How to Apply for a CUA

Grand Canyon National Park is continuing to evaluate and adapt to changing COVID-19 guidance, and to adjust operations as needed. Visit this page for a list of what is open, and for park-wide operational updates >

 

Important Information:

On February 25, 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated the guidance that informs DOI and NPS policies on public health mitigations for COVID-19.  These changes reflect the progress that our country has made in fighting the virus: safe and effective vaccines are widely available, treatment options are improving, and testing and masks are easier to find.  

As of Thursday, March 3, masks are no longer required in either indoor or outdoor locations, both for the public and federal employees while the local community level remains in either low or medium (for Grand Canyon Village and the North Rim excluding Tuweep this is Coconino County).  Please note that this standard is flexible depending on conditions in Coconino County.  It is possible that we may return to a mask requirement under this guidance if conditions in Coconino County returns to a high condition.  We all need to be prepared to be flexible under this new system. 

Masks are still required on all public transportation, including park shuttle buses.  This is guidance driven by the Department of Transportation.  We will inform you of any changes to this requirement as we learn it. 

Building occupancy levels, physical distancing, vaccination status, and other COVID precautions have not been addressed in guidance to date. We will inform you on any changes in these areas as the evolve. 

Visitors and employees are always welcome to wear a mask if it makes them more comfortable.  

Updates on local community levels for Coconino County will be posted and updated on the Park Operations Update webpage under the ‘Alerts’ section.  This information will be updated weekly on Thursdays by the CDC, and we should remain flexible and be ready to shift back into a mask mandate posture with little notice.  

New guidance around masking is changing rapidly across the country, the DOI, and the NPS.  We will keep employees, our stakeholders, and the public informed of any new developments as soon as they become available. 

If conditions change, Grand Canyon National Park reserves the right to change these parameters or other operational conditions immediately. Please understand the Park will make every effort to communicate the need for the change in a timely manner; however, depending on conditions, immediate action may be necessary.

Please e-mail us at the Permits Office with any questions.

On April 27, 2021, President Biden signed Executive Order 14026 - Increasing the Minimum Wage for Federal Contractors (EO 14026).  EO 14026, as of January 30, 2022, revokes Executive Order 13838 - Exemption from Executive Order 13658 for Recreational Services on Federal Lands, and raises the hourly minimum wage to $15.00 for any covered CUA awarded on or after January 30, 2022. CUAs awarded prior to January 30, 2022 are subject to Executive Order 13658 – Establishing a Minimum Wage for Contractors (EO 13658).

 

For CUAs awarded prior to January 30, 2022CUA Condition #15 is now:

Minimum Wage:  The holder is required to adhere to Executive Order 13658 – Establishing a Minimum Wage for Contractors, as applicable. The implementing regulations, including the applicable authorization clause, are incorporated by reference into this contract as if fully set forth in this contract and available at Federal Register :: Establishing a Minimum Wage for Contractors.

Exemption:  Under Executive Order 13838, Executive Order 13658 shall not apply to contracts or contract-like instruments entered into with the Federal Government in connection with seasonal recreational services or seasonal recreational equipment rental for the general public on Federal lands, but this exemption shall not apply to lodging and food services associated with seasonal recreational services. Seasonal recreational services include river running, hunting, fishing, horseback riding, camping, mountaineering activities, recreational ski services, and youth camps. Executive Order 14026 revokes this exemption as of January 30, 2022.  
 

For CUAs awarded on or after January 30, 2022: CUA Condition #15 will be:

Minimum Wage: The holder must comply with all provisions of Executive Order 14026 of April 27, 2021, (Increasing the Minimum Wage for Federal Contractors) and its implementing regulations, including the applicable contract clause, codified at 29 C.F.R. part 23, all of which are incorporated by reference into this authorization as if fully set forth in this authorization. 

 

CUA Application Instructions

Please review the CUA Handbook and see the information below for CUA forms and application instructions.

As the COVID-19 pandemic runs its course, operational conditions within the park are subject to change. This could include closures, changes in operational hours, availability of facilities, suspension, or further modification of CUA activities, etc. We will notify all CUA holders of any changes in operations via email.

Things to know:

  1. Make sure to apply 4 weeks before your first trip/event. Expect your permit to be ready approximately 30 days from when you submit a complete application packet.
  2. Download the forms onto your computer.
    • Please be sure to fill in ALL the fields in your application forms. All forms must be typed for legibility.
    • Forms are fillable in an Adobe PDF format. The easiest way to fill out the forms is to download the forms onto your computer, fill out the form and click on the signature field (with the red arrow) to sign it. Email the forms back to us as PDF documents at grca_permits_mail@nps.gov
    • Use the Subject Line format: "[Company Name dba Name] 2022 CUA Application"
  3. One of the best ways to get your CUA issued in a timely manner is under your control: read directions carefully and submit a complete application packet as PDF documents via email. Incomplete packets will not be processed until complete.
  4. Applications cannot be expedited. We receive hundreds of applications each year. We process complete applications in the order they are received.
  5. CUAs are valid for the calendar year only. Companies will need to reapply each year. No renewal reminders are sent. Please refer to this website for any relevant updates.
  6. A copy of the issued CUA must be in company vehicles at all times when operating inside the park.
  7. A copy of the issued CUA must be presented to the entrance station staff upon entry into the park.
 

A Complete CUA Application Must Include:

The general Application Form 10-550, typed and filled out completely. Remember to list all additional names, doing business as (dba), under which you will operate. Electronic signatures with an automatically generated time/date stamp are accepted on all forms. Note: you will be asked to redo your application if it is not typed, causing a delay in processing your application.

Submit the specific Form 10-115 for the authorized activity(ies) you wish to provide. You must submit all pages of the form, not just the signature pages. Electronic signatures with an automatically generated time/date stamp are accepted on all forms. Note: you will be asked to redo your application if it is not typed, causing a delay in processing your application.

 
  • Backcountry Hiking CUA 10-115 This CUA is required if you conduct either Guided Overnight Backpacking or Day Hiking Tours:
    • Overnight Backpacking: Organized groups of 1 to 11 persons (including guides) traveling on an itinerary which has been packaged, priced, or sold as a guided overnight backpacking tour) for leisure/recreational purposes on authorized trails below the rim in Grand Canyon National Park (GCNP). Only trails identified in the Guided Hiking Backcountry Locations document and specified in the CUA Conditions are authorized. A separate backpacking permit is required for overnight backcountry camping.
    • Day Hiking: Organized groups of 1 to 11 persons (including guides) traveling on an itinerary which has been packaged, priced, or sold as a guided day hiking tour for leisure/recreational purposes on authorized trails above or below the rim in Grand Canyon National Park (GCNP). Only trails identified in the Guided Hiking Backcountry Locations document and specified in the CUA Conditions are authorized.
 
  • Bicycle Tour CUA 10-115
    • Organized groups of 1 to 14 persons (including guides) traveling on an itinerary which has been packaged, priced, or sold as a guided bicycle tour for leisure/recreational purposes in Grand Canyon National Park (GRCA). Tour groups consist of guides/tour leaders, participants, and support vehicles. Bicycles may be traditional human-powered pedal bikes and/or Class 1 e-bikes. Bicyclists are required to follow all applicable traffic regulations and safety guidelines. Bicycle tours are authorized on unpaved roads specified in the CUA conditions.
    • Class 1 electric bicycle (e-bike): is defined as an electric bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 20 miles per hour.  All other classes and types of e-bikes are prohibited.
 
  • Photography & Art Workshop CUA 10-115
    • Photography Workshops: An organized group of 1 to 15 visitors (including guides/instructors) using an itinerary that has been packaged, priced, or sold as a guided photography instructional session for leisure/recreational purposes in Grand Canyon National Park (GCNP). Photography Workshops embrace the scenic, cultural, and/or natural resources of GCNP to create an instructional based experience designed to improve a photographer’s skills and/or photography techniques. Only locations above the rim specified in the CUA conditions are authorized.
    • Art Workshops: An organized group of 1 to 15 visitors (including guides/instructors) using an itinerary that has been packaged, priced, or sold as a guided painting instructional session for leisure/recreational purposes in Grand Canyon National Park (GCNP). Art Workshops embrace the scenic, cultural, and/or natural resources GCNP to create an instructional based experience designed to improve an artist’s skills and/or painting techniques. Only locations above the rim specified in the CUA conditions are authorized.
 
  • River Equipment Rental CUA 10-115
    • Delivery service of rental equipment to Lee’s Ferry and pick up of same at Pearce Ferry for authorized river permit holders.  The CUA holder may also transport clients to and from put-in/take-out trailheads for passenger exchanges.  This activity is not a separate service but is authorized only for clients who have rented equipment from the CUA holder.
 
  • Road Based Tour/Transportation CUA 10-115 This CUA is required if you conduct Guided Interpretive Tours, Motorcoach Charters, Recreational Shuttle Services, and Guided Motorcycle Tours:
    • Interpretive Tour (Tour Operator may or may not be traveling in company-owned or rented vehicle): One or more persons traveling by vehicle on an improved roadway on an itinerary that a company or individual has packaged, priced, and sold as a guided interpretive or scenic tour for leisure/recreational purposes in Grand Canyon National Park (GCNP). Interpretive tours take visitors through the GCNP’s road system with a focus on interpreting the parks features and wildlife. Limited guided hiking above the rim is authorized; Guided hiking below the rim is prohibited.
    • Motorcoach Charter (provides vehicle and driver for a Tour Operator): The Motorcoach Charter Company typically does not conduct their own interpretive tours but is hired by a Tour Operator that was issued a Road Based Tour/Transportation CUA to conduct guided interpretive or scenic tours but is not traveling in a vehicle owned or rented by the Tour Operator. The Motorcoach Charter company is required to have a CUA to transport the Tour Operator’s guests into Grand Canyon National Park (GCNP).
    • Recreational Shuttle Services: One or more persons traveling by vehicle on an improved roadway a company or individual has packaged, priced, and sold for the point-to-point pick-up and drop-off of passengers in Grand Canyon National Park (GCNP) at trailheads, parking areas, pullouts and developed areas for leisure/recreational purposes in GCNP. Passengers shall not be picked up or dropped off on roadways or in any area where traffic or terrain creates an unsafe condition. Only locations appearing on official GCNP publications, such as the Trip Planner and the Pocket Map and Services Guides for the South and North Rim, and on the GCNP website are authorized.
    • Motorcycle Tour: One or more persons traveling by motorcycle on an improved roadway on an itinerary that a company or individual has packaged, priced, and sold as a guided interpretive or scenic tour for leisure/recreational purposes in Grand Canyon National Park (GCNP). Interpretive tours take visitors through the GCNP’s road system with a focus on interpreting the parks features and wildlife. Limited guided hiking above the rim is authorized; Guided hiking below the rim is prohibited.
 
  • Tuweep Tour CUA 10-115 This CUA is required is you are conducting Guided Road Based Interpretive Tours and Stock (mule/horse) Tours:
    • Road Based Interpretive Tours:
      • Day Use - One to 15 persons (including guides) traveling in a single vehicle on an improved roadway on an itinerary that a company or individual has packaged, priced, and sold as a guided interpretive or scenic tour for leisure/recreational purposes in Grand Canyon National Park’s (GCNP) Tuweep area. Interpretive tours take visitors through GCNP’s Tuweep road system with a focus on interpreting the parks features and wildlife. Only locations specified in the CUA Conditions are authorized.
      • Overnight Use - 6 or 11 persons (including guides, based on the TCG permit obtained) traveling in no more than 2 vehicles on an improved roadway on an itinerary that a company or individual has packaged, priced, and sold as a guided interpretive or scenic tour for leisure/recreational purposes in Grand Canyon National Park’s (GCNP) Tuweep area. Interpretive tours take visitors through the GCNP’s Tuweep road system with a focus on interpreting the parks features and wildlife. Only locations specified in the CUA Conditions are authorized.
    • Stock Tours: Day Use Only: A group of 1 to 12 persons (including guides) and no more than 12 stock animals with support vehicles traveling by stock on an itinerary that a company or individual has packaged, priced, and sold as a guided interpretive or scenic tour for leisure/recreational purposes in Grand Canyon National Park’s (GCNP) Tuweep area. Interpretive tours take visitors through the GCNP’s Tuweep road system with a focus on interpreting the parks features and wildlife. Only locations specified in the CUA Conditions are authorized.

A $300 Application Fee must be submitted as part of your complete application package. This fee is cost recovery for the staff time to process your applicaiton and issue your CUA. Payment must be made online through pay.gov.  Please note that we do not issue refunds for overpayment.
 

  • Payment Instructions:
    1. Submit payment online at: Pay.gov - Grand Canyon NP Commercial Use Authorization Application Fee
    2. Check the services you are applying for and pay the non-refundable Application Fee.
    3. Please send us an email before submitting payment if you have any questions.
    4. Ensure you enter the correct amount, as our office cannot issue refunds.
    5. Include a copy of the receipt with your application packet.

Certificate of Insurance from your insurance agent for the required amounts (see Attachment A of Application Form 10-550). We prefer the ACORD format. Commercial General Liability is required. Based on the commercial activity, you may also be required to provide Commercial Automobile Liability. Your insurance must name United States of America as additionally insured, for example:

The United States of America
Grand Canyon National Park
PO Box 129
Grand Canyon, Arizona 86023

 

 

Attachment C of Application Form 10-550

Please describe how your tours operate in the park.  What do you do, where do you go, etc.  There is no specific format.  You may also submit itineraries you provide for your clients or advertised on your website.

Attachment D of Application Form 10-550

CUA holders are not allowed to request or require visitors sign a waiver of liability statement, insurance disclaimer, or indemnification agreement.

The Service allows CUA holders providing high-risk commercial services to advise visitors of risks associated with the activity through the use of a visitor acknowledgement of risk form (VAR). The VAR describes the inherent risks of the activity and warns visitors of those risks. CUA holders may use this Visitor Acknowledgement of Risk template.

The CUA holder may modify the VAR to provide a description of the authorized service, as specified in the available template. Operators may not modify the VAR to include language alluding to “waiver of liability”. If the CUA holder proposes to use an alternate VAR, they should send a copy of the form to the park for approval.

Annual Report Form 10-660  is due January 31, 2022 for the previous year (2021)

The Annual Report is required only if you were issued a CUA in 2021.

You must submit an Annual Report for each CUA that you were issued in 2021 - even if you did not conduct any tours in the Park. 

If we do not receive your annual report by the January 31, 2022, your 2022 CUA may be suspended until we receive your Annual Report.

The Checklist for Applicants, also found on the last page of the CUA Handbook, must be submitted to confirm a complete application packet.

 

What happens once I turn in my application?

You will receive an email letting you know we received your application. If you do not receive this email, please send your documents again. A staff member will check the documents for completeness in the next week and either place them in the queue for processing OR send you an email requesting missing information. Expect a permit to be processed anywhere from two to four weeks after the application packet is complete. We will send you the signed CUA via email and ask you to print out a copy to keep with your tour group when you enter the park. Please read the conditions of the permit carefully before entering the park.

Note: Applications are processed in the order in which they are received. Incomplete applications are not placed in the queue until they are complete. No expedited applications; no exceptions.

Management Fee

CUA holders will be charged a reasonable fee to ensure program cost recovery and for the identifiable economic privileges received from conducting business inside Grand Canyon National Park. Reasonable fees will be based on a percentage of gross receipts (Management Fee). An automatic Market Price fee calculator (see table below) is used to determine the Management Fee. Because the $300 Application Fee acts as a credit toward the percentage of gross receipts (Management Fee), operators grossing amounts less than $10,000 will not owe additional fees (3% of $10,000=$300) unless other actions of the operator necessitate further cost recovery.

The Management Fee is due by March 31st annually (for the prior operating year). The Annual Report, which determines the Management Fee due through the required reporting of gross receipts, is due by January 31st annually (for the prior operating year). The $300.00 Application Fee is credited towards the Management Fee, which is calculated as follows:

Management Fee Calculator based on Market Price

Gross Reciept Amount Percentage Management Fee Payment
$0.01 - $250,000.00 3% of gross receipts
$250,000.01 - $500,000.00 4% of gross receipts in addition to the prior amount
Over $500,000.01 5% of total gross receipts in addition to the prior amounts

In order to collect the Management Fee for applicable 2021 CUA holders, the permits office needs first to review your submitted Annual Report. The Annual Report is due January 31, 2022. After reviewing each CUA holder's Annual Report, the permits office will send a separate email with the Market Price Calculator. CUA holders will use this calculator to confirm the total CUA fees due (gross receipts earned minus the application fee). This payment process will be through Pay.gov and is separate from current application fees.

 
scenic of canyon buttes with clouds above

Submitting your CUA application packet

Preferred method:

Email your complete application packet in PDF format to grca_permits_mail@nps.gov

Please format the email subject line as: "[Company Name dba Name] 2022 CUA Application" (ex: Grand Canyon Tour Company dba GC Tours 2022 CUA Application)

You may also mail the complete application packet (which takes more time to process) to:

Grand Canyon National Park
Attn: Commercial Services
PO Box 129 (USPS)
3 Camper Services (UPS, FedEx, etc.)
Grand Canyon, AZ 86023

We highly recommend that you email your complete application packet. This reduces wait time and allows us to better track your application. Please wait at least two weeks before checking your permit status. We experience a high volume of applicants, over 700 a year, and cannot give companies individual attention. We recommend you submit your complete application by November 22 if you plan on operating in the park in January. Complete applications are processed in four weeks on average. No applications can be expedited. There are no exceptions.

Thank you for your interest in operating tours in Grand Canyon National Park. Questions? e-mail us or call 928-638-7707. Please note that this phone takes messages only; there is no live person who answers this phone. Leave a detailed message with your email address that is clearly enunciated so we can research your queries and return your call. For faster response times, please email.

 

Additional Information

Backcountry Camping Permits for Overnight Backpacking Operators

In addition to the CUA, Backpacking CUA holders are required to obtain all necessary backcountry camping permits from the Backcountry Information Center. Find more information about Backpacking Permits on the Backcountry Permits page.

Commercial Entrance Fees

Find more information about Commecial Entrace Fees on the Entrance Fees - Commercial Tours page.

 
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Last updated: March 31, 2022

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

PO Box 129
Grand Canyon , AZ 86023

Phone:

928-638-7888

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