First Amendment Activities
Freedom of speech, press, religion, and assembly are constitutional rights. However, federal regulations recognize that activities associated with the exercise of these rights may be reasonably managed to protect park resources. The authority to manage these activities is 36 CFR §2.51 and 2.52. The tool used to manage these activities is a Special Use Permit. First Amendment activities include, but are not limited to:
- Public demonstrations, picketing, speechmaking, marching, holding vigils, etc.
- Religious services
- Distribution and/or sale of printed matter or other message bearing items that are related to the above activities and are not solely commercial in nature
The necessity to obtain a permit to conduct First Amendment activities is determined by the group size and/or location of the proposed activity.
Groups of 25 People or Less
A small group, which is defined by 36 CFR §2.51(b)(1) as a group of “25 people or less,” is not required to obtain a Special Use Permit for First Amendment activity if they are located within a park designated First Amendment location (see below). A permit is required for any group that:
- Wishes to hold a demonstration or distribute and/or sell printed matter somewhere outside of a designated First Amendment area
- Wishes to use equipment (i.e. tables, banners, platforms, etc.) even if it is within a designated area
- Is merely an extension of another group already availing itself of the 25 person small group permit exception
- Wishes to guarantee they will have priority for the use of a location, including the designated First Amendment areas
A group of more than 25 people is required to obtain a Special Use Permit for First Amendment activities even if they are utilizing a park designated First Amendment site.
There are no cost recovery fees associated with First Amendment permits.
To apply for a Special Use Permit, download the application form. Complete the application form and e-mail it to BLRI_Permits@nps.gov
Per regulation, Special Use Permits for First Amendment activity may be issued for a maximum of 14 consecutive days [36 CFR §2.51(i)(1) and §2.52(h)(1)]. A permit may be extended for up to 14 days, but a new application must be submitted for each extension requested [36 CFR §2.51(i)(2) and §2.52(h)(2)].
Locations With Designated First Amendment Area for Small Groups
The following locations along the Blue Ridge Parkway have designated First Amendment Areas for small groups of 25 people or less:
Please review our Operating Hours & Seasons and our Road Closures pages as some locations may not be open, or may be inaccessible due to weather or construction.