Special Use Permits


What is a Special Use Permit?

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

  • 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 NPS in order to protect park resources and the public interest;
  • Is not prohibited by law or regulation; and
  • Is neither initiated, sponsored, nor conducted by the NPS.

Example of activities requiring a Special Use Permit within Mammoth Cave National Park include weddings, memorial services, commercial filming and/or photography, special assemblies, First Amendment activities, organized trail events, and athletic events.


Activities that Require a Special Use Permit


The park’s natural and scenic backdrops can serve as a beautiful location for your simple and quiet wedding ceremony, but specific guidelines regarding noise levels, decorations, number of attendees, and event times must be followed. Contact us for more information on wedding conditions and guidelines. Please note, weddings are prohibited inside caves in the park.

When applying for your wedding permit, please use the Short Form application found in the How to Apply section of this page.

Scattering Cremated Remains

Park regulations allow for the scattering of cremated human remains within the park. You must download and carry a copy of the Mammoth Cave Scattering of Ashes Letter [160 KB], and adhere to the specific rules and conditions outlined within the letter. There is no fee for the scattering of ashes.

First Amendment Activities

Freedom of speech, press, religion, and assembly are constitutional rights. However, the courts have recognized that activities associated with the exercise of these rights may be reasonably regulated to protect park resources. First amendment activities such as the distribution and/or sale of printed matter, religious services, public demonstrations or assemblies are permitted to take place in locations near the parks visitor center. There are no permit fees associated with First Amendment Permits. Contact us for more information on designated first amendment areas and permits.

Other Special Uses

Some activities that fall outside normal visitation at Mammoth Cave National Park also require obtaining a Special Use Permit. Examples would be an organized public gathering, operation of a public address system in connection with a public gathering and other activities. Please use the Long Form application found in the How to Apply section of this page to apply for these activities. Contact us for more information.

Commercial Filming and Photography

A commercial film 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. More information on Commercial Filming and Photography in the park is available.


How to Apply

Download and complete the special use permit application form appropriate for your activity. If you are unsure of what form to use, contact us. Send your completed application, any associated documentation, and the $180 non-refundable application fee via check or money order to the park’s Special Use Permit Coordinator.

Long Form [662 KB]

Short Form [648 KB]

The non-refundable application fee can be remitted either via check or through pay.gov at Special Use Permit Processing Fee - Mammoth Cave National Park.

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. Permit applications for events which involve multiple locations, complex logistics, compliance review, or coordination with multiple NPS divisions or visitor activities may require up to 45 days to review and 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.


Contact Us

Contact us for questions or more information about Special Use Permits in the park or send completed applications to the address’ below.



(270) 758-2180

Special Use Permit Coordinator
Mammoth Cave National Park
P.O. Box 7
61 Maintenance Road
Mammoth Cave, KY 42259


Commercial Use Authorization

Mammoth Cave National Park's Commercial Use Authorization (CUA) program authorizes the provision of suitable commercial services such as canoe and kayak livery services, guided tours and workshops to park area visitors. Information on how to apply for a CUA permit for your commercial services can be found on our Commercial Use Authorization page.

Last updated: April 19, 2024

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

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


270 758-2180

Contact Us