Commercial Filming and Photography

 
A person and film camera are silhouetted against a rocky cave backdrop
Filming along the Grand Avenue Tour Route inside Mammoth Cave.

NPS Photo

UPDATE: October 31, 2022

On August 23, 2022, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued a decision reversing the order of the District Court. Price v. Garland 45 f.4th 1059 (D.C. Cir 2022). This decision became effective October 28, 2022, with the issuance of the Court of Appeals Mandate.

As a result, the statute and regulations that governed commercial filming before the Price decision are again in effect.

Those interested in commercial filming activities at Mammoth Cave National Park should contact the park for more information about filming and to discuss how to minimize potential impacts to visitors and sensitive park resources.

Commercial Filming & Still Photography

See regulations 43 CFR part 5A


A special use permit is required for all commercial filming activities and certain still photography activities occurring within a unit of the National Park System. The regulation governing these activities is found at 43 CFR part 5; this regulation based on Public Law 106-206 applies to all land management agencies in the Department of the Interior.

All commercial filming activities taking place within a unit of the National Park System require 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.

Filming

What fees will I have to pay?

Mammoth Cave National Park will collect a cost recovery charge and a location fee for all filming 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 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 fee schedule:

  • 1 – 2 people, camera and 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

When is a permit needed?

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.

What fees will I have to pay?

Mammoth Cave National Park 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 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.

 

How to Apply

All applications must be received 10 days or greater prior to the start date of the proposed activity to be conducted in the park. The non-refundable application fee for commercial photography may be paid by check or money order payable to "National Park Service."

Applications are handled in the order they are received. Priority will not be given to urgent requests nor will the park reply by express mail. Requests which involve filming inside the cave, multiple locations, complex logistics, environmental compliance, or coordination with multiple NPS divisions or visitor activities will require a minimum of 21 days to process. 

Requests for permits are evaluated based on the information in the application. Therefore, applicants are encouraged to attach maps, description of activity, check in points, what support will be provided, etc. to assist the park staff in evaluating the request. 

Applying For A Permit:

  • A complete application packet must be submitted a minimum of 10 days prior to the requested date
  • A required, non-refundable application fee of $180 must be submitted with the application packet

The application packet must include:

  • Detailed production schedule and proposed locations including if filming inside the cave is requested
  • Detailed cast & crew list including name and role
  • Detailed equipment list including model of equipment

If you have questions or would like to request a filming or still photography application, please email us.

Commercial Photography Application [664 KB]
Filming Application - Short Form [661 KB]

 
A black silhouette of a drone with a red line through it.

No Drone Zone


Launching, landing or operating unmanned or remote controlled aircraft in Mammoth Cave National Park is prohibited.

Department of the Interior Secretary's Order 3379 mandates a cessation of all non-emergency unmanned aircraft. This order supercedes any existing regulations as of January 29, 2020 and will remain in effect until further notice.

Unmanned Aircraft defined: The term "unmanned aircraft" means a device that is used or intended to be used for flight in the air without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the device, and the associated operational elements and components that are required for the pilot or system operator in command to operate or control the device (such as cameras, sensors, communication links). This term includes all types of devices that meet this definition (e.g., model airplanes, quadcopters, drones) that are used for any purpose, including for recreation or commerce. Read more about unmanned aircraft in the national parks.
 

Contact Us

Contact us for questions or more information about commercial filming and photography in the park or send completed applications to the address’ below. 

Email
e-mail us

Phone
270-758-2180

Mail
Commercial Filming Coordinator
Mammoth Cave National Park 
P.O. Box 7 
61 Maintenance Road 
Mammoth Cave, KY 42259 

Last updated: November 9, 2022

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 7
Mammoth Cave , KY 42259-0007

Phone:

270 758-2180

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