Mother Nature, Legally: Top 7 National Parks Laws

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on March 07, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

If you're already planning your summer road trip based on how many national parks you can see, good for you. Supporting federally protected parks and wilderness means preserving places of nature and wonder for future generations. And part of that support means visiting our national parks legally.

In an effort to preserve native ecology, national parks like Yosemite, Yellowstone, and the Everglades can be very particular about the kind of activities they permit. Here's a list of the seven most important national parks laws.

1. National Park Drug Laws

The easy answer? Don't bring drugs into national parks. While states may be relaxing their drug laws, the federal government, which administers the national park system, has not.

2. Buzzkills: 3 Places You Can't Picnic With Beer

While beer is delicious and legal for those over the age of 21, not all national parks can host keggers. Some parks ban alcohol and some only prohibit it during certain times of the year.

3. Vandalize a National Park, Go to Jail

This should also be a no-brainer. The entire point of the park is to preserve the natural environment for everyone to enjoy, so leave the graffiti for the urban industrial wastelands that could use a little sprucing up.

4. Nat'l Parks Ban Drones Temporarily; New Rules Being Considered

They can give you a bird's-eye view of some spectacular nature you may not otherwise be able to see. And, they're probably not legal. Check the specific park rules before flying your drone in a national park.

5. What If I'm Injured Hiking or Camping?

Injury liability can work a little differently in national parks. First, lawsuits against the government have additional pre-filing requirements, and it may be difficult to recover damages if you disobeyed any park rules or regulations.

6. Big Bang Bang: Guns Now Allowed in National Parks

Yes, you can bring firearms into every national park. But you better make sure you're complying with the gun control laws of that particular state if you do.

7. Yosemite Park Trademark Dispute Prompts Name Change

You may need to update your maps - a "fairly pedestrian contract dispute" meant that many Yosemite attractions, like the famed Ahwahnee Hotel, had to change their names.

Always check the rules and regulations for a national park before you visit. And if you've been charged with violating one of these national parks laws, you should probably talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney.

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