Point Reyes National Seashore requires visitors to obtain permits before participating in certain activities, such as backcountry camping, building beach fires, weddings or ceremonies, special events, and commercial filming and photography. (Regulations regarding commercial filming permits are being reassessed; see the "Commercial Filming" section below for more information.) Left unregulated, these activities could cause harmful impacts to the park's natural and/or cultural resources or to the enjoyment of the park by other visitors.
Activities that Require a Permit
Following is a list of several, but not all, activities that require a permit, and appropriate contact information.
What is Required to Obtain a Special Use Permit
Prior to issuance of a Special Use Permit, we generally require the following:
Weddings/Ceremonies/Picnics (including the Bear Valley Group Picnic Area)
Changes to Commercial Filming Permits on Park Land
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 intends to update regulations addressing filming activities that are consistent with the outcome of Price v. Barr. Once effective, those regulations will replace and supersede the interim guidance.
Those interested in commercial filming activities on land managed by the National Park Service are encouraged to contact the park directly by email for more information about filming in the park and to discuss how to minimize potential impacts to visitors and sensitive park resources.
Do I need a permit to film?
Under the interim guidance, 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" 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 by email.
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. Check with the park staff for more information on closures, sensitive resources, and other safety tips.
Filming activities that do not meet the description of low-impact filming require at least ten days advance notice to the National Park Service by contacting the park directly in writing. The park’s superintendent will determine whether the filming activities will require a special use permit for filming. Based on the information provided, a permit may be required to:
Examples of requests that may require a permit include, but are not limited to: entering a sensitive resource area, filming in areas that require tickets to enter, or filming in visitor centers, campgrounds, or other visitor areas. The decision to require a permit rests with the park superintendent based on potential impacts to park resources or the visitor experience.
Contact the park directly by email if unsure whether or not a filming activity is considered low-impact or may require a permit.
Filming in Wilderness Areas
The National Park Service manages and protects more than 67 million acres of park lands and waters as wilderness areas, including the Phillip Burton Wilderness within Point Reyes National Seashore. 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.
Are filmers still required to pay fees to film in parks?
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.
When is a permit needed?
Price v. Barr had no impact on how the National Park Service regulates still photography, so there are no changes in how the National Park Service regulates that activity. Still photographers require a permit only when:
How do I apply for a permit?
Permit applications are available below. You should submit a completed application along with the application fee as far in advance of your planned date as possible. In addition, you should request a meeting with park staff by email 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 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 our Commercial Use Authorizations page for more information.
Drone Use is Prohibited
In part, under 36 CFR 1.5, launching, landing, or operating an unmanned aircraft from or on lands and waters administered by the National Park Service within boundaries of Point Reyes National Seashore is prohibited except as approved in writing by the superintendent.
Please contact the Special Parks Uses office for more information at 415-464-5111 or by email.
Standard Event Permit Conditions (42 KB PDF)
Special Use Permit Application: Short Form (NPS Form 10-930s) (830 KB MS Word .docx)
Special Use Permit Application: Long Form (NPS Form 10-930) (836 KB MS Word .docx)
Still Photography Application: Short form (NPS Form 10-931) (837 KB MS Word .docx)
Still Photography Application: Long form (NPS Form 10-932) (849 KB MS Word .docx)
Last updated: March 12, 2021