Academic Fee Waivers

 
A school bus in Zion Canyon.
 

Applying for a fee waiver

National Park Service regulations allow school groups and other approved national and international academic institutions to apply so that they do not have to pay the park entrance fee. The National Park Service considers applications and may approve a request if the visit is for educational or scientific purposes and the resources or facilities that the group intends to use support those purposes.The National Park Service does not grant academic fee waivers automatically. Applicants must show that they qualify for a fee waiver. There are three requirements (listed below) to qualify for an academic fee waiver:

Criteria #1 - Eligibility

  • Applicants must prove they are an academic or scientific institution by presenting one of the following types of documentation:
    • A statement confirming educational or scientific tax exemption from the IRS or the applicant's national, state, or local tax authority; or
    • A statement from an academic institution that meets one of these eligibility standards confirming that the group is visiting for the purpose of providing transferable academic credit based on a curriculum; or,
    • A statement confirming accreditation or recognition as an educational institution from a qualified national, regional, state, or local authority.

Criteria #2 - Educational purpose

  • Verify how this visit supports a specific curriculum for which academic credit is offered. For example, attach a course syllabus/description, course catalog, lesson plan, letter detailing the educational purpose, etc., and/or describe below.
    • A course syllabus, copy of the course catalog, or a handbook may satisfy this requirement.

Criteria #3 - Relevance of park resources or facilities

  • Identify the pertinent park resources and/or facilities and detail how they are relevant to support the educational purpose of the visit (attach letter or describe below).
    • You must demonstrate what the academic purpose entails and how it relates to park resources.
      • The National Park Service typically categorizes resources as natural or cultural.
 

Read These Requirements Before You Apply for an Academic Fee Waiver

If we issue a fee waiver, the person who submitted the application and every driver in your group needs to have a copy before you get to Zion. If any driver or a part of your group does not have a copy of the fee waiver, they wil have to pay the non-commercial fee of $20 per person for each person who is 15 years or older.
  • We will accept the same interagency passes on the same terms we accept them for visitors everyday if a group participant presents one. These passes admit everyone in a single, non-commercial vehicle to the park.
  • Rangers in fee stations cannot and will not issue fee waivers. You need to complete and submit your application at least 30 days before your planned trip.

You can make and pay for a reservation at a group camp site from April to October.

  • Watchman Campground: Make reservations up to one year in advance.

  • South Campground: Make reservations up to 14 days in advance.

Learn more about camping elsewhere on the park's website.

Academic fee waivers allow for two chaperones. If you need to bring more chaperones, they must meet the following ratios:
 
Chaperone # : Student # (grade level) College 9th-12th 6th-8th K-5th
Minimum 1:30 1:15 1:10 1:7
Maximum 1:20 1:10 1:5 1:3

If you plan to bring a different number of chaperones than is laid out in this table, you need to explain why. The National Park Service will consider these requests on a case by case basis. Include your justification with your application emailed to e-mail us.

Get the form below after you read the rest of the requirements on this page.

Many areas in Zion have a limit on the number of people a single group may have on trails at any given time. If your group is too large, you will need to split the group up and visit different trails with each sub-group. You can move these sub-groups and rotate who can use which trails when.

Hiking at intervals (i.e. breaking the group up and hiking in smaller sub-groups on the same trail) is not permitted. If you want to rotate sub-groups so that they see the same trails, the first sub-group must be clear of that trail before another sub-group starts the hike.

Group size limits

  • 50 people at a time

    Court of the Patriarchs Overlook, Grotto Trail (betwee Zion Lodge and the Grotto), Kayenta, Lower Emerald Pool, Pa'rus, West Rim to Scout Lookout (everyone needs a permit to hike from Scout Lookout to Angels Landing), Riverside Walk (large groups may not enter the Narrows in the Virgin River at the end of the paved trail).
 
  • 15 people at a time

    Canyon Overlook, Upper Emerald Pool, Narrows Route in the Virgin River from Riverside Walk to Ordeville Canyon, Timber Creek, Watchman, Weeping Rock.

Structured and/or formally guided activities facilitated by educational, commercial, or other service providing organizations are only authorized on frontcountry trails.

Zion does not allow guided activities, including educational activities, in designated Wilderness or backcountry areas. This is to protect the fragile landscapes, plants, animals, and history that make the park special. If you want to do academic research in these areas, apply for a research permit.

Home school students may be granted fee waivers based on the course of study following the procedures above, as long as they meet your state requirements for home schools. If you are from a state other than Utah, please share a copy of your state's department of education requirements when you apply for the fee waiver.

If your group does not meet the three criteria above, your group may be considered as a Non-Commercial Organized Group. Youth 15 years of age and younger would be exempt from fees.

 

Visit logistics

Having a fee waiver does not guarantee parking in Zion. 

The National Park Service provides the free, Zion Canyon Shuttle System from early-Spring through late-Fall. Groups who arrive in vehicles other than school busses or motorcoaches will have to park individual vehicles and board the free shuttle. 

If your group is using a bus or motorcoach, you may be able to park in Zion Canyon or at an oversize vehicle space near the Zion Canyon Visitor Center, Zion Human History Museum, or Kolob Canyons Visitor Center (not shuttle service at Kolob Canyons).

Buses may not drop-off, pick-up, block, or park at Zion Canyon Shuttle System stops. These areas are marked with signs and most have concrete pads. Stops are reserved for shuttle bus operations.

In order to limit the number of people from a single school group on park trails at any given time, at each parking area, one bus per school may park at a time. This means that if your group is traveling in two or more buses, you need to park each bus in different places at different times. School groups are not allowed to park multiple buses from a single school in one parking area at the same time.

If you encounter other school groups on your visit, some parking areas can accommodate busses from different schools at the same time. Here is the (#) of busses allowed in our parking lots at one time:

  • Zion Human History Museum (2)
  • Zion Lodge (4)
  • Grotto Picnic Area (2)
  • Weeping Rock (2, vehicles must not exceed 19 feet in length)
  • Temple of Sinawava (2)

All other parking locations in Zion Canyon Scenic Drive are inaccessible to buses.

You may also be able to park in the oversize vehicle lot at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center, and the same rule (that one bus per school may park at a time) also applies there.

All vehicles at or above 94" wide (7'10"), and/or 136" high (11'4") require one-way traffic control for passage through the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel. The fee for this service is $15.00.

Oversized vehicle drivers must pay this fee even if you have an academic fee waiver.

 

Submitting an Academic Fee Waiver Request for a Field Trip

Before you send the form, read the requirements above so that:

  • Your plans account for the appropriate number of chaperones for your group size.

  • You submit all of the required documentation to show that your group is eligible for a fee waiver.

  • You have a plan to comply with park requirements regarding bus or vehicle parking and group size limits on trails.

  • You are aware of requirements for oversize vehicles to go through the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel.

At least 30 days before your trip, fill out our fee waiver form and email it to zion_fee_waivers@nps.gov with the appropriate supporting documentation.

 

 

Form Guidance

Zion is required to use this Department of the Interior standard form for field trip academic fee waivers as well as for other purposes. Learn which parts of the form you need to fill out if you are applying for us to waive the park entrance fee for a field trip.

Section 1: Contact Information

  • Required: Every applicant must share contact information.
    • In the box labeled "Describe Need," please include your group's proposed itinerary.

Section 2: Group Details

  • Required: Every applicant must share your group details.
    • Read above for requirements, and be especially mindful of your group size and the number of chaperones you will bring. You need:
      Chaperone # : Student # (grade level) College 9th-12th 6th-8th K-5th
      Minimum 1:30 1:15 1:10 1:7
      Maximum 1:20 1:10 1:5 1:3

Sections 3 and 4

Section 5: Academic Fee Waiver

  • Required: You must fill this section of the form out and share documentation to demonstrate your qualification for a fee waiver.
 

Email us completed forms

We will send you an email when we receive your form and after we review it to confirm group details.

Email your form to the park
 
students walking on a bridge over a stream
Self-Guided Field Trips

Find out what you need to know about bringing your class to Zion.

image of distance learning studio
Distance Learning Programs

Join a Zion National Park ranger in real time to learn about the National Park Service and what makes Zion National Park unique.

A group of students writing in notebooks in the banks of the river
Curriculum Materials

Bring Zion into your classroom with our on-site curriculum-based activities.

Last updated: November 16, 2023

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

Zion National Park
1 Zion Park Blvd.

Springdale, UT 84767

Phone:

435-772-3256
If you have questions, please email zion_park_information@nps.gov. Listen to recorded information by calling anytime 24 hours a day. Rangers answer phone calls from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. MT, but a ranger may not answer if they are already speaking with someone else.

Contact Us