RV Couple Fined $1000, Threatened With Arrest for Making YouTube Video in National Park

By Kyle & Olivia Brady | Founders of Drivin' & Vibin' | We use affiliate links and may receive a small commission on purchases.

RV Couple Fined $1000, Threatened With Arrest for Making YouTube Video in National Park

Earlier this year, popular travel vloggers Kara and Nate were fined $1000 from the National Park Service for making YouTube content in National Parks. 

According to a video released on their YouTube channel, Kara and Nate explain that their YouTube channel had been reported anonymously to the NPS for filming in Rocky Mountain National Park and Great Sand Dunes National Park. 

The anonymous tipster reported these videos as commercial filming inside National Parks.

According to NPS.gov

“All commercial filming activities taking place within a unit of the National Park System require a permit. ‘Commercial filming’ means the film, electronic, magnetic, digital, or other recording of a moving image by a person, business, or other entity for a market audience with the intent of generating income.”

The RV Vloggers Experience

YouTubers Kara and Nate have been transparent with their income and expense reports for their YouTube channel. The tipster provided the NPS with the published income reports as further evidence for filing their report. 

The YouTubers were contacted by the NPS via a voicemail. The voicemail gave them a deadline to call back and make arrangements, or face larger fines and a warrant for their arrest. 

After it was all said and done, Kara and Nate were fined $1000 and are no longer permitted to film YouTube content within any National Park Service Unit without applying for a commercial permit. 

Commercial permits for filming in National Parks are $300 to apply, and $150 per day of filming. Aside from obtaining a permit, a detailed log must be provided for all dates and areas of the park where filming will take place. 

Is It Illegal To Make Videos in National Parks?

This situation brings to light a serious matter for many content creators in the RV and Van Life travel community. 

Many RV and Van Life content creators make money from ad revenue generated by video views on their YouTube channels. This puts these creators at risk of fines, or worse, jail time, for filming in National Parks. 

Kara and Nate publish income reports, which gave the NPS no doubt that they were indeed generating revenue from content filmed in National Parks. 

Not every content creator publishes income reports. And, as mentioned by RV Miles, many creators’ video revenue streams don’t even cover expenses. 

It doesn’t seem fair for Kara and Nate to incur these fines and threats from the type of content they produce. 

Travel vloggers like Kara and Nate produce inspiring content from some of the most beautiful places in the United States. If anything, this content is encouraging more people to get out and experience the Nation’s protected lands. 

Filming content as influencers to encourage National Park tourism increases revenue for the NPS and gives local economies a boost. 

Hopefully the NPS will update their definition of commercial filming to exclude travel vloggers. In the meantime, do your research and know the laws.

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52 comments

  1. I absolutely support the NPS in this decision. Unless we do something, our parks will be ruined by too many people. Many NP are already facing crowds that are too large for the parks and the roads that exist. There is too much defacement going on and damage to these areas means future generations will NOT be able to enjoy it as it once was. I know this is the antithesis of what YouTubers want to hear but something has to be done and this is a great start.

    1. Exactly because they are not national geographic they have to pay the same fees as anyone else. They are a business whether they are two people or 200,000 people. There are several reasons for applying and paying the fees one is so that the Parks department knows where they are and how many people are doing the filming so that they are not crowding a particular area the other is very simple it’s a commercial Enterprise and there is liability involved. I don’t care whether they make $1 or $10,000. They have to follow the rules just like everybody else

  2. Support NPS in this decision. It’s for big and small companies. If you are shooting a film, photo shoot or a couple of vloggers you are making money. Our parks are public and have rules and regulations for a reason.

  3. With this happening means no one will be able to video and or take photo’s of family camping trips because of a bunch of crazy people upset about someone else’s filming. there are a lot of people out there that would love to go and see these National Parks but cannot due to various reasons or they may be in other parts of the world. i hope this person the turned this couple in gets some real nasty KARMA and the rest of you that is happy with what has happened.

    1. As long as Mom and Dad are not exporting the content for profit they can film to their heart’s content dummy, did you even read the article? If so it eent over your head like a low flying aircraft…

    2. I agree I’m from Canada we don’t tax on fredoom and liberty welcome Banff National park just park pass if yuo stay over nite rest pass through trans Canada hyway to Vancouver

  4. There is easily enough information that all of the vloggers could give just about the areas adjacent to the parks. National Park information is easily found.

  5. This couple was singled out, and it’s very sad. The National Parks belong to the people! There are thousands of YouTube Travel bloggers that have National Park videos, not to mention tens of thousand of Instagram accounts taking pictures in the parks for profit. They all pay fees to enter the parks, and they all pay taxes on the moneys they earn from this lifestyle. YouTube also profits heavily from all of these accounts who have millions of combined subscribers. This rule or law is antiquated with todays digital society, and needs to be modified.

  6. As you see no one wants youtubers this is one time someone try to get a youtuber arrested. And a man on his own property had someone turn him in to the law. And they let him know who called. So he knew who wanted to ruin him another was a woman. Good luck out there there are people who hate you, since they can not hurt you themselves they send the law or they would do it themselves.

  7. Two shocking things here.
    1. The government wanting more money.
    2. Someone turning a couple into the authorities for being honest about their financials.
    They visited a National Park. Took video and left. Let’s calm down.

    1. This land is your land, this land is my land, this land belongs to you and me! Well so much for that, we are only as free as the money in our pockets , and Uncle Sam is gonna get it all eventually

  8. This tipster is doing the lords work. I cant believe these hardened criminals thought they could enter a park with a go pro and a digital camera and thought they didn’t need a permit. Children walk in these parks for God sake and anyone could have seen these horrible people filming their YouTube trash. I dont think $1000 was enough. These people ought to be hanged and their lifeless bodies should be displayed outside of glacier national park for all to see. Only then will film liratesike these think twice.

  9. Maybe these people shouldn’t be so transparent with their income. YouTubers already risk getting kicked out of businesses for filming. Crossing a line into a business instead of merely as news is what gets them into trouble. There’s always the issue of fair use, but you can’t use much footage in this case.

  10. I’ll be happy because they were punished for skirting the (very) clear rules in place to protect our parks.

    1. So people filming isn’t a problem but people filming with the intent to upload it to YouTube is a danger? It might make sense to sell permits to big film crews but these people here are just traveling like everyone else.

  11. So what, in your opinion, is the income threshold where it should be free to use the parks to make money on your videos? $100? $1,000? $10,000?

  12. I will not visit any National Park until any and all Access including filming for Internet, You Tube for profits etc is open game. We already support the Parks through TAXES. Greedy Bastards.

  13. I strongly disagree, personal use of photography and filming is perfectly acceptable. What you don’t see is the set up take down and 15-30 takes a “content creator” performs while you are trying to enjoy the same National park as them. It destroyed the tranquility of nature you are trying to experience. Permitting is put in place in the parks to control that behavior, are you going into a spot that will disrupt the other park visitors? How long will the disruption be? Will your shoot either knowingly or unknowingly promote people to visit an ecologically sensitive part of the park?

  14. I don’t have the perfect solution. I am only pointing out that a YouTuber is obviously not making the money that National Geographic would make. If the YouTuber is making $10,000, it is reported, and they are paying taxes on that. I just think in a modern digital society, new guidelines should be put in place. Ok to disagree.

  15. This is just wrong. We pay taxes to have these parks. And visitors pay to go there. And on top of that, they want more money to film there?

    Back home in Sweden, you does not pay anything to visit the national parks.
    So, why all that here in the US?

  16. There is always some nosey person got their nose stuck in other business. Leave this couple be! If they want to capture video content inside national parks so be it. Heck we the people of the United States pay the tax that keep these parks open for everyone. So why should amy have to pay for a permit to capture video in national park. Plus this couple desire to capture video of these national parts allow for everyone to experience some thing they may never have the chance to see other wise even though they are paying taxes to support these national park. Keep on keeping on!

    1. He was contracted by the NPS at times and worked as a certified guide at others. He spent his life in, around, and working for the parks. His credentials and paperwork were in order. These two with their Go-Pro and drones are not Ansel in any stretch of the imagination.

  17. I completely agree with the NPS. Anyone filming in a National Park and using that film in a for profit enterprise whether it is a website, vlog, blog, etc. should pay the required fees. A private individual filming and posting a link to their friends – thats a different story. I fully understand many of these folks like Kyle and Olivia are doing this to support their efforts to live full time on the road. That makes it a business. And ya gotta follow the rules.

  18. It’s not enough that they pay their taxes and the fees to use the park, they have to give their first born too. Antiquated definitions of codes that apply to big time movie makers.. this I would lawyer up for just to set a precedent and deal with the bullies of the age. I’ve seen the government do so much shady crap over the years, this couple did absolutely nothing wrong. Freedom of pass.

  19. I think all the dramatic…we will explain why later crap is boring. I’m sorry but I stopped watching. Just spit it out if you have something to say.

  20. I agree with the NPS, this is not about this couple, have you seen some of the disregard for eco systems trampling all over areas that are restricted, just for content.. they don’t care about the area, they are their because they want likes.. (not everyone) but if it keeps the bad apples out good, better for the rest to enjoy.

  21. This isn’t exactly what happened… They flew the drone in Rocky Mountain NP and everyone freaked out- so they got reported to the FAA and NPS. That’s what the fine was for. THEN they were clearly looked into by NPS and they decided that they can hit them with the commercial filming thing. They were told “if you don’t pay the fine by x amount of time, then we’ll put a warrant out for your arrest.” Now the FAA is requiring them to get a commercial pilot license to fly the drone. If they hadn’t illegally flown it in RMNP one of this would have happened. It had nothing to do with their YouTube channel, but that was a little bonus it looks like the NPS wanted to hit them with. Of course in the video they glossed right over any wrong doing 🙄

  22. I have to side with NPS on this one. If you read the NPS rules, several parameters have to be met to be required for you to have to apply for a permit. It was not as simple as they are YouTubers that make a small amount from the views they get therefore, making a profit. We obviously do not know the whole story, and unless you follow this couple we don’t know if they just show clips or they are filming the whole time and doing retakes etc. while they are in the park(s). In other words impeding the enjoyment of other visitors for the filmers to make their videos. If it is the latter, then yes they are professional filmmakers, no matter if they only make a few hundred dollars. Yes, we all pay for these parks through our taxes and entry fees, but that does not mean you can do what you want, because others have the right to enjoy the parks they also paid for without having other people ruining it for them.

  23. I can say NPS does not need more folks however there are tons of folks filming in national parks I bet and are they hitting them also for no permit? So many big corporations get away with trampling public lands and it costs them nothing. I believe they are looking at the wrong folks who trample on public lands in a huge way and just have to pay off a politician.

  24. Well that makes more sense, NO drones in NP’s. I would like to know when the NPS is going to start putting all the people in jail for harassing the wildlife by getting too close! I see videos of animals running them down as they get between a mother and young one and all the happens is everyone films it and posts it on social media, how about let’s arrest those people who are really breaking the law!!!

  25. Three things the NPS doesn’t need – more people making up their own rules, increased traffic and more coverage of the parks. Thousands of videos of the parks exist already, none of the parks are short on visitors (most are too heavily trafficked already), and the current culture where everyone thinks their an outdoor content creator and are entitled to do whatever they want is getting old.

  26. “Hoping” the NPS will change is like hoping the IRS will be less invasive in our lives. Is not going to happen unless action is taken. While it may be perfectly legal for NPS to charge these fees, that does not make it right. And the fact that these Vloggers can be put in jail for these actions is absurd. If they destroyed property or killed wildlife, I would understand. But taking a video of a beautiful place and “maybe” getting funds from a possible ad click is not the same. The policy needs to change and we need the Court system to help change it.

  27. Public Lands belong to the public! This ciuple are documentarians and have the right to inform and educate the public if they wish! The National Park service have overstepped their boundaries and enfrindged on land rights that belong to the public!

  28. I just think this is so stupid. Everybody uses their cameras for the beautiful land we have. So what if there smart enough to make money doing it. Your just jealous you didn’t think of it first. Stop the bull shit of turning people in because there having a great time and want to show others. This is Bull shit. They make money when you come in. It’s two people, not a whole camera crew. No animals, and no one getting hurt. Just someone’s pride. Too many people in our parks. Bull shit again. I have visited many State parks if there are others there it’s because of photos taken and people talking about it. That’s what they are there for…..people to enjoy.

  29. I am truly amazed by the responses from people who agree the government needs to control and fine our freedoms, you all are pathetic!

  30. It’s my understanding that they make $100,000 per year from their channel. NPS was right to fine them. They are running a commercial business and ripping the rest of us off by not paying as they should be. That’s our parks and they owe us that money.

    1. They aren’t ripping off anyone. It doesn’t make sense that the permit is tied to the amount of money you make. There is no difference between a vlog that’s shared in the family and a vlog that’s uploaded to YouTube.

  31. Finally the best and most common sense reply…. absolutely 100% agree!! Well written and exactly the point!! NPS is always looking for ways to restrict everything and rake in the fees and fines!! Congress is at fault for not providing enough funding from our hard earned taxes we pay!! Fund our Parks and leave the little guys alone!!

  32. For me, I’m sick of seeing all the people making videos everywhere about everything. It is a big distraction when I’m trying to sit and take in the nature and see the beauty of things. Being out in nature is getting away from all the crap of the world and people are bringing all the crap of the world into what little wilderness is available to enjoy.

  33. Opinions…..Right, wrong, or indifferent, I appreciate Kyle & Olivia writing this story and bringing it to our attention – who knew??? Anyhow, I wonder if Kyle & Olivia have an opinion and if they have ever been in a similar situation? ……….

  34. I totally disagree. There are many people that have disabilities or are unable to travel to these locations so the only exposure they have are the videos available to them at no cost. These videos expose a far greater number of people to the beauty of the parks then the number of people that can actually travel to them. This exposure helps educate them to the reasons why the parks exist and why they need our support to continue to maintain them for future generations. I have only been able to travel to Yellowstone National Park one time in my lifetime and may never get the chance to return. But with YouTube I can travel there anytime day or night and see the tremendous scope of the flora and fauna that exists there.

  35. The rules, though they could use some updating to reflect current trends and technology, are pretty clear. Commercial permits are required for pretty much everything but personal usage. The amount of revenue they might generate is immaterial. The profit or loss is not the NPS’ problem./

  36. It seems pretty clear to me that monetized YouTube channels, Patreon based content and content found on commercial streaming services such as Amazon Prime all qualify and would require commercial permits.

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