Filming and Photography

Filming at North Cascades National Park

On January 22, 2021, the US District Court for the District of Columbia issued a decision in Price v. Barr determining the permit and fee requirements applying to commercial filming under 54 USC 100905, 43 CFR Part 5, and 36 CFR Part 5.5 are unconstitutional. In response to the decision, the National Park Service issued interim guidance on February 22, 2021, to manage filming activities. Under the interim guidance, filming activities may require a permit if they would impact park resources or the visitor experience.

The National Park Service is not distinguishing between types of filming, such as commercial, non-commercial, or news gathering. Low-impact filming activities will not require a special use permit, but non-low-impact filming activities may require a permit to address their potential impacts on park resources and visitor activities.

Low-Impact Filming

"Low-impact filming" is defined as outdoor filming activities in areas open to the public, except areas managed as wilderness, involving five people or less and equipment that will be carried at all times, except for small tripods used to hold cameras. Those participating in low-impact filming activities do not need a permit and are not required to contact the park in advance. If low-impact filmers have questions about areas where they want to film, they should contact the park directly.

Videographers, filmers, producers, directors, news and other staff associated with filming are reminded that rules and regulations that apply to all park visitors, including park hours and closed areas, still apply to filming activities even if a permit is not required.

Non-Low-Impact Filming

Filming activities that do not meet the description of low-impact filming require at least ten days advance notice to the park by email or telephone at 360-854-7213. Based on the information provided, a permit may be required to:

  • maintain public health and safety;
  • protect environmental or scenic values;
  • protect natural or cultural resources;
  • allow for equitable allocation or use of facilities; or
  • avoid conflict among visitor use activities.

It may take the park additional time to review and issue a permit for filming. Consider submitting your request at least 30 days in advance of the proposed activity.


Filming in Wilderness Areas

North Cascades National Park is comprised of 94% Wilderness. Wilderness Areas have additional laws and policies to preserve their wilderness character for future generations. Filming activities in wilderness areas must follow all applicable laws and regulations that govern wilderness areas in the park, including prohibitions on structures, installations, motor vehicles, mechanical transport, motorized equipment, motorboats, or landing of aircrafts.

Except for casual filming by visitors, special use permits for filming are required for all filming activities in wilderness areas, no matter the group size or equipment used. Visit the map webpage for a map of North Cascades National Park Service Complex, including Wilderness boundaries.


Under the interim guidance issued on January 22, 2021, the National Park Service is not collecting application or location fees, or cost recovery for filming activities. A permit may still be required for specific activities occurring in Wilderness; however, no fees will be collected for issuance of the permit.


Still Photography

Price v. Barr had no impact on how the National Park Service regulates still photography, so there are no changes in how this activity is regulated.

Photography of scenery has traditionally been part of a visit to a national park. Photography does not require a permit if it involves only hand-carried equipment (tripod, interchangeable lenses or flash), and does not involve professional crews, product or service advertisement, or use of models, props or sets.

A still photography permit is required when:

  • Product or service advertisement is involved.
  • Talent/models, props, crews or sets are involved.
  • The project has the potential to disrupt other park activities or visitors.
  • More than just hand carried equipment is utilized.
  • Project requires access to an area normally closed or restricted to general public use.
  • Access into an area outside of normal public use hours is required.
  • Project carries a potential risk to park resources.
  • Activity raises safety concerns that can be mitigated through issuance of permit with restrictions.

Activities having the potential to significantly impact, alter, or damage park resources are prohibited and include:

  • Altering, damaging, or removing vegetation for filming projects.
  • Vehicle use off established roads and parking areas.
  • Use of insecticides, herbicides, and pesticides.
  • Loud noises (60 decibels or higher) between 10 pm and 6 am.
  • Anything involving public nudity.
  • Night filming with artificial lighting.
  • Smoking in buildings, on boardwalks, or in vegetated areas.
  • Harassment of wildlife or introduction of wildlife captured elsewhere.
  • Pyrotechnics.
  • Use of equipment that inhibits public views of popular scenic vistas.
  • Digging, scraping, chiseling, or defacing natural features for filming purposes.How do I apply for a Still Photography permit?Email to request an application. Submit a completed application with the application fee at least 30 day prior to your planned Still Photography event. Early consultation with park staff will help process the submitted application in a timely manner.

How do I apply for a Still Photography permit?

Email to request an application. Submit a completed application with the application fee at least 30 day prior to your planned Still Photography event. Early consultation with park staff will help process the submitted application in a timely manner.

Still Photography Fees

The National Park Service will collect a cost recovery charge and a location fee for still photography permits. 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 your permit.

This amount will vary depending on the park and the size and complexity of your permit.In addition, the National Park Service has been directed by Congress to collect a fee to provide a fair return to the United States for the use of park lands. The National Park Service uses the following still photography fee schedule:

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

The Park accepts payment for SUP and CUA fees through for EFT, credit or debit payment methods. A copy of your payment confirmation receipt from must be forwarded to the Commercial Services Office.

Photography Workshop and Portrait Photography Services require a Commercial Use Authorization (CUA).

Last updated: March 11, 2022

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