The Special Use Permit (SUP) program authorizes activities that provide benefit to an individual, group or organization, rather than the public at large; and that require written authorization and some degree of management control in order to protect park resources and the public interest. Examples include special events, weddings, scattering of ashes, First Amendment activities, agricultural permits and rights-of-way/easements. (If you are interested in a Commercial Film Permit or a Wedding Permit, please contact the Commercial Services Office at 870-365-2702 or 870-365-2724 to obtain an information handout specific to those activities.)
Special Use Permits are granted for specific periods of time and specific locations. Certain fees, bonding and insurance requirements may apply.
Permit Application Procedure
Requests for a permit application may be made in person at park headquarters, via telephone, email or letter. The application form may be downloaded from the park website. A completed application and the non-refundable application fee are required before an application can be processed. Park contact information is:
The information on the application will be used by NPS staff to evaluate the impact of the proposed activity on park resources and visitors.
Please submit your application at least 15 business days before the start of the proposed activity. Requests which involve multiple locations, complex logistics or coordination with other visitor activities will require a minimum of 20 business days to process. Projects which require environmental or cultural resource evaluation must be submitted not less than 60 days before the start of proposed activities. Applications are processed in the order in which they are received. For more information, please contact the Commercial Services Office to inquire about your particular project.
Incomplete applications will be returned to the applicant. Applications cannot be approved without the correct application fee and a valid social security number or Federal Tax Identification number.
The National Park Service may permit a special event if the proposed activity will not:
The authority for the National Park Service to recover and retain costs associated with managing special park uses is found at 54 U.S.C.§ 103104. Charges established for a special park use under this authority are intended to recover costs associated with managing that activity and not to generate revenue beyond actual cost. If any additional costs are incurred, the permittee will be billed at the conclusion of the permit.
*additional location, management, and monitoring fees may apply
Certain activities may prompt the need for the permittee to post a refundable damage bond. The amount of the bond will be equivalent to the estimated cost to NPS for clean-up, repair or rehabilitation of resources or facilities that could potentially be impacted by the permit activities. At the conclusion of the permit, the bond will be returned to the permittee after costs of clean up, repair or rehabilitation are deducted.
Liability insurance protects the government from negligent actions by the permittee. Insurance in an amount sufficient to protect the interests of the United States may be required as a condition of the permit. A high risk activity will always require insurance. Insurance could be waived for a lower risk activity such as a commemorative ceremony. If insurance is required:
Permit activities may be restricted based on weather or seasonal conditions (fire danger, standing water after rain, nesting season, etc.) Additional closures, use limits and/or restricted activities are listed in the Superintendent’s Compendium.
Termination of Permit
Permits are “revocable” on 24 hours’ notice or WITHOUT NOTICE if the terms of the permit are violated. Deliberate infractions of the terms of the permit or the deliberate making of false or misleading statements concerning intended actions in order to obtain a permit are causes for immediate termination of the permit and cause for possible prosecution. Permits will be revoked if damage to resources or facilities is threatened, or if there is a clear danger to public health or safety.
In accordance with Section 418 of Public Law 105-391, a non-profit organization is not required to obtain a Commercial Use Authorization (CUA) to conduct activities in a park area (even if the activities would otherwise be subject to a CUA) if the non-profit organization does not derive taxable income from the activities. In order to avoid the need to obtain a CUA where it would otherwise be required, a non-profit organization must state in writing to the superintendent that no taxable income will be derived from its activities in the park area. However, when engaging in activities in park areas, a non-profit organization is required to obtain a Special Use Permit or other appropriate authorization as may otherwise be required by National Park Service policies and regulations. Certain cost recovery, fees and insurance requirements may apply.
A non-profit organization is an organization that has been determined by the Internal Revenue Service to be exempt from Federal income taxation as a nonprofit or not-for-profit organization under the terms of the Internal Revenue Code.
Standard Permit Conditions
To maintain park natural and cultural resources and quality visitor experiences, standard permit conditions will be included in the approved permit.
Last updated: January 24, 2020