Outfitting and Guiding

There are many types of outfitter-guide services provided on the national forests. These include traditional services like fishing and hunting, but also include snowmobiling, mountain biking, white water rafting, jeep touring among many others. Contact the local Forest Service office for information on availability of permits for the area you are interested.
On some of the forests in the Rocky Mountain Region there are limited opportunities for additional outfitting businesses due to the fact that land capability and social capacity may not sustain increased use. The Rocky Mountain Region has thousands of guides that fulfill public demand for experience in these specific areas. In instances such as this, it may be necessary to purchase an existing business in order to secure the opportunity to have the permit issued to you.
Prospective purchasers should check with the local Forest Service office to learn if the permit will be issued to the new owner, or if existing permits are being consolidated or reduced in that area. These new use opportunities can be identified by a prospective permittee or by Forest Service officials. If determined that the use is feasible, it must then be determined if competitive interest exists. If there is interest, a selection process must be followed allowing all interested parties an equal opportunity to apply and be considered for a permit. This will ensure that the most qualified applicant is selected.

State and County Laws
One of the terms and conditions of an Outfitter-Guide permit is that all other federal, state, county and city laws must be adhered to. Different states have different requirements in order to commercially guide. For instance, the States of Colorado and Wyoming issue a registration/license to anyone who has a hunting or fishing business in those States. Prospective guides should check with their State and local government for laws that would pertain to them. If a permit holder does not comply with all other laws, it can be reason for revocation of their permit. Unauthorized outfitting and guiding activities are strictly prohibited on National Forest System lands as per federal laws and regulations with monitoring, investigation, and law enforcement actions routine.
The Forest Service permitting process
Who needs a permit? Any individual, business, outdoor organization, interpretive venture, or educational group, providing commercial outfitting or guiding services on National Forest System lands, whether or not the primary aim is to produce a profit.
Where do I apply?
Contact the National Forest or Ranger District office in the area where you propose to conduct your operations.
How do I initiate the process? 
Prospective outfitters and guides should first discuss their ideas with the responsible Forest Service officer. After discussions with local officials, you may be asked to submit your proposal in writing. The proposal needs to be very clear and concise in the explanation of the proposed use, area and season of use, typical clientele, and amount of use requested. Additional information may be requested in the event that your proposal becomes a formal application. This may include: business experience, financial capability, equipment owned, training and experience in the proposed type of use.  What if more than one business in interested in a permit? When the Forest Service or a prospective outfitter/guide identifies an opportunity for a new use, the authorized officer must decide if there is competitive interest regarding the proposed opportunity. If competitive interest exists, a prospectus is issued and the outfitter-guide is selected competitively. Selection criteria will generally be based on the following factors:
• The kind and quality of service proposed.
• The applicant’s experience and the qualifications needed to satisfy the public and agency need for these services.
• Verification of financial resources.
• Fees returned to the Government (some types of permits have a set fee).
What if I have an outfitter guide permit, and am selling my outfitting business?
If you hold a Forest Service permit for outfitter or guiding, you are required to notify the Forest Service if you are considering selling your business. The Forest Service special use permit is a privilege and is not transferable, either upon sale of the business entity or change in controlling interest in the business entity. The permit is not real property, does not convey any interest in real property, and may not be used as collateral. Upon change of ownership or controlling interest the permit AUTOMATICALLY TERMINATES. The new buyer MAY OR MAY NOT be issued a permit. If you are interested in purchasing a business that holds a special use authorization, please contact the local district office for specific information.