Filming and Photography Permits FAQs

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Before you call or email us, please review this list of the most common Filming and Photography Permit questions.

What are the restrictions for filming and photography in National Parks?

The National Park Service cannot permit a project if:

  • Damage to natural, cultural, wilderness, and recreational resources is expected which cannot be mitigated;
  • Other activities are already planned or expected to occur at the same time and place, and filming or photography would be incompatible;
  • The activity involves access to areas normally closed for reasons of resource protection or safety;
  • The level of activity within the parks is already so high that staff would be unavailable to work with film crew;
  • The project includes a portrayal of activities that are not permitted within a national park;
  • The production company is unwilling or unable to obtain necessary insurance as applicable;
  • The production company is unwilling or unable to reimburse the National Park Service for costs as applicable, or comply with National Park Service bond requirements.

What activities are prohibited?

Activities having the potential to significantly impact, alter, or damage our resources are prohibited. The following are also prohibited:

  • Altering, damaging or removing vegetation or filming in wetlands
  • Vehicle use off established roads and parking areas
  • Use of insecticides, herbicides, and pesticides
  • Loud noises (60 decibels or higher) between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.
  • Use of meadow areas except on trails or already-disturbed areas as determined by the NPS
  • Any artificial lighting or use of power equipment in wilderness (other wilderness restrictions apply)
  • Filming of wild animals in captivity (except when working with our wildlife management operations)
  • Aerial filming, including drones (highly restricted)
  • Smoking in buildings, on boardwalks, or in vegetated areas
  • Harassment of wildlife or introduction of wildlife captured elsewhere
  • Commercial filming in wilderness areas
  • Use of equipment that inhibits public views of popular scenic vistas
  • Digging, scraping, chiseling, or defacing natural features for filming purposes.

What if I'd like to film or photograph Crystal Cave?

Crystal Cave is managed by our non-profit partner The Sequoia Parks Conservancy (SPC). If you're interested in filming or photographing at Crystal Cave, contact them to make arrangements for a private tour in advance of applying for an NPS permit. You can email them or call 559-565-4251.

The private tour fee is $275.00 to be paid directly to SPC. A maximum of 10 people are allowed in the cave for film or photography purposes.

What fees will I have to pay?

As of January 22, 2021, and under the interim guidance, the National Park Service is not collecting application fees, location fees, or cost recovery for filming activities.

The following are the minimum fees you can expect to pay for a photography permit.

  • Initial Minimum Fees:
    • Application Review Fee: $150 (non-refundable initial review fee)
    • Cost Recovery Fee: $250 (non-refundable minimum fee which covers basic permit processing and 3 hours of administration time.)

Additional fees may apply depending on project complexity.

  • Additional Fees:
    • Administrative Time: $50/hour
      • The total amount charged will vary depending on the complexity of your project. Charges may include additional project review time, time spent communicating with project staff or park staff, scouting assistance if needed, permit monitoring for projects where a monitor is required to ensure protection of natural or cultural resources, etc.
    • Gas: $8/day (per staff vehicle used)
    • Location Fees: see below
  • Still Photography Location Fees
    • 1–10 people - $50/day
    • 11–30 people - $150/day
    • Over 30 people - $250/day
Crystal Cave Location Fees
  • Private tour - $275

When and how do I pay my permit fees?

Once your application has been received, reviewed, and you've been in contact with our permit specialist, you will receive a link to with a permit number necessary to complete your transaction.

How long will it take to process my application?

Total processing time varies depending on project complexity. You should submit an application a minimum of 6 weeks in advance of your proposed project start date.

What other locations might better suit my commercial filming or photography needs?

Balch Park through Tulare County Film Commission, Sequoia National Forest & Giant Sequoia National Monument, Sierra National Forest, and Inyo National Forest are all regional options for filming and photography which may have fewer restrictions. All areas except the Inyo National Forest feature giant sequoias. Though it lacks giant sequoias, the forest features dramatic mountain views on the eastern side of the Sierra.

What other resources are available to help me plan my project?

Reviewing the following links when planning your project in advance of contacting our office can help keep your administrative permitting fees to a minimum.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Main Page
Park Newspaper (Visitor Guide)
Current Conditions

Okay, I'm ready to apply. Where do I go?

Please head over to Ready to Apply page.

Hey Ranger, what if you didn't answer my question?

Please email or call 559-565-4257.

Last updated: February 24, 2021

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47050 Generals Highway
Three Rivers , CA 93271


559 565-3341

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