Special Event Permits

General Special Event Information

An event permit is required in order to conduct a special event on any public land, water, or ice.  A special event permit is also required for a field and retriever meet or trial held on private land.   A special event means either an organized race, tournament, exhibition, demonstration, or other planned event in which an admission fee is charge, prizes are awarded or competition occurs between participants OR a planned event that, due to its nature, potential or actual size, or length, would likely adversely impact the use of the area by the public.

  • All applications must be submitted online.  Access the online system here:  Special Events Permit.
  • Applications must be submitted at least 30 days prior to the special event date.
  • Applications for events that will start in the next calendar year are not accepted until September 1 of the current year.
  • One application form may be submitted for all events of the same type being held at the same location within a nine-day period and will be processed as a single application.
  • A $25 nonrefundable administrative processing fee will be assessed for each application that is submitted.  Some exceptions apply.  Field and Retriever special event applications have a $2 nonrefundable administrative processing fee.
  • Liability insurance is required for special events and must list DNR as an additional insured party.  Unless specifically stated in the application, the amount of coverage shall be determined by the applicant and insurance company.  Some exceptions to this requirement may apply and DNR reserves the right to waive the insurance requirement on a case-by-case basis.
  • Submission of an application does not guarantee issuance of a permit.
  • Permits are not transferable.

Any applicant will be required to establish a user account and log-in through the State of Iowa's Enterprise A & A. This applies for all special events that are authorized through this online system, including state parks, wildlife, fishing, forestry and law enforcement. Organizers who already have a user account can continue to use that account. An e-mail address is a requirement of the online application system. Instruction for creating a user account can be found at creating an account.

State Park Special Event Permit Information

There 11 categories of state park/recreation area event special event applications. Applicants should select the one that best describes the event. If the applicant does not find a category that matches the event, the "state park general" application form should be used.  

  • State Park Equine Events (horse shows, competitive rides, large multi-club rides)
  • State Park Fundraising Events (these events are not associated with a day-use lodge or open shelter rental unless the event activities will go beyond those the actual rental facility)
  • State Park Friends Group Events (events put on by officially recognized state park friends groups)
  • State Park Festivals/Celebrations
  • State Park Fireworks Displays
  • State Park Triathlons/Marathons
  • State Park Rendezvous/Re-enactments
  • State Park Organized Youth Group Events (scouting events, 4-H, cross country meets, etc)
  • State Park Vehicle Show/Cruise/Rally
  • State Park weddings (weddings that are not held in a day-use lodge or open shelter rental unless the event activities will take place on areas beyond the actual rental facility)
  • State Park General (if the event does not fit in any of the categories above)

The following event activities also occur in state parks/recreation areas and are actually authorized by a bureau other than state parks. Therefore, they are not in the list of event applications above that are authorized by the state parks bureau. 

  • Boating -- There is a Boating application and Water/Ice application to cover those types of special events including those held in state parks.
  • Fishing tournaments and clinics -- There is a Fishing Tournament application and a separate Fishing Clinic application that can be used for these events in state parks
  • Dog trials -- There is a Bid Dog Trials application and Other Dog Trials application that are used for these events in state parks.
  • Snowmobile -- There is a Snowmobile application to use for snowmobiling events in state parks.

If you are unsure of which application to use or have questions about holding an event in a state park/recreation area, please contact the park staff located at the park/rec area.