What is a Special Park Use?
A special park use is defined as an 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 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 National Park Service (NPS); and
is not managed under a concession contract, a recreation activity for which the NPS charges a fee, or a lease;
is a short term activity.
The National Park Service may permit a special park use if the proposed activity will not:
cause injury, damage or impairments to park resources;
be contrary to the park’s purpose for which the park was established and the mission of the NPS;
unreasonably impair the atmosphere of peace and tranquility maintained in wilderness, natural, historic, or commemorative locations within the park; or
interfere with visitor use, access, and programs
interfere with park management or administration;
interfere with concession operations or other public facilities;
present a clear and present danger to public health and safety.
Permit Application Process
To apply for all types of special use permits, submit an application. Please, contact Special Park Use Administrator via email or phone (906) 487-7148 with any questions.
For all special use activities (besides still photography), download this application.
Submit applications between January 2nd and May 15th via email to the address listed on the application or mail an original application to:
Attn: Special Park Use Administrator
Isle Royale National Park
800 E Lakeshore Drive
Houghton, MI 49931
All questions on the application form should be answered as accurately and completely as possible. This will assist the park in determining the appropriateness of the planned activities and help to estimate NPS costs that may be incurred in managing, facilitating, or supporting the use. Submission of the application form and fee payment does not imply permission for any special use or event.
There is a $50 non-refundable application fee that can be paid at pay.gov or via check, included with a mailed in application.
Contact Special Park Use Administrator via email or phone (906)487-7148 with any questions or fee-exemption requests.
Permits cannot be processed until we receive your application and any required payments.
A special use permit often requires general commercial liability insurance. The insurance and the permittee indemnify the park from liability, injury, or damages resulting from the actions or inaction of the permittee. General liability insurance must be carried by the permittee showing the U. S. Government as additionally insured. Certificates of Insurance must show coverage on "occurrence" basis. If required by the park, the minimum amount of commercial liability insurance is $1,000,000 per occurrence, and $2,000,000 aggregate. Additional amounts may be required for high-risk activities and events. The park will often waive insurance for low-risk activities such as a commemorative ceremony. The United States of America, Department of Interior will be listed as "additional-insured" or "certificate holder" on the Certificate of Liability Insurance.
Prior approval is required if alcoholic beverages are to be served during the course of a special use permit, and an additional insurance endorsement in the form of liquor liability or host liability will be required. The park sets the insurance amount based on the activity size and local conditions. Liability insurance should be issued in the name of the group, not the applicant.
Permittees who enter the park for recreational purposes are subject to the same entrance fees as the general public.
The NPS will recover costs incurred in administering permits and monitoring the activities it authorizes.
Applications are only accepted from January 2nd to May 15th each year.
Fees charged for administering a permit may include the following:
All permit activities must meet National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements and go through an environmental screening process.