Special Use Permits

Certain types of activities require a special use permit. These include many types of organized gatherings, distribution of printed material and other public expressions of opinion, and other activities that are controlled or prohibited. See the following definitions and examples to determine if your use might be included.

It is the policy of the National Park Service (NPS) to allow special uses that are not in conflict with law or policy; will not result in derogation of the values and purposes for which the park was established; do not present a threat to public safety or property and do not unduly interfere with normal park operations, resource protection, or visitor use.

The park has the authority and responsibility to evaluate applicant requests, permit, manage, and/or deny all special uses within the park. Therefore, before any permit will be granted, consideration will be given to potential park resource impacts, as well as impacts to visitor use, access to park sites, or park administration. There are cost recovery fees associated with the administration and management of special use permits for costs incurred by the park. Special park use guidelines state that “it is the policy of the NPS to charge permit fees for special uses. Permit fees should reflect the fair market value of a benefit provided the permittee. The fair market value of a special use is the value of the lands or facilities used and the NPS cost incurred in managing, facilitating, or supporting the use.”

A special park use is defined as a short-term activity that takes place in a park area, and that:

  • Provides a benefit to an individual, group, or organization rather than the public at large;
  • Requires written authorization and some degree of management control from the National Park Service (NPS) in order to protect park resources and the public interest;
  • Is not prohibited by law or regulation; Is not initiated, sponsored, or conducted by the NPS; and Is not managed under a concession contract, a recreation activity for which the NPS charges a fee, or a lease.

What Activities Require a Special Use Permit?

A special use permit (SUP) is required for activities that benefit an individual, group, or organization rather than the public at large. Examples of activities that require a permit at Guadalupe Mountains include, but are not limited to:


Other Activities That Require Use-Specific Permits


Permit for Organized Group Recreation

Any organized gathering of a group of people for recreation, including hiking, within the park may require a Special Use Permit. “Groups” are any organized gathering of people, including (but not limited to):

  • Clubs/meet-up groups
  • Church groups
  • Scouts
  • School groups
  • Mountaineering groups
  • Youth groups


Permit for Photography

All commercial photography requires a permit. “Commercial photography” involves the digital or film recording of a visual image by a person, business, or other entity for a market audience. This includes recordings such as those used for a documentary, television or feature film, advertisement, or similar project.


Permit for Filming

All commercial filming requires a permit. "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, or the use of actors, models, sets, or props. 


Permit to Scatter Ashes

Human ashes may be scattered in Guadalupe Mountains National Park with a permit.


Permit to Visit a Documented Airplane Crash Site

All aircraft crash sites within the park boundary are closed, except through limited access granted through an approved Special Use Permit. Between 1943 and 1986, 22 Americans (civilian and military) lost their lives in nine aircraft accidents inside the present park boundary, and this restriction maintains the solemn commemorative and historic character of these sites of tragedy and prevents damage or loss to cultural resources.


Permit for Off-Trail Hiking

Any person or persons planning to hike off trail in the park must obtain a Special Use Permit before they attempt the hike. If you are unsure that your proposed route falls under this policy, please contact permit staff.

Last updated: May 9, 2024

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