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Natural Areas Permits#

Types of Permits#

A group of students in a natural area

A Special Use Permit is required for a variety of activities that would normally violate a natural area regulation or city code. The Natural Areas Department may permit activities that allow for a safe and enjoyable experience while minimizing impacts to natural resources and visitors. Learn more in the Special Use Policy. There is no charge for Special Use Permits. 

Apply for a Special Use permit for the following activities: 

  • Groups of 15 or more persons, including organized school activities and group athletic activities 
  • Off-trail use at a natural area with an on-trail only designation 
  • After hours visits 
  • Removing, collecting, or depositing anything from or in a natural area 
  • Filming for educational, non-commercial purposes that supports the Natural Areas conservation mission
  • Access across natural areas for hunting on adjacent public lands. Only applies to spring season turkey hunting access at Bobcat Ridge Natural Area when the Bar D road/FS Rd 153 is closed and all hunting seasons at Gateway Natural Area 

Please do not apply for a permit for the following activities as they will not be permitted:  

  • Concerts or amplified sound 
  • Organized competitive sporting events on soft surface trails 
  • Motorized vehicular access or use
  • Alcohol or smoking in natural areas 

Apply for a Special Use Permit

Group of 30 people, each wearing helmets and personal floatation devices, 2 blue rafts are on the left, river at top of image

For-profit or business activities in Natural Areas sites or facilities require a Commercial Use Permit. This means fees or donations are charged by an entity other than the City, or the natural area or facility is used for marketing or promoting a commercial entity. There is a charge for Commercial Use Permits depending on the number of visitor days as detailed in the Commercial Use Policy.

Apply for a Commercial Use Permit

Two individuals wearing green shirts and holding clipboards observing flowers

Research Permits are for groups or individuals seeking to do long-term or short-term research in City of Fort Collins natural areas to obtain data or research information. Instructional courses or workshops that include a research component should apply for a Special Use Permit.

Research Permit applications are reviewed twice a year. The deadlines are the second Friday in February and the second Friday in August. Applications are accepted year-round and held until the next deadline. Applicants will be provided notice of acceptance/denial within 15 business days following the application deadline. There is no charge for Research Permits. 

Application Tips 

  • Include the required documents which can include a research summary, maps indicating access points and research area, vehicles, persons included in the permit, dates and times of research, and timeframe for when data would be available. 
  • If you were granted a research permit previously and have not submitted your results and/or report, your application will be denied. If your research vests were not returned, your application will be denied. 

Apply for a Research Permit

Permit FAQs#

If your permit is denied, the reasons will be explained in the denial email. Some common denial reasons: 

  • Your activity is not conducive to the Natural Areas Department’s conservation mission or vision.  
  • Negative impacts to the natural area or the visitor experience. 
  • You have been issued a citation or summons for violation of a Natural Areas Department rule or regulation.   
  • Scheduling conflicts at the site you want to visit. 
  • You applied for a special use or commercial use permit for a weekend date at a site that receives high visitation. These sites include Pineridge, Maxwell, Reservoir Ridge, Coyote Ridge, Bobcat Ridge, Gateway, Arapaho Bend, and Riverbend Ponds natural areas.  Permits are not granted at Gateway Natural Area on weekends between Labor Day and Memorial Day.
  • Your activity causes the natural area to be closed to other visitors. 
  • An incomplete permit application form. 
  • The permit application is not submitted 15 days prior to the activity. Fifteen business days are needed for permit review. 

No, applications for activities that will close the natural area to other visitors will not be granted. If your permit application is approved, it will not grant exclusive access. 

You will be required to park in an established parking area unless there are specific notations in your permit that allows a variation. Permits do not guarantee parking availability.