The National Park Service (NPS) is offering a 10-year concession business opportunity for narrated interpretive bus tours in Acadia National Park. The contract can be awarded to up to three operators. The contract(s) is expected to be effective beginning in 2024. Learn more in a press release.
About Commercial Use Authorizations
What is a CUA?
A Commercial Use Authorization (CUA) allows an individual, group, company, or other non-profit entity to conduct business activities and provide specific visitor services within a national park unit. The National Park Service (NPS) issues CUAs to manage a wide-range of visitor services in addition to road-based commercial tours. For Acadia National Park, this includes transportation providers, tour operators, guided hiking, bike tours, kayak trips, summer camps, art and photography workshops, and much more.
Federal law mandates the NPS issue CUAs only for business activities and visitor services that:
are determined to be an appropriate use of the park,
will have minimal impact on park resources and values, and
are consistent with the park purpose, management plans, policies, and regulations.
Why does NPS require CUAs?
The requirement is in 36 CFR 5.3 - It is illegal to conduct business in a park area without a permit, contract, or other written agreement. Additionally, Public Law 105-391 Section 418, passed in 1998, provides NPS the authority to issue CUAs to allow business operations and requires NPS to collect a reasonable fee for CUA administration and management.
Application fees are to recover costs associated with managing and monitoring the CUA Program for Acadia National Park. Public Law 105-391 Section 418, passed in 1998, provides NPS the authority to issue CUAs to allow business operations and requires NPS to collect a reasonable fee for CUA administration and management. One hundred percent of the CUA application fee collected stays within the park.
Do I need a CUA?
A CUA is required if you provide any goods, activities, services, agreements, or other function for members, clients, or the public that:
take place at least in part on lands managed by the National Park Service,
use park resources, and
result in compensation, monetary gain, benefit, or profit.
When the CUA application is received by the ACAD Commercial Services Office, and an E-Bill will be created in www.pay.gov.
Once the E-Bill is processed, an email from email@example.com will be sent to the email that is on file for your organization, and in the email from pay.gov there will be a link to submit your credit card number.
Check or money order made payable to "The National Park Service".
Mail checks or money order to:
Acadia National Park
Concessions Management Specialist
20 McFarland Hill Drive
Bar Harbor, ME 04609
Operating under a CUA
Entrance fees are required
Business operators receiving a Commercial Use Authorization (CUA) for activities such as biking, photography, yoga, hiking, summer camps, rock climbing, kayaking, or other activities are required to pay the per person rate of $15.00 for each client, regardless of the size of the vehicle. Clients may use their annual or federal recreational lands passes according to the parameters of the pass. Only clients 16 years old and over are required to pay this fee. The vehicle and driver/guide have free entry into the park, but may not use their own passes to cover the clients’ fee. This fee can be purchased upon arrival to Acadia National Park at Hulls Cove Visitor Center, or the Sand Beach Entrance station.
Business operators receiving a Commercial Use Authorization (CUA) for road-based tours and transportation are required to pay the Commercial Tour Fee Schedule rate which is based on the capacity of the vehicle:
Notification of Entrance Fee Increase for CUA Holders Effective 2024
The National Park Service (NPS) approved an increase in the weekly and annual entrance pass fee for private vehicles at Acadia National Park effective April 1, 2023. CUA holders that are charged the pedestrian/cyclist fee as part of their entrance fee will be charged the new fee of $20/person effective June 1, 2024. Entrance Fees are required at Acadia year-round.
Prior to the approval of increase, the NPS solicited public feedback on the proposed fee increase during a 30-day comment period, which closed on December 30, 2022. The public comments were predominantly supportive of the entrance fee increase. The NPS also consulted with the Congressional delegation and other key partners and stakeholders before approving the fee increase.
The majority of Acadia’s entrance fee revenue is retained locally to fund the Island Explorer bus system and other projects that directly benefit visitors and protect park resources. The increased fee revenue will allow Acadia to expand Island Explorer service over the coming years to help alleviate traffic and parking congestion and parking in the park, which is a key part of implementing the park’s Transportation Plan. Visitors under 16 years of age are exempt from paying an entrance fee.
Carry CUA with you at all times
Businesses and any of their representatives must have in their possession a complete copy of the CUA at all times when conducting business in the park; random monitoring of CUA holders is conducted.
Follow Special Park Conditions at all times
Special park conditions will be sent to you with your CUA. You must follow these special park conditions at all times.