Commercial Filming and Still Photography

Commercial Filming


What Areas Need a Permit?

Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, Del Norte Redwoods State Park, and Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park require permits. Filming activities in Redwood National Park will sometimes require prior written notification to the park and a permit. Please see the National Park section below.


Do I Need A Permit?

Not in all areas and not in all situations. Currently, the National Park Service is in the process of evaluating how best to regulate filming activities that affect visitors and park resources. All applicable laws and regulations governing activities and public use in parks still apply, including park hours and areas open and closed to the public. Videographers, filmers, producers, directors, and other staff associated with commercial filming are reminded that rules and regulations that apply to all park visitors still apply to filming activities even if no permit is needed for their activity. Check with the park staff for more information on closures, sensitive resources, and other safety tips.


Commercial Filming in National Parks


Changes to Commercial Filming Permits on National Park Land

On January 22, 2021, the US District Court for the District of Columbia issued a decision in Price v. Barr determining the permit and fee requirements applying to commercial filming under 54 USC 100905, 43 CFR Part 5, and 36 CFR Part 5 are unconstitutional. The National Park Service is determining how this decision will be implemented. More information is available at Commercial Filming & Still Photography (U.S. National Park Service)


How will this interim guidance affect how permits are administered on National Park land?

  • Low-impact filming activities in areas open to the public may occur without any advance notice to the NPS or the need to obtain a permit:
    • Outdoor filming activities outside of areas managed as wilderness involving five persons or less and equipment that will be carried at all times, except for small tripods used to hold cameras.
  • Other filming activities require at least 10 days advance notice to the NPS. During this time, the Superintendent will determine whether the filming activities will require a permit. Based upon the information provided, a permit may be required if necessary to:
    • avoid conflict among visitor use activities.
    • allow for equitable allocation and use of facilities; or
    • protect natural or cultural resources;
    • protect environmental or scenic values;
    • maintain public health and safety;
  • If the terms and conditions of a permit cannot mitigate the concerns listed above in an acceptable manner, then a permit for the activity will be denied.
What does the process look like for filming that does not fall within the category of low-impact filming? Can permit applications be submitted electronically?

  • Organizers of filming activities that do not meet the criteria of low-impact filming will need to contact the park where they are interested in filming 10 days in advance. Based upon the information provided to the park, some filming activities may be allowed to proceed without a permit. If a permit is required, each park has their own procedures in place for accepting and processing special use permit applications. This guidance does not change those park by park operations.
  • If the organizer provides the required 10-day advance notice to the park and has not received a written response that a permit is required prior to the first day of production, the proposed filming activities may occur without a permit.
May the NPS charge fees and recover costs for filming?
  • The court in Price struck down the location fee requirements as unconstitutional. As a result, the NPS may not charge location fees for any filming activities.
  • The NPS will issue additional guidance about cost recovery for administrative/personnel costs. Until then, the NPS should not recover any costs associated with filming activities, including through permit application charges.
  • National Parks may continue to collect location fees and recover costs for still photography.
May the NPS require permits for still photography?
  • What is the consequence for those who fail to provide advance notice and film in parks without a permit?
    • Failure to provide advance notice or to obtain a permit when required may result in a federal citation and fine.
  • What is the consequence for those who film in restricted areas?
    • All visitors to national parks are required to comply with the laws and regulations that protect the natural and cultural resources of national parks. Visitors who film in closed or prohibited areas, wilderness areas, or other areas that may have specific posted restrictions without written authorization may face a federal citation and fine for failure to comply with applicable regulations.
  • Do visitors need a permit for casual photography and filming?
    • Casual still photography does not require a permit unless it uses a model, set or prop, occurs in a closed area, or raises concerns about resources or the visitor experience.
    • The NPS expects that casual filming outdoors will meet the definition of low-impact filming and the NPS does not intend to apply the advance notice and permit requirements to casual filming indoors. Casual filming in wilderness is also not subject to a permit requirement.
  • Do reporters or news outlets need a permit to film?
    • There is no longer a newsgathering exception. News outlets whose filming activities do not meet the criteria for low-impact filming must provide advance notice to the park to determine if their filming activity requires a permit.

Commercial Filming In State Park Lands


How To Apply For A Permit on State Park Lands?

The commercial film permit forms for California State Parks are below. Be sure to complete and sign both forms.

1) Motion Picture Activity Information (DPR245A)
2) Special Event Permit (DPR246)

When completing the forms, if a question does not apply to your project, please indicate "none," "does not apply," or something similar, rather than leave a blank. All park regulations apply, unless a specific written exception is included in the permit. No one has ever provided "too much" information. Please provide as much detail as possible; storyboards, shooting schedules, summaries, outlines, samples of similar projects, a resume for the director or significant talent involved (we will keep information confidential as needed, but it is important for us to know). In order to properly review your request, we need to know what you want to film. A website for your company is helpful also.


What Locations Can I Film/Shoot At?

You will need to indicate specific locations you wish to shoot, a GPS location, a map indicating the location, the name of a trail, etc. Each request is reviewed based on the activity, location, time of year and day. So, while a permit may be approved for a certain activity at one location, it might not be suitable at another, based on natural or cultural resource impact; the same is true regarding the time of year or day, and visitation levels for that location. A permit is not usually required to send someone to scout locations that are open to the public. We regret that at this time we are not issuing special use permits for the following locations: Fern Canyon, Stout Grove, Lady Bird Johnson Grove, and James Irvine Trail. Filming activities are also restricted before, during and after holidays.


How Much Is The Application Fee and When Do I Pay?

The application fee must accompany your application. The application fee is non-refundable once we accept your application. We accept credit cards through, please ask the Permit Coordinator for more information in this process. The amount of the fee is based on the size of your project, please contact us to discuss the fees. Application fees range from $225 for a small project (usually a crew of less than 10, single camera, one day of shooting at one location, usually commercials) up to $1353 for a large project (crew larger than 20, multiple days, cameras and locations, commonly feature length or series projects). If you send us details of your project, we can give you a specific fee.

Are filmers still required to pay fees to film in national parks?
As of January 22, 2021, the National Park Service is no longer collecting application or location fees, or cost recovery for filming in national park areas.


Do I Need Insurance?

Yes. In addition to the application, please submit a copy of your Certificate of Insurance showing a minimum $1 million liability, with a $3 million aggregate. Prior to issuing your permit, we will require a COI showing the State of California and the United States as additional insureds. Insurance must be through a US based A- (or better) rated company. Additional insurance may be required for large or complex projects.

Are There Other Costs Associated With My Project?
Additional fees may be project dependent, but generally fall in the category of "cost recovery." If your project incurs a cost for the park, we will collect it from the permittee. Monitoring for instance, is $80/hour/ranger (there is a 4-hour minimum/ranger). A deposit may be requested based on estimated monitoring time. Other costs could involve rehabilitation or repairs in the event resources are negatively impacted by your project. For example: if excessive trash is left behind, ground or vegetation disturbance, damage to man-made structures, etc. These will be billed to you at the conclusion of your project, and are due within 30 days of billing.


Can I Close The Area Of My Event For Privacy?

All permits are issued on a non-exclusive basis; other visitors to the park may not be excluded from the area of your event.


How Long Does It Take To Process A Request?

Processing a request takes no less than 30 days from receipt of a completed application; larger or complex projects may take longer. Once your completed application is received, your request will be reviewed by our staff. We might contact you for additional information or clarification. Incomplete applications will extend the time it takes to review your request.

What Else Do I Need To Know?

We reserve the right to disapprove of any filming activities which may have adverse impact on park resources. Permittee agrees not to depict activities or situations that are not permitted or conflict with the park's preservation, protection and public use regulations.

  • Depiction of tree climbing activities and/or equipment, actual or implied, is not permitted.
  • The use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (drones) is not allowed.
  • The issuance of a filming permit is not, and does not imply, an endorsement of any product or service.
  • Commercial filming or photography of staff or volunteers requires prior approval.

Please keep in mind that our permits are issued on a non-exclusive basis, meaning that you may not exclude other visitors from the area during your project.

Please keep in mind that our permits are issued on a non-exclusive basis, meaning that you may not exclude other visitors from the area during your project.

A list of common permit conditions is also attached, but these may vary by project; be sure to read this before submitting your application.


Still Photography

When is a permit needed?

Price v. Barr had no impact on how the National Park Service regulates still photography, so there are no changes in how the National Park Service regulates that activity. Still photographers require 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; or
3. a park would incur additional administrative costs to monitor the activity.
What fees will I have to pay?

The National Park Service will collect a cost recovery charge and a location fee for still photography permits. Cost recovery includes an application fee and any additional charges to cover the costs incurred by the National Park Service in processing your request and monitoring your permit. This amount will vary depending on the park and the size and complexity of your permit. The application fee must be submitted with your application.

In addition, the National Park Service has been directed by Congress to collect a fee to provide a fair return to the United States for the use of park lands. The National Park Service uses the following still photography fee schedule:
  • 1–10 people - $50/day
  • 11–30 people - $150/day
  • Over 30 people - $250/day
Are there other permit requirements?
You may be required to obtain liability insurance naming the United States as additionally insured in an amount commensurate with the risk posed to park resources by your proposed activity. You may also be asked to post a bond to ensure the payment of all charges and fees and the restoration of the area if necessary.

What about photography workshops?
If you are planning a photography workshop, you may need a commercial use authorization. See the commercial use authorization page for more information.

What Airports Are Close By?

San Francisco (SFO) and Portland, Oregon (PDX) are the closest major airports, both are a 6-8 hour drive from the respective ends of the parks.

Medford, OR (MFR) is a 2-hour drive east of Jedediah Smith Redwoods.

Eureka/Arcata, CA (ACV) airport is 1-hour drive south of Prairie Creek Redwoods.

Redding, CA airport (RDD) is about 4-hours east of Prairie Creek Redwoods.

There is also an airport in Crescent City (CEC) that is 15-minutes from Jedediah Smith Redwoods, but flights are very limited.


If you have any questions, please feel free to call, or e-mail.

Permit Coordinator
Redwood National and State Parks
707- 465-7307


Last updated: July 12, 2021

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