Before you head out with your drone to explore what the beautiful state of Colorado has to offer you, you have to be aware of the drone laws in Colorado or else you risk getting into trouble with the law.
Is it legal to fly a drone in Colorado?
Flying a drone is permitted in the state of Colorado. It has federal, state, and local laws that govern the use of drones in the state. However, most of the drone laws in Colorado prohibit operators from flying in public parks and on city property.
In this article, I will cover everything you need to know about Colorado drone laws for you to enjoy a pleasurable flight with your drone and stay clear of any legal proceedings.
- Federal Drone Laws in Colorado
- Federal Drone Laws for Recreational Flying in Colorado
- Federal Drone Laws For Commercial Drone flying in Colorado
- Federal Drone Laws for Public Drone Flying In California
- State Drone Laws In Colorado
- Local Drone Laws In Colorado
- Frequently Asked Questions on Colorado Drone Laws
- Final Thoughts
Federal Drone Laws in Colorado
The federal drone laws in the United States are the laws that apply to Colorado and every state in the United States of America and were created by the federal government.
If you have a small drone that is less than 55 pounds, you can fly recreationally by following the Drone Laws in the USA as defined by FAA Part 107 guidelines.
Federal Drone Laws for Recreational Flying in Colorado
You can fly your drone for recreational purposes in Colorado as a hobby without seeking monetary compensation as long as you follow the FAA law (Part 107) and also check the state jurisdiction for additional licensing, permission, and clearance requirements.
Below are the federal rules to follow while flying your drone for recreational purposes in Colorado to keep you, your drone, and everyone safe in the airspace.
- Fly your drone only for recreational use or as a hobby.
- Follow the safety guidelines of an FAA-recognized Community Based Organization (CBO). Recreational flyers should follow the safety guidelines of existing aeromodelling organizations or use the FAA-provided safety guidelines per Advisory Circular 91-57B.
- Keep your drone within your visual line of sight or use a co-located visual observer (physically next to) and in direct communication with you.
- Don’t fly close or interfere with a manned aircraft.
- Fly below 400 feet in controlled airspace (Class B, C, D, and E) after obtaining permission from LAANC or FAA Drone Zone.
- Fly below 400 feet in uncontrolled airspace (Class G). Note: You can also be prohibited from flying in a Class G airspace in areas designated as prohibited areas, restricted areas, military operated areas, alert areas, etc. except given prior authorization from the FAA.
- Take The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST) and carry proof of test passage.
- Always slap your registration number on the exterior surface of your drones and always carry the proof of registration with you. As a recreational flier, you are exempted from registering and marking your drones by the FAA as long as your drone weighs less than 0.55 lbs (250 grams).
- Do not dangerously operate your drone. For example:
- Do not interfere with emergency response or law enforcement activities.
- Do not fly under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Avoid flying near or over critical infrastructure.
You should be aware that you could be liable for civil and/or criminal penalties if you intentionally break any of these rules and regulations listed above as a recreational drone pilot.
As a recreational drone pilot, you are obliged to learn the rules and regulations put in place by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on the proper use of drones for recreational flying.
You should also apply common sense when operating your drone in crowded public places, historic resources, and public places to keep everyone safe.
Federal Drone Laws For Commercial Drone flying in Colorado
You can fly your drone for commercial purposes in Colorado with the aim of seeking monetary compensation as long as you follow the FAA law (Part 107) and also check the state jurisdiction for additional licensing, permission, and clearance requirements.
Below are the federal rules to follow while flying your drone for recreational purposes in Colorado to keep you, your drone, and everyone safe in the airspace.
Step 1: Learn the Rules
- Read and understand the dos and don’ts as a commercial flyer the under Part 107 rules. Review a summary of the Part 107 rules (PDF). Still unsure if Part 107 rules work for you and your intended UAS operation? Check the FAA user identification tool.
- You can obtain a waiver to exceed some limit put in place by the FAA that is not covered by Part 107. Below are some laws in Part 107 that are subject to a waiver.
- Operation from a moving vehicle or aircraft. *
- Always operate your drone during the day. *
- Keep your drone from out of the Visual line of sight from an aircraft operation *
- Keep your drone in your Visual line of sight. *
- Operation of multiple small unmanned aircraft systems. *
- Yielding the right of way. *
- Don’t fly your drone over people. *
- Restriction from certain airspace. *
- Operating limitations for small unmanned aircraft.
- *The FAA will not waive this section to allow the carriage of property of another by aircraft for compensation or hire.
- You should read about the Part 107 Waiver application process if your drone operation requires a waiver.
- Commercial drone operators should steer clear of flying close to airports as it might be challenging for human aircraft to spot and avoid a drone in flight. Keep in mind that the UAV operator is accountable for any safety threat their drone poses in an airport area and must avoid crewed aircraft. Read more about flying near airports.
Step 2: Become an FAA-Certified Drone Pilot by Passing the Knowledge Test
- To be eligible to get your Drone License (Remote Pilot Certificate), you must be:
- At least 16 years old
- Able to read, write, speak, and understand English
- Be in a physical and mental condition to safely fly a UAS
- Review the entire process to get your Drone License or Remote Pilot Certificate.
- Study for the Knowledge Test by reviewing the Test Prep materials provided by the FAA.
- Obtain an FAA Tracking Number (FTN) by creating an Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application (IACRA) profile before registering for a knowledge test.
- Schedule an appointment to take the Knowledge Test at an FAA-approved Knowledge Testing Center.
- Once you’ve passed your test, complete FAA Form 8710-13 for a remote pilot certificate (FAA Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application) using the electronic FAA Integrated Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application system (IACRA)*
- You are now eligible to operate as a commercial drone pilot.
Step 3: Register your drone with the FAA
- Pay the registration fee of $5 with your credit card or debit card to get a valid three year license to commercially fly drones.
- Visit dronezone.faa.gov and select “Fly UAS under Part 107” to create an account and register your drone.
- After that, mark the exterior surface of your drone (PDF) with your registration number for identification and tracking if it were to get stolen
Always be sure to fly your drone safely and within FAA guidelines and regulations. It is up to you as a drone pilot to know the rules of the sky and where it is safe to fly. You should try the user identification tool if you aren’t sure if Part 107 is right for you and your operation
Federal Drone Laws for Public Drone Flying In California
Federal public laws are drone laws for federal, state, local, or tribal government entities, including schools and universities that use unmanned aircraft systems or drone technology for their operations.
Federal Restrictions & Requirements
- Be a political subdivision of the United States government, a State or U.S. territory government, the District of Columbia, or an Indian Tribal Government listed in the Robert T Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. § 5122)
- Own and operate the unmanned aircraft, or for non-federal public aircraft operators (PAO’s) have an exclusive lease on it for more than 90 days
- Fly missions that meet the statutory criteria of a governmental function on a flight-by-flight basis
- Not fly for a commercial purpose or receive compensation for flight operations.
First responders and other organizations responding to natural disasters or other emergency situations may be eligible for expedited approval through our Special Governmental Interest (SGI) process. Operations that may be considered include:
- Search and Rescue
- Law Enforcement
- Utility or Other Critical Infrastructure Restoration
- Incident Awareness and Analysis
- Damage Assessments Supporting Disaster Recovery Related Insurance Claims
- Media Coverage Providing Crucial Information to the Public
To apply for a waiver through the SGI process, you must be an existing Part 107 Remote Pilot with a current certificate OR you must have an existing Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA). To submit a waiver through this process, fill out the Emergency Operation Request Form and send it to the FAA’s System Operations Support Center (SOSC) at [email protected] .
If approved, the FAA will add an amendment to your existing COA or Remote Pilot Certificate that authorizes you to fly under certain conditions for the specified operation. If denied, operators should not fly outside the provisions of their existing COA or part 107. Operators have the option to amend their requests.
* This process is called the Special Government Interest (SGI) amendment process and is outlined in FAA Order JO 7200.23A
State Drone Laws In Colorado
Colorado state drone laws are drone laws that apply to the entire state of Colorado and were created by the Colorado General Assembly.
Colorado has three laws that govern the use of drones as put together by the Colorado Department of Transportation, the Colorado General Assembly, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
House Bill 1070 (2017)
House Bill 1070 (2017) mandates that a study be conducted by the Center of Excellence within the Department of Public Safety to determine how to integrate UAS within local and state government functions relating to search and rescue, accident reconstruction, crime scene documentation, fire-fighting, emergency management, and emergencies involving significant property loss, injury, or death.
Additionally, this law establishes a pilot program that mandates the deployment of at least one team of UAS operators to a state area that has been classified as a fire hazard, where they will get training on how to utilize UAS for the aforementioned purposes.
Colorado State Parks Regulation #100 c. 24
The Colorado State Parks regulation prohibits the use of drones in Colorado State Parks with the exception of certain places. The only parks approved for flying drones are Cherry Creek State Park and the model airfields in Chatfield State Park.
Drone operators have previously been given special usage permission by several parks, such as Staunton State Park, for commercial purposes. You should obtain special usage permission from the park authorities mentioned above if you want to operate your drone in them.
Code of Colorado Regulations 406-0, Article IV, Section C
This law prohibits the use of drones in looking for, scouting, or detecting wildlife when hunting to give you an unfair advantage over other people.
For the purposes of this regulation, “drone” shall be defined as including, without limitation, any contrivance invented, used or designed for navigation of, or flight in the air that is unmanned or guided remotely. A drone may also be referred to as an “Unmanned Aerial Vehicle” (UAV) or an “Unmanned Aerial Vehicle System” (UAVS).
Local Drone Laws In Colorado
Colorado local drone laws are the drone laws that apply only to certain regions, cities, or counties within the state of Colorado and were created by various authorities within the state.
Boulder Drone Laws
Drones and other unmanned motorized vehicles are prohibited from flying, launching, and landing in the city of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks land. Drone pilots engaged in research, search and rescue, and wildlife management should obtain permits from the relevant authorities.
Cherry Hills Village Drone Laws
Drones are permitted for recreational use in Cherry Hills Village after they have been registered in the city. An FAA registered drone is also allowed as long as the local authorities verify the registration number.
Without the written consent of the City Manager, no one is allowed to fly a UAS over or above any property owned by the city. Also, without the owner’s permission, no one is allowed to access, hover over, launch, or land a drone on or above another person’s property.
Colorado Springs Drone Laws
Drones are prohibited in any park in Colorado Springs without prior written permission from Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services (PRCS), except in locations designated for these types of leisure. However, a commercial film permit is necessary for usage in commercial productions. There are additional drone flight limitations in place just for Garden of the Gods Park.
Denver Drone Laws
Drones and any other unmanned aerial systems are prohibited from flying inside any Denver Park facilities except in areas specified by the DPR Director for such activities. However, if a permit has been granted by the city, giving the required authorization, exceptions may be made for drone operations connected with events or particular activities.
Fort Collins Drone Laws
Drones and any other remote controlled aircraft and vehicles are prohibited in any location in Fort Collins that has been identified and marked as a city natural area.
Lakewood Drone Laws
Drones are prohibited in Bear Creek Lake Park and William F. Hayden Park in Lakewood. However, permission is required to fly a drone from or on any city property, park, or open space area, with the exception of three designated “Unmanned Aircraft Flying Areas” (East Reservoir, Hutchinson Park, and Wright Street Park).
Also, any photography or videography that takes place inside the boundaries of the city requires permission, whether it is for business or non-commercial purposes.
Louisville Drone Laws
Drones are prohibited from operating, launching, or landing in any city park or open area in Louisville except for emergency landings by the city’s law enforcement authorities.
Loveland Drone Laws
Drones are allowed for recreational flying without a license at the designated parks in Loveland:
- Barnes Park and Fairgrounds Fields
- Centennial Park
- Fairgrounds Park
- Loveland Sports Park
- Mehaffey Park
- North Lake Park
Drones are prohibited from dropping or discharging payloads or flying too close to bird nests. It is forbidden to fly drones over crowds or people. Any drone flying on Parks and Recreation Department-managed land that isn’t on the list above is forbidden. Additionally, all commercial use of UAS is forbidden.
Telluride Drone Laws
Drones are prohibited from flying over the Town of Telluride property without the Town Manager’s written permission. It’s also prohibited from flying over another person’s private property without their permission, in a way that could endanger or damage another person’s life or property, or get too close to any pedestrian, person, livestock, companion animal, or wildlife.
Vail Drone Laws
Drones are prohibited for recreational use in the pedestrian areas and town-owned parking structures of Vail Village and Lionshead Village, Ford Park, and the area surrounding the Vail Valley Medical Center Heli-Port.
Frequently Asked Questions on Colorado Drone Laws
Is it illegal to fly a drone over private property in Colorado?
It is legal to fly drones above a house or private property in Colorado as long as you don’t hover around them or use your drone to capture or record them without permission from the property owner.
Can I fly a drone in Colorado without a license?
Recreational drone pilots don’t need a license to fly a drone in Colorado, but you must pass a free online safety test (TRUST). However, commercial drone flyers must get a certificate (Part 107) from the FAA. Furthermore, all drones weighing more than 249 grams must be registered to operate in Colorado.
Can you shoot down a drone in Colorado?
Shooting down a drone in Colorado is illegal and against federal law because drones are protected by the FAA. You could serve some jail time or pay a large fine if you shoot down a drone in Colorado. You are advised to report it to the authorities if you see a drone hovering above you or your property.
Colorado is blessed with beautiful landscapes to explore with your drone for recreational or commercial purposes. However, you need to abide by the drone laws set by the FAA, the state, and the local laws in that city to enjoy the footage it has in store for you.
You should also check out the best places to fly a drone in Colorado if you want to see beautiful places that are legal to fly in various cities.