Permits & Reservations

Picnic Reservations

All picnic areas along the George Washington Memorial Parkway are available on a first-come, first-serve basis EXCEPT Fort Hunt Park. A fee is required to reserve picnic areas A, B, C-1, C-2, C-3, and D at Fort Hunt Park from mid-April through October. ALL RESERVATIONS ARE MADE ONLINE. Please visit to check availbilty, make a reservation and for descriptions. If you have any additonal questions or concerns, please call (703) 235-1530 or (202) 439-7325.

All other picnic areas along the George Washington Memorial Parkway are first-come, first-serve. For example, Great Falls Park, Glen Echo Park, Jones Point Park, Gravelly Point Park, Daingerfield Island, Belle Haven Park, Lady Bird Joshnson Park, Collingwood Park, and Riverside Park.

Picnic style only. No additional or large equipment is allowed.

National Park Service announces interim guidance for filming in parks

Date: February 22, 2021

WASHINGTON – The National Park Service (NPS) today announced interim guidance, in response to Price v. Barr, regarding the management of filming in park areas. Under the guidance, low-impact filming will be exempt from advance notice and permit requirements, while other filming activities may need a permit to address potential impacts to resources and the visitor experience. Until further guidance is issued, the NPS will not require location fees, application fees or additional cost-recovery charges.

Under the interim guidance, the NPS will no longer distinguish among different types of filming (commercial, non-commercial, news gathering). Low-impact filming activities in areas open to the public may occur without any advance notice to the NPS or the need to obtain a permit. The guidance defines “low-impact” as outdoor filming activities in areas open to the public (excluding areas managed as wilderness), consisting of groups of five persons or fewer, and involving equipment that will be carried at all times—except for small tripods used to hold cameras.

Filming without a permit is prohibited in areas managed as wilderness or in areas that are closed to the public. All activities in park areas—including filming—must comply with all visitor use regulations, including those prohibiting resource damage, protecting wildlife or mitigating audio disturbances, as well as any restrictions on visitor use in the park’s compendium, such as restrictions on the use of unmanned aircraft systems (drones).

Non-low-impact filming activities require at least 10 days advance notice to the NPS by contacting the park directly. During this time, the superintendent will determine whether the filming activities will require a permit. Based upon the information provided, a permit may be required if necessary to:

  • maintain public health and safety;

  • protect environmental or scenic values;

  • protect natural or cultural resources;

  • allow for equitable allocation and use of facilities; or

  • avoid conflict among visitor use activities.

Filming activities must not violate applicable laws, such as the Endangered Species Act, the Archeological Resources Protection Act, or the Wilderness Act. All filming must comply with laws protecting the NPS’s intellectual property, such as laws and regulations governing the use of the NPS Arrowhead and images of NPS employees.

This interim guidance responds to the recent U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia decision in Price v. Barr determining the permit and fee requirements applying to commercial filming under 54 USC 100905, 43 CFR Part 5, and 36 CFR Part 5.5 are unconstitutional. Previously, commercial filming in parks was prohibited without a permit. The NPS was also required to collect cost recovery and location fees for commercial filming activities. As needed, parks also issued permits for news gathering activities under 54 USC 100905 and non-commercial filming under 54 USC 100101 and 54 USC 100751(a). The interim guidance announced today will eventually be replaced with regulations addressing filming activities that are consistent with the outcome of the litigation.

Commercial Filming

Changes to Commercial Filming Permits on Park Land

On January 22, 2021, the US District Court for the District of Columbia issued a decision in Price v. Barr determining the permit and fee requirements applying to commercial filming under 54 USC 100905, 43 CFR Part 5, and 36 CRF Part 5 are unconstitutional. The National Park Service is currently determining how this decision will be implemented.

Following the recent court decision, the National Park Service will not be implementing or enforcing the commercial filming portions of 43 CFR Part 5 until further notice, including accepting applications, issuing permits, enforcing the terms and conditions of permits, issuing citations related to permits, or collecting cost recovery and location fees for commercial filming activities.

As regulations regarding commercial filming permits are being reassessed, those interested in commercial filming activities on land managed by the National Park Service are encouraged to contact the park directly for more information about filming in the park and to discuss how to minimize potential impacts to visitors and sensitive park resources.

Do I need a permit to film?

Currently, the National Park Service is not issuing commercial filming permits, but is in the process of evaluating how best to regulate filming activities that affect visitors and park resources. All applicable laws and regulations governing activities and public use in parks still apply, including park hours and areas open and closed to the public. Videographers, filmers, producers, directors, and other staff associated with commercial filming are reminded that rules and regulations that apply to all park visitors still apply to filming activities even if no permit is needed for their activity. Check with the park staff for more information on closures, sensitive resources, and other safety tips.

Are filmers still required to pay fees to film in parks?

As of January 22, 2021, the National Park Service is no longer collecting application or location fees, or cost recovery for filming.

Still Photography

When is a permit needed?

Price v. Barr had no impact on how the National Park Service regulates still photography, so there are no changes in how the National Park Service regulates that activity. Still photographers require a permit only when:

  1. the activity takes place at location(s) where or when members of the public are generally not allowed; or
  2. the activity uses model(s), sets(s), or prop(s) that are not a part of the location's natural or cultural resources or administrative facilities; or
  3. a park would incur additional administrative costs to monitor the activity.

How do I apply for a permit?

Permit applications are available through each park's administrative office or website. Contact information for parks can be found on their websites; visit Find a Park to locate the park where you would like to photograph. You should submit a completed application along with the application fee to the park where you want to film or photograph as far in advance of your planned date as possible. In addition, you should request a meeting with park staff if your proposed activity is unusual or complex. Early consultation with park staff will help them process the submitted application in a timely manner.

What fees will I have to pay?

The National Park Service will collect a cost recovery charge and a location fee for still photography permits. Cost recovery includes an application fee and any additional charges to cover the costs incurred by the National Park Service in processing your request and monitoring your permit. This amount will vary depending on the park and the size and complexity of your permit. The application fee must be submitted with your application.

In addition, the National Park Service has been directed by Congress to collect a fee to provide a fair return to the United States for the use of park lands. The National Park Service uses the following still photography fee schedule:

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

Are there other permit requirements?

You may be required 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 may also be asked to post a bond to ensure the payment of all charges and fees and the restoration of the area if necessary.

What about photography workshops?

If you are planning a photography workshop, you may need a commercial use authorization. See the commercial use authorization page for more information.

Picnic Reservations

A fee is required to reserve picnic areas A, B, C-1, C-2, C-3, and D at Fort Hunt Park from mid-April through October. All other picnic areas are available on a first come, first served basis for free. Please call 1-877-444-6777 or visit for descriptions and reservations. If you have any additonal questions or concerns, please call (703) 235-1530.

All other picnic areas along the George Washington Memorial Parkway are first-come, first-serve. For example, Belle Haven Park, Collingwood Park, and Riverside Park.

Picnic style only. No addiitonal or large equipment is allowed.



The mission of the National Park Service is to preserve park resources "unimpaired" for the enjoyment of future generations. Therefore, any activities that would cause degradation of or detract from the values and purposes for which a park has been established cannot be permitted.

In order to coordinate special park use events it is necessary to require permits for certain activities. The Special Use Permit (SUP) program authorizes activities that provide benefit to an individual, group or organization, rather than the public at large; and that require written authorization and some degree of management control in order to protect park resources and the public interest. These activities include, but are not limited to:

  • Special events

  • Sporting Events

  • Military Ceremony

  • Public assemblies, including first amendment right activities

  • Operating a public address system or other sound amplified audio devices

  • Weddings

  • Photography

  • Filming

  • Scatter Cremains

Applying for a Permit

The permit systems helps assure that the large amount of events that may be taking place on any given day will not conflict with each other and with general visitor activities. All application, unless determined to be a First Amendment activity, must be accompanied by a payment for initial processing.

  1. Please contact the George Washington Memorial Parkway Permits Office at (703) 289-2513 first to determine if the location is availability and if your event is permittable.

  2. Access website to make a payment and complete the application. Your permit may require the payment of cost recovery.

  3. Permit fees, including permit monitoring and film location fees, can now be paid by credit card. (Check or money orders are still accepted.) Paying by credit card offers the advantage of convenience and speed, and also makes it simpler to complete a reimbursement should one be necessary.

  4. The Permits Specialist will confirm receipt and review application.


First Amendment, Filming/Photography and Public Events Permits

Permits for first amendment rights demonstrations, public events, and/or commercial filming and photography that take place along the George Washington Memorial Parkway are required by C.F.R., Title 36, Chapter 1, Section 7.96 to be processed through the National Capital Region (NCR) Park Programs Division.

To obtain a Regional Office Permits application and additional information, contact the NCR Park Programs Division office at (202) 245-4715 or visit the Regional Office website. To determine if your event will be processed by the park or region, please contact the Special Park Use Coordinator at (703) 289-2513.

Commercial Use Authorizations (Permits for Commercial Uses)

A commercial use authorization allows you to conduct commercial activities and provide specific visitor services in the park that result in compensation, monetary gain, benefit, or profit to you.

Commercial Vehicle Use and Parking

All operators of commercial vehicles must have a special use permit to drive on park roads. Commercial vehicles are defined in 36 C.F.R. 5.6 as vehicles "used in transporting movable property for a fee or profit, either as a direct charge to another person, or otherwise, or used as an incident to providing services to another person, or used in connection with any business."

Right of Way

Right of way permits are required for commercial purposes for which people must pass over, under, or through park property. Examples of activities that require a right of way permit include use of the parkway by commercial vehicles, construction over or adjacent to park property, and work on utilities that pass through park property.

Temporary Construction

Contractors requesting to perform work on lands administered by the George Washington Memorial Parkway to include the Clara Barton Parkway and Spout Run Parkway are required to obtain a permit prior to starting work.

Please contact the Right of Way Permit Coordinator at (703) 419-6435

Insurance Requirements

The George Washington Memorial Parkway requires all permittees to obtain a certificate of insurance for general liability. The National Park Service must be listed as an additional insured in the certificate of insurance. Please contact the Permit Office at (703) 289-2513 for amounts of insurance coverage required for your permi

Permit Fees & Cost Recovery

Federal Law authorizes the National Park Service to recover costs associated with special use permits. Cost recovery for permit issuance is done in accordance with 54 USC 103104 and National Park Service policies for special park uses. As directed by Congress, the National Park Service collects a fee to recover the cost of administering permits. Recoverable fees are charged for permits as described in 16 U.S.C. 3a, 31 U.S.C. 9701, and National Park Service Guidelines for Special Park Uses.

  • An Application Charge must accompany the application for a permit. This charge covers the costs involved in analyzing and processing the request for an application including secretarial, printing, mailing costs and the administrative charge. This is a non-refundable fee.

    • An Administrative Charge reflects the actual costs incurred by the National Park Service in processing the permit, from its inception to final approval. It also includes all our costs associated with Natural and/or Cultural compliance. This cost recovery element for basic events, subject to determination by the park's permit coordinator, is included in the above listed application charges.

    • Monitoring Costs cover the actual costs incurred by the park accomplishing the required monitoring or management of the permit. This cost is determined on a case-by-case basis. An estimate of the monitoring cost will be provided to the permittee before a Bill for Collection is sent.


Last updated: February 23, 2022

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George Washington Memorial Parkway Headquarters
700 George Washington Memorial Parkway

McLean , VA 22101


703 289-2500

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