Special Use Permits

Panoramic view of colorful red and yellow striped hills
Views from the Painted Hills Overlook

NPS Photo

The Special Use Permit (SUP) authorizes activities that benefit an individual, group or organization, rather than the public at large; and that require written authorization and management control in order to protect park resources and the public interest. A SUP is required for any organized activity or event to take place within the monument. Use limits and permit requirements are decided on a case by case review and are based on limited parking and facilities, potential conflict with other visitor activities, and impacts to natural and cultural resources.

Types of permitted activities include:

  • Weddings
  • Picnics
  • Scattering of ashes
  • First Amendment activities
  • Commercial Photography



When do you need a permit to film in parks? 

Under federal law, all commercial filming that occurs within a unit of the National Park System requires a permit. 428 units make up the National Park System, and includes National Parks, National Monuments, National Preserves, National Battlefield Parks, and more. A full list of parks in the National Park System is available online: National Park System (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov)

If you believe that your filming or photography activity may require a permit, you should submit a completed application to the park where you want to film or photograph as far in advance of your planned date as possible. 

What is commercial filming? 

"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.

Do I need a permit for still photography? 

In most cases, still photography does not require a permit. A permit is required for still photography only when:

  1. the activity may disrupt general public use of the park or adversely affect park resources and values; 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. the NPS would incur additional administrative costs to monitor the activity.

*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 I’m a social media influencer, do I need a permit? 

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, no matter the size, must comply with all rules that apply in park areas, just like other visitors.

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; Find a park where you would like to film or take photographs. If you believe that your filming or photography activity may require a permit, you should submit a completed application to the park where you want to film or photograph as far in advance of your planned date as possible.  

Some parks may require that you provide advance notice a certain amount of days before filming or photography begins. 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.

How much does a filming permit cost?

Federal law requires the NPS 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 NPS in processing your request and monitoring the permitted activities. This amount will vary depending on the park and the size and complexity of the permitted activities. The application fee must be submitted with your application.

In addition, Federal law also requires the NPS to collect a location fee that provides a fair return to the United States for the use of park lands for commercial filming and for still photography requires a permit. The NPS uses the following fee schedules for filming and photography:

Commercial Filming

  • 1–2 people, camera & tripod only - $0/day

  • 1–10 people - $150/day

  • 11–30 people - $250/day

  • 31–49 people - $500/day

  • Over 50 people - $750/day

Still Photography

  • 1–10 people - $50/day

  • 11–30 people - $150/day

  • Over 30 people - $250/day

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.
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.
Applications for Special Use Permits should be received by the park no less than 45 days prior to your proposed activity date. The only exception to this is for First Amendment activities; please allow two days for these permits if possible

There is no application fee for permits for non-commercial activities.

Contact: Rita Garcia

email: rita_garcia@nps.gov
phone 541.987.2333 x 1214
John Day Fossil Beds
32651 Hwy 19
Kimberly, OR 97848

John Day Fossil Beds National Monument allows weddings in the park under a special use permit. In general, the park will approve permits for small weddings in two locations around the Painted Hills.
Do I need a permit?
Any ceremony conducted in the park requires a permit.
Where can I get married in the park?
Weddings are currently permitted in the following places in the park with the stated group size limitations.

Site Max number of Participants Max number of parking vehicles Are Chairs Allowed?
Painted Hills PicnicArea 50 6 Yes
Painted Hills TrailOverlook 16 5 A limited number of chairs permitted for elderly participants or those with physical limitations

What kind of wedding can I have in the park?
Weddings in the park are simple, no-frills ceremonies in an outdoor setting. If you are looking for a place that allows music, decorations, runners, arches, tents, or other extras, this will not be your best option.
How much does a special use permit for a wedding cost?
The application for a wedding permit is $50.00. A cashier's check, money order, or personal check should accompany your application. Application form link is near the top of this page.

What is the process for applying for a permit?
Once your application is reviewed, the park will contact you for any clarifying information. After approval, a special use permit will be prepared and sent to you for signature. Upon receipt, please review, sign, and return the permit to our office for final approval. If your ceremony plans change, notify our office immediately. After the permit is approved, we will send you an authorized copy. The approved permit must be in your possession at the time of the ceremony.

Weddings or ceremonies may be scheduled up to one year in advance and no later than 21 days prior to your event.

Last updated: February 22, 2024

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32651 Highway 19
Kimberly, OR 97848


541 987-2333

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