Special Use Permits Overview
Special Use Permits must be acquired:
For authorization of commercial use such as portrait photography, concessions or commercial guiding, please visit our Commercial Use Authorizations page.
For questions or for more information, email or call the Chief Ranger at 719-378-6321.
Please download the appropriate application below (General Special Use Permit Application, Commercial Filming Permit Application, or Commercial Use Authorization), complete all sections, and mail with any required fees to:
General Special Use Permit Application (for weddings and other special events; Word file, updated 2017)
There are a number of locations that may be used for weddings, including locations along the edge of the dunes, the picnic areas, and the Amphitheater. View images of potential wedding locations:
Edge of Dunes (wedding photo at Castle Creek Picnic Area, 4WD access along Medano Pass Primitive Road).
Application FormsThe National Park Service and Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve require an application to be submitted for review of the project. The short form (Word file, updated January 25, 2017) is to be used for still photography and some smaller video/film projects. The long form (Word file, updated January 25, 2017), is to be used for more complicated video/film projects where more information is required to evaluate the application.
Remember, you are dealing with a Federal government agency and we have guidelines and time lines we must follow when considering projects which involve potential impacts to our park resources. Moreover, we must do this within pre-existing projects and workloads. Do not expect a one-day turnaround. Provide as much lead time as possible. Include us at the idea stage. It is easier for us to adjust to changes as the plan evolves, than for us to try to rush through a review of a finished plan that needs to be implemented tomorrow. Up to two weeks may be required for administrative review of a complex proposed filming activity while smaller projects can generally be reviewed within three business days. Please allow adequate time for this review process as questions may arise that would delay a decision.
Who Needs a Permit?
**Model means 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.
Permits are NOT Generally Required When:
Permit Types and Fees
The application fee includes two hours of administrative time; including phone calls, correspondence, application review, and project consultation, scheduling park staff, permit issuance, follow-up and billing. Additional administrative time will be billed at a rate of $50/hour.
Production Film or Still Photography Permit: $200
Projects with greater oversight and coordination (more complexity; often called a production permit). Commercial videographers, photographers, or cinematographers with crews of three or more, involving one or more of the following: crew larger than 2 people, interviews, NPS staff research or monitoring requests, compliance, sensitive locations, filming in wilderness areas, commercial vehicles, props and additional equipment (i.e. monitors, lights, etc). May be valid for the duration of the project not to exceed 1 year.
Student Film or Still Photography Permit: $100
(valid for a single production OR annual stock permit only for students with proof of current enrollment of an accredited school).
Public Law 106-206 instructs the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture to "establish a reasonable fee for commercial filming activities or similar projects on Federal lands…" Early in April, 2006, the National Park Service published a final rule removing the prohibition against the NPS charging a fee "for the making of motion pictures, television productions or sound tracks…" Beginning May 15, 2006, a location fee will be charged for all commercial filming and still photography permits. The location fee is in addition to cost recovery charges that are currently being collected.
Beginning May 15, 2006 the following location fee schedule is in effect:
Motion Pictures/Videos Commercial Still Photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve 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 $50/hour). This fee will be paid before the permit is issued. Monitors are generally required for large crews or projects with extensive equipment, or when there is potential for impacts to visitor use or resource damage.
On-camera appearances by employees are allowed under the following conditions:
General liability insurance is required. This is an original certificate of insurance with a rider stating that the United States of America is named as additionally insured and must be provided to the park before the permit is issued and filming begins. Insurance amounts may vary depending on the complexity of the project as well as risks. The general bond schedule is:
Termination of Permit
Approved Filming Locations
Commercial filming is prohibited within designed wilderness areas. Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve contains two designed wilderness areas. The map at left highlights the wilderness areas in yellow. This includes the main dunefield.
The Special Park Use Coordinator can help you find a location outside of the wilderness areas.
Last updated: March 10, 2020