Film, Photography, and Sound Recording Permits

Great Sand Dunes National Park Main Area Wilderness Map
Designated Wilderness Areas within Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve have unique laws and policies that relate to filming, photography, and sound recording.

When filming, photography, and sound recording activities occur in national parks, they must be consistent with the protection of park resources and avoid conflict with public use and enjoyment of the park.

2022 Changes to Commercial Filming Permits on Park Lands

Effective immediately, consistent with the direction provided in the October 28, 2022, Memorandum titled “Rescission of Interim Filming Guidance”, the Interim Guidance following the Price v Barr decision is rescinded and Section III: 36 CFR § 1.5 SC 24 and SC 25 of the compendium are no longer in effect. This decision reinstates the permit and fee requirements for commercial filming found in 54 U.S.C. § 100905, 43 C.F.R. Part 5 and 36 C.F.R. § 5.5.

Who Needs a Permit?

A special use permit is required for any individual, business, or organization (including nonprofit groups and educational institutions) filming for a market audience or receiving compensation associated with footage or recordings made in the park. Some examples include:


Commercial advertisements, feature films, entertainment broadcasts, documentaries, promotional or educational films (including non-profit and student projects) Filming for stock footage (regardless of equipment or crew size) Time-lapse photography if the final sequence will be used in a motion picture format for commercial purposes Use of large or unusual equipment, even for non-commercial purposes if activities warrant oversight by park staff

Still Photography

Still photography using models, props, sets, lighting, or other specialized equipment Use of large or unusual equipment, even for non-commercial purposes if activities warrant oversight by park staff.

Still Photography Workshops & Tours

A Commercial Use Authorization is required for photography workshops, tours, or portrait photographers not affiliated with a permitted wedding

Sound Recording

It takes place at location(s) where or when members of the public are generally not allowed It uses equipment that requires mechanical transport It uses equipment that requires an external power source other than a battery pack The agency would incur additional administrative costs to provide management and oversight of the permitted activity to: Avoid unacceptable impacts and impairment to resources or values Minimize health or safety risks to the visiting public


The following cases do not require a commercial film or still photography permit:

Visitors filming or taking pictures intended for their personal use and enjoyment. Special requests or use of large or unusual equipment may require permitting even if it is for personal use. Novice filmmakers should inquire with Film Office for more information (numbers listed below); the National Park Service does not issue retroactive permits. Credentialed news organizations documenting an event that cannot be covered at any other time or location. Please contact the Permits Office for more information.

Commercial Filming by Individuals or Small Groups

Federal law requires a permit for all commercial filming, no matter the size of the crew or the type of equipment. This includes individuals or small groups that don’t use much equipment, but generate revenue by posting footage on websites, such as YouTube and TikTok. The primary focus of the NPS, however, is on commercial filming that has the potential to impact park resources and visitors beyond what occurs from normal visitor use of park areas. Examples of this type of filming are productions that use substantial equipment such as sets and lighting, productions with crews that exceed 5 people, and filming in closed areas, wilderness areas, or in locations that would create conflicts with other visitors or harm sensitive resources. All filmers, no matter the size, must comply with all rules that apply in park areas, just like other visitors.


Commercial filming: film, electronic, magnetic, digital, or other recording of a moving image by a person, business, or other entity for a market audience with the intent of generating income. Examples include, but are not limited to, feature film, videography, and documentaries. Commercial filming may include the advertisement of a product or service, or the use of actors, models, sets, or props.

Model: a person or object that serves as the subject for commercial filming or still photography for the purposes of promoting sales or use of a product or service. Models include but are not limited to, individuals, animals, or inanimate objects such as vehicles, boats articles of clothing, and food and beverage products.

Sets and props: items constructed or placed on agency lands to facilitate commercial filming or still photography including, but not limited to, backdrops, generators, microphones, stages, lighting banks, camera tracks, vehicles specifically designed to accommodate camera or recording equipment, rope and pulley systems, and rigging for climbers and structures. Sets and props also include trained animals and inanimate objects, such as camping equipment, campfires, wagons, and so forth, when used to stage a specific scene. The use of a camera on a tripod, without the use of any other equipment, is not considered a prop.


Application Fees
The application fee includes three hours of administrative time; including phone calls, correspondence, application review, and project consultation, scheduling park staff, permit issuance, follow-up and billing.

Single production film/still photography/sound recording: $300

Projects with greater oversight and coordination (often called a production permit). Valid for the duration of the project depending on complexity not to exceed one year.

Permit expediting charge (permits applications within one week of requested date): $75

Monitoring hourly fee: $65

Location Fees
Commercial Filming

  • 1–2 people, camera & tripod only - $0/day
  • 1–10 people - $150/day
  • 11–30 people - $250/day
  • 31–49 people - $500/day
  • Over 50 people - $750/day

Still Photography

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

Interviews and Filming with Employees

Interviews with National Park Service employees may be available based on project content and staff availability. Please request interviews with park staff through the Permit Office. Do not reach out to staff directly. One-hour interviews at the employee's duty station will be scheduled through the Chief Ranger’s Office; additional time, if approved, may require additional cost recovery fees for staff time. Please note that while staff may demonstrate aspects of their job, they will not "act" or spend time on multiple "takes". Filming of employees will be scheduled in advance and take place in a controlled environment. Film crews are not permitted to shadow NPS employees on the job and placing body cameras on staff is prohibited. NPS employees will not participate in reality-style productions.

NPS Monitors

Great Sand Dunes National Park staff will be required to monitor certain filming, photography and sound recording activities. Crews are responsible for paying daily location fees and for monitors as well as any staff costs associated with the project (at $65/hour).Activities that require a monitor include (but are not limited to): some filming or photography in certain areas, filming "talent" along roadways or in developed areas, projects with large crews or extensive equipment, or when there is potential for resource damage or impacts to visitor use.


When marketing your project, please consider the public’s perception of how you obtained your footage. Promotion of tactics that were prohibited by your special use permit (such as the use of drones or remote cameras) may be misleading to visitors. The NPS is available to review your promotional materials prior to release, if requested.

A drone symbol with a red prohibited icon over it

Unmmanned Aircraft Policy

It is illegal to launch, land, or operate an unmanned aircraft from within the boundaries of Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve or other national park units. This law is to protect wildlife, emergency operations, and visitor privacy and enjoyment.

Filming in Wilderness

The National Park Service manages and protects more than 67 million acres of park lands and waters as wilderness areas. These areas have additional laws and policies to preserve their wilderness character for future generations. Filming activities in wilderness areas must follow all applicable laws and regulations that govern wilderness areas in the park, including prohibitions on structures, installations, motor vehicles, mechanical transport, motorized equipment, motorboats, or landing of aircrafts.Except for casual filming by visitors, special use permits for filming are required for all filming activities in wilderness areas, no matter the group size or equipment used.

How to apply

Filming, photography, and sound recording permits are considered in the order they are received. All applications must be completed in detail and returned with the non-refundable application fee. A minimum of 2 to 4 weeks (depending on project type and volume of requests) is required to process an application and issue a permit.

Send completed applications with application fee to:

Great Sand Dunes National Park
Attn: Permits Office
11500 State Hwy 150
Mosca, CO 81146


Email the Permit Office or call 719-378-6322.

Last updated: April 8, 2024

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

Visitor Center
11999 State Highway 150

Mosca, CO 81146


719 378-6395
Great Sand Dunes Visitor Center main number

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