Superintendent's Compendium

Contents Navigation

Compendium Approved by High Plains Group Superintendent Stuart West on July 28, 2022.


  1. Superintendent’s Compendium Described

    The Superintendent’s Compendium is the summary of park specific rules implemented under 36 Code of Federal Regulations (36 CFR). It serves as public notice, identifies areas closed for public use, provides a list of activities requiring either a special use permit or reservation, and elaborates on public use and resource protection regulations pertaining specifically to the administration of the park. The Superintendent’s Compendium does not repeat regulations found in 36 CFR and other United States Code and CFR Titles, which are enforced without further elaboration at the park level.

    The regulations contained in 36 CFR, Parts 1-7, are the basic mechanism used by the National Park Service (NPS) to preserve and protect the natural and cultural resources of the park and to protect visitors and property within the park. Parts 1 through 6 are general regulations applicable to all areas of the National Park system, and Part 7 contains special regulations specific to individual parks. Each of these Parts has many sections and subsections articulating specific provisions. Within some of these Part 1-7 sections and subsections, the Superintendent is granted discretionary authority to develop local rules to be responsive to the needs of a specific park resource or activity, park plan, program, and/or special needs of the general public.

    As an example, 36 CFR 1.5(a) Closures and Public Use Limits provides the Superintendent certain discretion in allowing or disallowing certain activities. The authority granted by the Section, however, requires the Superintendent to comply with the Administrative Procedures Act (6 USC Section 551), which requires public notice on actions with major impact on visitor use patterns, park resources or those that are highly controversial in nature.

    Another example is 36 CFR 1.6 Permits, which allows the Superintendent to require a permit for certain uses and activities in the park. This Section, however, requires that a list of activities needing a permit (and a fee schedule for the various types of permits) be maintained by the park.

    A final example is 36 CFR 2.1(c) (1) Preservation of Natural, Cultural and Archeological Resources, which provides the Superintendent the authority to designate certain fruits, nuts, berries or unoccupied seashells which may be gathered by hand for personal use or consumption. This activity can occur, however, only if a written determination shows that the allowed activity does not adversely affect park wildlife, the reproductive potential of a plant species, or otherwise adversely affect park resources.

    This Compendium should be used in conjunction with Title 36 CFR, Parts 1-7, to more fully understand the regulations governing the use and enjoyment of all the areas of the National Park System.

    A copy of Title 36, CFR, can be purchased from the U.S. Government Printing Office at:

    Superintendent of Documents
    P.O. Box 371954
    Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954

    The CFR is also available on the Internet at:

  2. Laws and Policies Allowing the Superintendent to Develop This Compendium

    The National Park Service (NPS) is granted broad statutory authority under 54 United States Code (U.S.C.) §102701 (Organic Act of 1916, as amended) to “…regulate the use of the Federal areas known as national parks, monuments, and reservations…by such means and measures as conform to the fundamental purposes of the said parks…which purpose is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wildlife therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment for future generations” (54 U.S.C. §100101). In addition, the NPS Organic Act allows the NPS, through the Secretary of the Interior, to “make and publish such rules and regulations as he may deem necessary or proper for the use and management of the parks, monuments, and reservations under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service” (54 U.S.C. §100501).

    In 1970, Congress amended the NPS Organic Act to clarify its intentions as to the overall mission of the NPS. Through the General Authorities Act of 1970 (54 U.S.C. §100101-101301), Congress brought all areas administered by the NPS into one National Park System and directed the NPS to manage all areas under its administration consistent with the Organic Act of 1916.

    In 1978, Congress amended the General Authorities Act of 1970 and reasserted System-wide the high standard of protection defined in the original Organic Act by stating “Congress further reaffirms, declares, and directs that the promotion and regulation of the various areas of the National Park System, as defined by Section 1 of this Title, shall be consistent with and founded in the purpose established by Section 1 of this Title, to the common benefit of all people of the United States.”

    54 U.S.C. §100501 defines the National Park System as”…any areas of land and water now or hereafter administered by the Secretary of the Interior through the National Park Service for park, monument, historic, parkway, recreational, or other purposes.”

    In addition to the above statutory authority, the Superintendent is guided by established NPS policy as found in the NPS Management Policies (2006). The Superintendent is also guided by more specific policies promulgated by the Director, National Park Service, in the form of Director’s Orders. As stated in the Management Policies, the primary responsibility of the NPS is to protect and preserve our national natural and cultural resources while providing for the enjoyment of these resources by visitor and other users, as long as use does not impair specific park resources or overall visitor experience. The appropriateness of any particular visitor use or recreational experience is resource-based and will vary from park to park; therefore, a use or activity that is appropriate in one park area may not be appropriate in another. The Superintendent is directed to analyze overall park use and determine if any particular use is appropriate. Where conflict arises between use and resource protection, where the Superintendent has a reasonable basis to believe a resource is or would become impaired, than that Superintendent is obliged to place limitations on public use.

  3. Consistency of This Compendium with Applicable Federal Law and Requirements

    The Superintendent’s Compendium is not considered a significant rule requiring review by the Office of Management and Budget under Executive Order 12866. In addition, this Compendium will not have a significant economic effect on a number of small entities nor impose a significant cost on any local, state or tribal government or private organization, and therefore does not fall under the requirements of either the Regulatory Flexibility Act or the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act.

    The actions and requirements described in this Compendium are found to be categorically excluded from further compliance with the procedural requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in Department of the Interior (DOI) Guidelines 516 DM 6 and as such, an Environmental Assessment will not be prepared.

  4. Development of the Requirements of the Superintendent’s Compendium

As outlined above, the NPS has broad authority and responsibility to determine what types of uses and activities are appropriate in any particular National Park System area. The requirements of the Superintendent’s Compendium are developed through an analysis and determination process. The decision criteria used during this process are:

  • Is there use or activity consistent with the NPS Organic Act and NPS policy?
  • Is the use or activity consistent and compatible with the park’s enabling legislation, management objectives, and corresponding management plans?
  • Will the use or activity damage the park’s protected natural and cultural resources and other protected values?
  • Will the use or activity disturb or be in conflict with wildlife, vegetation, and environmental protection actions and values?
  • Will the use or activity conflict with or be incompatible with traditional park uses and activities?
  • Will the use or activity compromise employee or public safety?
  1. Applicability of the Compendium

The rules contained in this Compendium apply to all persons entering, using, visiting or otherwise present on Federally-owned lands, including submerged lands, and waters administered by the NPS within the legislative boundaries of the park. This includes all waters subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, including all navigable waters.
  1. Enforcement of Compendium Requirements

NPS Law Enforcement Park Rangers enforce the requirements of the United State Code, 36 CFR, assimilated state regulations, and this Superintendent’s Compendium.
  1. Penalties for Not Adhering to the Compendium Requirements

    A person who violates any provision of the regulations found in 36 CFR, Parts 1-7, or provisions of this Compendium, is subject to a fine as provided by law (18 U.S.C. 3571) up to $5,000 for individuals and $10,000 for organizations, or by imprisonment not exceeding six months (18 U.S.C. 3559), or both, and shall be adjudged to pay all court costs associated with any court proceedings. You may receive a list of fines associated with any particular provision by contacting the Chief Ranger at the park address found below.

  2. Comments on the Compendium

    The Compendium is reviewed annually and revised as necessary. The park welcomes comments about its program and activities at any time.

  3. Effective Date of the Superintendent Compendium

    The Superintendent’s Compendium is effective on the approval date listed on the first page of this document, and remains in effect until revised for a period up to one year.

  4. Additional Information

Some of the terms used in this Compendium may have specific meaning defined in 36 CFR 1.4 Definitions.

  1. Availability

    Copies of the Compendium are available for viewing at Bent’s Old Fort National Historical Site, 35110State Highway 194, La Junta, Colorado. It may also be found online at:


In accordance with regulations and the delegated authority provided in Title 36, Code of Federal Regulations (“36 CFR”), Chapter 1, Parts 1-7, authorized by 54 USC 100101, the following provisions apply to all lands and waters administered by the National Park Service, within the boundaries of Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site. Unless otherwise stated, these regulatory provisions apply in addition to the requirements contained in 36 CFR, Chapter 1, Parts 1-7.

Written determinations, which explain the reasoning behind the Superintendent’s use of discretionary authority, as required by Section 1.5(c), appear in this document identified by italicized print.

NOTE: NEPA compliance is not separately required for the discretionary actions listed herein. The authority to make the various determinations under this title is provided for in 36 CFR, which has undergone NEPA compliance. However, NEPA compliance may be required in the application of these determinations. (i.e., issuing a research permit or other permit that has “potential environmental effects”.) (R.Mihan/SOL 11-20-02)

(a)(1) The following visiting hours and public use limits are established for all or for the listed portions of the park, and the following closures are established for all or a portion of the park to all public use or to a certain use or activity:

Hours of Operation:

Hours of operation are general closures and do not take into account special use permits signed by the superintendent, registered guests, or park-sponsored events. For the purposes of enforcement, dark is defined as the time between one hour after sunset and one hour before sunrise.

The park is closed to motor vehicles at dark.

Summer Hours (Memorial Day Weekend to Indigenous Peoples' Day)

  • The fort is open from 8:00 am to 5:30 pm. The gate is open from 7:00 am to 5:30 pm.
Winter Hours (the day after Indigenous Peoples' Day to the day before Memorial Day Weekend)
  • The fort is open from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, except on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day, when the fort will be closed. The gate is open from 7:00 am to 4:00 pm, except on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day.

Public pedestrian access to designated trails is provided beyond the vehicle closure hours by way of the marked pedestrian gate located between the picnic area and the Arch parking area along State Highway 194. Signs at the pedestrian gate indicates that anyone accessing trails outside of normal visiting hours uses them at their own risk.

After hours public access to Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site may be provided at designated times, by ranger guided tour, special use permit, or upon authorization of the park Superintendent.

Determination: It is necessary to establish this public use limit to protect the natural and cultural resources from damage, theft, vandalism and inappropriate group activities. It is also necessary for visitor safety since restricted areas can present hazardous conditions, which become extreme during seasonal variations of weather and daylight. Limited staffing controls the hours and days of park operation. Schedules are set to take advantage of contemporary park visitor use patterns.

Public Use Limits:

When the COVID-19 Community Level is LOW or MEDIUM in the county or all the counties where the park is located based on data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), individuals are not required to wear masks.

When the COVID-19 Community Level is HIGH in the county or all the counties where the park is located based on data provided by the CDC, all individuals over the age of two must wear masks, regardless of vaccination status, in all common areas and shared workspaces in buildings owned, leased, or otherwise controlled by the National Park Service, including, but not limited to, park visitor centers, administrative offices, restrooms, and gift shops.

Regardless of the COVID-19 Community Level, individuals may wear masks if they choose to do so. Additionally, all individuals must wear masks in or on public transportation conveyances and transportation hubs/facilities, to the extent required by current orders or directives issued by the CDC, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), or other federal agencies with jurisdiction over those conveyances or areas. As of March 4, 2022, CDC and TSA orders or directives require all individuals regardless of vaccination status to wear masks in indoor areas of all forms of public transportation conveyances, including busses, trains, and boats/ferries, and in the indoor premises of transportation hubs/facilities.

  • The following outdoor areas, when others are present, where the superintendent has determined that physical distancing (staying at least six feet apart) cannot reasonably be maintained:
  • Inside the fort

Notes: Masks must cover the nose and mouth and fit snugly around the nose and chin with no large gaps around the sides of the face. Masks not designed to be protective, masks with ventilation valves, and face shields do not meet the requirement.

Determination: On January 29, 2021, the Acting Secretary of the Interior issued a memorandum that requires all onsite employees, contractors, and volunteers to wear a mask or face covering at all times while in Department buildings or on federal public lands when physical distancing of six feet or more is not possible.

In addition to physical distancing and hand washing, masks are a critical step to help prevent people from getting and spreading COVID-19. When you wear a mask, you protect others as well as yourself.

COVID-19 spreads mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets. Masks are a simple barrier to help prevent respiratory droplets from reaching others.

Masks can prevent the spread of the disease even when the wearer is not sick. This is because several studies have found that people with COVID-19 who never develop symptoms (asymptomatic) and those who are not yet showing symptoms (pre-symptomatic) can still spread the virus to other people.

It is especially important to wear a mask indoors with people you do not live with and when you are unable to stay at least 6 feet apart because COVID-19 spreads mainly among people who are in close contact with one another.

Superintendents must include mask-wearing requirements in the terms and conditions of permits for events or activities that will take place inside or in outdoor areas where physical distancing (staying at least six feet apart) cannot be reasonably maintained. These terms and conditions must include the same requirements about the proper fitting and type of masks that are included above in the compendium language.

Motor Vehicle, Bicycle, and e-Bike access to Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site is limited to designated public roadways and parking areas. Bicycles and e-Bikes are permitted on the paved trail to the Fort. All privately owned motorized vehicles, bicycles, and e-bikes are prohibited on non-public service roads and on all unpaved park trails except as authorized during special events.

Determination: It is necessary to establish this public use limit to protect the natural and cultural resources from damage, theft, vandalism, and inappropriate group activities. It is also necessary for visitor safety since restricted areas can present hazardous conditions, which become extreme during seasonal variations of weather and daylight. Restrictions may also help to reduce conflicts and protect the historic scene.

Access to the Arkansas River for the purposes of boating, swimming, or bathing is prohibited at Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site.

Determination: Due to the incongruous nature of these activities to the establishment of the park, they and other similar water-based recreational activities are prohibited. In addition, boat access to the river requires portage of nearly a half mile through the historic landscape, not only making access unrealistic but impactful to the average visitor. Fishing is permitted in accordance with Colorado state law.

Picnicking is permitted everywhere within the park except inside the fort.

Determination: Food and drink are prohibited in the fort due to the open nature of the exhibits that are available for the public to touch. In addition, animals inside of the fort can be endangered if fed food made for human consumption.

Public vehicle access is prohibited on designated posted service roads except for access to the park’s administrative office building, and for use by approved park vendors, contractors, and volunteers.

Determination: Non-public service roads are used by park employees driving carts, gators, tractors, and other equipment between the Fort and the park administrative areas.

Drivers of all motor vehicles, commercial and private, on all park roads and parking areas within Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site must shut down their engines when not underway, unless necessary for health and safety reasons as approved by NPS personnel.

Determination: The idling of bus engines adds unnecessary exhaust fumes to the air and diminishes the enjoyment by visitors of the peace and tranquility of the park.


Segways and other gyroscopically controlled devices and Motorized Scooters are prohibited on trails.

Note: This closure applies to modes of transportation with internal combustion engines and to electric vehicles such as Segways® and to hoverboards. Motorized wheelchairs are defined separately and are not considered motor vehicles.

Segways and motorized scooters, as defined under 36 C.F.R. § 1.4, are motor vehicles. Pursuant to 36 C.F.R. § 1.5(a) and 4.10(a) Segways and motorized scooters are prohibited from all trails and sidewalks in the Park.

Mobility Assistance Exception
Any park visitor needing mobility assistance is permitted to use a motorized wheelchair, Segway or motorized scooter in designated areas throughout the Park, including all structures, facilities, park roads, sidewalks, and other surfaces where the public is allowed access and when such devices are used for the sole purpose of mobility assistance. Use of any mobility assistive device, as outlined above, must also adhere to the following:

a) No person under 16 years of age may operate a Segway or motorized scooter without direct adult supervision.
b) A person shall operate any mobility assistive device in a safe and responsible manner so as not to endanger one’s self or any other Park visitor.

c) A person riding any mobility assistive device shall have all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same circumstances, except that the mobility assistive device operator must always yield to pedestrians.
d) Motorized devices may not be used on the volcano rim trail because of steep, narrow trails and concerns for public safety.

Determination: Segways are a two-wheeled, gyroscopically stabilized, battery-powered personal transportation device. While Segways and motorized scooters (or similar devices) are not “designed solely for” mobility-impaired persons and thus do not meet the definition of a motorized wheelchair in 36 CFR Section 1.4, some individuals needing mobility assistance use these devices as their means of personal mobility in lieu of more traditional devices like the wheelchair.

As stated in NPS Management Policies, Section 8.2.4, and described in more detail in Director’s Order 42, the NPS is committed to making all reasonable efforts to make its programs, facilities, and services accessible to people needing mobility assistance. The NPS has set a goal of ensuring that all people, including persons needing mobility assistance, have the highest level of accessibility that is reasonable to our programs, facilities, and services in conformance with applicable regulations and standards.

Allowing the use of motorized wheelchairs, Segways and motorized scooters in the park by people needing mobility assistance is part of this effort. In that light, managers have determined that the use of motorized wheelchairs, Segways, motorized scooters and similar devices by persons needing mobility assistance is safe and appropriate in all paved areas of the park currently open to access by the public.


Definition: The term “e-bike” means a two- or three-wheeled cycle with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts (1 horsepower).

E-bikes are permitted within the same areas of the Park as traditional bicycles. Where traditional bikes are prohibited, so are e-bikes. Within the park, bicycles and e-bikes are restricted to paved road surfaces, to paved parking lots, and to the pedestrian walkway to the fort.

A person operating an e-bike is subject to the following sections of 36 CFR part 4 that apply to the use of traditional bicycles: sections 4.12, 4.13, 4.20, 4.21, 4.22, 4.23, and 4.30(h) (2)-(5).

Except as specified in this Compendium, State law that is adopted and made a part of this document will also govern e-bike use within the Park. Any violation of State law adopted by this paragraph is prohibited.

Determination: Consistent with Policy Memorandum 19-01 reference e-bike use: Bicycle and e-bike use is allowed on the paved road surfaces that are open to vehicles and on the paved pedestrian walkway to the Fort. Bicycles and e-bikes are prohibited on all other trails.

Launching, landing, or operating an unmanned aircraft (drone) from or on lands and waters administered by the National Park Service within the boundaries of Bent’s Old Fort NHS is prohibited except as approved in writing by the superintendent.

Definition: The term “unmanned aircraft” is defined as meaning a device that is used or intended to be used for flight in the air without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the device, and the associated operational elements and components that are required for the pilot or system operator in command to control or operate the device (such as cameras, sensors, communication links). This term includes all types of devices that meet this definition (e.g., model airplanes, quadcopters, drones) that are used for any purpose, including for recreation or commerce.

Determination: Consistent with 36 CFR 1.5 (a), it is necessary to establish this public closure to protect natural and cultural resources from resource damage and to protect visitors and National Park Service employees. In addition, these types of modern activities in Bent’s Old Fort NHS are considered inappropriate to and inconsistent with the historic, cultural and natural values protected by the National Park Service and the purposes for which the National Historic Site was intended. This restriction will help to reduce user conflicts, and to maintain an environment safe for wildlife, visitors and employees.

The closure is a necessary, interim measure until the NPS considers how to address this new use on a long-term basis since use could result in unacceptable impacts to park resources, park values, and visitor safety.

Service Animals

Per Policy Memorandum 18-02, service animals are not subject to the Park’s pet policies and, when accompanying an individual with a disability, they are allowed wherever visitors are allowed. A service animal means any dog or miniature horse that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual or other mental disability.

Persons with disabilities have the right to train the service animal themselves and are not required to use a professional training program. Service animals-in-training are not considered service animals.

The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual’s disability. Some of the many examples of work or tasks performed may include:

  • assisting individuals who are blind with navigation and other tasks
  • alerting individuals who are deaf to the presence of people or sounds
  • pulling a wheelchair
  • alerting individuals to the presence of allergens or the onset of a seizure
  • retrieving items
  • providing physical support and assistance to individuals with mobility disabilities
  • helping persons manage psychiatric and neurological disabilities

The crime deterrent effects of an animal’s presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition.

Service animals must be allowed wherever visitors are allowed when accompanying an individual with a disability, subject to the requirements for using service animals as stated herein. A service animal must be harnessed, leashed or tethered, unless (1) these devices interfere with the service animal’s work, or (2) the individual’s disability prevents them from using these devices. In those cases, the individual must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal or other effective means.

NPS staff may require an individual with a disability to remove a service animal from a facility, service, program, or activity if:

  • the animal is out of control (see 28 CFR 35.136(b)(1) and 28 CFR 36.302(c)(2)(i),
  • in addition, the animal’s handler does not take effective action to control it,
  • or the animal is not housebroken

If a service animal is excluded for these reasons, the individual with the disability must have the opportunity to participate in the service, program or activity without the service animal.

The Park can prohibit service animals from areas in which visitors are allowed if their presence would necessitate a fundamental alteration in the Park’s programs, services or activities.

Determination Statement: Policy Memorandum 18-02 as stated above is the most recent guidance on the definition of service animals and the implementation of policies and procedures regarding service animals in NPS areas.

Recreational Activities

The Park is closed to public use activities involving sports or other recreational activities not related to the historical themes of the Park unless under a special use permit. Recreational activities allowed on Volcano Road after hours (daylight hours only) when the Volcano Road gate is closed to motor vehicles are walking, jogging and cycling provided no evening events are scheduled.

Determination Statement: It is necessary to establish this public use limit to protect the natural and cultural resources from resource damage and to maintain public safety. In addition, most recreational activities are considered inappropriate to the historic and cultural nature of the Park and the purposes for which the Park was intended.

Traditional Geocaching is prohibited unless authorized by the Superintendent. (See also 36 CFR § 2.22 -- PROPERTY.)

Determination: Due to concerns of unchecked development of traditional geocaches and the resultant development of associated social trails in areas of archeological, scenic, and biological significance, and the concern of geocache placement in unsafe areas, public development of traditional caches is prohibited. However, park-reviewed and -approved EarthCaches and ParkCaches offer a virtual and educational form of caching, poses an acceptable alternative for the caching community.

Specific Uses:

(a)(2) The following areas have been designated for a specific use or activity, under the conditions and/or restrictions as noted:

36 CFR §2.51(e) Locations Available for Public Assembly (First Amendment Areas)

  • The superintendent has designated the grassy area within the visitor parking lot as available for public assemblies, meetings, gatherings, demonstrations, parades, and other public expressions of view.
36 CFR §2.52(e) Locations Available for Sale or Distribution of Printed Matter
  • The superintendent has designated the grassy area within the visitor parking lot available for the sale or distribution printed matter.

Designated Interpretive Camps

  • Primitive camping within the park boundaries is limited to authorized park volunteers and staff during park-authorized special events within specific areas (See Appendix for map of location.)

Determination: It is necessary to restrict camping to within predetermined boundaries in order to protect natural and cultural resources from resource damage and to protect visitors and National Park Service employees. Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site does not have the facilities or staffing necessary to support public camping.


Note: If not indicated under the specific regulation, violations under this section should be cited under §1.6(g)(1) or (2).

(f) The following is a compilation of those activities for which a permit from the superintendent is required:

  • §1.5 (d) For any exceptions to Public Use Limits and Closures as stated in this document.
    • Apply for a permit through the Superintendent’s office.
  • §2.4(d) Transporting a trap, or net across park lands to access legal hunting and fishing areas requires a permit unless it is being transported by an approved mechanical mode of conveyance.
  • At no time may a firearm be discharged in a direction that causes the projectile to cross onto park lands.

Note: Violation of this regulation falls under §2.4 (a)(3)(c) The use of a weapon, trap, or net in a manner that endangers persons or property. Authorized NPS employees may discharge historic weapons for demonstration purposes.

  • Permittees must carry the permit on their person while in the possession of a trap, or net in the park
  • Permittees may not leave any portion of a harvested animal on park lands
  • Apply for a permit through the Site Manager’s office
  • Refer to Section III, Regulations §2.4 (d) WEAPONS, TRAPS, AND NETS

  • § 2.5(b) Specimen collecting and scientific research.
    • Apply for a permit through the Superintendent’s Office
    • Refer to 36 CFR §2.5 RESEARCH SPECIMENS

Note: When permits are required for scientific activities pertaining solely to cultural resources, including archeology, ethnography, history, cultural museum objects, cultural landscapes, and historic and prehistoric structures, other additional permit procedures may apply.

  • §2.10(a) Camping
    • Selected special events may result in the temporary use of designated sections of the park for camping as a demonstration based on historic events and as part of a living history exhibit (see Appendix for map). NPS personnel, contractors, permitted researchers, or NPS-authorized volunteers may be allowed to camp under circumstances as approved by the superintendent.

Determination: This public use limit is necessary to protect natural and cultural resources from damage, theft, vandalism, and inappropriate group activities. It is also necessary for visitor safety since restricted areas can present hazardous conditions, which may become extreme during seasonal variations of weather.

  • § 2.12 Creating Audio Disturbances:
      • (a)(2) Operating a chainsaw in developed areas
      • (a)(3) Operating any type of portable motor or engine, or device powered by a portable motor or engine in non-developed areas
      • (a)(4) Operating a public address system in connection with a public gathering or special event for which a permit has been issued pursuant to § 2.50 or § 2.51
      • Apply for a permit through the superintendent’s office
      • Refer to Section III, Regulations § 2.12 AUDIO DISTURBANCES
  • § 2.13 (a)(1) Fires outside of designated areas.
    • Without prior written permission from the superintendent, no fires outside of designated areas are permitted
    • Apply for a permit through the Site Manager’s office
  • § 2.17 Aircraft and air delivery:
    • a)(3) Delivery or retrieval of a person or object by parachute, helicopter or other airborne means
    • (c)(1) Removal of a downed aircraft
    • Apply for a permit through the Site Manager’s office
    • Refer to 36 CFR § 2.17 AIRCRAFT AND AIR DELIVERY
  • § 2.37 Soliciting or demanding gifts, money goods or services: (Pursuant to the terms and conditions of a permit issued under § 2.50, § 2.51 or § 2.52)
  • § 2.38 Using or possessing explosives and/or fireworks:
    • (a) Using, possessing, storing, or transporting explosives, blasting agents
    • (b) Using or possessing fireworks
    • Apply for a permit through the Site Manager’s office
    • Refer to 36 CFR § 2.38 EXPLOSIVES
  • § 2.50 Conducting a sports event, pageant, regatta, public spectator attraction, entertainment, ceremony, and/or similar events
    • Apply for a permit through the Site Manager’s office. A complete application for a Special Use Permit (SUP) or a Commercial Use Authorization (CUA) must be submitted a minimum of 14 calendar days in advance of the proposed activity. Proposed large events or activities that have the potential to adversely affect the human environment, including park operations, will require a longer review period.
    • Refer to 36 CFR § 2.50(a) SPECIAL EVENTS
  • §2.51 Conducting a public assembly, meeting, gathering, demonstration, parade and/or other public expression of views outside of Designated First Amendment areas (see above), or for group sizes over 25 people, or for periods of 14 days or longer.
    • Apply for a permit, which shall detail location, restrictions and liability insurance requirements, through the Site Manager’s office
  • § 2.52 Selling or distributing printed matter that is not solely commercial advertising
    • Apply for a permit through the Site Manager’s office
    • Refer to 36 CFR § 2.52(c) SPECIAL EVENTS

Note: During the small group exception for freedom of speech activities in the designated areas (see above), demonstrators may distribute and sell printed matter as long as the material’s “primary purpose is advocacy, definition or explanation of the group’s or individual’s political, religious, scientific or moral views.”

  • § 2.60 (b) Livestock Use
    • Livestock use requires a permit other than use by approved park volunteers for the purposes of living history demonstrations, exercise or training of park-owned animals, or during selected special events.
    • Apply for a permit through the Site Manager’s office
    • Refer to 36 CFR § 2.60 (b) LIVESTOCK USE

Determination: Park management has implemented a Livestock Policy that identifies the conditions under which outside livestock are permitted in the park for the protection and safety of park livestock, employees, visitors, and resources.

  • § 2.61 (a) Residing on federal (Park) lands
    • Apply for a permit through the Site Manager’s office
    • Refer to 36 CFR § 2.61 (a) RESIDING ON FEDERAL LANDS
  • § 2.62 Memorialization
    • (a) Installing monuments or memorials requires approval from the NPS Director
    • (b) Scattering of human ashes from cremation
    • Permits are available through the Superintendent’s office
    • Refer to Section III, Regulations § 2.62 MEMORIALIZATION
    • Non-organic commemorative and memorial items may not be left behind.
    • A Special Use Permit (free of charge) is required to spread ashes.

Determination: Additional limits on memorialization are enacted in order to protect the cultural resources, historic viewshed, and park livestock and are detailed in the Special Use Permit.

  • §3.3 Use of a Vessel
    • Permits are required for putting in or taking out a vessel into or from the Arkansas River or the wetlands within Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site. Exceptions include:
    • Emergency take-outs on park lands for vessels floating downstream on the Arkansas River launched from outside the park.
    • Authorized personnel actively engaged in permitted scientific research activities.

Note: For more information on permit requirements or application procedures, contact: Superintendent, Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site, 35110 Highway 194 East, La Junta, Colorado 81050-9523 or call 719-383-5010

  • § 5.1 Displaying, posting or distributing advertisements
    • Apply for a permit through the Site Manager’s office
    • Refer to 36 CFR § 5.1 ADVERTISEMENTS
  • § 5.2 Selling intoxicants in certain park areas
    • Apply for a permit through the Site Manager’s office
  • § 5.3 Engaging in or soliciting any business (requires a permit, contract or other written agreement with the United States, or must be pursuant to special regulations)
    • Apply for a permit through the Commercial Use Authorizations Program Manager, require a minimum of 14 days for processing in advance of the event
    • Refer to 36 CFR § 5.3 BUSINESS OPERATIONS
  • § 5.5 Commercial Photography/Filming:

    • (a) Commercial filming of motion pictures or television involving the use of professional casts, settings or crews, other than bona fide newsreel or news television
    • (b) Still photography of vehicles, or other articles of commerce or models for the purpose of commercial advertising
    • Apply for a permit through the Site Manager’s office, require a minimum of 14 days for processing in advance of the event
    • Refer to 36 CFR § 5.5 COMMERCIAL PHOTOGRAPHY
  • § 5.6 Use of commercial vehicles on park area roads
    • Apply for a permit through the Site Manager’s office
    • Refer to 36 CFR § 5.6(c) COMMERCIAL VEHICLES
  • § 5.7 Constructing buildings, facilities, trails, roads, boat docks, path, structure, etc.


(a)(5) The following conditions are in effect for walking, climbing, entering, ascending or traversing the listed archeological or cultural resource, monuments or statues:

  • Pedestrian access to cultural resources within Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site is restricted in areas closed to the public, such as chained or gated entrances to rooms and to administrative areas, such as offices when not accompanied by park staff.


(a)(1) Tracking wounded wildlife into the park, which was lawfully wounded outside of park boundaries, is prohibited without permission from the Superintendent.

(d) The transporting of legally taken wildlife through the park is permitted under the following conditions and procedures:

  • Vehicles will use designated service roads within the park to lawfully remove legally taken wildlife under supervision of a park ranger. (NPS personnel will report the removal of legally taken wildlife to Colorado Parks and Wildlife.)

(e) Viewing wildlife by artificial light (spotlighting, including redirection of vehicle headlights) is prohibited park-wide.

NOTE: Night vision devices are not artificial lights, however, infrared lighting/beams are.

Determination: These regulations help to protect against the unlawful taking of wildlife within the park.

36 CFR §2.3 – FISHING

(d)(8) Fishing is allowed in or from the following otherwise prohibited areas:

  • Fishing is permitted along the Arkansas River in accordance with the provisions of 36 CFR §2.3 and all other provisions of this compendium regarding public access.


(a)(2)(i) Weapons, traps, or nets may only be carried, possessed, or used at the following designated times and locations:

  • Weapons may be possessed on all park grounds pursuant to existing State of Colorado laws. Weapons are prohibited within all government buildings regularly occupied by employees, including offices in the interior of the reconstructed Fort.
  • Persons may carry and possess unloaded, historically accurate weapons, traps, or nets during park sponsored special events as approved by the Superintendent or under the terms of a permit issued by the Superintendent.
  • All persons in possession of such a weapon must be registered with Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site as a volunteer or as a park employee.


(a) The sites and areas listed below have been designated for camping activities as noted. A permit system has been established for certain camping activities, and conditions for camping are in effect as noted:

  • Selected special events may result in the temporary use of designated sections of the park for camping as a demonstration based on historic events and as part of a living history exhibit (see Appendix for map). NPS personnel, other permitted researchers, or NPS-authorized volunteers may be allowed to camp under circumstances as approved by the superintendent.

(b)(3) Camping within 25 feet of a fire hydrant or main road, or within 100 feet of a flowing stream, river, or body of water is authorized only in the following areas, under the conditions noted:

  • See §2.10(a) for authorized area and conditions.


Picnicking is limited to the designated picnic area or other areas authorized in advance as listed in Section 1, Public Use Limits. Note fire and grill use limitations listed under §2.13 – FIRES.

Determination: Picnicking in the designated areas of the Park will lessen trash accumulation in other areas and provide the proper infrastructure and facilities to accommodate this activity. Picnicking outside of designated areas is also a public safety issue.

36 CFR §2.13 – FIRES

(a)(1) The lighting or maintaining of fires is generally prohibited, except as provided for under the following designated areas and/or receptacles, and under the conditions noted:

  • By approved park staff and volunteers as part of living history demonstrations or permitted special events.
  • Prescribed fire for the purposes of natural resource and cultural landscape management as defined under an approved Fire Management Plan.

(a)(2) Use of personal gas grills, stoves or lanterns with containerized fuels are permitted at designated picnic areas.


(a)(2) The use of government refuse receptacles or facilities for dumping household, commercial or industrial refuse, brought as such from private or municipal property is allowed under the following conditions:

  • Designated recycling containers, expressly for the disposal of the recyclable materials identified on each bin.
  • No burning of any sanitation or refuse material is allowed in the park.

36 CFR §2.15 – PETS

(a)(2) Failing to crate, cage, restrain on a leash, which shall not exceed six feet in length, or otherwise physically confine a pet at all times while in all areas of the Park is prohibited.

  • "Electronic or "shock" collars do not meet the requirements for physical restraint of a pet as required by 36 CFR §2.15(a)(2).
  • Making unreasonable noise – considering location, time of day or night, or impact on park users – or frightening or threatening wildlife, park animals, or park visitors.

(a)(3) Pets may be left unattended and tied to an object in the following areas, under the conditions noted:

  • Within motor vehicles with proper ventilation and water only if weather conditions are not hazardous to the immediate welfare of the animal.

(a)(5) Pet excrement must be immediately collected and removed from the Park by the pet owner or responsible person.

  • All animal waste must be removed no matter the location. Visitors bringing pets to the park must carry on their person a bag or other device for the containerization and removal of excrement. Visitors shall immediately containerize and remove pet excrement by depositing it in a trash receptacle or by otherwise taking the excrement from the park.
Determination: These restrictions are necessary to provide for the protection of park resources, wildlife, and public enjoyment and safety. While visiting the Park with pets can be a positive pet owner experience, pets have been shown to have negative impacts on park resources, wildlife, and visitors. These impacts include noise, pursuit and harassment of wildlife, defecation, and aggressive, violent behavior. These restrictions are also necessary to keep pets safe from park wildlife, such as cactus, rattlesnakes, porcupines, and coyotes. Managing pet excrement is necessary for human enjoyment and pet health and safety.


(a) The following animals are designated as pack animals for purposes of transporting equipment:

  • Horses
  • Mules
  • Burros
  • Oxen

(g) Other conditions concerning the use of horses or pack animals:

  • Horses and other designated pack animals listed are generally prohibited in the Park, but may be used in the following manner:
    • Horses and other pack animals are authorized when used in park-sponsored interpretive demonstrations or for park operations by park staff and authorized park volunteers.

Determination: The trails at Bent’s Old Fort trails are primarily maintained for pedestrian use and provide for ADA accessibility. Horse use would damage trail surfaces, and there are ample opportunities outside of the park for horse use.


(a) The following park roads and/or parking areas open to motor vehicle traffic may be used for skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating, inner tubing, tobogganing, and similar winter activities under the conditions noted:

  • Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are allowed on public trails and the visitor parking area when weather conditions allow. Trails will not be groomed for winter skiing and/or snowshoeing.
  • No areas of the park are open to ice skating, innertubing, tobogganing, or similar winter activities not listed above.


The use of roller skates, skateboards, roller skis, coasting vehicles, or similar devices are allowed only in the following areas:

  • These activities are limited to designated public roadways, parking lots, and paved trails.

36 CFR §2.21 – SMOKING

(a) The following portions of the park, or all or portions of buildings, structures or facilities are closed to smoking as noted:

  • All government-owned buildings including residences and residence garages.
  • Within 25 feet of any government-owned structure.
  • In or within 25 feet of any government-owned vehicle.
  • All public park areas except for the designated picnic area and paved parking areas.
  • During periods of high fire danger, smoking is prohibited on all lands within Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site, except within an enclosed vehicle.
  • All smoking materials must be fully extinguished and disposed of in approved trash receptacles.
  • During park living history events, park volunteers may be authorized to smoke period appropriate tobacco products.
  • Smoking materials include cigarettes, pipes, cigars, vaping devices, and e-cigarettes.

The use of e-cigarettes and other Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) is subject to the same restrictions as tobacco smoking.

Determination: This policy applies to both indoor and outdoor areas. Research indicates that vaping aerosols have at least some level of risk for nearby people in areas with limited ventilation and people with compromised health conditions. Available published studies evaluating the potential hazardous effects of the natural and/or synthetic chemicals used in ENDS indicate that potential health effects exist for users and those exposed secondhand.


(b) Recreation fees, and/or a permit, in accordance with 36 CFR Part 71, are established for the following entrance fee areas, and/or for the use of the following specialized sites, facilities, equipment or services, or for participation in the following group activity, recreation events or specialized recreation uses:

Fees schedules starting January 2, 2022:

  • The park switched from Living History fees to park entrance fees, pursuant to the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA, Public Law 108-447) and 36 CFR Part 71.
  • The park moved to cashless sales only. Cash sales, however, may occur through the park’s gift shop.
  • The suite of America the Beautiful passes are honored after January 2, 2022.
  • The fee structure follows the national fee schedule for National Historic Sites:

Individual / Family


Type of Pass

Applies to


7-day permit per person

Visitors 16 years old and older


Bent's Old Fort NHS Annual Park Pass

Good for one year from month of purchase

America the Beautiful - the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Passes


Type of Pass

Applies to


Interagency Annual Pass

Good for one year from month of purchase.


Interagency Senior Pass

Lifetime Pass.


Interagency Annual Senior Pass

Good for one year from month of issue.


Interagency Access Pass

Lifetime Pass.


Interagency Annual Military Pass

Good for one year from month of issue.


Interagency 4th Grade Pass

Good from September through August.

(c) The collection of entrance fees may be suspended on dates designated by the Superintendent, the National Park Service Director, or the Secretary of the Interior.

  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday, mid-January

  • First Day of National Park Week, mid-April

  • Anniversary of GAOA, August 4

  • National Park Service Birthday, August 25

  • National Public Lands Day, the last Saturday in September

  • Veteran’s Day

  • Other dates as designated by the superintendent or the Secretary of the Interior

Note: The FLREA Entrance Fee program will be implemented beginning on January 2, 2022. At that time, the established fee-free days will be adopted.


(a)(3)(i) The following public use areas, portions of public use areas, and/or public facilities within the park are closed to consumption of alcoholic beverages, and/or to the possession of a bottle, can, or other receptacles containing an alcoholic beverage that is open, or has been opened, or whose seal has been broken or the contents of which have been partially removed:

  • Designated picnic areas
  • During permitted special events in Park areas and under such conditions as may be specified in a permit signed by the Superintendent.

Determination: The consumption of alcoholic beverages within areas other than those designated above would be inappropriate considering the purpose for the creation of the Park. The use and consumption of alcoholic beverages in the other areas of the Park would be a public safety and resource concern.


(c)(2) The following area has been established for small First Amendment activities that do not require a Special Use Permit. It is available on a first-come, first served basis. The established location is:

  • The gravel parking lot beside the picnic area.

Note: First Amendment activities for 14 days or less and involving 25 people or fewer do not require a Special Use Permit to demonstrate or distribute or sell printed matter under our First Amendment rights. However, First Amendment activities without a permit are restricted to the designated first amendment site listed above. This site was selected by the park for its high visibility and access to the public and for the physical nature of this site to provide ample room for freedom of speech activities. Activities shall not cause injury or damage to park resources, unreasonably interfere with tranquility or interpretive activities, or create a clear or present danger to park visitors.


(b) The sale or distribution of printed matter for the purposes of expressing First Amendment views is allowed within park areas designated as available under §2.51(c)(2) (above).


(b) A permit is required for the scattering of ashes from cremated human remains. The scattering of human ashes from cremation is allowed pursuant to the terms and conditions of a permit as outlined below:

  • The remains must be cremated to the extent that they are not distinguishable as such.
  • The scattering of remains by persons on the ground is to be performed at least 100 yards from any trail, road, developed area or facility, known archeological and historic sites, or body of water
  • Non-organic commemorative and memorial items may not be left behind.

Determination: These conditions for memorialization are to provide for a safe, sanitary and orderly process for the Park visitors and staff; while at the same time taking into consideration the wishes of a deceased person and/or their loved ones.


Permits are required for the use of a vessel in the following areas:

  • Permits are required for putting in or taking out a boat or raft into or from the Arkansas River or on the wetlands within Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site. Exceptions include:
    • Emergency take-outs on park lands for vessels floating downstream on the Arkansas River launched from outside the park.
    • Authorized personnel actively engaged in permitted activities.


(a)(1) The following areas are closed to swimming and bathing:

  • Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site is closed to all swimming and bathing activities.


(a) Park roads, open for travel by motor vehicle are those indicated below:

  • The roadway accessing the visitor parking lot is open to any motorized vehicle.
  • Non-public service roads are primarily accessible only by park employees, with the following exceptions:
    • Vendors, contractors, authorized volunteers or visitors that are entering the park’s administrative building or maintenance yard.
    • Vendors, contractors, authorized volunteers accessing the Fort for business purposes or for special events.

Any road, parking area, trail, facility or portion of a facility which is posted or closed by barricades, closed gates or signs is closed to public access.

Determination: It is necessary to occasionally close normal public use areas to protect the natural and cultural resources from damage, theft, vandalism and inappropriate group activities. It is also necessary for visitor safety since restricted areas can present hazardous conditions, which become extreme during seasonal variations of weather and daylight.


(b) The following speed limits are established for the routes/roads indicated:

  • The speed limit on the park roads and visitor parking lot is 15 mph.

36 CFR §4.30 – BICYCLES

(a) Bicycles and e-bikes are limited to paved roadways, paved trails, and paved parking areas.

  • Bicycles and e-bikes are prohibited on non-public service roads except to access the Administration buildings.
  • Bicycles and e-bikes are prohibited on all unpaved park trails.

Determination Statement: The unimproved nature of park service roads and unpaved trails is inconsistent with the safe operation of bicycles. Bicycles are allowed on the paved trail between the visitor parking lot and the reconstructed fort because they are compatible with the use of motorized golf carts by park staff to transport visitors on the paved trail.

(See e-bike notes under section 1.5 Closures for more information specific to e-bikes.)


Hitchhiking is prohibited under the terms and conditions noted:

  • Hitchhiking on the traveled portion of a public way or otherwise interfering with the flow of traffic
  • Creating a hazardous condition


Commercial notices or advertisements shall not be displayed, posted, or distributed on federally owned or controlled lands within a park area unless prior written permission has been given by the Superintendent.

NOTE: See §5.1 for criteria for granting permission.


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 such may be specifically authorized under special regulations applicable to a park area, is prohibited.


(a) The following types of filming activities may occur in areas open to the public without a permit and without advance notice to the NPS:

  • Outdoor filming activities involving five persons or less and equipment that will be carried at all times, except for small tripods used to hold cameras.
  • The organizer of any other type of filming activity must provide written notice to the Superintendent at least 10 days prior to the start of the proposed activity. Based upon the information provided, the Superintendent may require the organizer to apply for and obtain a permit if necessary to:
  • maintain public health and safety,
  • protect environmental or scenic values,
  • protect natural or cultural resources,
  • allow for equitable allocation and use of facilities, or
  • avoid conflict among visitor use activities.
If the Superintendent determines that the terms and conditions of a permit could not mitigate the concerns identified above in an acceptable manner, the Superintendent may deny a filming request without issuing a permit. The superintendent will provide the basis for denial in writing upon request.

The NPS will consider requests and process permit applications in a timely manner. Processing times will vary depending on the complexity of the proposed activity. If the organizer provides the required 10-day advance notice to the NPS and has not received a written response from the NPS that a permit is required prior to the first day of production, the proposed filming activities may occur without a permit.

The following are prohibited:
  • Engaging in a filming activity without providing advance notice to the Superintendent when required.
  • Engaging in a filming activity without a permit if the Superintendent has notified the organizer
  • in writing that a permit is required.
  • Violating a term and condition of a permit issued under this action.

Violating a term and condition of a permit issued under this action may also result in the suspension and revocation of the permit by the Superintendent.

Determination: On January 22, 2021, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia issued its decision in Price v. Barr, No. 19-3672, (D.D.C. Jan. 22, 2021). The court held that the requirements in 54 U.S.C. § 100905, 43 C.F.R. Part 5, and 36 C.F.R. § 5.5 that those engaged in “commercial filming” must obtain permits and pay fees are unconstitutional under the First Amendment.

The above criteria were established in a February 22, 2021 memorandum from the Acting Director of the NPS.

Note: This guidance only applies to filming activities. Permit, location fee, and cost recovery requirements for still photography are not affected by this guidance.


(b) & (c) Using commercial vehicles on government roads within park areas when such use is in no way connected with the operation of the park is prohibited, and requires permission or a permit from the Superintendent.

NOTE: See conditions for granting permission or issuing a permit in §5.6.


Such activities are prohibited, except in accordance with the provisions of a valid permit, contract, or other written agreement with the United States.

Photo of the parking lot at the Comfort Station at Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site with the Designated First Amendment Area indicated in Blue (grassy area within the visitor parking lot).
Photo of the parking lot at the Comfort Station at Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site with the Designated First Amendment Area indicated in Blue (grassy area within the visitor parking lot).


Last updated: July 28, 2022

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

35110 State Highway 194
La Junta , CO 81050


719 383-5010

Contact Us

Stay Connected