Commercial Filming and Photography

A person and film camera are silhouetted against a rocky cave backdrop
Filming along the Grand Avenue Tour Route inside Mammoth Cave.

NPS Photo

2022 Changes to Commercial Filming Permits on Park Lands

Effective immediately, consistent with the direction provided in the October 28, 2022, Memorandum titled “Rescission of Interim Filming Guidance”, the Interim Guidance following the Price v Barr decision is rescinded and Section III: 36 CFR § 1.5 SC 24 and SC 25 of the compendium are no longer in effect. This decision reinstates the permit and fee requirements for commercial filming found in 54 U.S.C. § 100905, 43 C.F.R. Part 5 and 36 C.F.R. § 5.5.

Those interested in commercial filming activities at Mammoth Cave National Park should contact the park for more information about filming and to discuss how to minimize potential impacts to visitors and sensitive park resources.

Commercial Filming & Still Photography

See regulations 43 CFR part 5A

A special use permit is required for all commercial filming activities and certain still photography activities occurring within a unit of the National Park System. The regulation governing these activities is found at 43 CFR part 5; this regulation based on Public Law 106-206 applies to all land management agencies in the Department of the Interior.

All commercial filming activities taking place within a unit of the National Park System require a permit. "Commercial filming" means the film, electronic, magnetic, digital, or other recording of a moving image by a person, business, or other entity for a market audience with the intent of generating income.

Who Needs a Permit?

A special use permit is required for any individual, business, or organization (including nonprofit groups and educational institutions) filming for a market audience or receiving compensation associated with footage or recordings made in the park. Some examples include:


  • Commercial advertisements, influencer content promoting a product or service, feature films, entertainment broadcasts, documentaries, promotional or educational films (including non-profit and student projects)
  • Filming for stock footage (regardless of equipment or crew size)
  • Use of large or unusual equipment, even for non-commercial purposes if activities warrant oversight by park staff

Still Photography

  • Still photography that takes place at location(s) where or when members of the public are generally not allowed; or
  • Projects that use model(s), sets(s), or prop(s) or large and unusual equipment that are not a part of the location's natural or cultural resources or administrative facilities; or
  • If the park would incur additional administrative costs to monitor the activity.

I’m a social media influencer, do I need a permit?

Federal law requires a permit for all commercial filming, no matter the size of the crew or the type of equipment. This includes individuals or small groups that don’t use much equipment, but generate revenue by posting footage on websites, such as YouTube, TikTok, and other social media channels.

What fees will I have to pay?

Federal law requires the National Park Service to recover its administrative costs for commercial filming and still photography activities that require a permit. Cost recovery includes an application fee and any additional charges to cover the costs incurred by the National Park Service in processing your request and monitoring the permitted activities. The application fee must be submitted with your application.

The commercial filming/photography application processing fee for Mammoth Cave National Park is $180.

In addition, Federal law also requires the National Park Service to collect a location fee that provides a fair return to the United States for the use of park lands for commercial filming and for still photography requires a permit. The National Park Service uses the following fee schedules:


  • 1–2 people, camera & tripod only - $0/day
  • 1–10 people - $150/day
  • 11–30 people - $250/day
  • 31–49 people - $500/day
  • Over 50 people - $750/day

Still Photography

  • 1–10 people - $50/day
  • 11–30 people - $150/day
  • Over 30 people - $250/day

Are there other permit requirements?

You may be required to obtain liability insurance naming the United States as additionally insured in an amount commensurate with the risk posed to park resources by your proposed activity. You may also be asked to post a bond to ensure the payment of all charges and fees and the restoration of the area if necessary.

A film crew with movie cameras and large lights film two people talking in the woods.
Filming at the Historic Entrance of Mammoth Cave.

NPS Photo

How to Apply

All applications must be received 10 days or greater prior to the start date of the proposed activity to be conducted in the park. The non-refundable application fee for commercial photography may be paid by check or money order payable to "National Park Service."

Applications are handled in the order they are received. Priority will not be given to urgent requests nor will the park reply by express mail. Requests which involve filming inside the cave, multiple locations, complex logistics, environmental compliance, or coordination with multiple NPS divisions or visitor activities will require a minimum of 21 days to process. 

Requests for permits are evaluated based on the information in the application. Therefore, applicants are encouraged to attach maps, description of activity, check in points, what support will be provided, etc. to assist the park staff in evaluating the request. 

Applying For A Permit:

  • A complete application packet must be submitted a minimum of 10 days prior to the requested date
  • A required, non-refundable application fee of $180 must be submitted with the application packet

The application packet must include:

  • Detailed production schedule and proposed locations including if filming inside the cave is requested
  • Detailed cast & crew list including name and role
  • Detailed equipment list including model of equipment

If you have questions or would like to request a filming or still photography application, please email us.

Commercial Photography Application [664 KB]
Filming Application - Short Form [661 KB]

A black silhouette of a drone with a red line through it.

No Drone Zone

Launching, landing or operating unmanned or remote controlled aircraft in Mammoth Cave National Park is prohibited.

Department of the Interior Secretary's Order 3379 mandates a cessation of all non-emergency unmanned aircraft. This order supercedes any existing regulations as of January 29, 2020 and will remain in effect until further notice.

Unmanned Aircraft defined: The term "unmanned aircraft" means a device that is used or intended to be used for flight in the air without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the device, and the associated operational elements and components that are required for the pilot or system operator in command to operate or control the device (such as cameras, sensors, communication links). This term includes all types of devices that meet this definition (e.g., model airplanes, quadcopters, drones) that are used for any purpose, including for recreation or commerce. Read more about unmanned aircraft in the national parks.

Contact Us

Contact us for questions or more information about commercial filming and photography in the park or send completed applications to the address’ below. 

e-mail us


Commercial Filming Coordinator
Mammoth Cave National Park 
P.O. Box 7 
61 Maintenance Road 
Mammoth Cave, KY 42259 

Last updated: March 27, 2024

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 7
Mammoth Cave, KY 42259-0007


270 758-2180

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