Does the National Park Service consider you a commercial entity?
What are the criteria for the Commercial Use Authorization?
Types of CUAs
What costs are involved?
What is involved in the CUA?
What are some examples of activities which may be permitted under a Commercial Use Authorization?
Commercial Whitewater and Outfitter Licensing
Participant Acknowledgement of Risk Form
Where can I get more information?
Special Use Permits
How do I schedule my event or activity?
What costs are involved
What are some events that may or will require a Special Use Permit?
How is a site and date reserved?
Are there any other requirements?
Are alcoholic beverages allowed?
What is not allowed at special events or group activities?
Are permits required for festivals and/or fundraisers?
Are permits required for First Amendment activities?
When is a filming permit required?
More information about permits and applications
Commercial Use Authorizations
The park will not normally limit the number of organizations that offer similar services or activities. However, the Superintendent will not issue more CUAs than are consistent with the preservation and proper management of park resources and values. If the demand for the activity is overwhelming, the NPS may establish controls. Some examples of controls include designation of areas for commercial use, or establishment of area carrying capacities or a reservation system. If needed, the NPS may also establish procedures to assure a balance between commercial and non-commercial use. Additionally, the park cannot guarantee that park facilities will be available every day for every CUA holder and may establish group size limitations.
Out-of-park services refer to the incidental use of park area resources by operations that provide commercial services originating and terminating outside of the park area. A CUA of this type does not authorize solicitation of customers, sales or payment for commercial services to take place within the park area – all of these activities must occur outside of the park area. Unlike a CUA for in-park services, there is no cap on the annual gross receipts that may be generated by the authorized services under an out-of-park CUA. Compensation or payment for services (even tipping) may not occur on NPS lands.CUAs do not authorize the construction of structures on NPS lands, either temporary or permanent.
If the NPS incurs costs as a result of the authorized activities, the CUA holder is held responsible for reimbursement of those costs. For group use or special events other than authorized on an approved CUA, the CUA holder obtains a Special Use Permit and pays the same application/administrative charge and monitoring costs as other special event permittees.
If the activity has a potential for resource disturbance or damage, the NPS may require the CUA holder to post a refundable performance bond. The bond is set atan amount adequate to cover the cost of cleanup or repair of damage to resources, including personnel or contract costs. At the end of the authorization year, the bond is returned if it was not needed.
If you are interested in obtaining more information for a general Outfitter & Guide License to conduct fishing trips within the parks, please visit: http://www.wvdnr.gov/LEnforce/Guide.shtm.
The Acknowledgement of Risk form is available here: Participant Acknowledgement of Risk Form.
Special Use Permits
Special events range from company picnics and family reunions to weddings, races/marathons, filming, demos/training, reserved group camping, GPS-based activities, group/guided climbing and establishment of new climbing route requests.
The event producer/sponsor may be required to post a bond to assure compliance with permit conditions as well as site restoration and clean-up after the event. The bond is refundable if all permit conditions are met.
The cost for using an NPS site varies with the complexity of the activity. Factors include the number of people involved, whether there will be food and beverage service, and the amount of time you will be on-site, including deliveries and pick-ups, preparation and clean-up. You can get a rough estimate of the costs by describing the event to the park’s Program Specialist and completing an Application for Special Use Permit, providing complete details of your proposed event. Exact costs will be calculated based on your application. Modifications to your plans may impact the permit costs.
When you submit your written application, you will pay a non-refundable application/administrative charge. The cost recovery/monitoring charge is due prior to approval of the permit. If any additional costs are incurred or if you fail to complete cleanup after the event, you will be billed at the conclusion of the event. Go to https://www.nps.gov/neri/planyourvisit/upload/5-Special-Use-Permit-Application.pdf to print the Special Use Permit application form.
Activity - Application/Administrative Charge
In addition, the Park is required to recover any operational costs caused by your activity once the permit has been issued. Costs will be charged at the rate of $50.00 per hour per employee if monitoring of your event is determined to be necessary.
Groups must schedule each event in advance by contacting the park’s Program Specialist at 304-465-6517.
*Shelter reservations at Grandview are now being processed through Recreation.gov, an online reservation system. All reservations for shelters at Grandview are reservable online at www.recreation.gov or by calling the National Recreation Reservation Service at 877-444-6777. Be sure to search for New River Gorge National River when making online reservations for the Grandview shelters.
Please note some restrictions apply to wedding ceremonies at overlook areas of the parks. Wedding ceremonies must not interfere with normal visitation of the overlooks, and park visitors cannot be denied access during the ceremony. With the exception of the North Grandview Overlook, wedding ceremonies at park overlook/boardwalk areas will be limited to a total of 25 participants, including the wedding party, for a maximum of 30 minutes for the ceremony and photographs. At the North Grandview Overlook, wedding ceremonies will be limited to a total of 15 participants for a maximum of 30 minutes. During high visitation times from April 1 through October 31, it may be a requirement to schedule wedding ceremonies at overlooks/boardwalks to occur before 11:00 AM. Decorations and the showering of the wedding couple with rice, birdseed, confetti, and bubbles are prohibited, as well as the release of balloons or birds are not allowed.
Download the Special Use Permit application form.
Once the completed Application for Special Use Permit is received by the park, with all details of requests for the event provided, the park requires at least ten (10) business days for reviewing and processing the request. Based on the information in your application, we will write the permit and calculate the cost recovery permit costs and send to you for review and signature. You will have 10 working days (two weeks) to review and sign the permit and return it, along with the balance of the permit costs (additional administrative and/or monitoring charges). Once we have received the signed permit, we will return a copy of the approved permit to you.
Approximately two weeks before the actual event, you should contact the Program Specialist at 304-465-6517 for a pre-event review. If you have made modifications in your event plans, we will review the permit and cost calculation and make any needed adjustments.
IRS taxpayer identification number for the permittee/organization is required to be provided on the permit application. The NPS requires prior approval of out-of-park advertising for events to occur on NPS lands. The permittee shall not use advertising that attempts to portray them as agents of the National Park Service, or to use NPS symbols, seals, or other items of identity. You are expected to provide event staff to make your event run smoothly without interfering with other park visitors. You will need to designate event staff for site clean-up and dispose of all trash in receptacles or dumpsters. You may also need to designate an individual to monitoring event parking.
Depending on the complexity of your event, we may assign an NPS monitor to be on-site during your event.
It is important that the site selected for a festival is appropriate for the level and type of activities. Park areas may not be closed to other visitors during festivals or fundraisers. Trails and other facilities will remain open. The collection of fees associated with the event is prohibited on park lands.
By law, the NPS has established places in parks where First Amendment activities can be accommodated. These areas are visible to the general visiting public without interfering with the public’s enjoyment of the park. These areas are identified in the Superintendent’s Compendium. While the NPS regulates aspects of the activity to protect park resources, it never regulates the content of the message. Permits are issued for First Amendment activities, but there are no costs, and no insurance is required for the activities. All requests for similar activities are treated equally. As long as permit criteria and requirements are met, no group wishing to assemble lawfully will be discriminated against or denied the right of assembly.
Check the First Amendment Area Maps page to see the locations of designated First Ammendment areas.
Types of First Amendment activities may include:
Types of activities that are NOT covered by the First Amendment:
Some of these activities may be accommodated through a Special Use Permit for which cost recovery may be charged.
Still photography activities, whether commercial or noncommercial, require a permit when: (a) the activity takes place at location(s) where or when members of the public are generally not allowed; or (b) 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 (c) the park would incur additional administrative costs to monitor the activity; or (d) the park needs to provide management and oversight to (1) avoid impairment or incompatible use of the resources and values of the park, or (2) limit resource damage, or (3) minimize health or safety risks to the visiting public. News coverage does not require a permit, for either filming or still photography, but is subject to time, place, and manner restrictions, if warranted, to maintain order and ensure the safety of the pubic and the media, and to protect natural and cultural resources.
All commercial filming and still photography activities requiring a permit are subject to cost recovery charges and a location fee. No waivers are allowed. Cost recovery charges for all commercial and still photography permits will include costs incurred in receiving the request/application, reviewing the application, writing the permit, monitoring the activity, providing protection services, restoring park areas, or otherwise supporting the filming or photography activities. This application/administrative cost recovery charge is $100.00. Location fees are determined by the type of activity (commercial filming versus still photography), and the number of people on park lands associated with the permitted activity. Location fees are calculated per day and are based on the following schedule:
*with camera and tripod only, working in areas open to the public
Liability insurance will be required with the United States of America named as Additional Insured. In some circumstances, posting of a bond may be required.
The NPS will encourage and may actively assist filming and photography activities that promote public understanding and appreciation of the park or the national park system. NPS employees, while on duty or in uniform, will not be employed by filming permittees. Identifiable NPS equipment, uniforms, or insignia must not be portrayed in any way that would imply NPS endorsement of a product or service.
If you are uncertain whether your project requires a permit or not, contact the park’s Program Specialist at 304-465-6517 for additional information. If you already know that your project does not require a permit, please call the office to check the permit schedule in order to avoid conflicts with other activities. If your project does require a permit, please contact the Program Specialist as far in advance as possible to request and complete a film permit application. Please note that, after the park receives your completed Application for Commercial Filming/Still Photography Permit, the park requires at least ten (10) business days for reviewing and processing the request.
Application for Commercial Filming/Still Photography Permit. (Long Form)
Application for Commercial Filming/Still Photography Permit (Short Form)
Commercial Use Authorization Application (General)
For more information on park permits, contact
Permit Office: 304-465-6517 e-mail us
Park Headquarters: 304-465-0508
Last updated: September 8, 2020