Special Park Use Permits

Thank you for your interest in permits at Golden Gate National Recreation Area including Muir Woods National Monument, Fort Point National Historic Site, Alcatraz Island, Crissy Field, Marin Headlands, Ocean Beach, and many more park sites. For permit information with the following jurisdictions, please contact: Presidio Trust, Mt. Tamalpais, Angel Island, San Mateo County Parks, San Francisco Recreation and Parks (for Marina Green and Golden Gate Park, etc.), Fort Mason Center and other surrounding parks.

To start the permit process, please submit a Permit Application, by postal mail, email, or by fax. A permit specialist will contact you for payment information. Please note that 30 days is the minimum amount of time required for issuing permits. It takes 4-10 business days for permit application review and up to 60 days for complex requests with large groups, onsite catering, substantial equipment, etc... Almost all weekends are booked in 2023 for mid to large size events parkwide or events that require Ranger staffing. Picnic tables are first come, first served, cannot be reserved, and are not included in permits for special events.

For permit fee and cost recovery estimates, please review the Permit Cost Recovery Schedule and event planning matrix for Special Events to help determine how event scope, size and other factors, such as complexity, potential for impacts, and monitoring requirements, define which permit event category is appropriate. Additional requirements, such as Temporary Food Event permits or Fire and Safety permits, may apply to your activity. To learn more about permit cost recovery, please click on these Frequently Asked Questions.

For more information, please contact the Office of Special Park Uses at goga_permits@nps.gov OR click here to EMAIL US.

  • Submission of an application does not guarantee permit approval.
  • Additional documents, such as but not limited to layout/route maps, parking plans, liability insurance will be required for complex events at least 4 months before event date.
  • All Events which allow for the public to attend (with or without registration) must comply with all accessibility regulations and must review the park's accessibility checklist.
  • Advertising and branding is prohibited. Signs on site must be approved by NPS prior to your event. Signs must be event related, directional, and logos cannot be more than 30% of sign.
  • No sales of merchandise or food to either the public or your participants will be allowed. This includes items such as t-shirts for a ‘suggested donation.’
  • Large events, events with rental equipment, and/or with caterers cooking onsite, require at least one Park Ranger present during the event as well as during load in.
  • You may not enter areas closed to the general public. Permit requests in closed/sensitive areas require additional approval.
  • If you want to have a large event (1,000 or more people) at Crissy Field, it will need to go through Project Review, so allow for addtional lead time up to 6 months or more.
  • We only allow 3 large events at Fort Mason each year.
  • A date and location can be held up to one year in advance with a permit application and application fee.
  • Events will not be granted exclusive use of an area.
  • We require composting and recycling at all events. Please review the Green Event Guidelines.
  • Sound cannot exceed 85db in any park area. 65 dB near buildings and residents.
  • Unmanned aircraft, such as drones, regardless of whether the operation is for recreational, hobby, business, or commercial purposes, is not allowed, and will not be permitted.
  • Holidays and other event black-out dates exist. Please contact the permit office concerning availability.
  • For additional regulations, please read the park's Superintendent's Compendium.
  • Event Permit Application
  • All large events require a certificate of liability insurance (information below).
  • Athletic Events
    • Athletic events with fewer than 50 people might not trigger permit requirements. Please confirm with a Permit Specialist before proceeding.
    • Events with substantial equipment, such as but not limited to generators, PA systems, signs, etc... requires a permit regardless of group size.
  • Special Events with catering, food service, sound equipment, generators, etc...
    • Gatherings with fewer than 50 people may not require a permit.
    • Gatherings with onsite catering, food service or significant equipment requires a permit, regardless of size.
    • All picnic tables in the park are first come, first served and cannot be reserved, except for the group picnic site at West Fort Miley. Special event permits are not issued in designated picnic areas.
  • Beach Fire Permit Application
  • Beach fires with or without a permit are prohibited at Ocean Beach from November 1st to March 1st.
  • Burning debris, including Christmas trees, anywhere in the GGNRA is not permitted. Only untreated wood may be burned.
  • Beach fires are allowed only within fire rings at Ocean Beach and Muir Beach.
  • Beach fire rings are first come, first served and cannot be reserved.
  • Fires are not permitted when a Spare the Air day/night has been delared.
  • Beach fires with fewer than 50 people do not require a permit, unless there will be substantial equipment and/or activities that require additional permitting. No glass on all beaches and no alcohol allowed on Ocean Beach.

Freedom of speech, press, religion, and assembly are rights protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. People may exercise these rights peacefully in national parks, but the National Park Service retains as its highest priority the protection of park visitors and resources. Therefore, the National Park Service requires a permit for most First Amendment activities in order to establish the location, time, number of participants, and other general conditions under which such events may occur. The content of First Amendment activities is not regulated, and the opinions expressed by permittees do not necessarily reflect the vision, mission and/or policy of the National Park Service.

Please email us regarding any questions or comments related to First Amendment permits.

A permit is required for First Amendment activities that meet any of the following criteria:

  • Groups larger than 25 participants
  • Utilizes significant equipment including generators, platforms, tents, etc.
  • Would like a guarantee of priority use of a specific location
  • Is requesting an area not otherwise open to the public

A group of 25 people or less is not required to obtain a First Amendment Permit if they do not meet the criteria above, but they are encouraged to get one as a permit will prevent another group from reserving the area.

Examples of First Amendment Activities:

  • Religious services
  • Political speeches
  • Press conferences
  • Voter registration
  • Public demonstration, picketing, assembly or rally expressing opinions and views

Type of Activities Not Covered by the First Amendment:

  • Church picnic or social gathering
  • Wedding ceremonies or receptions
  • Political fundraiser or other invitation-only political activity or event
  • Solicitation of donations
  • Community parades, athletics, or sporting events

First Amendment permits are issued at no cost to the permittee. Many of the activities not covered by the First Amendment can be accommodated through a Special Use Permit for which cost recovery will be charged.

  • Ash Scattering
    • Permits are not required for small groups of 25 or less with no reception like activities.
    • The scattering of remains is prohibited within Muir Woods National Monument, Fort Point National Historic Site, and on Alcatraz Island.
    • Per 36 CFR §2.62(b) – MEMORIALIZATION 34, the scattering of human ashes from cremation is prohibited except in accordance with the following terms and conditions:
      • Remains to be scattered must have been cremated and pulverized.
      • The scattering of remains within the park is to be performed at least 10 yards from any trail, road, developed facility, or any interior body of water.
      • The scattering of remains is prohibited into any inland waters, including any lake, lagoon or stream, and into ocean and tidal waters from uplands or tidelands and from structures, including bridges and piers.
      • Scattering shall be distributed in general areas so as not to create a memorial or resource damage.
  • Alcatraz Events, Photo/film
    • Permits are not issued while park visitors are present. Permits are issued for 1 hour duration on weekday mornings.
    • No weddings are permitted on Alcatraz.
    • Permits on Alcatraz are issued in historically appropriate areas. No food is allowed inside the cellhouse.
    • Permit requests for 2023 will be reviewed starting in mid-January and may take 60 days or more depending on complexity.
  • All permit applications must be accompanied by a non-refundable permit application fee of $60. A permit specialist will contact you for payment information after application is received. This fee is non-refundable even if your application is denied, so please contact the office prior to sending in paperwork. The application fee is applied towards your permit costs.
  • Submitting an application with the fee does not guarantee your activity or the date requested will be approved. Applications are accepted up to one year in advance. We will let you know within 4 business days that we have received your application, but approval or denial of your activity can range from days to weeks.
  • The permit office accepts payment by credit card only, and cannot accept personal or business checks. If you do not have a credit card, a money order is possible in a few rare cases. Please contact the permit office before sending in any funds.
  • Permit costs can range from free to over $40,000. While we will be able to give you an estimate of costs over the phone or in email, we cannot tell you the final cost of your activity until after we receive a permit application. We are happy to have a few conversations with you by phone or email, but an application and non-refundable application fee are due prior to the office spending more time than that on your proposal.
  • Some activities are required to go through full environmental or historic compliance review.
  • Staffing costs are currently $100 per hour per staff member.

For more specific pricing estimates on events please review the Permit Cost Recovery Schedule. Additional charges, such as Temporary Food Event permits, Fire and Safety permits, etc may apply to your activity. Please contact the office for more information

All large events are required to have a minimum of $1,000,000 in liability insurance naming the United States of America as additionally insured. Please contact an Event Specialist for more details.


Contact the Office of Special Park Uses

Call us for more information and to speak with a Permit Specialist: (415) 561-4300

Please understand that we write over 1,000 permits per year, and are usually quite busy. Filling out the application form and sending it in is the fastest way to begin planning your event, but does not guarantee your event will be approved. Permit applications, certificates of insurance, and correspondence to anyone in the Office of Special Park Uses may be faxed to (415) 561-4305. The Office of Special Park Uses is located on the San Francisco Bay in Fort Mason at the intersection of Bay and Franklin. Paperwork to and from the Office of Special Park Uses is generally done through email, but fax, mail, or in person appointments at Fort Mason Building 201 are possible, if needed.

Individuals who are deaf, hard-of-hearing, blind, or have speech disabilities may utilize the following Federal Relay Service Numbers:

(800) 877-8339 Federal Relay Service
(800) 877-6280 VCO
(800) 877-8982 Speech to Speech
(800) 845-6136 Spanish
(866) 893-8340 TeleBraille

Thank you for your interest in Golden Gate National Recreation Area, a unit of your National Park Service.

Last updated: January 12, 2023

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Building 201, Fort Mason

San Francisco, CA 94123-0022


415 561-4700

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