Adirondack Council

Where Can You Fly a Drone in the Adirondack Park?

In the Adirondack Park, it is legal to launch a drone anywhere the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) allows, except on state lands classified by the Adirondack State Land Master Plan (SLMP) as “Wilderness,” “Primitive” or “Canoe.”

According to the SLMP, a Wilderness Area is a specific boundry area (i.e. the High Peaks Wilderness) “where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man - where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” “Public use of motor vehicles, motorized equipment and aircraft will be prohibited,” in a Wilderness Area.  Drones are motorized, thus cannot be launched from these areas.

Primitive and Canoe Areas are managed like Wilderness Areas, and the same rules apply for motorized vehicles, motorized recreation, bicycles, and drones.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Backcountry Information page explicitly states: “Drones are motorized equipment and the operation of drones on lands classified as Wilderness, Primitive, or Canoe is prohibited.”

It is however, legal to launch a drone from a Non-Wilderness, Primitive, or Canoe area, and fly over such areas as long as the operator maintains a clear line of sight with the device.

Tools to Plan to use your drone legally in the Adirondacks

This interactive map provided by the New York State Adirondack Park Agency can serve as a tool to see land classification boundaries.

If you are unsure if it is okay to use your drone in certain areas, contact the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation.

Leave No Trace Tips Applicable for Drone Use on Public Lands

When planning to use a drone on wildlands, think about the Seven Leave No Trace Principles.

  • Plan Ahead and Prepare - research the area ahead of time to make sure it is legal to fly your drone in the area.
  • Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces - Make sure to stay on rocks when on top of mountains, and avoid trampling vegetation, even when operating a drone.
  • Respect Wildlife - Be careful of operating your device close to rock ledges, cliff walls and areas of bird nesting sites.  
  • Be considerate of other visitors - Ask permission of people around you before launching your drone, respect their privacy and be kind and understanding if they would rather enjoy the quiet solitude of a scenic wild vista without noise and distraction.

In 2017 DEC indicated that they are updating regulations for drone use in the Adirondack Park and there will be a public comment period with proposed updates and changes in the future.  

This page is for informational purposes only. The Adirondack Council does not enforce or regulate drone use in the Adirondacks.

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