Permits & Reservations



Our partnership park encompasses federal, state, regional, and local public lands. While we do not require reservations to enjoy and recreate in the park, some partner parks, museums, and historical sites within our park boundaries do.

Additional charges from partners may apply (e.g., reservation fees, parking). Please contact those parks and facilities for more information.


Special Use Permits

A Special Use Permit (SUP) is required for activities on federal park property that provide a benefit to an individual, group, or organization rather than the public at large. These activities require written authorization and some degree of management control in order to protect park resources and the public interest. SUPs are granted for a specific period of time and location. Certain fees, bonding, and insurance requirements may apply. Examples include (but are not limited to):

  • special events
  • organized runs
  • large gatherings
  • demonstrations
  • commercial photography
  • commercial filming
  • weddings
  • ceremonies
  • scattering of ashes
  • First Amendment activities
  • rights-of-way/easements

Read the Superintendent's Compendium 36 CFR §1.6 –Activities that Require a Permit.


Special Use Permit FAQs

Email the Special Park Use Coordinator for an application. Permit applications may be submitted through mail, e-mail, or in person at park headquarters.  A completed application and the non-refundable application fee of $65 are required before an application can be processed. Please allow sufficient time for the park to process your request (3-4 weeks). Applications are processed in the order in which they are received. Information on the application will be used by National Park Service (NPS) staff to evaluate the impact of the proposed activity on park resources and visitors.

Applications will be returned to the applicant if submitted incomplete, cannot be approved as submitted, or are received without payment or without a social security number or Federal Tax Identification Number.

The NPS will not issue a permit if the proposed activity:

  • Impairs park resources
  • Impairs visitor use
  • Is contrary to the purposes for which the park was established
  • Unreasonably impairs the atmosphere of locations within the park
  • Unreasonably interferes with NPS activities, programs, or events
  • Presents a clear and present danger to public health and safety
  • Results in significant conflict with other existing uses

The NPS will not permit the public staging of special events for the material or financial benefit of organizers or its participants. This includes commercialization, in-park advertising, and publicity. Admission fees for the event or any other monies associated with the event may not be collected on park premises.

The authority for the NPS to recover and retain costs associated with managing special park uses is found at 16 U.S.C. 3a and 31 U.S.C. 9701.  Charges established for a special park use under this authority are intended to recover costs associated with managing that activity and not to generate revenue beyond actual costs incurred.  If any additional costs are incurred, the permittee will be billed at the conclusion of the permit.
 Request Type Application Fee  Administrative Fees  Monitoring 
Special Use Permit  $65  Varies  Varies 
Commercial Photography and Filming $100  Varies  Varies 
First Amendment  No fee  No fee  No cost 
Application Cost Must be submitted at the time of the initial application.  This is a non-refundable payment.
Administration Cost Payable when the permit is approved and prior to beginning the event.  This is a non-refundable payment.
Monitoring Cost If the event requires NPS supervision for resource protection of the health or safety of visitors, the cost will be estimated and payable when the permit is approved and prior to beginning the event.  The scope and complexity of the permit activity will determine the level and type of supervision.  The fee includes employee travel time to and from the event location. 

Certain activities may prompt the need for the permittee to post a refundable damage bond. The amount of the bond will be equivalent to the estimated cost to NPS for clean-up, repair or rehabilitation of resources or facilities that could potentially be impacted by the permit activities. At the conclusion of the permit, the bond will be returned to the permittee after costs of clean up, repair or rehabilitation are deducted.

Liability insurance protects the government from negligent actions by the permittee. Insurance in an amount sufficient to protect the interests of the United States may be required as a condition of the permit. A high risk activity will always require insurance. Insurance may be waived for a lower risk activity. If insurance is required:

  • The insurance certificate must identify the group, not the applicant.
  • The "United States Government" must be named as additionally insured on the insurance certificate. Certificates naming the U.S. Government as a "certificate holder" only are not acceptable.
  • Failure to provide proof of proper insurance is reason for denial of a permit. 

Permit activities may be restricted based on weather or seasonal conditions.

Permits are "revocable" on 24 hours notice or WITHOUT NOTICE if the terms of the permit are violated. Deliberate infractions of the terms of the permit or the deliberate making of false or misleading statements concerning intended actions in order to obtain a permit are causes for immediate termination of the permit and cause for possible prosecution. Permits will be revoked if damage to resources or facilities is threatened, or if there is a clear danger to public health or safety.

To maintain park natural and cultural resources and quality visitor experiences the following standard permit conditions will be included in the approved permit. Additional conditions may be applied.

  1. The permittee is prohibited from giving false information; to do so will be considered a breach of conditions and be grounds for revocation: [36 CFR 2.32(a)(3)].

  2. The permittee shall exercise this privilege subject to the supervision of the Superintendent or designee, and shall comply with all applicable Federal, State, county and municipal laws, ordinances, regulations, codes, and the terms and conditions of this permit. Failure to do so may result in the immediate suspension of the permitted activity or the termination of the permit.

  3. If any provision of this permit shall be found to be invalid or unenforceable, the remainder of this permit shall not be affected and the other provisions of this permit shall be valid and be enforced to the fullest extent permitted by law.

  4. The permittee is responsible for making all necessary contacts and arrangements with other Federal, State, and local agencies to secure required inspections, permits, licenses, etc.

  5. Failure to comply with any of the terms and conditions of this permit may result in the suspension or revocation of the permit. Permittee will reimburse NPS for cleanup or repair of damages required to be made by NPS staff or contractor in conjunction with a terminated permit.

  6. This permit may be revoked at the discretion of the Superintendent upon 24 hours notice, or without notice if damage to resources or facilities occurs or is threatened, notwithstanding any other term or condition of the permit to the contrary.

  7. This permit is made upon the express condition that the United States, its agents and employees shall be free from all liabilities and claims for damages and/or suits for or by reason of any injury, injuries, or death to any person or persons or property of any kind whatsoever, whether to the person or property of the Permittee, its agents or employees, or third parties, from any cause or causes whatsoever while in or upon said premises or any part thereof during the term of this permit or occasioned by any occupancy or use of said premises or any activity carried on by the Permittee in connection herewith, and the Permittee hereby covenants and agrees to indemnify, defend, save and hold harmless the United States, its agents, and employees from all liabilities, charges, expenses and costs on account of or by reason of any such injuries, deaths, liabilities, claims, suits or losses however occurring or damages growing out of the same.

  8. Permittee agrees to carry general liability insurance against claims occasioned by the action or omissions of the permittee, its agents and employees in carrying out the activities and operations authorized by this permit. The policy shall be in the amount of $___________and underwritten by a United States company naming the United States of America as additionally insured. The permittee agrees to provide the Superintendent with a Certificate of Insurance with the proper endorsements prior to the effective date of the permit.

  9. Permittee agrees to deposit with the park a bond in the amount of $____________ from an authorized bonding company or in the form of cash or cash equivalent, to guarantee that all financial obligations to the park will be met, including the restoration and rehabilitation of the permitted area.

  10. Costs incurred by the park as a result of accepting and processing the application and managing and monitoring the permitted activity will be reimbursed by the permittee. Administrative costs and estimated costs for activities on site must be paid when the permit is approved. If any additional costs are incurred by the park, the permittee will be billed at the conclusion of the permit. Should the estimated costs paid exceed the actual costs incurred; the difference will be returned to the permittee.

  11. The person named on the permit as in charge of the permitted activity on-site must have full authority to make any decisions about the activity and must remain on-site at all times. He/she shall be responsible for all individuals, groups, vendors, etc. involved with the permit.

  12. The permittee represents and it is a condition of acceptance of this permit that, pursuant to 41 U.S. C. 22, “No Member of Congress shall be admitted to any share or part of any contract or agreement made, entered into, or accepted by or on behalf of the United States, or to any benefit to arise thereupon.”

  13. Nothing herein contained shall be construed as binding the Service to expend in any one fiscal year any sum in excess of appropriations made by Congress or administratively allocated for the purpose of this permit for the fiscal year, or to involve the Service in any contract or other obligation for the further expenditure of money in excess of such appropriations or allocations.

  14. This permit may not be transferred or assigned without the prior written consent of the Superintendent.

It is the policy of the NPS to encourage production to the fullest extent possible consistent with the protection of park resources and ensuring the enjoyment of those resources by the visiting public.  A Commercial Photography or Commercial Filming permit is required.  There is an $100 non-refundable application fee, possible performance bond (depending on the extent of the activity), location fees based on the size of the production, and reimbursement of all park costs in monitoring and administering the permit during production. Email the Special Park Use Coordinator for a Commercial Photography or Commercial Filming Permit Application. In addition to Cost Recovery, commercial photography and commercial filming are subject to a mandatory location fee.  This fee is universal throughout the entire NPS.

Commercial Filming Commercial Photography 
Number of People    Cost per Day  Number of People     Cost per Day    
1-2, tripod only $0 1-10 $50 
3-10 $150 11-30  $150 
11-30 $250 Over 20  $250 
31-49 $500   -
Over 49 $750    

Last updated: June 22, 2023

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

111 E. Kellogg Blvd., Suite 105
Saint Paul, MN 55101


This is the general phone line at the Mississippi River Visitor Center.

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