Night Photography

The paved sidewalk leading from the visitor center to the overlook at Stronghold House is open 24 hours a day, year-round. The Little Ruin Canyon / Square Tower trail beginning at the overlook, and trails in all other units of the Monument, are closed sunset to sunrise.

To do night photography off the paved sidewalk or in other units of the Monument, you must have a special-use permit.



“The service…shall promote and regulate the use of…national parks…[its] purpose is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wildlife therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” (16 U.S.C. 1)

It is the policy of the National Park Service to allow photography consistent with protection and public enjoyment of park resources. Therefore, the primary consideration in the evaluation of permit requests in the Southeast Utah Group is the potential for resource damage and the disruption of normal public use and values. Aesthetic values such as scenic vistas, natural quiet and dark night skies are resources that we and the public value.

The use of model aircraft (unmanned, under 55 lbs, flown for hobby or recreational purposes within the line of sight of the operator) is prohibited for the protection of the park's environmental and scenic values and for avoiding conflict among visitor use activities.

Hovenweep's trails are closed sunset to sunrise to all visitors and campers. Due to this regulation, a permit is required if night photography is desired.


The Service's policies and procedures governing photography are governed by Public Law 106-206 (16 USC 460l-6d). Photography activities—whether commercial or noncommercial—will be allowed in parks provided that the activities do not cause unacceptable impacts under sections sections or 8.2. For the purposes of NPS policy, photography encompasses any technology that may be used for recording images or the sound tracks associated with them.

In accordance with Public Law 106-206, still photography (whether commercial or noncommercial) will not require a permit unless

  • it takes place at a location(s) where or when members of the public are generally not allowed, or
  • it uses model(s) or prop(s) that are not a part of the location's natural or cultural resources or administrative facilities, or
  • the Park Service would need to provide management and oversight to prevent unacceptable impacts.

A request for a permit may be denied if:

  • There is potential that resource damage or impairment of their value would occur that cannot be mitigated or restored.
  • There is potential of unreasonable disruption of/or conflict with the public’s use and enjoyment of the site(s) being requested.
  • There is likelihood that the activity poses health or safety risks to the public or crew.
  • The requested activity will violate any other Federal, State, or local laws or regulations.
  • Other activities are already planned or expected to occur at the same location.
  • It involves access to areas normally designated closed or limited to administrative use for resource or safety reasons.
  • The project includes a portrayal of activities that are not permitted within a national park.
  • The requirements for supervising the project exceed the staffing capacity of the affected park.
  • The production crew is unwilling or unable to provide proof of insurance or reimburse the NPS for costs.

How to Apply

To apply for a photography permit within the Southeast Utah Group, please complete Form 10-930 [835k Word document]. Call 435-719-2123 with payment information, or mail a check or money order made out to National Park Service for $100 to:

Filming Permits Coordinator
Southeast Utah Group
2282 S. West Resource Blvd.
Moab, Utah 84532

Please allow sufficient time for evaluation by the park staff before the start date of the proposed activity to be conducted in one of the Southeast Utah Group Parks.

All applications will be handled in the order they are received. Standard requests can be processed in 15 business days. Requests that involve multiple locations, complex logistics, and coordination with other NPS divisions or visitor activities will likely require a minimum of four weeks to process, but may take longer depending on workload. A minimum of four weeks is also required to process permits for projects that need additional environmental compliance.

For questions or additional information, please contact the filming coordinator at 435-719-2123.

In compliance with the requirements of the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996, the applicant must submit their social security number of Federal tax ID number when filling out the application for a permit. Applications will not be processed if submitted incomplete or are received without payment.


Minimum fees: $280. Location fees and additional monitoring fees to be charged after the shoot. Call 435-719-2123 with payment information.

The National Park Service is required by law to recover all costs for special use permits. All costs incurred by the NPS in conjunction with the permitted photgraphy activity will be reimbursed by the permittee. A cost estimate can be calculated and provided once the Filming Coordinator has received all applicable information.

Non-refundable Application Fee: $100
This fee is based on an average time it takes to provide initial contact and consultation with permittees and initial review of a standard application or project.

Administrative Fee: $80
Once a request is approved, this fee covers the costs associated with issuing a standard permit. This fee includes, but is not limited to, the average time it takes for processing fees, permit development, consultations with the permittee, managerial consultations and billing.

Hourly Management Fee: $50 per hour
This fee applies under the following situations:

(1) Monitoring – All activities authorized by permit require continuous, on-site supervision by the National Park Service to assure full compliance with all conditions of the permit. A minimum of 2 hours monitoring ($100) is applied to the cost of every permit upon issuance. The scope and complexity of the activity will determine the level and type of supervision. Fees include travel time for employees involved between activity location(s) and employee duty station(s).

(2) Interviews - All interviews of park personnel will be assessed at the hourly rate. This will not apply to pre-approved filming or photographing of NPS staff members performing their regularly scheduled work activities.

(3) Scouting – If a permittee requests a scouting trip with or by the Filming Permits Coordinator; staff time will be assessed at a rate of $40 per hour if on regular duty time, $50 per hour if it’s overtime.

Extended Administrative Time: $50 per hour/per employee
Any requests that involve multiple locations, complex logistics, coordination with other NPS divisions or additional environmental compliance, or any permit that requires additional staff time beyond the averages in the initial costs will be charged an additional $50 per hour per employee that is needed in order to complete the permit.

Location Fees
Beginning May 15, 2006, the NPS began charging location fees for photgraphy. Public Law 106-206, codified at 16 U.S.C. 460l-6d, instructs the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture to “establish a reasonable fee for commercial filming activities or similar projects on Federal Lands…”

The location fee is in addition to cost recovery charges that are currently being collected.

Number of People Commercial Still Photography
1 to 2 (camera & tripod only) $0
3 to 10 $50/day
11 to 30 $150/day
31 to 49 $250/day
Over 50 $250/day

The applicant or permittee is required to notify the NPS of any delays or schedule changes at least 36 hours in advance, or as agreed to by the superintendent or his/her representative. Should the applicant or permittee fail to provide such advance notification, the applicant or permittee is responsible for paying all costs incurred by the NPS any time during the application, permitting, or operational process, including those due to cancellation, moving or rescheduling of the project. Such payment will include but is not limited to a non-refundable charge for each staff person scheduled for the affected activity.

Such charge will, at a minimum, be the equivalent of two hours overtime for each employee assigned. These costs may be recovered through the posting of a bond at the time of application, or though a bill of collection presented at any point after initial contact.


General liability insurance must be carried by the permittee naming the United States Government as an additional insured. Short-term policies must show coverage on an “occurrence” basis. All insurance certificates must be issued by an insurance company operation in the United States. The Filming Coordinator must receive the original insurance certificate no later than one week before the scheduled activity..

Sharing the Park
A photography permit does not give exclusive rights to the permittee or allow the permittee to restrict visitors from any location; therefore sites which attract a large number of visitors should be avoided. Normal visitor use patterns will not be interrupted for longer than five minutes, and only as specified in the approved permit. Visitors will be able to observe the activity.

Restrictions and Conditions
All restrictions and conditions will be enumerated in the permit. The following activities are restricted and must be approved on a case by case basis; (1) use of children or animals, (2) discharge of blank ammunition and all black powder weapons, (3) mechanical or pyrotechnic special effects, (4) stunts, (5) amplified sound or music, (6) placing of large set dressings, (7) filming photography inside interiors of government administrative work areas, (8) film equipment or activities on roadways, (9) access to closed areas or access to areas during non-visitor use hours.

The permit will specify the number of people and the types of equipment allowed. The NPS monitor on duty will not allow activities not specified in the permit.

Please note that the permit does not include authority to photograph park visitors unless agreed to by the visitor and a signed written release is obtained by the permittee.

Permit activities may be restricted based on weather, seasonal conditions or conflicts with visitor use (fire danger, wildlife concerns, busy weekends, etc.). Additional closures use limits and/or restricted activities are listed in the superintendent’s compendium.

Prohibited Activities
Activities having the potential to damage or significantly impact or alter park resources are prohibited. The following is a partial list of prohibited activities: (1) altering, damaging or removing vegetation, (2) vehicle use off established roads and parking areas, (3) use of insecticides, herbicides and pesticides, (4) loud noises that exceed 60 decibels or have the potential to negatively impact park resources or visitors experience, (5) smoking in building or vegetated areas, (6) use fragile vegetation areas, except on trails or already disturbed areas (as determined by the NPS), (7) flying aircraft below FAA recommended minimum altitude (usually 2,000 feet) above noise sensitive areas (National Parks), (8) commercial filming in wilderness areas, (9) writing on or discoloring any natural feature or structure.

Artificial Light Sources
The use of artificial light sources for purposes other than personal route-finding or minimum impact camping—that is, to light up landscapes, rock formations, archeological sites or other park features—is prohibited.


Termination of Permit
All filming or photography permits issued by the National Park Service are “revocable” on 24 hours notice or WITHOUT NOTICE if the terms of the permit are violated. Deliberate infractions of the terms of the filming permit or the deliberate making of false or misleading statements concerning intended actions in order to obtain a permit are causes for immediate termination of the permit and cause fore possible prosecution. Permits will be revoked if damage to resources or facilities is threatened, or if there is a clear danger to public health or safety.

Last updated: March 18, 2022

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