Public Use Limits

Public Use Limits are outlined in the Director's Compendium and are meant to maintain the environmental and scenic values of Wolf Trap. Please be respectful of park resources and other park visitors. For rules during Filene Center performances, visit Filene Center House Rules.

1. Open fires and/or cooking devices are not permitted within the park at any time, except by written permission of the Superintendent.

2. "Tenting", i.e., the pitching of any kind of tents for shelter, including large event tents, is not permitted except by written permission of the Superintendent.

3. Organized sports (baseball, soccer, football, croquet, etc.) are not permitted at any time, nor are the erection of sports equipment such as nets, goals, etc. Informal games, such as catch, Frisbee, etc., are permitted in the Meadow area.

4.Flying model powered airplanes, model rockets, and drones are prohibited. Further, the launching, landing, or operating an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) from or on lands and waters administered by the National Park Service within the boundaries of Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts is prohibited except as approved in writing by the superintendent.

The term “unmanned aircraft” means a device that is used or intended to be used for flight in the air without the possibility of direct human intervention from within
or on the device, and the associated operation elements and components that are
required for the pilot or system operator In command to operate or control the
device (such as cameras, sensors, communication links). This term includes all types of devices that meet this definition (e.g., model airplanes, quadcopters, drones,) that are used for any purpose, including for recreation or commerce.) This restriction covers all areas within Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts. UAS use is further restricted by Federal rules which prohibit any aircraft from operating in the 30 mile Flight Restricted Zone around our nation's capital without specific FAA approval, which includes all unmanned aircraft.

The National Park Service has not had sufficient time to adequately determine the
Effect and impact of this use of unmanned aircraft in Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts on the performances at the venues in the park; the pastoral setting; the safety of visitors walking, bicycling and driving in and through the park; the expression of 1stAmendment views; the impact on wildlife and the safety and security of official aircraft that operate over and in the park.

The launching and retrieval of unmanned aircraft, is a new use and subject to the requirements of the National Park Service Management Policies 2006, Sections 1.5 and 8.1, “Appropriate Use.” Before a new use can be allowed, it must be assessed to determine if it is “(1) appropriate to the purpose for which the park was established, and (2) can be sustained without causing unacceptable impacts”
(Management Policies 2006, Section 8.1.1). Since that required assessment and
evaluation has not yet been done, less restrictive methods involving the launching
and retrieval of unmanned aircraft are not appropriate. Notice of this temporary and
partial closure and public use limitation will be made through media advisories,
maps and posting at conspicuous locations in the affected park areas as required by 36 CFR 1.7. This determination is available to the public upon request.

5. Items such as signs, decorations, and balloons are not to be attached to any park structures or natural features except the third party deck areas. Balloons are permitted as part of pre-performance picnics and events, provided that these events occur outside the Filene Center House. Helium balloons may not be released at any time.

6. Skating, rollerblading, and skateboarding are permitted on the paved parking lots when not in conflict with other park activities. They are prohibited elsewhere in the park, including park roads, paths, the Filene Center, and Plaza areas.

7. Bicycles are permitted on park roads and on the paved parking lots when not in conflict with other park activities. They are prohibited in all other areas of the park, including trails, grassy and forested areas.

8. Cross-country skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing are permitted in the park on established trails and grassy areas. Sledding is permitted on grassy areas only. No winter activities of any kind are permitted in the Filene Center House or Plaza areas, or on park roads.

9. Ice skating is prohibited for safety reasons.

10. Smoking, including e-cigarettes or ‘vaping’, is prohibited in all areas of the Filene Center. Smoking is also prohibited in box office and theater entrance lines, within 25 feet of theater and building entrances, in rest-rooms, and at the Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods. Smoking is allowed in parking lots and in park areas outside of the areas where it is prohibited.

11. Pets, except for service animals, are prohibited in the Filene Center House, at the Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods, in picnic areas, and in any area of the park being utilized for an authorized event. Where pets are permitted, they must be restrained on a leash of no more than six feet in length. Pet owners/handlers are responsible for removing pet excrement.

12. Swimming, bathing or wading in the park is prohibited, due to safety considerations.

13. Camping or overnight park use is prohibited, except by written permission of the Superintendent.

14. Small scale activities, such as birthday parties and other celebrations, are allowed on park grounds provided that the Superintendent is notified in advance, that the activities do not conflict with primary park uses, and that the activities comply with all other items in this compendium. Small scale activities are private activities not associated with commercial or non-profit organizations that do not impact park facilities and/or operations, other approved uses, or are within the general range of gatherings typical of picnics and similar uses. Generally, small scale activities have 25 or fewer attendees. Users are expected to provide their own clean-up and carry out all trash, and park in the paved public parking lots. Amplified sound is not permitted. Advance notification allows the park staff to ensure that appropriate restrooms are unlocked and other preparations made for visitor safety and assistance. It also ensures that the proposed area for use for the event will not be in use or conflict with another event. (Note: The use of the Filene Center and Meadow Pavilion performance areas, and the terraces and decks are reserved through the Wolf Trap Foundation.

15. Large scale activities that are held in one of the third party use areas require the advance notification and approval of the Superintendent. Large scale activities that do not use one of the third party areas must have an approved special use permit. Large scale activities are those that generally have more than 25 attendees or the conduct which has the effect, intent, or propensity to draw a crowd or onlookers, or all large scale activities must be held in conjunction with a theater performance

16. The public use of unlicensed motor vehicles is prohibited in the park, with the exception of motorized wheelchairs or other personal mobility assistance devices used by mobility impaired persons.

17. People who can legally possess firearms under applicable federal, state, and local laws can legally possess firearms in this park. Federal law prohibits firearms in designated federal facilities, including the Filene Center.

18. Fishing with a rod or line is permitted in the park’s Farm Pond. All fishing is “Catch and Release” and all persons fishing must possess a valid Virginia State Fishing License. Fishing is not permitted in Wolf Trap Creek.

19. Food and drink may be brought into the Filene Center. For the safety of the public, however, all coolers and picnic baskets to be allowed in are limited to a maximum size of 15” x 15” x 22” or smaller (48-quart capacity cooler/63-can capacity) and other containers such as bags, backpacks, carts, purses are restricted to a size no larger than 14” x 13” x 10”. To facilitate visitor safety, all such coolers, baskets and other such containers will also be subject to security inspection for explosives, weapons, firearms, ammunition, or other prohibited items. This public use limitation and security inspection will apply only to visitors who wish to enter the Filene Center and will not affect visitors who picnic and/or recreate outside the gates of the Filene Center. Record of Determination found in Appendix A of the Compendium.

Last updated: June 2, 2017

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1551 Trap Road
Vienna, VA 22182-1643


(703) 255-1800

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