Photo and Film Permits

The typical visitor does not need a special permit for photography and videography in the park. However, certain cases require a special use permit. Read on to see if you need a special use permit.

General Information

The procedure of obtaining a special use permit for filming and photography may seem tedious and unnecessary to some- but it is crucial to monitor these sorts of activities to protect the park's natural resources and to protect general visitor experience. Know that by following the protocols, you are contributing to the preservation of Rocky Mountain National Park's beautiful wilderness!

In most cases of photography and filming in the park, a special use permit is not required. For instance, taking photos or video to document your experience and sharing them on personal social media pages is fine, and encouraged! Just remember to follow Nature First Principles while photographing and filming. And if you are looking for inspiration on where to go, check out The Photographer's Guide to Rocky Mountain National Park.

Special use permits contain terms and conditions that are necessary to protect park resources and visitors. The permits specify the location(s) and time(s) of the activity and the number of personnel and equipment that may be used. Additionally, permits may require you 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 also may be required to post a bond to ensure the payment of all charges and fees and the restoration of the area if necessary.

Drones are prohibited in all national park service areas, even if the user/photographer is FAA licensed. No exceptions will be made.

Still Photography Permits

In most cases, still photography does not require a permit. Remember that taking personal photos of your trip to share with family and friends is fine, and encouraged!

However, you will need to obtain a permit for still photography when-
-the activity takes place at location(s) where or when members of the public are generally not allowed; or
-the activity uses model(s)*, sets(s), or prop(s) that are not a part of the location's natural or cultural resources or administrative facilities; or
-the NPS would incur additional administrative costs to monitor the activity.

*A “model” means a person or object that serves as the subject for still photography for the purpose of promoting the sale or use of a product or service. Models include, but are not limited to, individuals, animals, or inanimate objects, such as vehicles, boats, articles of clothing, and food and beverage products. Portrait subjects, such as wedding parties and high school graduates, are not considered models.

Photographers who plan to lead workshops, photography tours, or have more than seven portrait sessions per year within the park can read the regulations and apply for a Commercial Use Authorization.

Photographers who plan to have less than seven portrait photography sessions within the park can read the regulations and apply for a Single Session Commercial Use Authorization.

Videography Permits

Under federal law, all commercial filming that occurs within a unit of the National Park System requires a permit. This includes Rocky Mountain National Park! Remember, if you are taking recordings for personal use- such as recording a video of a waterfall, a video of wildlife, etc., to show your family and friends back home, do not worry! In most cases like these, a permit is not necessary for casual filming for personal enjoyment.

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. Examples of this include but are not limited to feature films, videography, documentaries, and videos posted to monetized YouTube and other monetized social media platforms. Commercial filming may include the advertisement of a product or service, or the use of actors, models, sets, or props.

There are some instances in which non-commercial filming still requires a special use permit. Examples of non-commercial filming include but are not limited to filming for tourism bureaus, convention and visitor bureaus, and student filming.

Email your completed application to