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Special Use Permits

COVID Terms & Conditions:

  • Abide by maximum group size limits at each facility and maintain 6 feet of distance from others outside of your household.
  • While face covering requirements are no longer in place, it is still recommended that visitors wear face coverings when it’s not possible to maintain 6 feet of social distance, such as passing others on a narrow trail or at bathrooms.
  • Stationary activity and lingering should not occur outside of designated staging areas. Make sure to maintain 6 feet of distance from other groups.
  • OSMP strongly recommends that everyone takes extra caution in regard to using PPE (i.e. wear gloves and use hand sanitizer).
  • All visitors should take extra precaution when using the restrooms and outhouses on OSMP lands. Though OSMP staff go to extra effort to provide safe, sanitary facilities, it is wise to bring extra sanitizing supplies or to plan ahead to not use them.
  • OSMP also strongly recommends traveling separately as much as possible i.e. carpooling only with members of the same household.

Unsure of which permit you might need? Answer a few questions in the guide to find out if you need a Commercial Use, Special Use and/or Film Permit. Please note: weddings, ceremonies, elopements and other stationary events are only permitted to occur at designated shelters and facilities on Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) lands. 

Do I need a permit?



What is the Special Use Permit Program?

The Special Use Permit Program manages non-commercial group activities on Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) lands. OSMP has designed the program to help minimize impacts to natural, agricultural and cultural resources, and preserve the quality of the visitor experience.

Special use permits are required by the Boulder Revised Code section 8-8-8:

  • No person shall organize, promote, or stage a noncommercial event intended for or which can reasonably be expected to draw an attendance of twenty-five or more participants and spectators on any open space and mountain parks property without first obtaining a permit from the city manager under this section.
  • No person who has obtained a permit from the city manager under this section shall organize, promote, or stage a noncommercial event intended for or which can reasonably be expected to draw an attendance of twenty-five or more participants and spectators on any open space and mountain parks property without having the permit in their possession at all times during the event.

Who needs a special use permit?

Any organizer of a passive recreational group activity that has the potential to attract 25 or more participants or spectators will require a special use permit. 

Special use permits will be required for:

  • Any passive recreational group activity that has the potential to attract 25 or more participants or spectators;
  • Any event that may require an exemption from any existing policies or regulations, regardless of group size;
  • School activities not requiring a commercial use permit will need a permit for groups with 25 or more participants;
  • Some examples of special uses include group hikes, rides or picnics.
  • Permits are designed to:
    • Approve conditions for special uses to bring impacts within an acceptable level;
    • Direct special uses to alternate sites that can adequately handle the impacts of the activity;
    • Disallow special uses that create unacceptable impact.

What will not be permitted with a special use permit?

  • Concerts or amplified events
  • Fundraising events without a city sponsor
  • Organized recreational sporting events; competitive events are prohibited on OSMP
  • Commercial uses, charging fees or conducting a profit-making event (you may apply for a commercial use permit.)
  • Any motorized vehicular access or use
  • Organized events requiring off-trail use or special facilities that are inconsistent with the purposes of the area
  • Sale or dispensation of alcohol
  • Any use or event that violates city, county or state law

Application information

  • Read and agree to the special use terms and conditions.
  • Fill out this application thoroughly as soon as you begin to plan a trip to OSMP.
  • You are required to submit your application at least 14 days before the requested trip. OSMP staff will work with trip organizers who apply fewer than 14 days before the planned trip, but there is no guarantee that the permit will be issued in time for the trip.
  • Toilet and parking facilities must be adequate for the proposed trip.

Special use guidelines

  • Fundraisers are prohibited unless there is a city sponsor. A city sponsor is a full-time permanent city employee who serves as a representative for the trip. The sponsor must pledge that the program being supported by the fundraiser is aligned with a city program’s purpose and objectives. The sponsor is required to be familiar with the conditions of the permit and be able to report back to OSMP staff with summary information about the trip, including the number of participants, the start time, end time and any other pertinent information.
  • Most OSMP trailheads do not accommodate full-sized busses or school busses. Boulder County restricts vehicles that are more than 30 feet long from driving up Flagstaff Mountain.
  • We encourage you to be trained in and teach Leave No Trace principles by taking an awareness workshop offered through Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics.
  • This permit application is only for permission to use the City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks lands. OSMP properties are surrounded by land managed by other departments or agencies. If activities associated with this trip include land managed by other agencies, those agencies should be contacted for review and approval.
  • If you plan to travel off of a designated trail in a Habitat Conservation Area, you will need to obtain an off-trail permit. The group size limit for off-trail permits is 16 people.

Special use terms and conditions

OSMP may make modifications to this list based on your permit application.

  1. Stay on the listed designated trails and do not obstruct or block trails or parking areas.
  2. Mitigate on-trail conflict, unpleasant, or irritating situations by breaking into groups with 16 or fewer participants upon entering OSMP lands, and by practicing good trail etiquette including yielding to others while staying on the trail and not stepping on vegetation.
  3. Trail etiquette should be stressed throughout the trip.
  4. Dogs must remain on-leash.
  5. Trip organizers must require participants to sign up for the trip in advance in order to effectively limit the number of participants. Trip organizers shall not publish specific details about start time and location in any flyers or advertisements notifying the trip unless the notice refers to the requirement of reservations for attending the trip.
  6. No sales or solicitation for sales is to be conducted on OSMP property.
  7. Group size cannot exceed what has been approved by OSMP.
  8. If your group has 50 or more participants, comply with the parking, trash and toilet plan you provided.
  9. If damages occur due to the trip, all damages will be billed to the trip organizer.
  10. Trip representatives must carry their permit or a copy of it and show it to staff if requested.
  11. Permits may be immediately suspended, revoked, or modified for any reason.
  12. OSMP lands will generally remain available on a first-come-first-served basis for all visitors.
  13. Permits do not grant exclusive use of site or parking facilities. Permitees shall ensure that the rights and privileges of other visitors are recognized and met.
  14. The permit holder shall indemnify, defend, and hold harmless the City of Boulder and its agency employees for losses, damages, or judgments and expenses on accidents.
  15. No improvements or trail alterations of any kind, temporary or permanent, are authorized without written permission from OSMP. No facility, property or natural feature may be destroyed, defaced, removed or disturbed.
  16. No signs advertising the event are permitted.
  17. In the event of rain or snow within 48 hours of the trip, the trip may have to be rescheduled or cancelled.
  18. The minimum security deposit is $100, which might be waived.
  19. Security deposits will be returned after the trip depending on the extent of damages incurred.
  20. Organizers are responsible for providing safety and medical coverage for the trip.
  21. Permit holders shall comply with all OSMP rules and regulations.