Commercial Use Authorization


What is a Commercial Use Authorization?

A Commercial Use Authorization (CUA) is a business permit with the National Park Service. It authorizes you or your organization to conduct commercial activities and to provide specific visitor services within a national park.

You must have a CUA if you or your organization provide services that:

• take place at least in part in White Sands National Park,
• use park resources, and
• result in compensation, monetary gain, benefit, or profit.

Your organization is considered a business if it provides goods, services, activities, or other things to the public using National Park Service lands. If you receive any form of compensation for the things you provide, you are conducting a business or commercial activity. The National Park Service definition of a business or commercial organization does not distinguish between commercial and non-profit organizations.

You may not conduct commercial activities in the park without a valid CUA or in a manner inconsistent with the terms of the CUA.

You must always carry a complete copy of your Commercial Use Authorization with you while operating in the park. All vehicles in the group must be identified with a common tag from your business on the dashboards so that park personal can easily identify the entire party.

What are the general criteria for the issuance of a CUA?

The authorization is issued to a qualified operator to permit the provision of appropriate commercial services to park area visitors. A qualified operator is an organization that the superintendent determines has the ability to satisfactorily provide visitor services and carry out the terms of the CUA.

Authorized commercial services must:

• Have minimal impact on park area’s resources and values;
• Are consistent with the purpose for which the park area was established;
• Are consistent with all applicable park area management plans, policies, and regulations.

The holder must agree to comply with all of the general and specific conditions described in the CUA conditions. You should familiarize yourself with these documents before applying for a CUA.

What commercial activities are authorized at White Sands National Park?

  • Photography workshops
  • Art Instruction
  • Fitness
Commercial activity groups size is limited to 25 people including group leaders.

What fees do I need to pay?

You are required to pay a nonrefundable application fee each time you submit an application. The application fee amount is currently determined by each park. This fee allows the park to recover administrative costs associated with processing and approving or denying your CUA application.

A $350 application fee for each service category is due with the application. This fee is non-refundable.

Market Price Fee

Parks are required to collect a reasonable fee to recover the costs associated with administering and managing the CUA program. CUA holders are subject to a market price fee calculated by gross receipts earned from park-based operations. Application fees are credited to the CUA holder upon payment of market price fee. Fees are based on the following:

  • Market Price Fee (% of gross receipts earned from park-based operations)
    • <$250,000.00 – 3% of gross receipts (minus application fee)
    • $250,000.00 to $500,000.00 – 4% of gross receipts (minus application fee)
    • >$500,000.00 – 5% of gross receipts (minus application fee)
  • You will receive a bill of collection for the market price from White Sands National Park. Payment is due by the due date. You may submit your payment via money order or check (business, personal, or cashiers).

Do CUA holders have to pay park entrance fees:

A CUA authorization only pays for the activity, not park entrance fees. Requesting to be in the park outside of normal park hours will require a cost recovery fee.

How do I obtain a commercial use authorization?

Please visit the website below to apply for a CUA. You may reach out to the park CUA Coordinator at with any questions. Select White Sands National Park to see activities available to apply for.

Applying for a CUA

Visitor Acknowledgement of Risk?

If you require such a form to be signed by your clients, it must follow this format. No exceptions.

What are the reporting requirements?

CUA holders must submit an annual report each year. This report provides the park with visitation statistics, reportable injury data, and a record of annual gross receipts.

The CUA Annual report is due no later than January 31st following the calendar year of activities conducted. Future CUAs will not be issued until this is completed.

For what time period are Commercial Use Authorizations Valid?

CUAs are valid from the date of issue until December 31St of the same calendar year. For example, if an application is received on February 1, 2023, and issued on March 1, 2023, the CUA will be valid from March 1, 2023 – December 31, 2023. As another example, if a CUA is issued on September 1, 2023, it will be valid from September 1St until December 31St of the same year.

What areas of the park can the CUA activities be conducted?

CUA activities can be conducted at Dune Life Nature Trail, Playa Trail and public areas past Interdune Boardwalk (including Dunes Drive loop).

Special Park Conditions

  1. An itinerary with dates and times must be emailed to 15 days prior to your planned activity if your activity will be during normal park operating hours.
  2. If you plan to have an activity outside the normal operating hours, you must make this request 30 days prior to the date of your planned activity, e-mail request to These requests depend on NPS staffing availability on the date(s) requested.
  3. All CUA activities must be Low or Minimal-Impact. Low-Impact as defined by National Parks Omnibus Management Act of 1998 SEC. 418 Commercial Use Authorizations
    1. (b)(1): The authority of this section may be used only to authorize provision of services that the Secretary determines will have minimal impact on resources and values of the unit of the National Park System and are consistent with the purpose for which the unit was established and with all applicable management plans and park policies and regulations.
      1. a. activities that will have not more than minimal impact on resources and park values, and
      2. b. activities that must not have the potential to cause more than minimal adverse impacts under normal circumstances.
  4. General CUA Conditions
    1. All business transactions must take place outside of White Sands National Park.
    2. Military testing may impact CUA activities, including possible cancellations.
    3. The name and employing company of all CUA representatives and employees must be identifiable with the use of uniforms, name tags, and logos while conducting activities.
    4. All representatives and employees of CUA holders must always conduct themselves in a professional manner.
  5. Group Size & Activity Location
    1. CUA activities are permitted only in these areas:
      1. Dune Life Nature Trail,
      2. Playa Trail, and
      3. areas open to the public past Interdune Boardwalk (including Dunes Drive loop).
    2. CUA activities are not permitted in the reservation only Group Use area.
    3. Maximum group size for CUA activities is the public use areas is 25 people including group leaders.
    4. General public use area CUA activities for groups of 25 or less may be conducted in caravans of up to six vehicles which may include up to one commercial vehicle and up to five private vehicles for each group.
  6. Vehicles:
    1. Commercially owned, leased, and rented vehicles must be identifiable on the outside of the vehicle or by placement of company logo on the dashboard of participants vehicles.
  7. Food Service:
    1. CUA holders must have a food handler certification to serve food to clients. This must be provided with the application.
    2. Food service and preparation while in the park may be conducted at the public grill space or with a self-contained portable cooking stove that will not leak onto any resources may be used.
    3. CUA holders are only permitted to serve food to CUA permit participants.
    4. Alcohol consumption is not permitted for any CUA activities.
  8. Photography:
    1. No onsite chemical development or processing of films is permitted.
    2. If lighting is needed, small handheld battery lanterns are permitted.
    3. Props must be hand carried in.
  9. Art:
    1. All liquids/paints must be contained with the use of a tarp to prevent from contamination of resource.
White Sands Map with blue shading showing CUA permitted areas.
White Sands National Park map with blue shading showing CUA permitted areas.

Last updated: March 3, 2024

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

PO Box 1086
Holloman AFB, NM 88330


575 479-6124

Contact Us