Right of Way Permit

A right of way (ROW) is a permit issued by the National Park Service (NPS) that allows a utility to pass over, under, or through NPS property. The permit may be issued only pursuant to specific statutory authority and generally if there is no practicable alternative to the use of NPS lands. You need a ROW permit any time you want to build or install a utility on NPS lands. Projects could include electrical transmission lines, telephone lines, canals, flumes, and telecommunication sites.

If your request is approved, you will be issued a ROW permit. The permit does not give you an estate in fee, limited estate, or any property interest or ownership in the land. Your permit is not exclusive, and the park reserves the right to allow visitor use of the land where appropriate.

After careful consideration, if your request is not approved, you will receive notification in writing that also details the appeal process.

The authorities authorizing the use of NPS lands for rights of way are found at 54 USC 100902. In addition, 30 USC 185 does not allow the NPS to issue permits for the use of lands in the National Park System for the installation of pipelines for the transportation of, or refined products produced from oil, natural gas, synthetic liquid, or gaseous fuels.

The NPS does not have the authority to issue ROW permits for roads. Roads that are Federal Aid highways may be authorized under regulations for the Federal Highway Administration and permitted through a highway easement deed. (23 USC 107, 138, 317)

Additional information on the following topics is included below:

  • Steps To Apply For a ROW Permit

  • Pre-Application Meeting

  • Collocation

  • Application Process

  • Costs

  • Temporary Construction Permit

  • Processing a ROW Application

Steps To Apply For a ROW Permit

  1. Contact the NPS superintendent who has responsibility for the land where you propose to install the utility.

  2. Arrange a pre-application meeting with the park superintendent and appropriate staff to review the proposal and application requirements. There may be specific application requirements for your right of way.

  3. Complete the application, including all necessary information. Mail or deliver the application to the park superintendent along with the nonrefundable application fee, which reimburses the NPS for the preliminary costs of processing your request.

Allow yourself plenty of time to complete the application process. A minimum of 6 months is needed to process a ROW permit request. If environmental and cultural compliance analysis needs to be completed, the time needed could be significantly longer.

Pre-Application Meeting

Early consultation with park management where the right of way is proposed is strongly recommended. A potential applicant should contact the park superintendent and request a meeting to discuss the proposed project before the submission of the written application. Early consultation, while not ensuring the approval of the request, allows for the early exchange of information that may result in better prepared applications and timelier processing. You should bring with you information about your proposed project, including a map of the project area. At the pre-application meeting the superintendent will provide you with information about application forms and procedures, required environmental and historic analysis, fees, cost reimbursement, and other issues. Early and frequent consultation with the park superintendent and staff is essential.

If you are not sure whether your proposed utility crosses NPS land, the best place to start is www.nps.gov. Visit Find a Park to locate the park of interest.


It is NPS policy to encourage the collocation of new utilities on existing structures, towers, or poles whenever possible. If you propose to collocate, your application should include written permission from the structure owner agreeing to allow you to collocate.

Application Process

SF-299 is the application form used to apply to the NPS for a ROW permit. Submit a completed SF-299 application form, the nonrefundable application fee to cover cost reimbursement, and other requirements discussed at your pre-application meeting. Additional requirements may include required permits or licenses, such as a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) license for a telecommunications site. The application package should be sent to the park superintendent of the park where the right of way is proposed.


  • Application and processing fees: These charges reimburse the NPS for the administrative and other costs incurred in processing your request. Your application must be accompanied by the initial application charge. At that time you will be presented with an estimate of further costs and a payment schedule. The park may decide to have an independent contractor conduct necessary environmental and historic compliance analysis. In that case you will be required to make payments directly to the contractor. Charges may also include the cost of monitoring the construction or installation of your utility should your request for a ROW permit be approved. These fees are non-refundable, since they reimburse the NPS for work performed.

  • Monitoring fee: If your request for a ROW permit is granted, you will be responsible for reimbursing the NPS for monitoring your compliance with the terms and conditions of the ROW permit. This fee is non-refundable and may be paid annually or as arranged with the park staff.

  • Land and/or facility use fee: This charge is an annual rental based on the market value of the rights authorized. In many cases the rent amount is established by an appraisal. The rent may be paid annually or on a schedule as specified in the permit.

Exemptions to the requirements to pay cost recovery or rent may apply and should be discussed with the park superintendent at the pre-application meeting.

Temporary Construction Permit

If the requested right of way is not large enough to accommodate necessary construction equipment and activity, you must also request the use of park lands for a temporary construction area. (This information is requested in section 7 of the application form.) It is best to identify this need in the application. If you determine that you need a temporary construction area after your ROW permit has been granted, you will be required to apply in writing for the temporary construction area. The request for a construction permit may require additional environmental or cultural analysis and take additional processing time. The bottom line is to plan ahead and, if there is a possibility that you might need extra construction width or space, identify it in the initial ROW application.

Processing a ROW Application

Once your have filed an application, the NPS will review it to make sure all necessary information is included. The request is then evaluated to determine the possibility of impacts caused by the activity on the natural and cultural resources of the park as well as on the visitor experience.

A ROW request may be denied for any one of the following reasons:

  • There is no legal authority for the proposed request.

  • The proposal is inconsistent for the purposes for which the park was established.

  • The requested location was in a proposed or designated wilderness area.

  • The request would result in unacceptable impacts to park resources or values that cannot be mitigated.

If you accept the ROW permit, you must agree that the permit is issued upon the express condition that you will indemnify and hold harmless the United States for any liabilities and all claims for damages from any cause during the term of the permit occasioned by the occupancy or use of the right of way.

You will be required to obtain liability insurance, naming the United States as also insured. You may also be required to post a performance bond to ensure adherence to the terms and conditions of the permit.

Last updated: May 30, 2018