizing a drone in White Sands Nationwide Park, however by no means concern. You’ve loads of nice locations all through New Mexico to discover together with your drone as a substitute.

Right here’s an outline.

1. Turquoise Path

Also referred to as New Mexico State Highway 14, Turquoise Path is a 54-mile state street within the northern a part of the state. That includes the Turquoise Path Nationwide Scenic Byway, the 15,000-square-mile park additionally showcases views of the cities Cerillos, Madrid, and Golden and the Sandia Crest.

New Mexico State Highway 14 begins in Tijeras at New Mexico State Highway 333, the famed U.S. Route 66. For those who proceed northward on New Mexico State Highway 14, you’ll go by means of Bernalillo County and Cedar Crest till you attain San Antonito. You will get to Santa Fe from Albuquerque through this path and vice-versa.

You may’t use your drone when driving, so plan to discover as a lot of the Turquoise Path on foot as you may.

2. Pat Hurley Park

Albuquerque’s Pat Hurley Park options an higher and decrease loop linked by a paved path. The higher loop features a playground and playfields, and the decrease loop has a playground and the Neighborhood Middle.

The strolling paths right here altogether whole 1.1 miles, because the decrease loop path is 0.36 miles and the higher loop path is 0.33 miles.

The low-grade issue of the path and the concrete strolling paths make traversing the trail straightforward so you may attain the perfect location together with your drone and begin capturing distinctive footage!

3. Laguna del Perro

Laguna del Perro is a lake with salt deposits that make it fairly the distinctive physique of water. Higher but is that the lake is sort of a hidden gem. In comparison with the numerous different points of interest all through New Mexico, this one surprisingly doesn’t appeal to very massive crowds.

This implies the Laguna del Perro ought to be open to you to discover with out worrying about getting in the best way of others. At all times observe FAA drone guidelines and take care to not land your drone within the lake!

4. Diablo Canyon Recreation Space

You also needs to plan to discover the Diablo Canyon Recreation Space, which showcases beautiful deep cliffs by the Rio Grande. The paths right here aren’t overly difficult, however they’re lengthy, encompassing roughly eight miles.

Rock climbers clamber to the Diablo Canyon Recreation Space, so be sure to don’t get of their approach together with your drone. You will need to additionally observe all tips for UAV utilization earlier than launching.

5. Balloon Fiesta Park

One other excellent spot to go to in Albuquerque is Balloon Fiesta Park. Because the identify implies, this park is used for ballooning, however that’s not all. You’ll additionally see particular occasions like concert events, picnics, bike races, film productions, golf observe, and mannequin plane flying right here.

The park is a favourite of drone fanatics. Ensure you get to the park early to beat out the opposite pilots so you will have loads of free area for taking pictures and possibly even performing some stunts. 


White Sands Nationwide Park in New Mexico strictly forbids pilots from coming into with their UAVs based on the NPS’s coverage.  The park isn’t removed from a navy testing website and navy base, which primarily explains why drones can’t fly there.

For those who needed to see White Sands, you may at all times go to sans drone. For some nice locations in New Mexico to fly with a drone, strive Balloon Fiesta Park, Pat Hurley Park, and the Turquoise Path. Have enjoyable on the market!