Commercial Use Authorization (CUA)

The west entrance sign with desert landscape and partly cloudy blue sky in the background.

A Commercial Use Authorization (CUA) is a business permit with the National Park Service that authorizes an individual, group, company, or other for-profit entity to conduct commercial activities and provide specific visitor services within a national park area. The National Park Service will only issue CUAs for commercial activities and visitor services that:

  • are determined to be an appropriate use of Joshua Tree National Park;
  • will have minimal impact on Joshua Tree National Park’s resources and values;
  • and are consistent with Joshua Tree National Park’s purpose, management plans, policies, and regulations.

A CUA is required if you, as an individual, organization, or company, provide any goods, activities, services, agreements, or other function for members, clients, or the public that:

  • take place at least in part in Joshua Tree National Park,
  • use park resources, and
  • result in compensation, monetary gain, benefit, or profit.

Businesses and individuals may not conduct commercial activities in the park without a valid CUA or in a manner inconsistent with the terms of the CUA. You must be in possession of a valid CUA to conduct business in Joshua Tree National Park.

Approved Activities

CUA's are only available for the following,

  • Guided Backpacking, Hiking, and Camping
  • Guided Rock Climbing and Guide Certification Programs
  • Outdoor Education Programs
  • Photography, Art, Yoga, and Sound Bath Classes/Workshops
  • Guided Bicycling and Motorcycle Tours
  • Picnics and Catering
  • Trailer Rental Delivery
  • Guided Horseback Riding

How to Apply

To apply for a Commercial Use Authorization permit, fill out a CUA permit application and submit it to With the application, submit the following documentation (if it pertains to your operation): proof of rock climbing certification, current liability insurance & automobile insurance, current first aid and CPR certificate, Leave No Trace training certificate, Wilderness First Responder or equivalent training certificate. Please read all documentation prior to submitting your application. Incomplete packages will not be accepted. Applications are accepted October - February. Allow up to 60 days for your application to be processed.

CUA permit holders are required to submit monthly reports and an annual report of their commercial activities in the national park.

If you're leading a trip, ensure your group is aware of park regulations and safety concerns.

For Road-Based Companies, please submit this additional documentation with your CUA Permit Application.

  • List of all vehicles that may enter the park
  • Safety Inspection from the CHP and/or DOT
  • Current liability insurance

CUA Fees

Annual Application Fee: $465

Market Price Management Fee: In addition to the application fee, parks are required to collect a reasonable fee to recover the costs associated with administering and managing the CUA program. CUA holders are subject to a market price fee calculated by gross receipts earned from park-based operations. Application fees are credited to the CUA holder upon payment of market price fee. Fees are based on the following:

Market Price Fee (% of gross receipts earned from park-based operations)

  • <$250,000.00 - 3% of gross receipts (minus application fee)
  • $250,000.00 to $500,000.00 - 4% of gross receipts (minus application fee)
  • >$500,000.00 - 5% of gross receipts (minus application fee)

Example: Suppose a CUA holder earns $750,000 in gross revenue from doing business at Joshua Tree National Park. Under the MPM fee structure, the National Park will charge the CUA holder 3 percent of their gross receipts, 4 percent for the next $250,000, and 5 percent for the remaining $250,000. This hypothetical CUA holder would then have a total fee of $30,000. The application fee will then be subtracted from $30,000. After subtracting the application fee from $30,000, the difference must be remitted to the National Park before a new CUA can be issued. The combined charges for the application fee and the market-rate management fee may not exceed the limits noted in the table above. If the calculated market-rate fee is less than the application, then the National Park Service will retain the application fee.

Payment is due by February 15. Application and Management fees are paid via CUAs are issued for up to a one-year period. The CUA operating year is from January 1 to December 31.


Frequently Asked Questions

What are the general criteria for the issuance of a CUA?

The authorization is issued to an operator to permit the provision of suitable commercial services to park area visitors. The superintendent determines if an operator has the ability to satisfactorily provide visitor services and carry out the terms of the CUA.

The superintendent determines that the commercial services are “suitable”; that is they (a) will have minimal impact on park area’s resources and values; (b) are consistent with the purposes for which the park area was established; and, (c) are consistent with all applicable park area management plans, policies, and regulations.

The holder must agree to comply with all of the general and specific conditions described in the CUA conditions and operating plans. You should familiarize yourself with these documents before applying for a CUA.

For what length of time is an activity- or service-based CUA issued?

All activity- and service-based CUAs are issued for up to one year. The CUA operating year is from January 1 to December 31.

When is the application period?

Applications will be accepted from October through February. Please submit complete application packets 60 days before your first trip in the park.

Why does the park charge a fee for a CUA?

National Park Service Policy requires the Superintendent to charge a reasonable fee for CUAs. The park retains such fees to help pay for the cost of the CUA program, including administration, evaluations, monitoring, and training.

When are Annual Financial Reports and fees due?

Annual Financial Reports and Management Fee Calculation Forms, which cover the operating year and require reporting of gross receipts and visitors served for each month of that year, are due by January 31st following the end of the operating year. A separate Financial Report and Management Fee Calculation forms are required for each activity a CUA holder has a CUA for. Annual Financial Report and Management Fee Calculation forms will be available by October 1st of each operating year. The Concessions Management Office will review all Annual Report and Management Fee Calculation Fee Forms for accuracy and inform the CUA holder when payment of management fees can be made.

How are CUA fees processed?

Commercial Use Authorization applicants and holders must make all payments for application fees and management fees through


Permit Office

The permit office is open Monday through Friday, 7:00 am to 3:30 pm (PST). We are closed on federal holidays.

Contact us

Phone: (760) 367-5518

74485 National Park Drive
Twentynine Palms, CA 92277
*We are located in office building 100 near the flag pole.


Last updated: December 31, 2023

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

74485 National Park Drive
Twentynine Palms, CA 92277-3597


760 367-5500

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