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Special Use Permits Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The following are some frequently asked questions about the City of Boulder Special Use Permits for Open Space and Mountain Parks. If your question isn’t answered here, please don't hesitate to call us!

Why does OSMP require special use permits?

The Special Use Permit Program manages group activities on Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) lands that are part of a curricular school activity or if no fee is charged to participate in the group. OSMP has designed the program to help minimize impacts to other visitors and natural, agricultural and cultural resources.

Is a special use permit required for all groups on OSMP land?

Special use permits are required for all groups with 25 or more people on OSMP land. School groups may get an exception for groups with 25 to 49 participants, but must notify OSMP at least two weeks before the trip and receive a permission letter.

Do I need a special use permit to reserve a shelter or the Sunrise Amphitheater on Flagstaff Mountain?

No. You will need to make a facility reservation.

What if I want to get married on OSMP land other than the facilities on Flagstaff Mountain?

Events such as weddings are allowed at several OSMP facilities by reservation. Weddings are not typically allowed on OSMP lands outside of the facilities due to the potential impacts of trampling vegetation and disturbing wildlife that occur where large groups of people congregate.

How and where do I apply for a special use permit?

Fill out the Special Use Permit Application completely and submit the form as soon as you can with your trip dates and details so that OSMP has sufficient time to review and approve the permit.

Can I apply for more than one trip at once?

Yes. You may apply for as many dates as you want within one calendar year per application. Detailed information will be required for each trip.

What if my trip date changes or it rains or we reschedule for any reason?

Please call or send an email to the permit administrator (see contact information in the brown box) as soon as you know your date will change so OSMP can work with you to select another date that does not conflict with other groups or circumstances.

How much does a special use permit cost?

There is no charge for a special use permit. There is a $100 damage deposit that OSMP may decide to waive, depending on the permit application. Permittees are responsible for any damage incurred by the group activity.

How long will it take to receive my permit?

It will take at least 14 days to process and review your complete application. If your trip is fewer than 14 days from when we receive your application, OSMP will try to work with you, but there is no guarantee that your permit will be approved in time for your trip.

How long is a Special Use Permit Valid?

It is valid for the dates specified on the permit. If you have different dates or additional dates, please contact the permit administrator.

How will high use areas be administered?

Trips into high use areas will generally be approved on a first come, first served basis. The appropriateness of the site for the requested activity will be taken into consideration.

Can I renew my current special use permit for next year?

Yes. You will be able to renew your permit for the next calendar year as long as you remain in good standing with OSMP. Detailed information will be required for each planned trip.

What do I need to do when I receive my permit?

Bring the permit or a copy of your permit with you on each trip.

Am I required to carry insurance?

If your event has a high-risk activity or has the potential to cause environmental damage, you may be required to submit proof of insurance coverage.

If other people are using the space my group requested to use, may we ask them to leave?

No. The permit does not grant an exclusive use privilege. Permitees shall ensure that the rights and privileges of other visitors are recognized and met.

What activities are not allowed on OSMP, even with a special use permit?

  • No concerts or amplified events
  • No fundraising without a city sponsor
  • No organized competitive sporting events
  • No motorized vehicular access or use
  • No organized events requiring off-trail use or special facilities not consistent with the purposes of the area
  • No sale or dispensing of alcohol (Flagstaff Mountain facility rentals may allow an alcohol permit to City of Boulder residents for wine or beer.)
  • No use/event which violates city, county, state or federal law

How do I know if I need a commercial use permit or a special use permit?

You are considered a commercial use operator if you charge a fee for a service that brings people or dogs to OSMP lands or facilities. A fee can be a charge, purchase of goods or services, or a required donation for a service or as a condition of participation. Commercial operators include for-profits and non-profits.

If your group is part of a curricular school activity or does not charge a fee to participants, you may need a special use permit.
Examples include: group hikes, rides and picnics, school field trips, family reunions and weddings.

Examples of groups that do not require a special use permit are:
Businesses or organizations that require a commercial use permit;
Groups on an officially led OSMP interpretive hike (OSMP staff or volunteer led).

Will my group need an off-trail permit?

If your group will be traveling off of a designated trail in a Habitat Conservation Area (HCA) pdf, you will need to obtain an off-trail permit along with a special use permit. Off-trail permit group size is limited to 16 or fewer participants.

Can I flag my route or attach balloons or signs to trees or regulation boards?

No. You may not attach signs, balloons or flags to any tree or structure. You may not flag routes or leave any flagging substance on trails.