Guided Overnight Backcountry Trips CUA



This CUA authorizes guided overnight backcountry trips with the appropriate backcountry camping permit.

General Provisions

  1. CUA holders are limited to three groups in the backcountry each day. Groups with consecutive itineraries are limited to three groups traveling in the backcountry each day. Maximum group size is 12, including guides. Multiple groups in the same area must be dispersed and not congregate. Multiple groups are not permitted to congregate in a single campsite if the overall group size exceeds the campsite size limit. Groups must be equipped to camp, cook, and travel independently.

Required Equipment

  1. Each guide must carry:
    1. a topographic map for the area of their trip and must have a basic knowledge of map reading. It is recommended all guides carry a compass and/or GPS and be trained in their use.
    2. one can of bear spray and be trained in its use. Bear spray for clients is recommended.
    3. a first aid kit suitable for backcountry emergencies and containing adequate supplies for the group size they are guiding.
    4. a reliable emergency communication device which could include a GPS locator beacon, satellite messenger, cell phone, or satellite phone. While cell phones provide an excellent backup tool for emergency communications (911), they are not always reliable in Yellowstone’s backcountry. It is incumbent upon the operator to carry a device reliable in the geographic area of the park the trip is being conducted.
  2. Guides will ensure that clients are properly attired for the current and forecasted weather conditions. Routes will be determined based on clients’ abilities and desires.


  1. A Backcountry Permit is required for overnight backcountry use and is available through the Central Backcountry Office, which can be reached at 307-344-2160 or e-mail us. Permits are subject to fees. CUA holders must adhere to Backcountry Campsite Reservation Conditions provided by the Central Backcountry Office. Having a CUA does not guarantee backcountry campsites will be available.
  2. Backcountry permits may not be applied for until operators have been issued an Overnight Backcountry CUA, all annual reports have been filed for the previous year, and subsequent fees have been paid in full to both the Central Backcountry Office and Commercial Services Office.

Staffing and Employment

  1. One guide on each trip must be certified Wilderness First Responder, Wilderness First Aid, or Emergency Medical Technician. A minimum of First Aid and CPR is required for all guides.

Operational Requirements

  1. CUA holders must only use designated backcountry campsites for which they are permitted and must not exceed campsite limitations for the number of people allowed at a campsite.
  2. Each group must include at least one guide. One guide on each trip must have relevant experience backcountry hiking and camping, including previous experience on the trails they are guiding.
  3. All guides and trip participants must view the Beyond Roads End video and adhere to all Yellowstone backcountry regulations. Regulations and video may be found at Camp in the Backcountry.
  4. While in Yellowstone's backcountry, the CUA holder or guide shall remain with their clients for the duration of the trip.
  5. Due to limited parking, no more than 2 commercial vehicles for each CUA can be parked at the same trailhead at one time in the park. Overnight groups are required to park at trailhead registered with overnight permit.
  6. Groups will immediately report any evacuations, hazardous trail conditions, or observed resource impacts to the Central Backcountry Office, which can be reached at 307-344-2160 or e-mail us and Commercial Services office as soon as possible or following trip conclusion.
  7. Groups must adhere to the following where possible: Sleep at least 100 yards (91 meters), preferably upwind, from the “core camp” area where you cook, eat, and hang your food.
  8. CUA holders are encouraged to stay on designated trails. Specific areas may be closed to off-trail travel as needed to protect park resources.
  9. Day hiking is an authorized use when associated with an overnight backcountry trip. An Environmental Education CUA must be obtained to conduct day hiking trips not associated with an overnight backcountry trip.
  10. Skiing and Snowshoeing is not authorized under an overnight backcountry CUA. Any business offering winter overnight backcountry trips must obtain a skiing and snowshoeing CUA in addition to the overnight backcountry CUA.
  11. Groups must adhere to the following where possible: Sleep at least 100 yards (91 meters), preferably upwind, from the “core camp” area where you cook, eat, and hang your food.

How to Apply for This Activity

  1. Apply for a 2024 CUA through the CUA Online Application and Reporting System (COARS).
  2. To view tutorials on how to apply for a CUA using COARS please visit: How to Apply for a Commercial Use Authorization (CUA) Permit.
  3. 2023 permit holders, please visit Annual Reports and Management Fees to complete and submit reports and pay fees (due by January 31, 2024).
  4. For proposed commercial operations taking place prior to December 31, 2023, please contact the Commercial Services Office at for application materials.

Last updated: December 4, 2023

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Mailing Address:

PO Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190-0168



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