Single Session Portrait Services CUA

The Single Session Portrait Services CUA is a 1-day authorization to permit a single photo session within Yellowstone National Park. Each permit is $100. If you have obtained 3 or more permits (totaling $300 in application fees), you may request to be converted to an Annual Portrait Services CUA for the remainder of the calendar year. Please note there are additional financial reporting requirements and possible management fees if converting to an annual CUA.

How to apply for this CUA activity

The Single Session Portrait Services CUA application process is completed online. To obtain a Single Session CUA, please complete the following steps:

  • Read and agree to the following regulations below, including the Conditions of this Authorization, Yellowstone NP Special Park Conditions, and Operating Plan. You are required to follow these regulations while operating in the park.
  • At the bottom of the regulations, click on "I Agree”. This will take you to where you’ll complete your application and submit payment for the $100 application fee.
  • Once your payment has been processed you will receive an email receipt/confirmation. This emailed receipt is proof of your CUA. You must present this receipt and a government-issued photo ID at the entrance station and to any NPS personnel that may request it while operating in the park. The permit allows free entry for the photographer for the day of the photo session; clients are responsible for their entrance fee.

Conditions of this Authorization

  1. False Information: The holder is prohibited from knowingly giving false information. To do so will be considered a breach of conditions and be grounds for revocation: [RE: 36 CFR 2.32(a) (3)].
  2. Legal Compliance: The holder shall exercise this privilege subject to the supervision of the area Superintendent. The holder shall comply with all applicable laws and regulations of the area and terms and conditions of the authorization. The holder must acquire all permits or licenses of State or local government, as applicable, necessary to provide the services described above, and, must operate in compliance with all applicable Federal, State, and local laws and regulations, including, without limitation, all applicable park area policies, procedures and regulations. All vehicles/vessels/aircraft are required to be registered and the operators are required to have the proper licenses to operate them commercially, as required by law or regulation.
  3. Rates: The holder shall provide commercial services under this authorization to visitors at reasonable rates satisfactory to the area Superintendent.
  4. Operating Conditions: The holder shall provide the authorized commercial services to visitors under operating conditions satisfactory to the area Superintendent.
  5. Liabilities and Claims: This authorization is issued upon the express condition that the United States, its agents and employees shall be free from all liabilities and claims for damages and/or suits for or by reason of any injury, injuries, or death to any person or persons or property of any kind whatsoever, whether to the person or property of the holder, its agents or employees, or third parties, from any cause or causes whatsoever while in or upon said premises or any part thereof during the term of this authorization or occasioned by any occupancy or use of said premises or any activity carried on by the holder in connection herewith, and the holder hereby covenants and agrees to indemnify, defend, save and hold harmless the United States, its agents, and employees from all liabilities, charges, expenses and costs on account of or by reason of any such injuries, deaths, liabilities, claims, suits or losses however occurring or damages growing out of the same.
  6. Insurance: Holder agrees to carry general liability insurance against claims occasioned by the action or omissions of the holder, its agents and employees in carrying out activities and operations under this authorization. The policy shall name the United States of America as additional insured. Holder agrees to have on file with the park copies of the above insurance with the proper endorsements.
  7. CUA Fees: At a minimum, the holder shall reimburse the park for all costs incurred by the park as a result of accepting and processing the application and managing and monitoring the authorized activity. Administrative costs for the application process must be paid when the application is submitted. Monitoring fees and any additional costs incurred by the park to support the commercial activity will be paid annually or on a more frequent basis as determined by mutual agreement between the Holder and the area Superintendent.
  8. Benefit: No member of, or delegate to, Congress, or Resident Commissioner shall be admitted to any share or part of this authorization or to any benefit that may arise from this authorization. This restriction shall not be construed to extend to this Contract if made with a corporation or company for its general benefit.
  9. Transfer: This authorization may not be transferred or assigned without the written consent of the area Superintendent.
  10. Termination: This authorization may be terminated upon breach of any of the conditions herein or at the discretion of the area Superintendent.
  11. Preference or Exclusivity: The holder is not entitled to any preference to renewal of this authorization except to the extent otherwise expressly provided by law. This authorization is not exclusive and is not a concession contract.
  12. Construction: The holder shall not construct any structures, fixtures or improvements in the park area. The holder shall not engage in any groundbreaking activities without the express, written approval of the area Superintendent.
  13. Reporting: The holder is to provide the area Superintendent upon request a statement of its gross receipts from its activities under this authorization and any other specific information related to the holder’s operations that the area Superintendent may request, including but not limited to, visitor use statistics, and resource impact assessments. The holder must submit annually the CUA Annual Report (NPS Form 10-660) and upon request the CUA Monthly Report (NPS Form 10-660A).
  14. Accounting: The holder is to maintain an accounting system under which its accounts can be readily identified within its system of accounts classification. This accounting system must be capable of providing the information required by this authorization. The holder grants the United States of America access to its books and records at any time for the purpose of determining compliance with the terms and conditions of this authorization.
  15. Visitor Acknowledgment of Risks (VAR): The holder is not permitted to require clients sign a waiver of liability statement or form, insurance disclaimer, and/or indemnification agreement waiving the client’s right to hold the CUA holder responsible for accidents or injury occurring on NPS property. The holder is permitted to request or require a client to sign a form or statement acknowledging risk and/or indicating that certain prerequisite skills may be needed to participate in the commercial activity. The holder must provide the park with the current copy of all forms and/or statements used for this purpose and obtain written approval by the park to use the form and/or statement. A sample Acknowledgment of Risk form may be obtained by contacting the CUA office at 307-344-2320 or by going to the park CUA webpage: Commercial Use Authorizations.
  16. Intellectual Property of the National Park Service: Except with the written authorization of the Director of the National Park Service, the Holder shall not assert any legal claim that the Holder or any related entity holds a trademark, tradename, service mark or other ownership interest in the words "National Park Service", the initials "NPS", or official name of any unit or part thereof, including but not limited to any facility, logo, distinctive natural, archaeological, cultural, or historic site, within the National Park System, or any colorable likeness thereof, or the likeness of a National Park Service official uniform, badge, logo, or insignia.
  17. Nondiscrimination: The holder must comply with Applicable Laws relating to nondiscrimination in providing visitor services to the public and with all equal employment opportunity provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, as amended.
  18. Notification of Employee Rights: The holder must comply with all provisions of Executive Order 13496 of January 30, 2009, (Notification of Employee Rights Under Federal Labor Laws) and its implementing regulations, including the applicable contract clause, codified at 29 CFR part 471, appendix A to subpart A, all of which are incorporated by reference into this authorization as if fully set forth in this authorization.
  19. Notification of Employee Rights: The holder must comply with all provisions of Executive Order 13496 of January 30, 2009 (Notification of Employee Rights Under Federal Labor Laws), and its implementing regulations, including the applicable contract clause, codified at 29 CFR part 471, appendix A to subpart A, all of which are incorporated by reference into this authorization as if fully set forth in this authorization.

Yellowstone National Park Special Conditions

In addition to the conditions mentioned above, the following conditions apply to all CUAs in Yellowstone National Park:

  1. Damages—The holder will leave the area(s) authorized for use under this permit in substantially the same condition as it was prior to the activities authorized herein and shall pay the United States for any damage resulting from this use which would not reasonably be inherent in the authorized use.
  2. The holder will not advertise, solicit business, collect any fees, or sell any goods or services on lands owned and controlled by the United States Government. All advertisements, including brochures, rack cards, and websites must include a statement that the holder is an authorized permittee of the National Park Service. CUA holders are not allowed to use the NPS arrowhead or Authorized Concessioner Mark.
  3. For advertising purposes, the permit holder or guides listed on the CUA permit may use incidental photos and video of authorized activities and scenery in areas where they are permitted to operate. Footage may be shot with a small handheld video camera, cell phone, DSLR, or Go Pro. If the CUA designates a staff member or hires a professional or separate business to film or photograph for advertisement purposes, a Commercial Film Permit may be required. For Commercial Film Permit inquiries, please contact the Film Office at (307) 344-2722 or (307) 344-2115.
  4. To protect park wildlife, the following are prohibited:
    • Knowingly approaching, remaining, viewing or engaging in any activity:
    • Failing to remove oneself to prescribed distances during inadvertent, accidental, or surprise encounters with wildlife.
    • Within any distance that creates or contributes to a potentially hazardous condition or situation.
    • Within any distance that disturbs, displaces, or interferes with the free unimpeded movement of any wildlife.
    • Willfully using a motor vehicle to approach wildlife or in a manner that disturbs, displaces, or interferes with the free unimpeded movement of wildlife is prohibited.
    • Within 100 yards of bears, wolves, and cougars.
    • Within 25 yards of any wildlife, except bears, wolves, and cougars.
  5. CUA holders and their employees must report the following immediately to 911:
    • All fatalities
    • All known or suspected violations of law
    • Injuries, property damage, and motor vehicle accidents that necessitate a Law Enforcement response. The caller should be prepared to provide information regarding the incident, location, number and age of parties needing assistance, known injuries, current responsiveness of injured parties, and assistance being provided,
    • Incidents adversely affecting the Area’s resources that necessitate a Law Enforcement response
  6. All of the below must be reported within 24 hours incident to Yellowstone Commercial Services by emailing e-mail us
    • All fatalities
    • Known or suspected violations of the law within or affecting the CUA holder's operation
    • Employee or visitor injuries (requiring more than minor first aid treatment)
    • Property and motor vehicle accident damage over $300
    • All incidents adversely affecting the Area's resources
  7. CUA holders and employees are prohibited from possessing firearms while on duty within the park. CUA holders are responsible for determining whether state or local laws allow the possession of firearms by their clients.
  8. The CUA holder may use legally obtained plant, animal, geological and cultural specimens for guest educational purposes only. Clients must be advised that possessing, destroying, removing, or disturbing specimens in a National Park is strictly prohibited. To comply with park policy, all such specimens or parts thereof must remain inside the vehicle while operating in Yellowstone National Park. All wildlife parts such as antlers, pelts or feathers, must remain out of sight of all other (non-client) visitors while within park boundaries. While in the park, CUA holders must have documentation or knowledge of the legal means by which specimens in their possession were obtained. CUA holders can contact the visitor service office for additional information at: 307-344-2106 or e-mail us
  9. Guides must be at least 18 years of age and trained in basic safety, resource protection, Leave No Trace principles, park rules and regulations, and the requirements of the CUA terms, special park conditions, and operating plans.
  10. At a minimum, guides must be currently certified in standard first aid and CPR and carry a first aid kit suitable for their level of certification and containing adequate materials for the number of clients they are guiding.
  11. While in Yellowstone, the CUA holder or guide is responsible for their clients for the guided portion of the trip. CUA holders must arrange travel needed to transport clients back to their original meeting location (i.e., client’s vehicle within park, hotel in or out of park) for clients that are separated from the tour group due to missing tour group departure, misconduct, or seeking treatment at a medical clinic.
  12. The CUA holder will ensure that clients and guides are properly clothed and equipped for the authorized activity.
  13. The CUA holder or guide shall provide all clients with an orientation prior to the trip which emphasizes safe practices in bear habitat, Leave No Trace ethics, park rules and regulations, and specific nature, demands, and dangers of the particular trip. The Superintendent’s Compendium regarding park regulations can be found here.
  14. This authorization does not confer exclusive use of any area in the park. All groups must honor the rights of others and conduct themselves in an orderly manner at all times.
  15. “Foot travel in all thermal areas, and within the Yellowstone Canyon between the Upper Falls and Inspiration Point, must be confined to boardwalks or trails that are maintained for such travel and are marked by official signs.” 36 CFR, Ch1, se. 7.13(i) In such areas, no off-trail travel is allowed; stay on designated boardwalks and trails. Off-trail travel in backcountry areas without thermal features is generally not encouraged but is not prohibited if backcountry activities are otherwise authorized in the holder's CUA category and the area is not otherwise closed to human entry.
  16. Guides may not meet clients at NPS Visitor Centers. Guides may not meet clients on park concessioner’s land assignments without permission from the concessioner.
  17. The CUA holder will not conduct any form of guided activity that conflicts with National Park Service ranger-led interpretive programs or conducted activities.
  18. The CUA holder must provide all visitor services in a manner that is consistent with and supportive of the interpretative goals and objectives of the park. CUA holders and guides can access interpretive information about Yellowstone at Resources for Commercial Guides.
  19. CUA holders will contact their state’s Department of Transportation to determine if a DOT number is required. If a DOT number is required, it must be displayed on the vehicle with required documentation carried in the vehicle.
  20. All vehicles transporting clients and conducting tours must display the following information on their vehicles (step-on guides are exempt from this requirement):
    • Company name that the CUA is issued under,
    • Department of Transportation number if required,
    • Markings must appear on both sides of the vehicle,
    • Letters must contrast sharply in color with the background on which the letters are placed, and
    • Markings must be legible, during daylight hours, from a distance of 50 feet with the vehicle stationary.
  21. All guides providing tours are required to display the name of the CUA holder’s company on their person while providing tours/guide services within the park. Guides can meet this requirement by wearing, at a minimum, one of the following: nametag, shirt, or hat.
  22. Entrance Fees:
    • Guides leading trips and employees of commercial operators conducting business inside the park must identify themselves at entrance stations by showing their guide/support staff card and a government-issued ID card, with the exception of Towing and Automotive Services and Single-Session Portrait Services CUA holders.
    • Employees of Towing and Automotive Services and Single Session Portrait Services CUA holders must show a copy of their CUA and government-issued ID card at the entrance station.
    • Regulations prohibit guides from using their personal annual or lifetime passes to admit clients. Participants aged 16 and older must pay applicable entrance fees of $20 per person. Clients may use their personal annual or lifetime passes to cover this entry fee. Guides and support staff of commercial operators entering the park to recreate personally must pay appropriate entrance fees.
  23. Guides and/or group leaders must have in their possession a copy of the CUA receipt and CPR/first aid certification.
  24. If handling, transporting, and/or preparing food for clients that fall into levels 2–6 of the table below, then guides preparing and handling food must be a certified food handler.
    Activity Examples Food Handler Certification Requirement
    Level 1
    Handling ready-to-eat, pre-packaged, food with no time and/or temperature control (TTC) requirements Individually packaged trail mix, nuts, chips, nutrition bars, candy bars etc. Not required
    Level 2
    Opening and handling exposed non-TCC pre-packaged, ready-to-eat food. Bulk packages of trail mix, nuts, chips, candy, pastries, etc. Required
    Level 3
    Handling and/or transporting commercially prepared, ready-to-eat, and pre-packagedfood with TTC requirements. Packaged/wrapped sandwiches and salads Required
    Level 4
    Handling and/or transporting commercially prepared, pre-packaged, ready-to-eat TTCfood for the purpose of portioning or assembly prior to serving customers. Deli meat, sliced cheese, prepared salads (e.g. tuna salad, potato salad, coleslawetc.), hummus, cut fruit etc. Required
    Level 5
    Handling and/or transporting ready-to-eat TTC and non-TTC food to slice, chop, grate, mix, stir, or perform other preparation priorto serving customers. Cutting/chopping produce or fruit, slicing cheese or meats, slicing tomatoes etc. Required
    Level 6
    Handling and/or transporting and cooking TTC foods for immediate service. Meat, poultry, fish, hot dogs, sausage, cooked produce or fruit etc. Required
  25. Activity Operating Plan—The holder will abide by the applicable activity-specific operating plan.
  26. Failure on the part of the permittee (CUA holder, authorized Agents, and employees) to abide by the provisions of the permit (CUA) is citable under 36 CFR Section 1.6 (g) and Section 5.3 and may result in revocation or denial. Yellowstone National Park’s Commercial Use Authorization Application Denial and CUA Revocation Standard Operating Procedures can be found at Application Process and Required Documents.

Attachment A

Liability Insurance Requirements

Liability insurance is required for all CUA holders under the terms of the authorization. Current certificates of insurance (COIs) for all applicable liability coverage must be submitted to e-mail us when changes or renewal to policy occurs. Such insurance should be of sufficient scope to cover all potential risks and in an amount to cover claims that can reasonably be expected in the event of serious injury or death.

Commercial General Liability (CGL) Insurance

The minimum commercial general liability insurance is $500,000. Commercial general liability insurance policies must name the United States of America as an additional insured party. The business name listed on the CUA application must be the insured party (policy holder). Companies that provide transportation only (i.e., taxi, point-to-point shuttle) are not required to have Commercial General Liability if passengers do not disembark between pick-up and drop-off locations.CUA holders authorized to transport passengers aboard or operate an owned/rented/leased motorized watercraft in the park are required to have P&I Vessel Insurance. The minimum P&I Vessel Insurance is $1,000,000. If the general liability policy additionally covers a P&I vessel policy, then the Certificate(s) of Insurance must state this clearly.

Commercial Auto Liability Insurance

Commercial auto liability insurance is required if a CUA holder transports passengers or uses owned, leased, or rented vehicles while operating under the CUA in the park. CUA holders are responsible for ensuring that all vehicles used by employees within the park, including vehicles not owned by the CUA holder (e.g., vehicles owned by guides) to conduct business under this CUA are insured under the business name listed on the CUA and have the correct amount of insurance coverage required by the NPS. If a CUA holder charters the vehicle and those chartered vehicles are owned and operated by another company, the CUA holder is not required to have commercial auto liability insurance. The minimum commercial auto liability insurance coverage for interstate passenger transport is:

Commercial Vehicle Insurance – Passenger Transport (bodily injury and property damage) Minimum per Occurrence Liability Limits*
Up to 6 passengers $1,000,000
7 – 15 passengers $1,500,000
16 – 25 passengers $3,000,000
26+ passengers $5,000,000

The commercial auto liability insurance requirements for operation of autos used in performance of the service in the park, but not to transport passengers, are listed below. Please note CUA holders are responsible for understanding and ensuring adequate coverage is obtained to meet state-specific requirements.

Commercial Auto Insurance – No Passenger Transport (Requirement for vehicles operating within the park, but not transporting clients)
Commercial Vehicle Insurance – Interstate Operations Minimum per Occurrence Liability Limits
Small fleet vehicles under 10,001 pounds $300,000
Fleet vehicles 10,001 pounds or more $750,000

Insurance Company Minimum Standards

The NPS has established the following minimum insurance company requirements. All insurance companies must meet the following minimum standards. These standards apply to foreign insurance companies as well as domestic companies.

  1. All insurers for all coverages must be rated no lower than A- by the most recent edition of Best’s Key Rating Guide (Property- Casualty edition), or similar insurance rating companies (Moody’s, Standard and Poor’s, or Fitch), unless otherwise authorized by the Service.
  2. All insurers for all coverages must have Best’s Financial Size Category of at least VII according to the most recent edition of Best’s Key Rating Guide (Property-Casualty edition), or similar insurance rating companies (Moody’s, Standard and Poor’s, or Fitch), unless otherwise authorized by the Service.
  3. The insurance ratings must be submitted with the CUA Application. The rating companies do not issue certificates. We require the insurance broker to note this rating in the Certificate. If the rating does not appear on the certificate, the insurance broker must provide it in another document.

Proof of Insurance Submission

Applicants must submit proof of insurance with the CUA Application. The proof of insurance must:

  • Be written in English with monetary amounts reflected in USD
  • Reflect that insurance coverage is effective at time of CUA Application submission
  • Name as insured the business name listed on the CUA application
  • Name the United States as an additional insured party
  • Reflect a General Commercial Liability Policy with the minimum coverage amount required in the CUA Application
  • Reflect required additional insurances (commercial vehicle, vessel, aircraft, etc.) with the minimum coverage amount required in the CUA Application

Include insurance provider rating or provide in separate document.


Operating Plan

General Provisions

  1. Definitions
    • Props: Sets and props means items constructed or placed on agency lands to facilitate commercial filming or still photography including, but not limited to, backdrops, generators, microphones, stages, lighting banks, camera tracks, vehicles specifically designed to accommodate camera or recording equipment, rope and pulley systems, and rigging for climbers and structures. Sets and props also include trained animals and inanimate objects, such as camping equipment, campfires, wagons, and so forth, when used to stage a specific scene. The use of a camera on a tripod, without the use of any other equipment, is not considered a prop.
    • Models: Model means a person or object that serves as the subject for commercial filming or still photography for the purpose of promoting the sale or use of a product or service. Models include, but are not limited to, individuals, animals, or inanimate objects, such as vehicles, boats, articles of clothing, and food and beverage products, placed on agency lands so that they may be filmed or photographed to promote the sale or use of a product or service. For the purposes of this part, tour participants are not considered models, if the image will not be used to promote or sell a product or service.
  2. This CUA is required for portraits of a wedding ceremony. If the wedding is taking place in the park, then a wedding permit must also be obtained by contacting the park’s Special Use Permit Office. Information on obtaining a wedding permit can be found at Weddings and Other Ceremonies.
  3. Portrait services for a wedding ceremony are limited to the location and number of guests listed on the wedding permit.
  4. Wedding portraits may be taken at locations other than that listed on the wedding permit but are required to follow the location and group size limits described in this document.
  5. Portrait services in public, non-congested areas not listed under number 5 of this operating plan are limited to a maximum of 15 people, including photographers (or any other portrait subjects such as pets), unless otherwise stated on a special use permit.
  6. Group size for all portrait services is limited to 5 people, including the photographer, in areas of the Yellowstone Canyon between Silver Cord Cascade and Inspiration Point, between Chittenden Bridge and Upper Falls, and in any thermal area park-wide; travel in these areas is restricted to NPS designated trails and boardwalks.
  7. Portrait Services are prohibited in thermal areas and the aforementioned areas of the Yellowstone Canyon between the hours of 9 a.m. – 7 p.m., from May 15th to September 30th, to reduce visitor use conflicts in these congested areas.
  8. Portrait services are permitted in front country areas open to the public, on boardwalk areas, and on hiking trails within ½ mile of the road. Portrait services are prohibited at Boiling River.
  9. Visitors may not be asked to move and areas may not be closed to accommodate portrait services.
  10. Groups must utilize areas in a way that allows for the free flow of other traffic on roads, boardwalks, and trails. Clients participating in portrait sessions must not conflict with the public’s normal use of park areas.
  11. All individuals are required to comply as directed by NPS staff engaged in administering wildlife management operations or managing wildlife viewing opportunities.
  12. Equipment will be carried at all times, except for the use of tripods used to hold cameras. Portrait services within indoor areas that have been reserved in advance may accommodate additional equipment with prior approval from the Business and Commercial Services Office.
  13. Incidental props are authorized under this CUA. Incidental props are handheld objects, or items that a portrait subject may be carrying/wearing (e.g. a flower bouquet for a wedding portrait). The use of models, non- incidental props, sets, lighting, and other specialized equipment are not allowed under this authorization. Photography and videography equipment allowed in this authorization is limited to hand-held equipment and tripods (e.g. slr cameras, micro 4/3rd cameras, action cameras, point-and-shoot cameras, etc.) Holders wishing to utilize models, non-incidental props, sets, lighting, and other specialized equipment in association with this CUA may need to obtain a special use permit if their activity includes non-low-impact filming or photography. For more information, please visit Film, Photography, and Sound Recording Permits.
  14. Non-low-impact filming is not authorized under this CUA. Filming and the use of models or props may require a commercial film permit. For Commercial Film Permit inquiries, please contact the Film Office at (307) 344-2722 or (307) 344- 2115.
  15. If you have any questions regarding your authorization, please contact the Concessions Management Office at 307-344-2320.

Complete Your Application

By clicking on the “I Agree” button below you are stating you have read and agree to the Conditions of the CUA, Yellowstone National Park Special Conditions, and Single Session Portrait Services Operating Plan. I confirm that myself and all relevant employees will be trained in the requirements of this CUA, the Yellowstone CUA Special Park Conditions, and this Operating Plan.


Application & Payment

Clicking the “I Agree” button will take you to to complete your application and submit payment for the application fee.

I Agree

Last updated: November 16, 2022

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

PO Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190-0168



Contact Us