Private businesses play an important role in helping the National Park Service carry out its mission by offering services to park visitors that are not provided directly by the government. By welcoming the private sector as a partner in providing services, we can ensure people have access to services they need and broaden the economic base of surrounding communities. The government developed two types of contracts, based on the scale of the commercial activity: concessions contracts and commercial use authorizations.
Commercial Use Authorizations (CUAs) permit small-scale, commercial activities that are appropriate, low-impact, and consistent with the purpose for which Big Bend was established. Commercial Use Authorization permits are required of all operators who provide any goods, activities, agreements, or other services to the general public which take place, at least in part, in the park, uses park resources and are undertaken for or results in compensation, monetary gain, benefit or profit to an individual, organization or corporation. (This also applies to non-profit and educational groups, if taxable income is derived).
Starting September 15th, 2021, commercial road-based tour operators are authorized to operate on paved park roads with visits to facilities, services, vehicle pullouts, scenic waysides, developed areas. All entries are contingent on fulfilling Big Bend requirements prior to entry.
A special use permit (SUP) is required for activities that benefit an individual, group, or organization rather than the public at large.
Such activities include, but are not limited to:
NPS units have the authority and responsibility to manage, permit and/or deny filming, photography and sound recordings in ways consistent with park management and mission.
Last updated: November 30, 2023