Commercial Use Authorizations (CUAs)

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The National Park Service requires specific authorizations for commercial businesses to operate in national parks, usually in the form of a Commercial Use Authorization.

 

2021 Commercial Vehicle Occupancy Standards

Based on CDC guidance, The Department of the Interior and National Park Service (NPS) have determined that the physical distancing standards outlined in the DOI COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plan are not practicable on park transportation systems. The National Park Service (NPS) has recently issued new guidance requiring the lifting of social distancing measures on transportation systems.

Effective June 3, 2021, Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks will no longer require strict physical distancing standards on park transportation systems. Park transportation systems may return to full capacity operations as soon as practicable. While some practices that promote physical distancing may be appropriate to continue (such as designating an entry and exit door for vehicles with multiple doors), practices that limit capacity, such as closing alternate rows of seating or limiting occupancy, are not required.

Public Transit Guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) identifies maintaining six feet of physical distance from others who are not part of your household as a sound public health practice and while this remains accurate, the CDC recognizes that "distancing may be difficult to impossible on flights" and that "travel by bus, train, vessel, and other conveyances pose similar challenges." As a result, the CDC ordered and requires that masks be worn on transportation systems, however, physical distancing is not required.

All commercial operators are independently responsible for understanding and complying with the most current applicable laws, regulations, orders, ordinances and other requirements and for conducting their operations in a manner that is safe and protects the health of employees, customers and the public.

This guidance could change if COVID-19 conditions become less favorable. Operators are responsible for staying up-to-date on the latest guidance.

If you are a Road-Based Commercial Tour operator and would like to receive communication from the park about operational changes, please email us your business name, contact name, address, phone number, and email address.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the requirements listed below are currently in place for all Commercial Use Authorization holders applying for and operating under a Commercial Use Authorization in Yellowstone National Park.

  • A COVID-19 Operating Plan must be developed and submitted to the Concessions Management Office for review prior to operating in the park. Please contact the Concessions Management Office at yell_cua_admins@nps.gov for a COVID-19 Operating Plan template.
  • After the COVID-19 Operating Plan has been reviewed, the Concessions Management Office will provide an acknowledgement letter to the CUA applicant. All plans will be reviewed on a first come, first served basis.
  • The CUA holder is responsible for implementing their COVID-19 Operating Plan and taking appropriate actions to ensure their COVID-19 Operating Plan procedures are followed by employees and clients.
  • Operational conditions within the park are subject to change. This could include closures, changes to operating hours/dates, availability of facilities, and further modification of CUA activities.

If you have any questions or concerns, please email us or call the Concessions Management Office at 307-344-2320.

 

What is a Commercial Use Authorization (CUA)?

Public Law 105-391, Section 418, which was signed in 1998, provides for the issuance of Commercial Use Authorizations (CUAs) to a private person, corporation, or other entity to provide suitable commercial services for park area visitors. Commercial activities are generally prohibited in National Parks unless authorized by a CUA or concessions contract.

Services Not Permitted

These types of commercial services are prohibited in Yellowstone National Park. These services are not allowed through the Commercial Use Authorization (CUA) Program or authorized under any other permit in Yellowstone National Park:

  • Delivery or pick-up of any out-of-park rentals by a third party, including, but not limited to, the following:
    • RVs or other camper units

What Activities are Authorized in Yellowstone Through a CUA?

 
Two people take photographs of a bear using zoom lenses.

Activity-based CUAs

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

Cars and trucks line both sides of the road, created congestion on the road.

Service-based CUAs

These include towing, tire repair, RV and RV appliance repair, locksmith, and water access.

A group of people stand near a small tour bus.

Road-based Tours

Traveling by vehicle on an itinerary that someone has packaged and sold for leisure purposes and provide no other services.

A photographer taking a portrait of a man.

Portrait and Wedding Photography CUAs

This CUA provides a 1-day CUA for a photo session for portrait and wedding photography within Yellowstone.

 
A lone angler casts a line into a flowing stream.

Application Process and Insurance Needs

Here is everything you need to know about submitting a CUA application, including insurance requirements.

 

Resources

 
A group of visitors wearing helmets and riding horses across a field.

Resources for Commercial Guides

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

Sign stating that people in the area and expressing their own opinions.

Assembly and First Amendment Activities

Certain types of activities require a special use permit.

A videographer looks through his viewfinder of the video camera to frame a scene.

Film, Photography, and Sound Recording

A permit is required for commercial filming, photography, and audio recording.

Last updated: June 3, 2021

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190-0168

Phone:

307-344-7381

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