Special Use Permits

Special Use Permits
Saguaro National Park is home to many beautiful landscapes which make it a popular place for weddings and special events. Most special events and activities held in the park require a special use permit, issued only after the National Park Service (NPS) determines that the activity will not cause degradation of the park's valuable resources, visitor experience, or the purpose for which the park was established.

Special Events
A special use permit is required for activities that provide a benefit to an individual, group, or organization rather than the public at large. These activities require some degree of management from the National park Service if there is the potential for interference with visitor use, congestion of a highly visited area, or possible impact on park resources. Special Event examples include; Large Picnic Groups, Holiday Services, Filming/Photographing, Organized Group events, Religious events, Scientific Research, Commercial Tours, etc.

Groups whom must obtain a permit:

  • Organized Non-Commercial Groups are defined as any group traveling together, such as scouts, a club, a church, a meet up group, or a family/friend group that has created its own itinerary.
  • All Not-for-Profit Groups are defined as a group that may meet the criteria for a non-commercial group if the organization derives no taxable income from providing leisure/recreational services. Groups must prove 501(c)(3) status.
  • All groups' part of a Fundraiser.

Saguaro's inspiring natural settings are ideally suited for small, informal weddings. All weddings, regardless of size, require an approved special use permit issued by the National Park Service.

Please review the park map and the picnic areas for desired wedding ceremony locations and inquire about these locations on the application. For information on lodging, catering or reception availability; please contact the local hotels and facilities directly.

First Amendment Activities
Freedom of speech, press, religion, and assembly are constitutional rights. However, the courts have recognized that activities associated with the exercise of these rights may be reasonably regulated to protect park resources. The necessity of permit to conduct First Amendment activities is determined by the group size:

A small group is defined as “25 people or less.” A “small group” is not required to obtain a First Amendment Permit if they are located within a park designated First Amendment site and have no more than leaflets, booklets and/or hand held signs. A permit is required for any small group that:
  • wants to hold a demonstration or distribute and/or sell printed matter somewhere outside a designated First Amendment area.
  • wants to use equipment (i.e. tables, banners, platforms, etc.) even if it is within a designated area.
  • is merely an extension of another group already availing itself of the 25 person maximum.
  • wants to guarantee they will have priority for the use of a location, including the designated First Amendment areas.
A large group is defined as "more than 25 people" and is required to obtain a First Amendment Permit even if they are utilizing a park designated First Amendment site.
Some examples of special events that fall under First Amendment Rules:
  • Distribution and/or sale of printed matter
  • Religious services
  • Public demonstrations or assemblies, etc.
There are no permit fees associated with First Amendment permits.
Please contact the park at (520) 733-5103 for more information about Designated First Amendment sites or the application process.

Ash Dispersal
  • Please contact the park at e-mail us to obtain a permit for dispersal. No application fee or application will be necessary.
  • Ashes from cremated remains must have been cremated and pulverized in compliance with State law and must be scattered in a manner so as to disperse their identity. No teeth, bone fragments, or remnants recognizable as human remains be scattered.
  • The scattering of remains by persons on the ground is to be performed at least 100 yards from any trail, road, developed facility, known cultural or historic site, or body of water.
  • The scattering of remains from the air is to be performed at a minimum altitude of 2,000 feet above the ground.
  • No scattering of remains from the air is to be performed over developed areas, facilities or bodies of water.
  • The placement of any monument or marker recognizing the scattering of cremated remains is prohibited.

Permit Application Fees are non-refundable and are based on an annual cost recovery analysis. This $100.00 fee covers the cost of permit processing and administrative costs. Larger events or other special uses that require additional management will incur higher fees.

Entrance Fees and/or other recreation fees are still required.
Payment can be made by cashier's check (which is the preferred method), money order or credit card. Credit card information must include the name on the card, card number, expiration date, security code, and billing address that is associated with the card.

Note: Other fees may apply. Cost Recovery can apply to any permit and be caused by the need to have a monitor, cleaning up site, etc. (average costs are $35/hr)

The Application Process

Download a Special Use Permit Application

Please send completed applications with the non-refundable $100.00 permit application fee to:
Saguaro National Park
ATTN: Special Use Permits
3693 South Old Spanish Trail
Tucson, AZ 85730
Or e-mail us

After favorable review of your application, a Special Use Permit will be prepared and e-mailed to you for signature. Upon receipt, you will need to review, sign and return the permit to our office for final approval. After the permit is approved we will email you an authorized copy. The approved permit must be in your possession at the time of your event.

Please call (520) 733-5103 if you need to submit your application using another method.

We require a minimum of 4 weeks to fully process a basic permit request.
Applications will not be processed if submitted incomplete or are received without payment.

Complex special events may require more than 4 weeks to process.

Last updated: February 25, 2020

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

3693 S Old Spanish Trail
Tucson , AZ 85730


(520) 733-5153

Contact Us