Saguaro National Park is home to many beautiful landscapes, which makes it a popular place for weddings and special events. Most special events and activities held in the park by individuals or groups 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.
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 (not all inclusive) include: sporting events, pageants, regattas, public spectator attractions, entertainment, ceremonies, large group camps or rendezvous, large picnic groups, holiday services, certain commercial filming/photographing, organized group events, commercial tours, etc.
Groups whom must obtain a permit:
- Organized non-commercial groups are defined as any group traveling together. Groups such as scouts, clubs, churches, meet-up groups, and family/friend groups that have created their own itinerary.
- All nonprofit groups are defined as groups 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.
- Please contact the park at firstname.lastname@example.org to obtain a permit for dispersal. No application fee or application will be necessary.
- Scattering of ashes from human cremation only. Scattering all other ashes is prohibited.
- 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.
Saguaro National Park's inspiring natural settings are ideally suited for small, simple and quiet weddings. We neither provide nor allow many things traditional weddings usually request: chairs, tables, arches, flowers, amplified sound, generators, balloons, signs, decorations, etc. at any location. If you want to have a large, exclusive, or decorated celebration, please consider locations outside of the park for your event.
All ceremonies, regardless of size, require an approved Special Use Permit issued by the National Park Service. Weddings may be scheduled up to 1 year in advance. Special Use Permits only allow the use of the permitted area. The permit neither provides for nor includes any services or amenities. Saguaro National Park does not permit exclusive use of any area, and there may be normal visitor activity during your ceremony.
In addition to the $100 Special Use Permit Application fee, there may also be a monitoring fee of roughly $35/hr.
Receptions are not permitted.
Please review the park map and the picnic areas for desired wedding ceremony locations and inquire about these locations on the application. Group sizes and parking may be limited depending on location. Any wedding that is on a trail or uses a trail for access will be limited to 18 people. 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 handheld 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.
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.
For payment, Saguaro National Park may accept credit card payment face-to-face, over the telephone or through the mail.
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)
Entrance Fees and/or other recreation fees are still required.