Event/Commercial Permits

All commercial activities and events on the Coconino National Forest require a special use permit. Some non-commercial recreational gatherings require a permit, depending on the activity. A special use permit is required for groups larger than 75 people, or for any size group which charges a fee to attend an event. While a group of less than 75 people may not require a permit, there are some regulations that may apply. If you are interested in holding a special event or conducting business on National Forest System lands, you will need to determine which district your event and/or activities will be held.

Recreation Events

A special use permit is required for any temporary event on National Forest System lands where an entry or participation fee is charged, or where paid membership in a group or organization is a prerequisite for participation. Examples of recreation events may include trail running events, mountain biking races, fundraising hikes, adventure games, and other similar events. A permit is required for these types of events, regardless of the number of people involved in the activity. Recreation event permits are subject to fees and commercial liability coverage. Depending on the nature of your event, a performance bond may be required.



Weddings, Family Gatherings, and Other Large Groups

A special use permit is required for groups larger than 75 people, or for any size group which charges a fee to attend an event. While a group of less than 75 people may not require a permit, there are some regulations that may apply.

Since each district is unique, we recommend that you contact the appropriate Special Use Permit Administrator for the district in which you intend to hold your event or group activity for specific information:

District Points of Contact

Office Contact Email Phone
Flagstaff Ranger District Justin Loxley 928-527-8240
Mogollon Rim Ranger District Leah Harris 928-451-3591
Red Rock Ranger District Michael Suggs 928-203-7532

Here are some things to consider. This list is not all-inclusive:

  • For any group activity, toilet facilities are required for groups greater than 25 people and/or groups staying longer than 24 hours.
  • All garbage associated with the event must be picked up and removed. Incorporate "Leave No Trace" principles during your visit.
  • Any and all fire restrictions require full compliance, and the group is required to supply adequate water and tools for properly extinguishing any campfires built.
  • Introduction of non-native species is prohibited. This means, use of birdseed, rose petals, rice, etc. are not allowed.
  • Some areas of the forest will not accommodate groups due to resource damage.

Wedding and Event Venues

Arizona Nordic Village and the Arizona Snowbowl near Flagstaff, Arizona feature facilities for hosting weddings, including furnishings, accommodations, and more. Contact each location for details.

Weddings on the Mogollon Rim District

What You Need to Know!

Weddings are one of the many activities that take place on the National Forest. Because the Mogollon Rim escarpment is popular for weddings, the Forest Service provides this information so that your wedding or the wedding you are supporting as a service provider (planner, minister, musician, equipment vendor, etc.) will be as memorable and free of hassles as possible. 

*No permits are required for a wedding on the National Forest when:

  1. Fewer than 75 people are in attendance with no paid service providers (planners, ministers, musicians, equipment vendors, etc.), and no sound equipment. 
  2. Fewer than 75 people are in attendance, the only paid service providers are the minister(s) performing the ceremony and/or photographer/videographer, and there is no sound equipment

(Note: a minister providing any other service(s) besides performing the ceremony requires a permit—i.e. the minister in addition to the ceremony is involved in planning, selecting location, selecting other service providers, etc.) 

*Permits are required for all other wedding situations on the National Forest under the following conditions: 

  1. There are no reserved sites for weddings under 75 people, whether it’s a wedding requiring a permit or one not requiring a permit. Accordingly, you may not displace other visitors, i.e. ask them to make room or leave so you can use the site, whether it is for the ceremony, parking, etc. 
  2. There are designated sites for weddings 75 people or more - a map is available. Other visitors may not be displaced. 
  3. Permits do not substitute for other fees such as day-use area fees or campgrounds.
  4. Weddings requiring permits are not allowed in “classified wilderness” areas (Fossil Creek, West Clear Creek, and Wet Beaver). We can only permit activities in a “Wilderness” that are “wilderness dependent”. 
  5. Similarly, wedding photography and other “staged” wedding activities are not allowed in a Wilderness area because the activity is not “wilderness dependent". 
  6. No non-native seeds such as rice or birdseed may be dispersed or tossed.
  7. Chairs are allowed and small structures (arches, alters, arbors, etc.) will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. 
  8. Sound systems, if permitted, must be used in a way to avoid unreasonable disturbance of other national forest users in the area.
  9. Doves or homing pigeons are not allowed. 
  10. Butterfly releases are not allowed. 

We are unlikely to permit the use of archeological sites and specific sites may not be available for a particular wedding based on other management issues at the time. 

Can I hold my wedding at Crescent Moon Picnic Site?

Yes! Weddings at Crescent Moon Picnic Site are by reservation only.

  • For parties of 15 or fewer people (including officiant and photographer), reservations may be made by calling the concessionaire at 928-204-0028.
  • Groups larger than 15 are required to rent the ramada; this may be done by calling 877-444-6777 or online at Recreation.gov.
  • See Wedding Policy for Crescent Moon Picnic Site [PDF]


Filming and Photography

A special use permit is required for commercial filming or photography on National Forest System lands, such as film movie-making or commercials as well as for still photography for commercial use. More detailed information on the permitting process can be found in Information for Acquiring a Permit to do Motion Filming and Still Photography in the Coconino National Forest [PDF]. Use of motion picture, videotaping, sound-recording, or any other type of moving image or audio recording equipment on National Forest System lands that involves the advertisement of a product or service, the creation of a product for sale, or the use of actors, models, sets, or props. Permits may be issued by the Forest Supervisor’s office or the district office in which the activity will take place.

If you are planning a commercial filming or commercial photography activity, please submit your proposal to the Forest Special Use Permit Administrator:

Commercial Filming & Photography Point of Contact

Title Contact Email Phone
Commercial Permit Administrator Toby Hutchens 928-527-3471

When Do I Need a Filming or Photography Permit?

The type of photographic activity determines whether or not a permit is required. See examples and criteria listed below.

Personal Use

If you are shooting still photographs or "home movies" for personal use (e.g. that does not involve advertisement of a product or service, the creation of a product for sale) then a special use permit is not required.

Breaking News

Breaking news is an event or incident that arises suddenly, evolves quickly, and rapidly ceases to be newsworthy. A special use permit is not required for activities involving breaking news. Examples of breaking news include coverage of wildland fire or search and rescue.

Still Photography

Still photography uses photographic equipment to capture still images on film, digital format, and other similar technologies. National Forest visitors and professional or amateur photographers need a special use permit to take still photographs if the still photography:

  • Uses models, sets, or props that are not part of the site’s natural or cultural resources or administrative facilities.
  • Takes place at a location where members of the public are generally not allowed or where additional administrative costs are likely.

Still photography of scenery only does not require a permit.

Commercial Filming

A special use permit is required for all commercial filming activities on National Forest System lands. Commercial filming is the use of motion picture, videotaping, sound recording, other moving image or audio recording equipment on National Forest System lands that involves the advertisement of a product or service, the creation of a product for sale, or the use of actors, models, sets or props, but not including activities associated with broadcasting breaking news.

For purposes of this definition, creation of a product for sale includes but is not limited to a film, videotape, television broadcast or documentary of historic events, wildlife, natural events, features, subjects or participants in a sporting or recreation event and so forth, when created for the purpose of generating income.

Commercial filming or still photography will not be permitted if the Forest Service determines that any of the following criteria apply:

  • There is a likelihood of resource damage that cannot be mitigated.
  • There would be an unreasonable disruption of the public's use and enjoyment of the site (beyond short term interruption).
  • The activity poses health or safety risks to the public that cannot be mitigated.
Commercial Filming and Still Photography in Wilderness

Commercial filming and still photography activities may be allowed in wilderness if these activities meet certain criteria and are appropriate for realizing the recreational or other wilderness purposes of the area. Forest Service policies direct the agency to minimize wilderness resource impacts and seek non-wilderness areas to conduct proposed activities. Filming and still photography proposals within designated wilderness areas will receive a higher level of scrutiny by the Forest Service.

Commercial Filming and Still Photography Permit Process

Provide the Forest Service with detailed information about the proposal. Generally at least two weeks advance notice is needed to issue a permit. More detailed information on the permitting process can be found in Information for Acquiring a Permit to do Motion Filming and Still Photography in the Coconino National Forest [PDF]. At a minimum, the following information will be needed in order to evaluate a proposal and complete the permitting process:

  • Special locations where activity is proposed.
  • Number of crew on site, vehicles, and all the equipment and props to be used.
  • Dates: locations and times by date.
  • Describe in detail what you are planning to do at each site, including special effects.
  • Activities which restrict traffic require traffic control by law enforcement officers.
  • Permits on roads may also be needed from other local jurisdictions (i.e. county and ADOT).

Photography Workshops

Individuals or organizations offering guided photography instruction or workshops on National Forest System land are providing a commercial service that requires special use authorization. This activity general falls under Outfitting and Guiding permit category.


Outfitting and Guiding Services

The Coconino National Forest is not currently accepting new proposals for outfitter/guide activities. The Flagstaff and Mogollon Ranger Districts recently completed an Outfitting and Guiding Need Assessment and Capacity Analysis process and are in the process of evaluating the future outfitting and guiding program on these districts. If you are interested in updates on future outfitting or guiding opportunities, please contact the appropriate Ranger District.

Who needs a special use permit for outfitting and guiding on the National Forest?

A special use permit for outfitting and guiding on National Forest System land is required when an individual, company, organization, institution or non-profit group charges a participatory fee for guiding services and/or provides recreation equipment.

This policy is based on the following official definitions:

Providing services or assistance such as supervision, protection, education, training, packing, touring, subsistence, interpretation or other assistance to individuals or groups in their pursuit of a natural resource-based outdoor activity for pecuniary remuneration or other gain.
Providing through rental or livery a saddle or pack animal, vehicle or boat, tents or camp gear, or similar supplies or equipment, for pecuniary remuneration or other gain.


Back to Passes and Permits