Permitting for your courses seem confusing? Frustrating? CMC is here to help!

Permitting seems like a daunting process and can be hard to understand at times. As tricky as seems, here is some general information to make you more comfortable with the process. If you have additional questions, please reach out to
Mara Coe Mara Coe
February 08, 2024

Why are permits important?

Permits are an important way that CMC takes part in conservation practices and aligns with the U.S Forest Service, as well as state and local land management to responsibly recreate on the lands we love. Permitting supports all of CMC's core values, but especially supports our core value of conservation and stewardship.

When does a course require a permit?

Courses require a permit when instructors charge a fee for their students to be out in the field. If a field day apart of the course is optional and is not required to graduate, you typically do not need a permit. Please refer to the guide to permitting schematic.

What types of permits are available?

There are three seasons of permits that CMC applies for...

  • U.S. Forest Service (USFS)
    • Winter permitting season runs from Nov 1-May 31. Applications are due August 1 for the following calendar year
    • Summer permitting season runs from June 1-Oct 31. Applications are due February 1 for the following calendar year.
    • Priority permits are the only USFS permits available. These permits are guaranteed for CMC to utilize every year.
  • Non-USFS
    • This includes local and state agencies which include Jefferson County Parks and Open space, Boulder Country Mountain Parks and Open Space, Golden Gate Canyon State Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, etc.
    • The season runs all year long, requests are due October 15 for the following calendar year.
    • If you are interested in utilizing a park that has not been previously applied for, please email

Common FAQS

How do I apply for these requests?

Why are there only priority permits available for the winter and summer USFS season?

  • CMC originally was able to apply for both temporary and priority requests. Temporary permits are considered one-off requests. As of 2023, CMC is only allowed to conduct courses under priority permits because we were not using all the allocated priority service days given to us. As a reminder, service days are the amount of students on USFS land per day. Instructors are not included. To read more about service days, please refer to our guide to permitting page.

What happens if my permit request gets denied?

  • The only reason your USFS permit would get denied is if trip leaders apply for more than the allocated service days given to us at a given location. If this is the case, you can request other USFS priority permit locations or a Non-USFS location.
  • For Non-USFS locations, the permit coordinator checks with the land manager before applying to ensure the course will work at the location and gather all the necessary documents. Approval is never ensured, but most of the time these requests are approved.

What certifications are required?

  • USFS
    • Baseline, all instructors need a WFA for USFS locations. USFS also requires an AMGA for each instructor if climbing or mountaineering is involved. If instructors are planning on conducting courses on glaciers or avalanche prone areas, they need AIARE. A combination of all three is sometimes needed.
  • Non-USFS
    • Depends on the location and land management agency. Please email if you would like more information.

What are the different regulations for each land management agency?

What are post use reports and why are they necessary?

Post use reports are necessary because they ensure CMC courses stay in the allotted days or service days given to us for that season.

  • Post use reports are due for both USFS and Non-USFS locations. 
    • USFS 
      • Winter due June 30
      • Summer due November 30
    • Non-USFS

What if the USFS priority permits locations are not suitable for my course because of weather or unfamiliarity with the area? 

This is a relatively common issue and can be frustrating at times. Please work with the permit coordinator to find an alternative USFS priority permit location or a Non-USFS location.

If you need further assistance, please email

Thank you for all your hard work you put into your courses! CMC appreciates your support and time.

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