Avalanche Safety Courses CUA


The CUA authorizes avalanche safety courses. An avalanche safety course is an instructional trip where participants receive education and/or certification in avalanche safety. Ski mountaineering is not authorized under this CUA and any skiing that occurs during courses must be incidental to the primary instructional purpose of the activity.

General Provisions

  1. Definitions:
    • Low angle trips are defined as trips that involve terrain with a slope angle less than 20°.
    • Moderate angle trips are defined as trips that involve terrain with a slope angle between 20° - 34°.
    • Steep angle trips are defined as trips that involve terrain with a slope angle greater than 34°.
  2. Avalanche safety courses must be authorized on an individual basis. The CUA holder should submit a list of proposed dates, front and backcountry locations, and times of avalanche courses with their application. The park's review and acceptance of avalanche safety course locations, dates, and times concerns visitor use levels and resource impacts. The park's review and authorization of certain locations, dates, and times is not a review of the associated activity's risk, terrain suitability, and avalanche conditions. Such review is the responsibility of the CUA holder.
  3. Skiing and snowshoeing are prohibited on groomed roads associated with oversnow vehicle traffic (i.e., Grand Loop Road), except on designated routes or crossings.
  4. Maximum group size for day use is 12 people, which must include at least trip leader.
  5. CUA holders are limited to 3 groups per day. Each group must be dispersed a minimum of 60 minutes apart and may not congregate at a destination.
  6. The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is closed to off-trail travel, including climbing, between the Chittenden Bridge and Silver Cord Cascade (36 CFR § 1.5).
  7. Trip leaders must be certified or recognized Avalanche Course Instructors by AIRE, AAI, AAA or other Avalanche education organizations. These requirements typically include Avalanche Pro 1 and Avalanche Pro 2 certifications in addition to requisite avalanche science field experience. Additional guides must be certified in Avalanche Level 2 or the professional equivalent certification.
  8. Each guide and client are required to be equipped, at a minimum, with a transceiver, clinometer, shovel, and probe.
  9. Trip leaders must have Wilderness First Aid, Wilderness First Responder, or Emergency Medical Technician certification.
  10. Overnight backcountry use requires an overnight backcountry CUA and is not authorized under this CUA.
  11. One guide on each trip must have previous winter travel experience in the area of the park where the course is being conducted.
  12. The guide, for any trip within the park, must have a basic knowledge of map reading and must have a topographic map of the area for their trip. It is recommended the guide have a compass and knowledge of compass use.
  13. All guides must carry a first aid kit suitable for backcountry emergencies and appropriately sized for the group they are guiding.
  14. Each guide must carry a reliable emergency communication device which could include a GPS locator beacon, satellite messenger, or satellite phone. While cell phones provide an excellent backup tool for emergency communications (911), they are not always reliable in Yellowstone’s backcountry.
  15. When multiple guides are leading a trip, they must carry devices that will allow them to communicate with each other.
  16. CUA holders are responsible for ensuring that guides and clients are properly attired for the current and forecasted weather conditions. Routes will be determined based on clients’ abilities and desires.
  17. While in Yellowstone, the CUA holder or guide shall remain with their clients for the duration of the trip.
  18. The CUA holder or guide shall provide all clients with an orientation prior to the trip which emphasizes safe practices while recreating in winter conditions. At a minimum, the orientation should include nature and demands of the trips, safety and emergency procedures, weather conditions, park regulations, wildlife interactions, and Leave No Trace practices.

How to apply for this CUA activity

  1. Complete CUA application packets should be submitted via email to yell_cua_admins@nps.gov.
  2. Complete application packets include the documents listed below (click on the blue links below to download each document):
  3. If your application is missing any components listed above, we will inform you via the email address or phone number listed on the application. Any incomplete applications will be placed on hold until all required documentation is received.
  4. Once your application packet has been reviewed and approved, we will send the CUA, NPS Form 10-115, via the email address listed on the application.
  5. The CUA holder will then sign and return the CUA form(s) to yell_cua_admins@nps.gov. The CUA is not final until the signed form(s) are received by our office.
  6. Submit a guide card request for any guides/employees that will be entering the park under this CUA at least two weeks prior to their first trip in the park.
  7. Complete and submit Annual Report Forms—Due by January 31st following the operating year.

Last updated: November 9, 2022

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Mailing Address:

PO Box 168
Yellowstone National Park , WY 82190-0168



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