Special Use Permits


Guidelines for Special Park Uses

Big Bend National Park is home to many beautiful landscapes which make it a popular destination for groups, weddings, and other special events.

Certain types of activities require a special use permit. These include many types of organized gatherings, distribution of printed material and other public expressions of opinion, and other activities that are controlled or prohibited.

It is the policy of the National Park Service (NPS) to allow special uses that are not in conflict with law or policy; will not result in derogation of the values and purposes for which the park was established; do not present a threat to public safety or property and do not unduly interfere with normal park operations, resource protection, or visitor use.

The park has the authority and responsibility to evaluate applicant requests, permit, manage, and/or deny all special uses within the park. Therefore, before any permit will be granted, consideration will be given to potential park resource impacts, as well as impacts to visitor use, access to park sites, or park administration. There are cost recovery fees associated with the administration and management of special use permits for costs incurred by the park. Special park use guidelines state that “it is the policy of the NPS to charge permit fees for special uses. Permit fees should reflect the fair market value of a benefit provided the permittee. The fair market value of a special use is the value of the lands or facilities used and the NPS cost incurred in managing, facilitating, or supporting the use.”

A special park use is defined as a short-term activity that takes place in a park area, and that:

  • Provides a benefit to an individual, group, or organization rather than the public at large;
  • Requires written authorization and some degree of management control from the National Park Service (NPS) in order to protect park resources and the public interest;
  • Is not prohibited by law or regulation; Is not initiated, sponsored, or conducted by the NPS; and Is not managed under a concession contract, a recreation activity for which the NPS charges a fee, or a lease.

The National Park Service may permit a special park use only if the proposed activity will NOT:

  • cause injury, damage or impairments to park resources;
  • be contrary to the park’s purpose for which the park was established and the mission of the NPS;
  • unreasonably impair the atmosphere of peace and tranquility maintained in wilderness, natural, historic, or commemorative locations within the park;
  • interfere with visitor use, access, and programs
  • interfere with park management or administration;
  • interfere with concession operations or other public facilities;
  • present a clear and present danger to public health and safety.

Type of Special Use Permit


Click the type of Special Park Use for more information

“Groups” are any organized gathering of people, including (but not limited to) school groups, hiking groups, field trips, other special events groups need a Special Use Permit. Groups conducting multiple trips must submit an application for each separate trip.

  • The maximum group size for a Special Use Permit is limited to 50 participants in the park on one (specified) day, with a maximum of one bus per day.
  • Groups are limited to no more than 30 participants on any one trail at the same time.
  • Location of activities may be restricted, depending on group size and activity type.
  • If you plan on visiting Big Bend with a motorcoach or large bus, there are limitations on access and parking that you must plan for
    Summary of Rules for Motorcoaches and Buses.”


The Application Process

Special Use Permit Application Form

Please email your completed and signed application to bibe_special_permits@nps.gov or send completed and signed application to:

Big Bend National Park
PO Box 129
Big Bend National Park, TX 79834

After favorable review of your application, a Special Use Permit will be prepared and e-mailed to you for your signature. Upon receipt, you will need to review, sign and return the permit to our office for final approval. After the permit is approved we will email you an authorized copy. The approved permit must be in your possession while in the park for your activity.

  • Please allow at least 30 days for the processing of a permit, or the permit may not be processed.
  • Applications are only accepted up to 1 year in advance.
  • Do not wait until the last minute to apply for your permit. No requests are expedited; no exceptions.
  • For questions concerning Special Use Permits, please call 432-477-1108, or email us.

Permit Fees

  • There is a $100.00 non-refundable application fee for processing your application for a Special Use Permit. Payment is accepted only via online payment through pay.gov (link below). This is due at the same time as you submit your application.

Last updated: May 23, 2024

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

PO Box 129
Big Bend National Park, TX 79834-0129



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