Special Use Permits

Special Use Permits for Activities in Nez Perce National Historical Park

Most special events and activities held in the park require a special use permit. Permits allow the park to determine the impact of the activity on park values and resources. Please note that there are usage limits for the number of people and vehicles for any special activity.

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

  1. Provides a benefit to an individual, group or organization rather than the public at large
  2. Requires written authorization and some degree of management control from the National Park Service (NPS) in order to protect park resources and the public interest
  3. Is not prohibited by law or regulation
  4. Is not initiated, sponsored, or conducted by the NPS
  5. Is not managed under a concession contract, a recreation activity for which the NPS charges a fee, or a lease

The National Park Service may permit a special park use if the proposed activity will not:

  1. Cause injury, damage or impairments to park resources
  2. Be contrary to the park’s purpose for which the park was established, and the mission of the NPS
  3. Unreasonably impair the atmosphere of peace and tranquility maintained in wilderness, natural, historic, or commemorative locations within the park
  4. Interfere with visitor use, access, and programs
  5. Interfere with park management or administration
  6. Interfere with concession operations or other public facilities
  7. Present a clear and present danger to public health and safety

Who Needs a Permit?

Special park uses include a wide range of activities such as organizational special events, religious gatherings, ceremonies, large group activities (over 25 participants), camps or rendezvous, and horse use at White Bird Battlefield. A commercial film permit is required for any individual, business, or organization (including nonprofit groups and educational institutions) filming for a market audience or receiving compensation associated with footage or recordings made in the park. It is the responsibility of the activity planner to inquire about permits. If you are still unsure if you need a permit e-mail the park.

The following lists outline specific situations that require permits for filming and still photography:


Commercial filming is prohibited within the boundaries of Nez Perce National Historical Park without 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. 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.

Non-commercial filming may require a permit for to manage the activity, to protect park resources and values, minimize conflict between user groups, or to ensure public safety. Examples of non-commercial filming include, but are not limited to, filming for tourism bureaus, convention and visitor bureaus, student filming, and filming for personal use and enjoyment.

If the Superintendent determines that the terms and conditions of a permit could not mitigate the concerns identified above in an acceptable manner, the Superintendent may deny a filming request without issuing a permit. The Superintendent will provide the basis for denial in writing upon request.

The NPS will consider requests and process permit applications in a timely manner. Processing times will vary depending on the complexity of the proposed activity. If the organizer provides the required 10 day advance notice to the NPS and has not received a written response from the NPS that a permit is required prior to the first day of production, the proposed filming activities may occur without a permit.

First Amendment Activities:
Freedom of speech, press, religion, and assembly are rights protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, and in accordance with the Code of Federal Regulation. People may exercise these rights in national parks, but the National Park Service still retains its responsibility to protect park resources and prevent impacts to park visitors. A first amendment permit is not required for groups of 25 individuals, or less, conducting first amendment activities in the park’s designated first amendment areas. There are several different first amendment areas designated in the park. Groups of 25, or more, or groups desiring to reserve designated areas in advance, require a permit. A first amendment permit will not be issued for more than 14 days. Applicants will be required to reapply for additional permits. Unless permitted, the designated areas are first-come, first-served.
Types of activities not considered first amendment include, but are not limited to:

  • Church picnic or social gathering

  • Wedding ceremonies or receptions

  • Political fund raiser or other invitation-only political activity or event

  • Solicitation of donations

  • Community parades, athletics, or sporting events

  • Sale of message bearing clothing, arts and crafts, or similar merchandise

Horse Use at White Bird Battlefield

Per the Park Compendium, 36 CFR §2.16 – HORSES AND PACK ANIMALS, the use of horses and pack animals is restricted to paved roads only, unless under approved special use permit or as part of National Park Service conducted or sponsored activity. Contact the park for further information or to obtain a permit by following the instructions in the "Permit Application Process" section below. Only fill out applicable information as the park has one form for many different special uses.
Determination: The use of horses and pack animals is restricted to areas where they will not present a safety hazard or other user group conflicts with visitors. The impact of stock on trail surfaces is also a consideration in determining where they can be used. Trails at White Bird Battlefield, for example, are seasonally soft, resulting in erosion or damage to hiking surfaces. Associated feces can result in smells other visitors might find offensive or promote further spread of exotic species. Special Use Permits may be offered, after careful consideration, for off-road uses recognizing the cultural and historical importance of horses to Native peoples and other residents in the general park area.

Permit Application Process

To apply for a special use permit, submit an application by email, mail, or drop it off at the park visitor center. An application can be submitted no more than twelve (12) months in advance and at least 30 days prior to the date of the planned event. When filling out the application ensure that all questions are answered as accurately and completely as possible. This will assist the park in determining the appropriateness of the planned activities. Applications should not be altered in any way and permits cannot be processed until we receive your original application. Applications are considered in the order they are received.

The information on the Application for Special Use Permit will assist us in accommodating your request, and the Special Use Permit will provide an avenue for communicating any special concerns or conditions regarding your use of the area that you have requested. The permit also serves as documentation of our agreement regarding the terms and conditions under which the special use of the park will be approved. When your request is approved a Special Use Permit will be mailed to you for signature. The permit must be returned to the park within 10 business days and is not authorized until the park superintendent has signed the permit. Failure to return the permit may result in the cancellation of your event at the park. Before any permit will be granted, consideration will be given to potential park resource impacts, as well as impacts to visitor use, access to park sites, or park administration.

Application Fees

There is no application fee or fee for a special use permit. However, cost recovery can be charged for activities that require a National Park Service monitor. For commercial filming and still photography (see exemptions) cost recovery and location fees are mandated and cannot be waived.

Event Information

  • Site use is on a first-requested, first-served basis

  • The permit does not allow your event to prohibit other park visitors from using your chosen location, nor does it guarantee you a specific site

  • Activities may not interfere with normal visitor use of the Park; therefore, areas will not be closed to public access during the event

  • The ceremony permit does not override current closures. If there are closures due to wildlife, weather, or other causes, please contact our office immediately to revise the permitted location or date. If we know about the closure in advance, we will contact the permit holder

  • Paid photographers must contact our office for additional guidance and requirements
  • All participants associated with a Special Park Use event, such as a wedding, must observe and comply with all park regulations

You can obtain an Application for Special Use Permit here for Nez Perce National Historical Park.

Last updated: January 25, 2023

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Nez Perce National Historical Park
39063 US Hwy 95

Lapwai, ID 83540-9715


208 843-7001

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