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Commercial Use Authorizations (CUA)

Click on a link below for a list of businesses authorized under a CUA:
Commerical Use Authorizations listed by type of service
Commercial Use Authorizations for wedding and photography services

What is a CUA?
A commercial use authorization is a business permit with the National Park Service that authorizes an individual, group, company, or other for-profit entity to conduct commercial activities and provide specific visitor services within a national park area. The National Park Service will only issue CUAs for commercial activities and visitor services that:

  • are determined to be an appropriate use of Great Smoky Mountains National Park;
  • will have minimal impact on Great Smoky Mountains National Park's resources and values; and
  • are consistent with Great Smoky Mountains National Park's purpose, management plans, policies, and regulations.
A CUA is required if you, as an individual, organization, or company, provide any goods, activities, services, agreements, or other function for members, clients, or the public that:
  • take place at least in part in Great Smoky Mountains National Park,
  • use park resources, and
  • result in compensation, monetary gain, benefit, or profit.
Businesses and individuals may not conduct commercial activities in the park without a valid CUA or in a manner inconsistent with the terms of the CUA.

The park currently issues CUAs for the following visitor services:
  • Hiking, backpacking, and fishing guide services
  • Phtography guide services and workshops
  • Certain commercial wedding and portrait photography activities
  • Hiker shuttle services
  • Guided tours and workshops
  • Boat trips and shuttles on Fontana Lake
  • Emergency road service and towing

CUA Applications
We issue CUAs for the following categories:

If you are a CUA holder who provides multiple services in the park; for example, your company provides both overhight backpacking as well as hiker shuttle services; you will be required to get two CUAs to cover both services.


CUA Fees

Application Fee: $250 Due for each CUA applied for

This fee is payable by check or money order sent to the park address, or by credit/debit card, PayPal, Amazon, or bank transfer through the online system, www.pay.gov. Simply search for the form "Great Smoky Mountains NP Commercial Use Authorization Fees" in pay.gov to be directed to the proper payment site. You will need to submit a copy of the payment confirmation page with your CUA application as proof of payment.

Annual Market Price Fee: Based on percentage of annual gross receipts

This fee is due after the first calendar year of operation and will be based on a percentage of gross receipts minus the $250 Application Fee. The CUA holder will be notified of the exact amount owed after the submission of the Annual Reporting form.

The standard market price range is as follows:
Gross Receipts Earned From Park Operations Market Price Percentage Charged
< $250,000 3% of gross receipts
$250,000 to $500,000 4% of gross receipts
> $500,000 5% of gross receipts

For companies whose percentage of gross receipts does not reach $250 during the first year of the CUA, no remaining fees will be owed for that year. If the percentage of second year gross recipts plus the percentage of the first year does not reach $250, again nothing will be owed for the second year of operation. CUA holders will only owe the market price when the percentage of their gross receipts for the two years exceeds $250.

A CUA Fee Calculator has been developed to assist in estimating the annual CUA feed due to the park.

Annual Reporting Form
The Annual Market Price Fee will be based on the Annual Report form which is due to the park by March 1 of each year. This form outlines the operations and monies collected from CUA operations from the previous year.

CUA Application Process
Processing time for CUA permits can take four or more weeks depending on the time of year so please plan accordingly. All applications will be processed in the order in which they are received. Please submit all required documents in one application packet. Any incomplete applications will be placed on hold until all required documents are received.

Additional CUA Information for Applications
Guide Registration Form
Tour Bus Guide

Submitting Your Application
Complete application packets can be mailed to:

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Attn: Concessions Office
107 Park Headquarters Rd
Gatlinburg, TN 37738

Or emailed to:
GRSM_Concessions@nps.gov

For additional information about CUA permits, please email the park.


 

Concessions
Several concessioners provide commercial services for visitors to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Services provided by concessioners are those that have been determined to be necessary and appropriate for public use and enjoyment of the park. Services provided by concessioners in the park include horseback riding, carriage rides, hayrides, bicycle rental, campground convenience items, and backcountry food and lodging.

Click for a list of concessioners operating in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This file includes a map of concession locations in the park.

Concessioners operate under concession contracts that are awarded periodically through a competitive selection process. The opportunity to compete for award of a concession contract is published in a prospectus that is available to the public. Click to go to the National Park Service prospectus website.

Last updated: October 19, 2017

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

107 Park Headquarters Road
Gatlinburg, TN 37738

Phone:

(865) 436-1200

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