CUA for Guided, Overnight Backcountry Trips Operating Plan

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The CUA for overnight backcountry trips allows the CUA holder to conduct guided overnight backcountry trips with the appropriate backcountry permit.

General Provisions

  1. CUA holders are limited to three groups per 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.
  2. CUA holders are encouraged to stay on designated trails. Specific areas may be closed to off-trail travel if impacts are noted.
  3. CUA holders may use only designated backcountry campsites. During the winter, camping may be permitted outside of designated campsites. CUA holders may not exceed campsite limitations for the number of people allowed at a campsite.
  4. Each group must include at least one guide. One guide on each trip must have relevant outdoor experience including previous experience on the trails they are guiding.
  5. The guide for any trip, within the park, must have a basic knowledge of map reading, and must have a topographic map for the area of their trip. It is recommended the guide have a compass and knowledge of compass use. A GPS is recommended.
  6. While in Yellowstone's backcountry, the CUA holder or guide shall remain with their clients for the duration of the trip.
  7. Each guide must carry a minimum of one can of bear spray. Bear spray for clients is recommended.
  8. All guides must carry a basic first aid kit suitable for backcountry emergencies. Suggested items include 1 roll of two-inch medical tape, 1 roll of two-inch gauze, 1 two-inch ace bandage, 2 triangular bandages, 2 two-inch compresses, 6 four-inch compresses, 1 emergency blanket and several pairs of disposable gloves. Hot beverages, extra clothing, repair kit, and ensolite sitting pads should also be included.
  9. 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.
  10. A Backcountry Use Permit is required for overnight backcountry use and is available under the terms and conditions stipulated by the Central Backcountry Office.
  11. A $25 (non-refundable) fee will be charged for each backcountry permit issued. There is no fee for making permit amendments, i.e. changes in the itinerary, campsites, dates, or number of people. No additional fee will be charged for cancellations unless the cancellation is made after the scheduled start date of the trip. An additional $25 will be charged if a permittee fails to contact the Central Backcountry Office to cancel a trip/permit prior to the scheduled starting date. Permittees will be billed for backcountry permit fees at the end of the operating season.
  12. Backcountry permit reservation procedures, terms, and conditions are reviewed and revised annually. There are limits on the number of campsites which may be occupied on a nightly basis by commercial users and there are limits on the annual occupancy of individual campsites by a single CUA. Having a CUA does not guarantee that backcountry campsites will be available.
  13. Day hiking, is an authorized use when associated with an overnight backcountry trip. A Day Hiking CUA must be obtained to conduct day trips not associated with an overnight trip.
  14. Skiing and snowshoeing is not covered 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.
  15. Camping at “front country” campgrounds is not an authorized use.
  16. For further backcountry guidelines and regulations, please refer to the information provided in "Beyond Road's End" available on the park's backcountry web page.

Backcountry Trips

Commercial Use Authorization for Guided, Overnight Backcountry Trips Operating Plan

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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

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Mailing Address:

PO Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190-0168



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