Changes to Commercial Filming Permits on Park Land
Effective October 28, 2022 and following a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on October 21, 2022, the National Park Service (NPS) functionally reinstated previous laws and regulations related to commercial filming in national parks. The NPS has rescinded the interim guidance that was in place during litigation and has returned to longstanding laws and regulations governing commercial filming in parks.
This means that all commercial filming that occurs within a unit of the National Park System requires 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. Individual parks may require a permit for non-commercial filming if a permit is necessary to manage the activity to protect park resources and values, minimize conflict between user groups, or to ensure public safety. More details about filming and permits in parks are available online: Filming & Still Photography Permits (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov)
Those interested in commercial filming activities on land managed by the National Park Service are encouraged to contact the park directly for more information about filming in the park and to discuss how to minimize potential impacts to visitors and sensitive park resources.
Filming in Wilderness Areas
The National Park Service manages and protects more than 67 million acres of park lands and waters as wilderness areas. These 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.
When is a permit needed?
Still photographers require a permit only when:
How do I apply for a permit?
Permit applications are available through each park's administrative office or website. Contact information for parks can be found on their websites; visit Find a Park to locate the park where you would like to photograph. You should submit a completed application along with the application fee to the park where you want to film or photograph as far in advance of your planned date as possible. In addition, you should request a meeting with park staff if your proposed activity is unusual or complex. Early consultation with park staff will help them process the submitted application in a timely manner.
What fees will I have to pay?
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. The application fee must be submitted with your application.
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:
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.
What about photography workshops?
If you are planning a photography workshop, you may need a commercial use authorization. See the commercial use authorization page for more information.
Special Use Permits
Special Use permits are required for special events such as weddings, ceremonies and memorials. In certain circumstances, Special Use permits may be required for still photography and First Amendment activities. See the sections on Still Photography and First Amendment activities for further guidance. Please allow 3-4 weeks for processing.
Weddings and ceremonies - Special use permits are required for events such as weddings, ceremonies, meetings or gatherings. To apply for a Special Use Permit you can download a Special Use Permit application, but we also recommend that you e-mail us or write to c/o Olympic National Park, 600 East Park Ave, Port Angeles, WA 98362
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 involving less than 25 people do not require a permit, but are restricted to certain areas of the park. Examples of special events that require permits when more than 25 people are involved include, but are not limited to: distribution/sale of printed matter, religious services, public demonstrations, assemblies or collecting signatures for petitions. For more information contact the park at (360)565-3092 or c/o Olympic National Park 600 East Park Avenue, Port Angeles, WA 98362
Miscellaneous - Other activities may require permits if there is the potential for interference with visitor use, congestion of a highly visited area, or possible impact on park resources. You can download a Special Use Permit application, but please email e-mail us or write to c/o Olympic National Park, 600 East Park Ave, Port Angeles, WA 98362 for more detailed information and clarification.
Commercial Use Authorizations or Non-Profit Special Use Permits
Non-Profit - Commercial Use Authorizations are not required for Non-Profit entities deriving no taxable income from their activity within Olympic National Park. However a Non-Profit Special Use Permit is required along with documentation from the IRS of their Non-Profit status. For more information and an application for the permit contact the Concessions Specialist.
A permit is required before conducting any research within the park. An online application process is administered nationally, but we recommend that you also contact the park's Research Coordinator for more information and to help facilitate the application process.
Log Cabin Resort RV & Campground offers reservations by phone at 888.896.3818.
Wilderness Camping Reservations & Permits
For the most up to date information on how to obtain a Wilderness Backpacking Permit click here.
Last updated: November 28, 2022