Drone Use for Specific Purposes Only

Federal and local laws regulate the use of drones (unmanned aerial vehicles) and how they can be used in Boulder.

Regulations

Because the City of Boulder and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) each have rules about flying drones, this website is designed to clarify those regulations so you can safely and legally operate a drone. The bottom line: Anyone flying a drone must follow all federal, city and county guidelines. You may not launch, land or otherwise operate any unmanned motorized vehicle from or on any City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks land.

FAA rules dictate certain key rules about drones, and there’s an important difference between whether you’re flying your drone recreationally (not for money-making purposes) or commercially (for money-making purposes). For more information and a more complete list of regulations, visit the FAA’s website.

Contacts

Regulations vary for different parts of Boulder. Please work with the appropriate agency below.

Location Contact
Boulder Municipal Airport Airport website
Boulder County Parks
& Open Space
Boulder County website on drone use
City of Boulder Open
Space & Mountain Parks
See below for details on drone use on OSMP
Downtown Boulder &
Filming in Boulder

City of Boulder Film Permit Application

Emiliano Lake-Herrera
Boulder County Film Commissioner
Boulder Convention & Visitors Bureau
Direct: 303-938-2090
Main office: 303-442-2911

Lane T. Landrith
District Outreach & Small Business Specialist
O: 303-413-7316
landrithl@bouldercolorado.gov
City of Boulder Economic Vitality Division

University of Colorado CU Boulder website on drone use

Upcoming City-Operated Drone Flights

The city's policy is to provide at least 48-hour advance notice to the public about planned drone flights as long as such notification does not jeopardize ongoing public safety operations or investigative activities.

Dos and Don'ts for Recreational Drones

For recreational flying (operating an unmanned aircraft for a non-money-making purpose), FAA rules include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Small unmanned aircraft must be registered with the FAA if more than 0.55 lbs. and cannot weigh more than 55 lbs.
  • Highly recommended to remain below 400 feet.
  • Unmanned aircraft may never fly over :
    • Groups of people
    • Stadiums or sports events
    • Near emergency response efforts such as fires
  • Operators must yield right of way to other aircraft and may never fly drones near aircraft.
  • Operators must not fly aircraft under the influence.
  • Operators must keep the aircraft in sight (visual line-of-sight).
  • Operators must notify airport and air traffic control tower before flying within 5 miles of an airport. To notify the Boulder Municipal Airport, email bma@bouldercolorado.gov. Download the FAA’s B4UFLY smartphone app for locations and contact information on local airports.
  • Flying within 3 nautical miles of Folsom Stadium is prohibited starting one hour before and ending one hour after the scheduled time of any of University of Colorado football game. View this map for a general guideline of the areas where flying an unmanned aircraft is prohibited during this period.


In addition to following all FAA rules, people flying drones recreationally must also obey the following city regulation:

  • You may not launch, land or otherwise operate any unmanned motorized vehicle from or on any City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks land unless permitted to do so for public land and wildlife management, including research, search and rescue and public safety purposes (see below).

OSMP Drone Use Application Information

An application is required for individuals, and organizations requesting to use Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS), aka drones, for public land and wildlife management, including research, search and rescue and public safety purposes on City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks lands (OSMP). Other purposes are not allowed.

Submit complete applications at least three weeks prior to the earliest flight; incomplete applications will require longer processing times. During application submittal you must also upload documentation of all required training, certifications, registrations and insurance.

*If you are interested in flying a drone for research, you must complete a research permit application as well as a drone flight request application.

NOTE:

  • We may require city staff to accompany you during your flight. If so, this may require additional time to schedule.
  • Beyond submitting standard required Post Flight Logs and a Results Report, we hold the right to require your raw data that you collect on OSMP lands.
  • We may need more information from you then what is described here.

Application Process

Timeline

Research based request processed in 3 weeks. We will do our best to notify Search & Rescue training requests in 1 week.

Submit Application

Drone flight request application submitted.

Completeness Check

Request received: Application checked for completeness

Request Analysis

A group reviews the application and recommends a decision. Applications will be reviewed by staff and decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis. Staff will consider:

  • Is the research or training of sufficient interest to the department to justify potential disturbances to wildlife and visitors and other risks?
  • What are the risks?
  • What steps will the operator or requestor take to prevent or mitigate these risks? 
  • Does the operator have necessary certifications and registrations and does the flight comply with all legal requirements?
  • Where and when are the proposed flights?
  • Has the operator or requestor read and agreed to all the Safety and Operational Guidelines?

Decision

Final decision made: approve or denied.

Denial

If denied, applicant notified.

Approval

If approved, permit issued via email with specific terms and conditions

  • Rangers notified
  • If applicable, public notified via website posting

After Action

After action wrap up: Required permittee’s post flight log and report out documents logged