Commercial Use Authorizations

Woman kayaking through icy Alaskan waters
A kayaker maintains a safe distance while navigating the icy waters in front of Bear Glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park.

NPS Photo/Fiona Ritter-Davis

Section 418 of the National Parks Omnibus Management Act of 1998, Public Law 105-391, authorizes the National Park Service to issue Commercial Use Authorizations (CUAs) to persons (referring to individuals, corporations, and other entities) to provide commercial services to park area visitors in limited circumstances. CUAs provide a means to authorize suitable commercial services to visitors in park areas. The CUA is used to provide for incidental use of park area resources by operators who provide commercial services originating and terminating outside of the park area (Out-of-Park-Services). The term of a CUA may not exceed two years and no preferential right of renewal or similar provisions for renewal may be provided.

Attention: CUA Program changes at Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve take effect November 1, 2018. (See Glacier Bay 2018 CUA update for details).

In 2022, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve (WRST) will be making changes to its Commercial Use Authorization (CUA) program.

While WRST has several approved commercial services (https://www.nps.gov/locations/alaska/services.htm) currently authorized via CUA, the park has added a new activity, Shuttle Service, which includes visitor services not currently covered by other approved commercial activities. Shuttle Service is defined as point-to-point ground transportation only: passengers are dropped off or picked up in specified areas and no guiding occurs.

Beginning in 2022, irrespective of the fee amount charged to passengers, business operations must have a valid CUA to provide these services in WRST, as required by Title 36, Section 5.3 of the Code of Federal Regulations (36 CFR 5.3). This CUA requirement applies to commercial Shuttle Service providers that drop off or pick up passengers in the shuttle turnaround in the Kennicott Subdivision, as the turnaround is located on National Park Service (NPS) land and is therefore subject to 36 CFR 5.3. The turnaround is also located outside the subdivision right-of-way platted in the Second Amendment to the Mill Site Unit of the Kennicott Subdivision (Plat 77-12, records of the Chitina Recording District.).

Shuttle Service applicants may apply for a one- or two-year CU A. Public Law 105-39 l and NPS policy require the Superintendent to charge a reasonable fee "to recover associated management and administrative costs" for CU As. Office of Management and Budget (0MB) Circular A-25 defines reasonable fee as either "market price" or "cost recovery." Both fee collection methods are described in detail in 0MB Circular A-25. For applications submitted in 2022, there will be a two-year CUA (2022- 2023) application fee only which will total $300. In 2024 the fee structure for shuttle service may change as required by law and policy (e.g. per-person fee schedule).

The National Park Service greatly appreciates the valuable service that providers of shuttle transportation to Kennicott like yourself offer to both Park visitors and to NPS. We also recognize that the CUA requirement for this service was not instituted in the past; please be assured that the goal of implementing it now is not to assert greater control in Kennicott, but to improve traffic safety for residents and visitors alike, and to comply with our own regulations.

To apply for a Shuttle Service CUA:
• Download and fill out the 2022 Shuttle Service CUA Application (fillable PDF).
• Submit a complete application package, as outlined in the application instructions, to Mark_Keogh@nps.gov.
• Please review the insurance requirements section of the application package. Operators providing the Shuttle Service activity, as defined above, must have commercial auto insurance.

Thank you for your involvement in our program and for providing our visitors with meaningful experiences in the park. If you have questions or would like additional information, please contact Jan Maslen at 907-822-7206 or jan_maslen@nps.gov.

In 2022, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve (WRST) will be making changes to the Commercial Use Authorization (CUA) program. While WRST has several approved commercial services https://www.nps.gov/locations/alaska/services.htm currently authorized via CUA, the park has added a new activity, Visitor Experience, which includes visitor services not currently covered by other approved commercial activities.

Visitor Experience is defined as the road-based transportation of passengers and commercial group use of visitor services including comfort stations; trails; film showings; ranger programs; and exhibits. The activity includes guided and unguided visitor experiences. Beginning in 2022, commercial groups of two or more must have a valid CUA to provide those services in WRST, as required by Title 36, Section 5.3 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

Visitor Experience applicants may apply for a one- or two-year CUA. The current application and management fee will be assessed in 2022. In 2023 the fee structure will change as required by law. Public Law 105-391 and NPS policy require the Superintendent to charge a reasonable fee “to recover associated management and administrative costs” for CUAs. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-25 defines reasonable fee as either “market price” or “cost recovery.” Both fee collection methods are described in detail in OMB Circular A-25. Beginning January 1, 2023, WRST will use the cost recovery model under which a daily fee is charged for Visitor Experience services within WRST. The fee will be assessed as a per visitor per day fee. CUA holder employees on duty are excluded from the visitor use fee calculation.

To apply for a Visitor Experience CUA
  • Download and fill out the 2022 Visitor Experience CUA Application (fillable PDF).
  • Submit a complete application package, as outlined in the application instructions, to Mark_Keogh@nps.gov before April 30, 2022. CUA applications received after the deadline may not be accepted.

  • Please review the insurance requirements section of the application package. Operators providing the Visitor Experience activity, as defined above, must have commercial auto insurance, and may need commercial general liability insurance if accompanying visitors on lands administered by the National Park Service.
Thank you for your involvement in our program and for providing our visitors with meaningful experiences in the park. If you have questions or would like additional information, please contact Jan Maslen at 907-822-7206 or jan_maslen@nps.gov.

Application Period - November 1st through April 30th

Attention: The National Park Service, Alaska Region has established a specific time period for submitting applications for Commercial Use Authorizations (See NPS Memo for details).

A fully completed application package including fee payment, and other required documentation must be received or postmarked by the April 30th deadline. Applications received or postmarked after April 30th and will not be accepted. Rare exceptions may be made if there are extenuating circumstances involved or if the application is to provide an approved service not currently offered by other commercial operators. Any request for a waiver based upon extenuating circumstances must be submitted in writing and approved by the park Superintendent(s).

You may apply for either a one- or two-year CUA for all park units in Interior Region 11 - Alaska with the exception of Denali, Glacier Bay, Lake Clark, and Wrangell-St.Elias.
a) CUA applications for Denali must be submitted directly to Denali beginning November 1, 2017. More information and application materials are available on the Denali CUA Website.
b) CUA applications for Glacier Bay must be submitted directly to Glacier Bay beginning November 1, 2018. More information and application materials are available on the Glacier Bay CUA Website.
c) In 2022, CUAs at Crescent Lake in Lake Clark will only be issued for one-year; all other commercial activities in Lake Clark may be permitted for one or two-years.
d) Air Taxi CUAs in Wrangell-St.Elias are only issued for one-year; all other commercial activities in Wrangell may be permitted for one or two-years.

Application Forms, Instructions & Resources

  • Stipulations for Operating Under a CUA - Commercial Use Authorizations are subject to permit conditions/stipulations. Review the National, Regional, and Park-specific conditions for operating under a CUA.
  • Commercial Use Authorization Application (Fillable PDF Form)
    • 2022 - 2023 CUA Application
    • The application includes the following content areas: application instructions, approved activities, commercial group size limits, fee schedules, payment instructions, insurance requirements, and park-specific supplemental requirements.
    • Sumbit completed CUA applications with all supporting documentation to akro_cua_admin@nps.gov

CUA Reporting Forms

Laws, Regulations, Policies

Doing Business with the Parks

Please visit the individual park websites below for more information about operating in the National Parks.

Last updated: June 13, 2022