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36 CFR Section 5.3 states, “Engaging in or soliciting any business in park areas, except in accordance with the provisions of a permit, contract, or other written agreement with the United States, except as specifically authorized under special regulations applicable to a park area, is prohibited.”

CUAs, a type of permit, fall under the authority of Section 418 of the National Park Service Concession Management Improvement Act of 1998 (16 U.S.C 5966 Public Law 105-81). The section authorizes the National Park Service to issue CUAs to individuals, corporations, and other entities to provide commercial services to park visitors in limited circumstances.
The authorization is issued to a qualified operator to permit the provision of appropriate commercial services to park area visitors. A qualified operator is an organization that the superintendent determines has the ability to satisfactorily provide visitor services and carry out the terms of the CUA.

Authorized commercial services must:
  • Have minimal impact on park area’s resources and values
  • Be consistent with the purpose for which the park area was established
  • Be consistent with all applicable park area management plans, policies, and regulations
The holder must agree to comply with all of the general and specific conditions described in the CUA conditions. You should familiarize yourself with these documents before applying for a CUA.

Activities currently approved in the park:

  • Guided Hiking & Backpacking
  • Front Country Bicycle, Van, & Photo tours
  • Portrait Photography
  • Photography & Art Workshops

If the activity you wish to provide is not listed, please call us at 605-279-2367 or email the Revenue and Fee Program Manager.

  • Complete and sign the Commercial Use Authorization Application form. Submit with the complete application package pursuant to instructions listed in the application.
  • Instruct your insurance company to send an Insurance Certificate naming the United States of America as an additional insured to the Commercial Services Office of Badlands National Park by email or hardcopy. Reference Item 9 of CUA Application. It is the operator’s responsibility to ensure that the park receives your current insurance information.
  • Enclose a list of certifications (medical, driving, vessel operations, etc) for all employees, including expiration dates of First Aid and CPR certification. Additions or changes to the certifications list must be emailed to the Revenue and Fee Business Program Manager.
  • Include payment in the form of check or money order made payable to the National Park Service for the $100.00 application fee per service per year with your application package OR pay online: Online Payment for Commercial Use Authorization

Commercial Use Authorization operators, including applicants and current CUA holders, are required to submit the following items

  • Submit your Annual Report for the previous year by January 31
  • Ensure that your insurance company has provided the park with a current certificate of insurance and renewed certificates when they occur
  • Provide an updated guides list as changes occur

For what length of time is a CUA issued?

You can choose either a one-year or two-year period

What are the fees for a CUA?

A $100 application fee for each service category is due with the application. This fee is non-refundable. Additionally, when you arrive at the park, your clients
can either pay the individual rate (for those age 16 and older) OR they can show or purchase a Park Pass. The park pass is valid for the pass holder "plus 3." For more information visit the National Park and Federal Lands Passes website.

Why does the park charge a fee for a CUA?

National Park Service Policy requires the Superintendent to charge a reasonable fee for CUAs. The park retains such fees to help pay for the cost of the CUA program, including administration, evaluations, monitoring and training.

How long does it take to obtain a CUA?

A minimum of thirty (30) business days is required for issuance of a CUA. Delays will occur if application materials are not submitted accurately or completely, or if authorizations needing operator signature are not returned promptly. All required documentation must be received before the CUA will be issued.

What happens once I submit an application?

  1. Once we have reviewed your application packet you will be notified if further information is needed. Once we have received all required documents, we will send you a CUA authorization form for your signature.
  2. You will then need to sign and return the CUA authorization form for final approval.
  3. You are not authorized to begin providing commercial services in the Park until your receive the CUA that has been signed by the Superintendent, or delegated official.

Last updated: September 19, 2019

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Mailing Address:

25216 Ben Reifel Road
Interior, SD 57750


(605) 433-5361

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