US national parks are set to experience more peace and quiet. New rules reduce air tours over landmarks like Mount Rushmore and the Badlands National Park. This move aims to preserve the natural serenity of these beloved areas in the United States.

New Rules Limit Tourist Flights Over US National Parks to Protect Peaceful Environment
(Photo : VIT DUCKEN from Pixabay)

US National Parks to See Fewer Air Tours

Air tours are being limited, which is a significant change for US national parks. This decision impacts popular sites like Mount Rushmore and other national monuments. The new rules, designed to protect these areas' calmness, result from long-standing tension between tour operators and visitors. Visitors have been frustrated by the noise from air tours for years.

At Mount Rushmore and Badlands National Park, one of the most notable changes is the near ban of tour flights within a kilometer of these sites starting in April. This decision has caused concern among tour operators like Mark Schlaefli, who is now seeking alternative routes for his business.

According to, these regulations come after a federal court found that the National Park Service and the Federal Aviation Administration had not enforced a 2000 law about commercial air tours over US national parks and some tribal lands. Now, nearly two dozen national parks and monuments are implementing new management plans.

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The issue has grown so contentious that it's even led to a planned congressional oversight hearing. Critics argue that the noise from air tours disrupts the natural sounds of the parks and affects both visitors and local tribes. Kristen Brengel from the National Parks Conservation Association highlights the imbalance between the number of visitors on the ground and those touring overhead.

The helicopter industry, however, sees these tours as providing unique access, especially for the elderly and disabled. Despite this, the move to limit air tours has been gaining momentum since a tragic incident at the Grand Canyon in 1986, where a collision of two tour aircraft led to 25 deaths, as mentioned in the report.

In 2020, a federal court mandated compliance at 23 national parks, including Glacier, Arches, and Great Smokey Mountains, with most parks adopting plans or voluntary agreements. However, parks with few flights and those in Alaska are exempt.

As these new regulations roll out, they are met with mixed reactions. Some industry representatives view this as a threat to their business, while others, like Brengel, see it as a necessary step to maintain the natural experience of US national parks.

Free Entry to US National Parks on Special Days

The US National Park Service has announced a special treat for nature lovers. In 2024, there will be specific days when entry to all US national parks is completely free. This move is part of an ongoing effort to encourage more people to experience the wonders of the great outdoors.

Usually, visitors pay an entrance fee to access these parks. But on these special days, everyone can enjoy the beauty of US national parks at no cost. This initiative includes all national parks across the United States, allowing one to explore the diverse landscapes and wildlife these parks offer.

TimeOut reported that the free entry days are spread throughout the year. They are planned to coincide with significant events and national holidays. This ensures that more people can take advantage of this opportunity. Whether it's for a family outing, a solo adventure, or a gathering with friends, these days provide an ideal time to visit the parks without worrying about entrance fees.

This announcement is expected to increase the number of visitors to national parks. It's a unique opportunity for people of all ages to connect with nature and learn about the country's natural heritage. As per the report, the National Park Service hopes that by removing the cost barrier, more individuals will be encouraged to explore and appreciate the natural beauty of US national parks.

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