Filming and Photography

Filming

When is a permit needed?

You may conduct filming activities in areas open to the public without a permit and without advance notice to the NPS if your activity meets ALL of the following requirements:

  • Will take place outdoors
  • The location being requested is not closed to the public
  • Outside of areas managed as Wilderness

  • Involving five (5) or fewer people

  • And using only equipment that will be carried at all times, except for small tripods used to hold cameras.

If your filming activity doesn’t comply with the requirements above, please reach out to DEVA_Permits@nps.gov far in advance of your anticipated dates and consult with the permit office staff about whether you need a permit. You must reach out a minimum of ten (10) days before your planned activity. However, if you do need a permit, please be aware that we require 30 days from your date of application to issue one. There is currently no fee to apply for a permit.

Based on the information provided, you may be required 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.

Filming in Wilderness: Death Valley National Park is roughly 93% Wilderness. In order to help preserve wilderness character, the park requires a permit for all filming activities in Wilderness areas, other than casual filming by visitors, no matter the group size. The park will work with you to try to identify potential filming locations outside of Wilderness before considering a permit for filming in Wilderness. The sooner your get your request/application in, the better.

The following additional restrictions apply to filming in Death Valley National Park:

  • In addition to other limitations to preserve wilderness character, permitted groups in Mosaic Canyon, Natural Bridge Canyon, and Sidewinder Canyon are limited to 12 or fewer people and one permitted group per day.

  • Standing in a roadway as part of a film or photography shoot is prohibited without a permit. Traffic (foot or vehicle) may not be stopped or impacted in any way without a permit.

  • Public address systems and sound amplification are prohibited without a permit.

  • Brandishing or discharging a firearm, real or prop, is prohibited.

  • Attaching props, equipment, signs, or banners to NPS facilities, structures, rocks, or vegetation is prohibited.

  • Walking on soft areas following a rain and leaving footprints or lasting damage (for example, on the Racetrack playa) is prohibited.

  • Use or release of any mylar or other helium balloons is prohibited.
  • Any filming/photography along State Highway 190 also requires a state filming permit, CalTrans permit, and/or CHP officers for traffic control. No filming will be allowed along Hwy 190 if not arranged in advance with the California Film Commission.

More information can be found in the Superintendent’s Compendium.

Monitoring: Many permits require monitors for the protection of resources and visitor experience. If monitors are required, your permit will only be issued subject to availability of monitors on the dates and at the locations requested. Monitors are not available and monitored activity will not be permitted when temperatures exceed 110 degrees. Monitoring is also unavailable between 10:00am and sunset from June 14 to September 9 at locations in the park below 2,000 feet.

When filming in Death Valley without a permit, you are subject to all the laws regulations that apply inside the park. Please also follow the guidelines laid out below for respecting the park, its visitors, and its natural and cultural resources:

  • Do not disrupt another visitor’s experience.

  • Follow all traffic laws.

  • NO DRONES (this one is actually illegal – but it is polite too!).

  • Please don’t publicize the location of rock art.

  • Don’t bring non-native species (plants or animals) into the park. They pose a significant danger to native species and can spread disease.

  • Observe quiet hours from 10pm - 6am.

  • Remember to pay your entrance fees.

  • No use of fire, flame, or combustible materials.

  • Protect the beauty of our Dark Sky park, and don’t use artificial lighting that would interfere with views of the night sky.


Still Photography

When is a permit needed?

Price v. Barr had no impact on how the National Park Service regulates still photography, so there are no changes in how the National Park Service regulates that activity. Still photographers require a permit only when:

  1. the activity takes place at location(s) where or when members of the public are generally not allowed; or
  2. the activity uses model(s), sets(s), or prop(s) that are not a part of the location's natural or cultural resources or administrative facilities; or
  3. a park would incur additional administrative costs to monitor the activity.

How do I apply for a permit?

  1. Complete a still photography application form and submit it to DEVA_Permits@nps.gov allowing sufficient time for evaluation by the park staff before the start date of the proposed activity (normally 30-60 days).

  2. Include a $300.00 (non-refundable application processing cost) check, money order, or credit card receipt. To pay with a credit card, send an email with your application requesting online pament. You will be contacted with further instructions about making your payment online.

  3. Attach maps, diagrams, script pages, or storyboards to assist the park staff in evaluating your request. (Since the National Park Service cannot censor content, submission of script and storyboards is voluntary.)

  4. Be thorough in listing equipment, props, and locations! Once your permit is completed nothing can be added or changed. It is better to request something you don't need than to need something that is not in your pemit.

  5. Provide current copy of general liability insurance certificate in the amount of $1,000,000US listing the United States as additional insured.

  6. Any filming/photography along State Highway 190 also requires a state filming permit, CalTrans permit, and/or CHP officers for traffic control. No filming will be allowed along Hwy 190 if not arranged in advance with the California Film Commission. Their website is http://www.film.ca.gov/

  7. For filming or photography in or along the roadway, intermittent traffic control (ITC) must be provided by certified ITC staff. A park approved, professionally developed, traffic control plan must be on file with the Office of Special Park Uses prior to any activity.


If there is no contact from an applicant for 30 days after the application is submitted, the file will be closed. Any future contact with that applicant will require initiating the process from the beginning.

Due to the volume of filming requests received by Death Valley National Park, applications are handled in the order they are received. Priority will not be given to URGENT requests. Application processing takes 30-60 days - please plan accordingly!

All costs of evaluating the request will be billed to the applicant, whether a permit is issued or not. In compliance with the requirements of the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996, the applicant must submit their social security number or Federal tax ID number when filling out the application for permit. Application will not be processed if submitted incomplete or are received without payment.

What fees will I have to pay?

The National Park Service will collect a cost recovery charge and a location fee for still photography permits. Cost recovery includes an application fee and any additional charges to cover the costs incurred by the National Park Service in processing your request and monitoring your permit. This amount will vary depending on the park and the size and complexity of your permit. The application fee must be submitted with your application.

  • $300.00 non-refundable application fee must accompany each filming application. This fee is based on an average of two hours to provide initial review of an application. Since some projects require more than two hours of consideration this application fee is an average cost for the initial time involved in reviewing a project. The fee includes time spent answering initial inquiries, initial review of an application, and basic technical consultation. This fee also includes, but is not limited to, processing fees, permit development, consultations with the permittee, managerial and/or technical consultations and billing.

  • Deposit - Approximately 1/2 of the estimated final cost recovery fees will be due at the time the permit is fully-executed.

  • Hourly Fee - approximately $50 per hour. This rate applies to specific employee salary, primarily under the following conditions:
    • Monitoring: Filming activities authorized by permit may require continuous, on-site supervision by the NPS to assure full compliance with all conditions of the permit. Monitoring will be charged at the billing rate of each individual monitor per hour/per monitor with a minimum of two hours per monitor/per day. The level and type of monitoring supervision will be determined by the scope and complexity of the filming activity. Generally, one monitor is required for every 8 people involved with the project.
    • Interviews: All interviews and filming or photographing of NPS staff members will be assessed at the specific employee’s hourly rate.
    • Scouting: If a permittee requests a scouting trip with or by the Special Park Uses Coordinator, staff time will be assessed.
    • Extended administrative time: Any filming activity that is particularly complex is subject to the hourly fee. This fee covers additional administrative time needed beyond the maximum two hours covered by the $300.00 application and administrative fee. This rate does not preclude any of the other fees and is applied per hour/per staff member.
    • Government vehicle mileage: We currently charge $.55/mile on government vehicles used for monitoring and other activities associated with filming.

In addition, the National Park Service has been directed by Congress to collect a fee to provide a fair return to the United States for the use of park lands. The National Park Service uses the following still photography fee schedule:

  • 1–10 people - $50/day
  • 11–30 people - $150/day
  • Over 30 people - $250/day

Are there other permit requirements?

  • Liability insurance: You may be required to obtain liability insurance naming the United States as additionally insured in an amount commensurate with the risk posed to park resources by your proposed activity. You may also be asked to post a bond to ensure the payment of all charges and fees and the restoration of the area if necessary.
  • Heat restrictions: Events will not be permitted for locations in the park below 2000 feet during the day between June 14 and September 9, between 10 AM and sunset, when temperatures historically reach 110 °F (43 °C). Continually monitored events outside of the listed dates will be temporarily suspended if ambient temperate reaches 110°F (43°C).
  • Wilderness: Potential permittee's should be aware that 93% of Death Valley National Park is a federally designated Wilderness, which is even more restrictive than National Park designation. For example, there is NO commercial filming within designated Wilderness areas--generally 200 feet from the centerline of a paved road and 50 feet from the centerline of an unpaved road. All filming must occur within the non-wilderness corridor.

Last updated: July 22, 2021

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 579
Death Valley, CA 92328

Phone:

(760) 786-3200

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