Commercial Use Authorizations


Obtaining a Commercial Use Authorization

Commercial business activity is prohibited within Shenandoah National Park unless a Commercial Use Authorization (CUA) has been granted by the Park (36 CFR Sec. 5.3.) Applicants for a CUA must not book or advertise for business in the Park until they are in possession of the authorization. In order to submit an application for a CUA, follow the steps outlined below:

Only certain commercial services are authorized to operate within Shenandoah National Park. Services not included on the list below will not be approved. Authorized services include:

  • Guided backpacking
  • Guided bicycle tours (electric and non-motorized)
  • Guided fishing
  • Guided hiking
  • Outdoor skills - youth activities and guided day hiking
  • Outdoor skills - rock climbing
  • Photography tours & workshops

Please be advised, the Shenandoah National Park Commercial Services Office will not issue any Commercial Use Authorization (CUA) allowing a CUA Holder to conduct commercial services on the Appalachian Trail. The Holder will ensure a clear understanding for all parties concerned that no commercial services whatsoever are authorized on the Appalachian Trail (AT80). Any use of the Appalachian Trail (emergencies not withstanding) is a violation of the CUA Special Conditions and is grounds for immediate revocation. The Appalachian Trail Management Plan, an agreement between Director, National Park Service and Chief, National Forest Service for the management of the AT on federal lands, specifically calls out commercial activity as contrary to the idea and intent of the simple footpath.

Review and sign special conditions pages for:

The signed page will be submitted with your CUA application.

Guide Registration Forms must be completed for each leader/guide and submitted with your application.

Liability insurance is required for all CUA holders, and you will be required to provide proof with your application.

The current fee for a CUA is $315, which must be included with your application. The authority for the National Park Service to impose user charges to recover and retain costs associated with managing special park uses is found in 31 U.S.C. 3.a. Fees for CUAs are non-refundable. This fee covers the costs associated with the administrative process for preparing and issuing the CUA as well as costs associated with monitoring and/or performing needed functions to properly manage the activity.

Your application will not be reviewed or considered until we have received your application fee.

Follow all detailed instructions and completely fill out the Commercial Use Authorization application before submitting it, along with the application fee and all additional required documentation. Your application will not be reviewed or considered until we have received your application fee. The application must be postmarked no later than January 31st in the current year in order to be authorized by the cycle start date of April 30th for that year.

E-mail a clearly legible scanned copy, using CUA Application in the subject line, to: e-mail us, or mail your completed application to:
Shenandoah National Park
CUA Application
3655 U.S. Highway 211 East,
Luray, VA  22835

There is no right or guarantee of renewal for Commercial Use Authorizations. Companies will need to reapply for a new CUA upon expiration of the current one. No renewal reminders are sent. Please refer to this website for any relevant updates.

The CUA Holder is not permitted to require clients to sign a waiver of liability statement or form, insurance disclaimer, and/or indemnification agreement waiving the client’s right to hold the CUA holder responsible for accidents or injury occurring on NPS property. The Holder is permitted, however, to request or require a client to sign a form or statement acknowledging risk and/or indicating that certain prerequisite skills may be needed to participate in the commercial activity.   

The Holder must provide the NPS Commercial Services office with the current copy of all forms and/or statements used for this purpose and obtain for the form written approval by Shenandoah National Park.   

For help, contact the CUA office at 540-999-3500 (ext. 3374), or view the sample Visitor Acknowledgment of Risk (VAR) below:

In consideration of the services of _______________, their officers, agents, employees, and stockholders, and all other persons or entities associated with those businesses (hereafter collectively referred to as “ _______________ ”). I agree as follows:

Although _______________ has taken reasonable steps to provide me with appropriate equipment and skilled guides so I can enjoy an activity for which I may not be skilled, _______________ has informed me this activity is not without risk. Certain risks are inherent in each activity and cannot be eliminated without destroying the unique character of the activity. These inherent risks are some of the same elements that contribute to the unique character of this activity and can be the cause of loss or damage to my equipment, or accidental injury, illness, or in extreme cases, permanent trauma or death. _______________ does not want to frighten me or reduce my enthusiasm for this activity, but believes it is important for me to know in advance what to expect and to be informed of the inherent risks. The following describes some, but not all, of those risks: _______________.

I am aware that _______________ entails risks of injury or death to any participant. I understand the description of these inherent risks is not complete and that other unknown or unanticipated inherent risks may result in injury or death. I agree to assume and accept full responsibility for the inherent risks identified herein and those inherent risks not specifically identified. My participation in this activity is purely voluntary; no one is forcing me to participate, and I elect to participate in spite of and with full knowledge of the inherent risks.

I acknowledge that engaging in this activity may require a degree of skill and knowledge different from other activities and that I have responsibilities as a participant. I acknowledge that the staff of  _______________ has been available to more fully explain to me the nature and physical demands of this activity and the inherent risks, hazards, and dangers associated with this activity.

I certify that I am fully capable of participating in this activity. Therefore, I assume and accept full responsibility for myself, including all minor children in my care, custody, and control, for bodily injury, death, or loss of personal property and expenses as a result of those inherent risks and dangers identified herein and those
inherent risks and dangers not specifically identified, and as a result of my negligence in participating in this activity.

I have carefully read, clearly understood, and accepted the terms and conditions stated herein and acknowledge that this agreement shall be effective and binding upon me, my heirs, assigns, personal representative, and estate and for all members of my family, including minor children.

Signature (parent of guardian, if participant is under 18 years of age)


Each year, an annual survey (Word document, 645 kb) is required detailing operations conducted in Shenandoah National Park.
E-mail a clearly legible scanned copy, using CUA Annual Survey in the subject line, to: e-mail us, or mail your completed application to:
Shenandoah National Park
CUA Annual Survey
3655 U.S. Highway 211 East,
Luray, VA  22835

Last updated: December 21, 2021

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

Shenandoah National Park
3655 U.S. Highway 211 East

Luray, VA 22835


540 999-3500
Emergency Phone: 1-800-732-0911

Contact Us