Certain activities within all National Park Service (NPS) areas require a special use permit. This enables the National Park Service to ensure safety and monitor and regulate the use of parks while simultaneously conserving the scenery, natural and historic objects, and wildlife within park boundaries.

Filming and Photography

You generally do NOT need a permit for your personal filming and personal photography activities within normal visitation areas and hours. However, filming outside normal visitation locations and hours requires a permit. Please see the "Definitions and Requirements" section for more information.

Drones (Unmanned Aircraft)

Please be aware that launching, landing & operating drones on National Park Service lands is NOT permitted without written approval by the park superintendent (36 CFR 1.5). Additionally, it is not likely that the National Park Service would approve a drone request unless it is for an activity such as emergency search and rescue operations or for a park-sanctioned research or science project.

Commercial Use Authorizations (CUAs)

Section 418 of the National Parks Omnibus Management Act of 1998, Public Law 105-391, authorizes (but does not require) NPS, upon request, to issue commercial use authorizations to persons (referring to individuals, corporations, and other entities) to provide commercial services to park visitors in limited circumstances. CUAs, although used to authorize commercial services to park visitors, are NOT Concession Contracts. They are intended to provide a simple means to authorize suitable commercial services to visitors in the park in the limited circumstances in the legislation. Note that it is extremely uncommon for Morristown National Historical Park to issue a CUA.

General National Park Service Information on Permits

Definitions & Requirements

Special Activities

A special activity, or special park use, is a short-term activity that takes place in a park area and:

  • 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 NPS 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.

Please Note: Morristown National Historical Park no longer issues permits for small weddings and wedding photos. For further information on filming and photography in the park, see the “Filming & Still Photography Permits” section below.

Filming & Still Photography Permits

Please review carefully at the link immediately above for the current National Park Service guidance regarding filming and still photography permits. After you have reviewed the information, please contact Anne DeGraaf with any questions you have regarding filming and still photography at Morristown National Historical Park.

Portrait photography sessions (e.g., engagement, maternity, baby, family, anniversary, etc. photos) generally do not require a permit. See the link above and scroll to “Still Photography” to learn when a permit is needed.

Still photographers are required to have 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 (NOTE: Morristown National Historical Park considers blankets and small, hand-held signs acceptable). OR

  3. The park would incur additional administrative costs to monitor the activity.

Please note that Morristown National Historical Park no longer conducts calendar checks for grounds availability for portrait photography sessions. Use of the grounds for non-permit portrait photography sessions is on a first-come, first-served, non-exclusive basis, with the current visitor regulations applying. Some of the visitor regulations include:

  • No littering, including throwing rice, flower petals, or confetti of any kind (e.g., biodegradable paper, plastic, glitter, etc.)

  • Do NOT move any of the outdoor furniture (e.g., benches) or any other moveable features.

We request that photographers NOT schedule more than two groups of clients (e.g., family groups) per day. This is to help maintain a more equitable use of the grounds. The grounds open at 8am and close at different times throughout the year, depending upon when the sun sets. Check our current grounds hours.
The best time to visit to avoid crowds is early in the morning on weekdays. However, please be aware that from spring through fall, 9am to noon on Wednesday mornings is when volunteers work in the Cross Estate Gardens. Please avoid those days and times.

First Amendment Rights

Groups of less than 25 participants may exercise their First Amendment Rights without a permit. These small groups may assemble peacefully, however, they must be in a designated First Amendment area. These areas are designated to protect the safety of the participants, as well as park visitors and park resources. For a list of these locations, please see the Superintendent's Compendium.

Groups larger than 25 participants may still exercise their rights, however, a permit with conditions will be required. There are no fees or cost recovery associated with permits issued for First Amendment assemblies. Conditions are required to protect the participants as well as park visitors and park resources. In no way will conditions be imposed to restrict the rights of the permit holder. The National Park Service is content-neutral regarding any First Amendment Activity.

Costs and Process

Special Park Use, Filming and Still Photography permit applications require a $75.00 non-refundable application fee. Other fees may apply as well. Information provided on applications is used to determine whether a permit will be issued. You will be notified of the disposition of the application and the steps to secure a final permit.

Please allow a minimum of four weeks for processing.

Please do NOT submit an application before emailing Anne DeGraaf to discuss your desired activity. It's possible that we might not be able to honor your request, and/or your desired date/time/location is already taken.

You can contact Anne at e-mail us. Anne generally works 8am to 4pm Eastern Time, Monday-Friday.

Last updated: October 4, 2023

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