Commercial Use Authorization

A COMMERCIAL USE IS DEFINED as any or all goods, activities, services, agreements, or anything offered to park visitors and/or the general public for recreational purposes which uses park resources or is undertaken for or results in compensation, monetary gain, benefit, or profit to an individual, organization, or corporation, whether or not such entity is organized for purposes recognized as non-profit under Local, State, or Federal law.

Commercial Use Authorizations (CUA) may be issued to persons (referring to individuals, corporations and other entities) to provide commercial service to park area visitors in limited circumstances. CUAs are not concession contracts. They are intended to provide a simple means to authorize suitable commercial services to visitors in park areas in the limited circumstances in the legislation.

North Cascades National Park Service Service Complex currently issues CUAs for a variety of services, including but not limited to: guided hiking, backpacking, climbing, mountaineering, horse packing or fishing, commercial air transportation; environmental education; boat rentals and boat tours. Additional activities may be permitted pending request, review and approval by the park.

Guided Services

Guided trips or services which collect a fee in excess of the actual personal costs of the trip and/or for payment of other than actual personal trip expenses for guides or leaders, are considered commercial trips. This includes non-profit organizations providing a livelihood for people through provision of these services.

CUAs are mandatory for conducting commercial trips into North Cascades National Park Service Complex; however, their issuance is a courtesy, not an entitlement. Requests for CUAs are handled in the order received, considering other workload commitments. Four or more weeks should be allowed for this process. Commercial services are not authorized until the CUA is finalized. Prospective permittees should not schedule any commercial trips to the park prior to obtaining a fully executed copy of the CUA. Failure to obtain and have available for inspection a CUA to provide commercial services into North Cascades National Park Service Complex may subject the commercial operator to penalties as prescribed by law or regulation, including exclusion from the park.

To apply for a Guided Service Commercial Use Authorization, contact the Commercial Services Office, or call 360-854-7213.


Commercial Bus Tours

There is currently a moratorium on issuing Road-based Commercial Tours (RBCT) CUAs. North Cascades National Park did not historically issue RBCT CUAs prior to May 28, 2020, therefore will not be issuing RBCT CUAs at this time. For updates visit the National Park Service's RBCT CUA page.


Educational Fees Waivers

Fee Waivers may be issued to non-profit entities who meet the established requirements. This applies ONLY to Educational and Scientific groups who conduct guided services within the Park. The National Park Service does not have the authority to waive permit fees under a CUA, so in the event that the waiver is approved, the permittee will be issued a Special Use Permit to conduct their services within the park. The Conditions of the Special Use Permit will be similar to those conditions outlined in CUA form issued to “for-profit” CUA holders. Fee waivers apply only to specific cost recovery fees (administrative and monitoring fees). Applicants would still be responsible for application fees, and other park complex fees (i.e. backcountry reservation fees).

To apply for a fee waiver contact the Commercial Services Office, or call 360/854-7213.


Application Process and Timelines

CUAs are issued for a term of up to two years, but specific information is required prior to the start of the second year of operation in order for the permit to remain effective.
To receive application materials and for additional information regarding CUAs, contact the
Commercial Services Office, or call 360-854-7213.
The deadline for applying for a Commercial Use Authorization is June 15th. Your application must be submitted a minimum of 30 days prior to the initial scheduled trip or activity, to allow park staff to review application materials and process the permit. Submitting a complete packet greatly aids staff in issuing your authorization in a timely manner.

Annual Fees

A required, non-refundable $350 application fee is due at the time the application is submitted. Additionally, if your permit is approved, Market Price Management Fees will apply. The Market Price Fee is based on the percentage of gross receipts reported on the mandatory Annual Report Form (OMB 10-660) for business conducted in North Cascades National Park Service Complex.

The fee structure is 3% of gross receipts for revenue generated over $250,000; 4% of gross receipts for revenue generated between $250,000 and $500,000, and 5% of gross receipts for revenue generated over $500,000. The application fee is credited back for income generated over the 3% threshold. If gross receipts are less than $3,334, the only fee due is the initial application fee.

Fees are paid annually at the end of the operating season.

Commerical Backcountry Reservation Process

A CUA or SUP is required before entering the backcountry of the park complex, obtaining a backcountry permit, or applying for a commercial backcountry permit reservation. Backcountry permits are required for all overnight trips in the park complex and must be obtained at a ranger station by the trip leader prior to entering the backcountry. Optional commercial backcountry reservations for permits are also available.

Starting in 2022, all backcountry reservations must be processed through All CUA/SUP permit holders will need a commercial account on to manage their reservations. Refer to the CUA / SUP Backcountry Permit Reservation Guide for information and instructions.

For additional information or questions regarding backcountry reservations for CUA holders, email the Wilderness Information Center.

Last updated: May 8, 2024

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

810 State Route 20
Sedro-Woolley, WA 98284


360 854-7200

Contact Us