When film, 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.
When do you need a permit to film in Grand Teton?
Under federal law, all commercial filming that occurs within a unit of the National Park Service requires a permit.
The term “commercial filming” means the 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, and the use of actors, models, sets, or props.
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 must comply with all rules that apply in park areas.
*Wilderness areas: By National Park Service policy, recommended, potential, and eligible wilderness is managed the same as designated wilderness. Grand Teton's recommended and proposed wilderness areas are shown on this map. Learn more about 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. Visit Wilderness in National Parks and Grand Teton National Park Wilderness for more information.
The applicable laws and regulations include the Wilderness Act of 1964, National Park Service Management Policies 2006 (Chapter 6), Director's Order 41 Wilderness Stewardship (specifically 7.3 Commercial Services), and Reference Manual 41 Wilderness Stewardship.
Director's Order 41 Wilderness Stewardship (specifically 7.3 Commercial Services) states that commercial filming in wilderness has two legal requirements:
“In most cases, park managers should work with the applicant to find locations outside of wilderness that can accommodate this use. If wilderness locations are justified, then the activities should minimize impacts to other visitors’ enjoyment of wilderness and only use the minimum amount of wilderness needed for the activity for the shortest possible period of time.”
Grand Teton may require a permit for non-commercial filming if necessary to manage the activity to protect park resources and values, minimize conflict between user groups, or to ensure public safety. Examples of non-commercial filming include, but are not limited to, filming for tourism bureaus, convention and visitor bureaus, student filming, and filming for personal use and enjoyment. If you have questions about whether a non-commercial film project requires a permit, please e-mail us or call 307-739-3616 in advance.
In most cases a permit is not necessary for visitors filming for personal enjoyment.
When is a permit needed for still photography?
In most cases, still photography does not require a permit. A permit is required for still photography when:
* A “model” means a person or object that serves as the subject for still photography for the purpose of promoting the sale 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. Portrait subjects, such as wedding parties and high school graduates, are not considered models, if the image will not be used to promote or sell a product or service.
When is a permit needed for sound recording?
Audio recording does not require a permit unless:
Fees & How to Apply
Federal law requires the National Park Service to recover its administrative costs for commercial filming and still photography activities that require a permit. Cost recovery includes an application fee and any additional charges to cover the costs incurred by the park in processing your request and monitoring your permit. The application fee must be submitted with your application.
Commercial Filming Location Fees
Still Photography Location Fees
Permits issued for non-commercial filming may be subject to cost recovery charges, including an application fee, but a separate location fee will not be charged.
Upon approval of the application, if it is deemed that a monitor is to be assigned to your project, there will be a cost recovery rate of $200.00 per monitor for the first two hours and $50.00 per monitor per hour thereafter.
Park Entrance Fees are Exepemt
Film, 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 30 days before the requested activity date.
Most requests should be processed within 30 days of receipt of a complete application without alteration, with the exception of:
Your request will be evaluated on the basis of the information in your application. If substantial staff resources are expended in the evaluation of the request, the applicant will be billed for the additional costs. In compliance with the requirements of the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996, applicants must submit their social security number or Federal Tax ID number when filling out the application for permit. Park managers will not sign location releases supplied by applicants.
Download and complete the appropriate application.
Pay fees through Pay.gov.
The application fee must be paid at the time of submitting the application and is not refundable. The location fee and monitoring fee (if applicable) must be paid before the permit is finalized and issued.
Email completed application(s) to GRTE_Visitor_Services@nps.gov.
What else do I need to know about film, photography, and sound recording permits?
Filming and photography permits will contain terms and conditions that are necessary to protect park resources and visitors. They will specify the location and time of the activity and the number of personnel and equipment that may be used. The permits also may require you to obtain liability insurance naming the United States as additionally insured in an amount commensurate with the risk posed to park resources by your proposed activity. You also may be required to post a bond to ensure the payment of all charges and fees and the restoration of the area, if necessary.
For filming and photography activities which are perceived to interfere with visitor use, further congest highly visited areas, or have the potential to impact park resources without proper supervision and care, at least one employee of the Grand Teton National Park will be assigned to the crew. Degree of monitoring is based on crew size, equipment, props, scope of the project, location(s), time of day, and time of year:
Proof of insurance is required, and documentation must carry a commercial liability (minimum of $1 million) issued by a U.S. company. Insurance certificate must identify the production company by name and business address. If permittee uses a different name than listed on insurance policy, the relationship between insured company and permittee's company must be identified. The United States of America will be named "additional insured" on the insurance certificate. The address should also include United States of America, Grand Teton National Park, Office of Special Park Uses, P. O. Box 170 Moose, WY 83012.
Generally, the minimum acceptable amount of liability insurance is $1 million each occurrence. High-risk activities or activities which may have the potential for resource impact require higher liability amounts. Smaller, low-risk projects or still photography may be eligible for a reduction to $500,000. Contact our office for details. A request for a permit may be denied if there is no proof of adequate insurance.
Personal or homeowners’ liability is not acceptable. Certificate should be generated by the insurance company. Handwritten "certificate holder" information is unacceptable. We will accept a faxed copy of the certificate until your insurance company can mail us the original.
A refundable damage bond, drawn as a separate payment, may be required for those projects that have a high potential for resource damage or potential for site restoration. The bond amount is determined by estimating the cost of monitoring and site restoration, should you fail to adequately care for or complete cleanup of the site. This amount will be specified in the permit. The permittee is responsible for removal of equipment, props, and trash, and restoration of the site to original condition, or in a condition satisfactory to the National Park Service. If this is not done, all or part of the damage bond will be retained to offset clean-up/recovery expenses. If it is not needed, the bond is released when the on-site National Park Service representative signs off that site restoration is complete, and all site use charges have been paid. If a surplus remains after the costs have been reimbursed, the surplus is returned to the permittee. If the bond does not cover all the costs, you will be billed for the difference.
Applications for permits may be denied for any of the following reasons:
All permits issued by the National Park Service are “revocable” on 24-hours’ notice or without notice if the terms of the permit are violated. Deliberate infractions of terms contained in permit or deliberate making of false or misleading statements concerning intended actions in order to obtain a permit are causes for immediate termination of the permit and for possible prosecution.
Interviews and on-camera appearances by employees are allowed and may be available based on project content and staff availability under the following conditions:
Government property, including the uniform, will not be used, loaned or rented to a film company, or diverted from its normal use, for filming purposes except as stated in 43 C.F.R. 20.735.15 -Rental of NPS equipment on a reimbursable basis pursuant to 16 U.S.C. 1.
Government symbols: use of the NPS Arrowhead in titles, credits, or other deliberate disclosures requires the permission of the NPS Director (36 C.F.R. 11.2 and Special Directive 93-7).
Special Directive 93-7 declares that the use of the Arrowhead is controlled through law and regulation. Hence, under 36 C.F.R. 11.2, the Director may authorize the use of the Arrowhead “for uses that will contribute to the purposes of education and conservation as they relate to the program of the National Park Service.” The NPS may actively assist filming and photography activities that promote public understanding and appreciation of the National Park Service and the Director may authorize use of the arrowhead symbol for such filming projects. All other uses are prohibited, such as advertising, promotional or directly commercial purposes.
Incidental filming of the symbol which may include the shoulder patch of a uniformed employee, an NPS vehicle, or entrance or similar sign is prohibited.
For more information call 307-739-3616 or e-mail us.
Last updated: November 17, 2022