CUA for Guided Environmental Education Tours Operating Plan

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The Environmental Education Tour CUA allows CUA holders to conduct interpretive road-based tours, day hiking, non-instructional photography tours, and act as a step-on guide on park roads with visits to facilities and services.

General Provisions

  1. Environmental education tours include the following activities:
    1. Road-based tours in which certified guides lead groups in educational and interpretive tours throughout the park, including stops at services, pullouts, developed areas, and boardwalks. Road-based tours allow for photography opportunities that do not include instruction. Workshops where instruction is given requires a Painting and Photography Workshop CUA. Portrait or wedding photography is not covered under this CUA and requires either a wedding permit or a Wedding and Portrait Photography CUA.
    2. Day hiking tours which include guided and interpretive day hiking tours on trails throughout Yellowstone that are longer than ½ mile. CUA holders are encouraged to stay on designated trails. Specific areas may be closed to off-trail travel if impacts are noted. The guide for any day hiking trip within the park must have a basic knowledge of map reading and have a topographic map for the area of their hike. It is recommended the guide have a compass and knowledge of compass use. If hiking on park trails, each guide must carry a minimum of one can of bear spray. Bear spray for clients is recommended.
    3. Step-on guide service which is defined as a guide who rides in a visitor’s vehicle or tour bus and acts as a guide for sightseeing tours. It is the guide’s responsibility to check the clients’ proof of auto liability insurance before the trip.
  2. Day hiking, road-based interpretive tours, and non-instructional photography activities operating under the Environmental Education Tour CUA are limited to a maximum group size of 15 clients, including the guides. There is no maximum group size for step-on guide service.
  3. CUA holders conducting day hiking trips more than 1/2 mile from the road are limited to three groups per day, with no group exceeding 15 people. Each group must be dispersed a minimum of 60 minutes apart and groups may not congregate on trails or at a destination.
  4. There is no limitation to the number of trips a CUA holder can take for road-based tours as long as the group size of no more than 15 people per group is adhered to.
  5. Guides must meet one of the requirements listed below in order to be considered a qualified guide under this activity and be issued a guide card to provide tours within Yellowstone:
    1. Attend one Resource Education Training given by Yellowstone National Park in the spring, watch a recording of the current year’s Resource Education Training, or provide an outline of your Yellowstone specific training given to employees, and
    2. Complete and pass a test regarding Yellowstone National Park’s natural and cultural resources, as well as park regulations. All answers can be located in the Resource Guide Book located on the Resources for Commercial Guides page. The test is available at: Link will be provided when available.
  6. Guides are encouraged to stay on designated trails to minimize impacts to resources.
  7. Interpretive road-based tours and photography tours may occupy the parking lots or vehicle pull-outs in Hayden Valley and Lamar Valley for a maximum of 2 hours.
  8. Slow moving vehicles must use roadside pull-outs and parking areas to allow free flow of other traffic. Vehicles may not stop in the roadway to allow clients to take pictures of animals or load and unload passengers.
  9. Vehicles shall not be left idling in parking areas or park across multiple parking spaces. Loading zones must not be occupied longer than necessary to load and unload passengers.
  10. All vehicles transporting clients and conducting tours under an Environmental Education CUA must display the following information on their vehicles (step-on guides are exempt from this requirement:
    1. Company name that the CUA is issued under,
    2. ODOT number if required,
    3. Markings must appear on both sides of the vehicle,
    4. Letters must contrast sharply in color with the background on which the letters are placed, and
    5. Markings must be legible, during daylight hours, from a distance of 50 feet with the vehicle stationary.

Environmental Ed Tours

Commercial Use Authorization for Environmental Education Tours Operating Plan

Download and Sign PDF
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Activity-based CUAs

These include biking, environmental education, tours, boating, skiing and snowshoeing, overnight backcountry, art workshops, and fishing.

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Commercial Use Authorizations (CUAs)

The National Park Service requires specific authorizations for commercial businesses to operate in national parks.

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Resources for Commercial Guides

Download or review resources for anyone who may routinely work with visitors to Yellowstone National Park.

Last updated: September 24, 2020

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190-0168



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