Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park

Park Regulations & Safety

Park Regulations

Wood fires are allowed in the developed campgrounds (e.g. Squaw Flat) and along the rivers. They are prohibited elsewhere in the backcountry. Wood may not be gathered in the park except along the river corridors where driftwood and dead-and-down tamarisk may be burned. River trips must use a fire pan and remove all fire debris from the backcountry.

Cultural Resources
Disturbing, entering or camping within 300 feet of an archeological or historical site is prohibited. Collecting artifacts is prohibited.

Hunting & Fishing
Hunting is prohibited in Canyonlands. Weapons are prohibited. Fishing is allowed. Visitors who fish in the park must have a valid Utah State Fishing License and must comply with Utah State Fishing Regulations.

Natural Resources
Disturbing or collecting natural features (plants, rocks, etc.) is prohibited.

Off-road Vehicles (ATV, OHV)
Off-road vehicles are not permitted in the park. Possession or operation of a bicycle or motor vehicle off a designated road is prohibited. Motor bikes must be street legal.

Permits are required for all overnight trips in the backcountry. Permits are also required for four-wheel-drive day use in Lavender, Horse and Salt Creek Canyons in the Needles. 

Personal Water Craft
Personal water craft (e.g. Jet Skis) are not permitted on the rivers in Canyonlands.

Activities with pets are very limited in the park. Pets may accompany visitors in the developed campgrounds, and at overlooks along paved scenic drives, but must be leashed at all times when outside a vehicle. Pets are not allowed on any hiking trails or in the backcountry, even on a boat or in a vehicle. 

Portable Toilets
Canyonlands requires all river runners to carry out their solid human waste. This is also required of visitors vehicle camping in the Maze District and at the New Bates Wilson camp in the Needles. The park requires the use of washable, reusable toilet systems or the type of system that uses dry chemicals and enzymes to render solid human waste into nonhazardous products acceptable for disposal in permitted landfills. Toilet systems must be designed to contain human waste in such a fashion as to provide for secure containment and adequate storage.

Backcountry Permits

Activities requiring a permit include backpacking, four-wheel-drive and mountain bike camping, river trips, and four-wheel-drive day use in Horse and Lavender canyons in the Needles District. Fees are charged and group size limits apply (see chart below).

Obtaining a River Permit

River permits are issued Monday through Friday from the Reservation Office in Moab, and may be received in advance by mail. When the Reservation Office is closed, the Island in the Sky Visitor Center can also issue river permits. Instructions for sumitting a request are on the reservations page.

Obtaining Other Backcountry Permits

Permits (other than river) are issued seven days a week at district visitor centers. Permits can be reserved in advance. Walk-in permits are only available the day before or the day of a trip. Permits are issued up to one hour before the close of business each day.

Length of Stay

Permits (except day use) can be issued for up to fourteen consecutive nights. Backpackers may stay up to seven consecutive nights in any one site or zone. Visitors using the designated vehicle camps may stay a maximum of three consecutive nights at a camping area before having to relocate.


40 people

40 people

1 vehicle per permit

(p=people, v=vehicles)

First Amendment Events

Freedom of speech, the press, religion, and assembly are rights, not privileges. However, the courts have recognized that activities associated with the exercise of these rights may be reasonably regulated to protect legitimate government interests. Therefore, in order to protect park resources, the NPS may regulate certain aspects of First Amendment activities, such as the time, the place and the manner in which they are conducted. It is the conduct associated with the exercise of these rights that is regulated, and never the content of the message.

A few guidelines:

  1. There are no fees associated with First Amendment rights permits.
  2. No public assembly permits shall be issued for a period in excess of seven days.
  3. No sale or distribution of printed matter permits shall be issued for a period in excess of 14 consecutive days.

Special Use Permits

Gatherings and commercial activities in National Parks often require a special use permit. The purpose of these permits is to ensure the protection of the park's natural and cultural resources, as well as to minimize conflicts between park visitors and your guests.

Examples of permitted activities include:

  • Commercial Filming & Photography
  • First Amendment Events
  • Weddings (and similar gatherings)

If you are not sure that your event requires a permit or have other questions, contact:

Special Use Coordinator
National Park Service
PO Box 907
Moab, UT 84532
435 719-2223 phone
435 719-2305 fax


Activities with pets are very limited at Canyonlands. Pets are not allowed on hiking trails or anywhere in the backcountry. Pets may not accompany groups traveling by four-wheel-drive vehicle, mountain bike or boat.

Pets may accompany visitors in the developed campgrounds, and may be walked in the park along paved roads. Pets may also accompany visitors traversing the Potash/Shafer Canyon road between Moab and the Island in the Sky. Pets must be leashed at all times when outside a vehicle.

The desert can be deadly for pets. Car temperatures rise quickly in the sun, even on cool days. Your pet can easily die of heat exhaustion. If you are leaving a pet in a car, crack the windows as much as possible and leave water to drink. We recommend you not leave pets in the car at all when temperatures are above 68 degrees, even with the windows cracked.

The following kennels offer boarding services in Moab:

Moab Veterinary Clinic
4575 Spanish Valley Drive
(435) 259-8710

Karen's Canine Campground
2781 S. Roberts
(435) 259-7922

Filming & Photography

It is the policy of the National Park Service to allow filming and photography consistent with the protection and public enjoyment of park resources. Therefore, the primary consideration in the evaluation of permit requests in the Southeast Utah Group is the potential for resource damage and the disruption of normal public use.

Permits are not generally required for:

  • Visitors engaged in filming/photography intended for their personal use and enjoyment
  • The filming of a breaking news event by news crews
  • Filming conducted pursuant to a cooperative agreement or contract with the National Park Service

A request for a filming or photography permit may be denied if:

  • The requested activity represents a potential for an adverse impact on the parks natural, cultural, wilderness or recreational resources or the visitor experience, or poses health or safety risks
  • The requirements for supervising the project exceed the staffing capacity of the affected park
  • The applicant fails to obtain insurance/bonding, or to agree to pay assessed cost recovery
  • The request includes entry into areas closed to the visiting public or activities not permitted to the average park visitor

How to Apply

Complete Form 10-932 [27k PDF File] and return it to the address on the form with a check for $100.00 made payable to the National Park Service. This non-refundable processing charge covers up to two hours of documented staff time for permit negotiation, preparation and processing. It is not a guarantee that you will be issued a film permit.

In addition, we are required to recover additional costs for time spent beyond the first two hours at a cost recovery rate of $50.00 per hour, assessed in fifteen minute increments. Work related to the permit requiring the use of off-duty personnel will be billed at a minimum two hour call-back rate of $100.00. Finally, permit compliance monitoring by a park ranger is required for many filming projects. The cost for this is $50.00 per hour. In compliance with the requirements of the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996, the applicant must submit his or her Social Security number or Federal Tax ID number when completing the permit application.


Below is the current location fee schedule for commercial photography and filming:

Number of People Motion Picture and Video Commercial Still Photography
1 to 2 (camera & tripod only) $0 $0
3 to 10 $150/day $50/day
11 to 30 $250/day $150/day
31 to 49 $500/day $250/day
Over 50 $750/day $250/day

Processing Time

Please allow at least two weeks for permit processing. If the permit request is approved, restrictions and conditions will be stipulated in the permit. Permit activities may be restricted according to seasonal conditions and visitation levels.We require that all relevant details and changes regarding permitted activities be confirmed at least 72 hours prior to the activation of the permit. Prior to issuance of the permit, we must be in possession of the following items:

  • Original copy of your insurance certificate
  • Completed application
  • Permit processing charge and the bond.

You will need to secure and sign your film permit in person prior to initiating any activity in the park.


Commercial general liability insurance is required for most projects in the following amounts:

  • $300,000.00 for simple still photography
  • $1,000,000.00 minimum for electronic media and commercial motion photography
  • $3,000,000.00 minimum for special activities (feature films, elaborate stunts, etc.)

The United States Government must be named as additionally insured.


A bond may be required in the form of cash, cashiers check or similar negotiable currency. All or a portion of the bond may be retained to pay for the costs of site rehabilitation, damage to park property/resources and/or unpaid chargers associated with the permit. The balance will be returned upon the completion of filming activities and payment of all outstanding bills.

Closures & Traffic Control

If your plans include road closures within the park, arrangements for traffic control must be made with local or state law enforcement agencies. You will be billed by these agencies for officer overtime. The contact number for these agencies is (435) 259-8115.

Location Assistance

The Canyonlands Natural History Association may be contacted at (435) 259-6003 for publications about the parks in the area.

Backcountry Regulations

The following regulations appear on all backcountry permits issued by Canyonlands:

  1. Permits are required for all overnight trips in the backcountry.
  2. For human waste disposal, use vault toilets where provided. Portable toilets are required for all visitors using designated campsites in the Maze District and at the New Bates Wilson site in the Needles. Backpackers should dig a 4” to 6” deep “cat hole,” at least 300 feet from water sources and campsites. Pack out toilet paper.
  3. All wood fires are prohibited. Charcoal fires are allowed at designated vehicle campsites. Visitors must use a fire pan and remove unburned charcoal and fire debris.
  4. Pets, weapons and littering are prohibited. Pack out all garbage.
  5. Disturbing, entering or camping within 300 feet of an archeological or historical site is prohibited. Collecting artifacts is prohibited.
  6. At-large camping is prohibited within one mile of a road or outside the area for which a permit is issued.
  7. Camping within 300 feet, or use of soap within 100 feet, of a water source is prohibited. River corridor camping is excluded from this regulation.
  8. Camping outside the established campsite boundary at a designated campsite is prohibited.
  9. Disturbing or collecting natural features is prohibited.
  10. Hunting, feeding or disturbing wildlife is prohibited.
  11. Possession or operation of a bicycle or motor vehicle off a designated road is prohibited. ATVs are not permitted.


Marriage ceremonies are permitted within many areas of the Southeast Utah Group of National Parks. In general the following conditions apply for wedding ceremonies:

  1. The number of vehicles may be limited to reduce parking problems.
  2. Entrance fees must be paid by all attendees.
  3. The number of participants may be limited to 15 to 20 persons, depending on the selected location.
  4. The duration of the ceremony is usually limited to 20 minutes.
  5. No area shall be closed to the general public during the ceremony. Exclusive use of an area is not permitted.
  6. Areas normally closed to the public cannot be used, and certain sensitive resource zones (as identified by the park's superintendent) cannot be used.
  7. Music accompanying the event is limited to unamplified musical instruments.
  8. Travel to and from the site must be via established trails and roads. Post-event activities, such as receptions, shall take place in designated picnic areas or an arranged staging area.
  9. The use of rice or any other non-native plant material is prohibited.
  10. An approved, signed copy of the permit must be in your possession during the ceremony.

Other stipulations may be added depending on the specific nature of your request.

How to Apply

Complete Form 10-930 [14k PDF File] and return it to the address on the form with a check for $50.00 made payable to the National Park Service. Please allow at least four days for processing.

Area Information

For information about planning a wedding in the Moab area (licenses, reception facilities, etc.) please visit the Grand County Travel Council's website: