Commercial Outfitting and Guiding Permits

3 mules tied up to a hitching rail with an old barn in the background

As partners in providing unique recreational experiences, commercial outfitters and guides play a key part in fulfilling one of the agency's missions to the public. Although many visitors possess the necessary skills and equipment to enjoy the National Forests, others may not have the capability to participate in an activity on their own.

By permitting commercial services to operate on the Forest, this need can be met. To enhance visitor experiences, outfitters and guides contribute their skills, specialized equipment, pack and riding stock, local knowledge and safety instructions for their clients. By becoming a federal permit holder they are required to carry liability insurance, meet state certification requirements and offer their services as an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Outfitter and guide operations are authorized with special use permits to conduct commercial recreation activities on National Forest Service lands. A commercial recreational use or activity is defined as:

Any use or activity on National Forest System lands (a) where an entry or participation fee is charged, or (b) where the primary purpose is the sale of a good or service, and in either case, regardless of whether the use or activity is intended to produce a profit. (36CFR 251.51)

All outfitter and guides on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest are required to hold a special use permit for their activity. Some areas like the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, Eagle Cap Wilderness, and the Wild and Scenic Snake River have a limited number of permits as directed in the area management plans. The list of permitted services below shows the current authorized outfitter and guide services.

If the outfitter and guide is not included on this list please visit with the recreation manager at the local ranger district and inquire if they are a permitted or unauthorized outfitter and guide operating on the Forest.

Applying for an Outfitting and Guiding Permit

Special use outfitter and guide permits are issued for long-term (priority use) and temporary (less than one year) commercial acitivities. Basic requirements for holding a permit include technical and financial capability, payment of a fee, and insurance listing the U.S. Government as additionally insured. Prior to issuance of a permit, the Forest may have to complete an environmental analysis which may be cost shared with the permit applicant depending the category and extent of the analysis, and permit processing fees (i.e. recovery costs).

Institutional outfitters include groups like schools, universities, religious organizations, clubs, camps, rehab centers or special interest groups. All of these groups are considered commercial outfitters and guides, and require a special use permit.

Outfitter and guide permits are generally issued at the local Ranger District office. Please visit with your local Ranger District special use administrator to discuss your proposal for a permit.