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Permits

Guided use of public lands in the US, be it non-profit or for-profit, falls under the category of Commercial Use, and requires a permit issued by the local land manager. The typical criterion is whether taxable income is generated. If so, it is a commercial entity. If not, it may still require a permit. Check with the land manager for further details. Every land management agency has its own permit types, but here is a quick overview of the major categories:Permits

  • National Park Service: The NPS offers three types of permits; concession, commercial use authorizations (CUAs), and special use permits (SUPs).
  • Concessions: Typically, these are multi-year permits, up to 10 years.  Concessions are selected through a competitive process, and are authorized to provide services the park has deemed necessary and appropriate.
  • CUA: These are short-term permits, 2 years maximum. They are authorized to provide services the park deems appropriate, though not always “necessary”, and they should have minimal impact on park resources.
  • SUP: 501 (c) 3 non-profits can get access to NPS permits through Special Use Permits (SUP).  Like concessions and CUAs, the permit is issued for specific activities that are listed on the permit. For example, the SUP the AMGA holds for Rocky Mountain National Park states the purpose is for “training and certification of mountain guides.”  SUPs are available for group events that are not considered “commercial use”.
  • US Forest Service: The USFS classifies people in our line of work as “outfitters and guides.” Under that classification there are two types of Special Use Permits that are available:  Priority Use and Temporary Use. In simplest terms the only difference between the two is that one is long term, the other is short term. Both types of permits are subject to the same regulations.
  • Bureau of Land Management: The BLM issues Special Recreation Permits (SRPs).  Terms and conditions vary according to location.  Please contact the local land manager directly for specifics.

Permit Locations

Acadia National Park, Maine
Permit Type: Commercial Use Authorization
Insurance Amount Required: $500,000
Contact: Liz Weston
Phone: 207.288.8705
website

Arapaho–Roosevelt National Forest, Colorado
Permit Type:  Special Use Permit (Outfitter/Guide)
Submit a detailed proposal letter with specific dates and locations at least one year in advance.
Contact: Jaime Oliva (Boulder Ranger District)
Phone: 303.541.2500
website

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado
Permit Type: Commercial Use Authorization
Insurance Amount Required: $1,000,000
Contact: Steve Winslow
Phone: 970.249.1914 x421
website

Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks, Colorado
Permit Type: Commercial Use Permit
Insurance Amount Required: $600,000
Contact: Michelle Gonzales
Phone: 303.441.3440
website

Chugach National Forest, Alaska
Permit Type: Special Use Permit (Outfitter/Guide)
Insurance Amount Required: Minimum of $300,000. Higher risk activities require more.
Phone: 907.743.9568
website

City of Rocks National Reserve, Idaho
Permit Type: Small Concession Permit
Insurance Amount Required: $1,000,000
You must first go through the Idaho Outfitters and Guides Licensing Board
website
Then obtain a Small Concession Permit from the Idaho Dept. of Parks and Recreation
Contact: Dean Sangrey
Phone: 208.334.4180 ext. 2260

Crowders Mountain State Park, North Carolina
Permit Type: Fill out a climbing permit the day of climb
Insurance Amount Required: Safety, training, and insurance is left up to guide/climber.
Phone: 704.853.5375
website

Denali National Park, Alaska (Excluding Denali and Foraker)
Permit Type: Commercial Use Authorization
AMGA Accreditation required.
Insurance Amount Required: Based on group size
1-5 $300,000
6-12 $500,000
13+ $1,000,000
Contact: Brenda Coleman
Email: brenda_coleman@nps.gov
Phone: 907.644.3362
website or website for managing commercial operations

Devils Tower National Monument, Wyoming
Permit Type: Commercial Use Authorization
Insurance Amount Required: $1,000,000
Contact: Drew Gilmour
Phone: 307.467.5283 ext. 636
website

Eldorado Canyon State Park, Colorado
Permit Type: Special Use Agreement
Insurance Amount Required: $1,000,000
Contact: Steve Muehlhauser, Superintendent
Phone: 303.494.3943

Hueco Tanks State Park & Historic Site, Texas
Permit Type:  Non-exclusive Concession (5 maximum, 2 year contract)
Additional Requirements:  All guides must attend 3-day park orientation / training
Insurance Amount Required:  $500,000
Contact:  Wanda Olszewski, Superintendent
Email: wanda.olszewski@tpwd.state.tx.us
Phone: 915.857.1135

Joshua Tree National Park, California
Permit Type: Commercial Use Authorization
Insurance Amount Required: $1,000,000
Contact: Li Li McGary
Phone: 760.367.5545
website

Moab Area – BLM
Permit Type:  Special Recreation Permit
Insurance Amount:  $1,000,000 aggregate
Contact:  Jennifer Jones, Moab Field Office
Phone:  435.259.2136

Email:  jljones@blm.gov
website

Mohonk Preserve (Shawangunks, New York)
Permit Type: Visiting Guide
Insurance Amount Required: $1,000,000 per incident, $2,000,000 aggregate
Contact: Hank Alicandri
Phone: 845.255.0919
website

Monongahela National Forest (Seneca Rocks), West Virginia
Permit Type: Special Use Permit (Outfitter/Guide)
Insurance Amount Required: $500,000
Contact: Sara Schell
Phone: 304.257.4488 ext. 16
website

Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
Permit Type:  Concession Contract and single-trip Commercial Use Authorization (CUA)
CUA Contact: Jan Crosetto
Email: Jan_Crosetto@nps.gov
Phone: 360.569.2211 ext. 2316
Concessions Contact: Mary Wysong
Phone: 360.569.2211 ext. 2303
website

New Hampshire State Parks, New Hampshire
Permit Type: N/A
Insurance Amount Required: Insurance is left up to guide.
Contact: Kevin Donovan
Phone: 603.823.7722 ext. 757

North Cascades National Park, Washington
Permit Type: Commercial Use Authorization
Insurance Amount Required: $500,000
Contact: Tammra Sterling
Phone: 360.854.7213
website

Ouray Ice Park, Colorado (County Owned)
Limited Permit Availability
Insurance Amount Required: $1,000,000 per occurrence, $1,000,000 aggregate
Contact: Nate Disser
Email: nate@ourayclimbing.com
Phone: 970.325.4925

Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina
Permit Type:  Special Use Permit (Outfitter/Guide)
website

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Nevada – BLM
Permit Type:  Five Full-time Special Recreation Permits. Guest Climbing Permits available. Good for 10 days/yr. Application period is in Sept., selection made via lottery, notifications in October for the next year. Unlimited number of guides/clients during those 10 days.
Contact:  Nick Walendziak, Recreation Planner – Climbing Lead.
Phone: 702.515.5358
website

White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire
Permit Type: Temporary Special Use Permit (Outfitter/Guide)
Insurance Amount Required: $500,000
Contact: Jennifer Batt (Please contact at least 45-60 days out from start of trip)
Email: jbatt@fs.fed.us
Phone: 603.466.2713 ext. 213
website

White River National Forest, Colorado
Permit Type:  Temporary Special Use Permit (Outfitter/Guide)
Contact the specific ranger district where you wish to conduct guiding.
Insurance Amount Required: Minimum of $300,000. Higher risk activities require more.
website: Ranger District contact information

Canada
Access for IFMGA Mountain Guides through the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides. Find out more on their website.