Grand Canyon National Park Backcountry Travelers

A backcountry permit is required for all overnight use of the backcountry including overnight hiking, overnight horseback riding, overnight cross-country ski trips, off-river overnight hikes by river trip members, and overnight camping at rim sites other than developed campgrounds. A backcountry permit is not required for overnight stays at the dormitories or cabins at Phantom Ranch.

Backcountry travelers must have their permit in their possession while in the backcountry. Once a camp is established, the permit must be attached to a pack, tent, or other equipment in plain view so it can be easily checked by rangers.

Permits are valid only for the trip leader, itinerary, number of people, and dates specified on the permit. Permits for all overnight backcountry use must be obtained through the Backcountry Information Center at Grand Canyon National Park.

A permit is not required for day hiking or day horseback riding in the canyon. Livestock use is limited to Corridor Trails only. Entry and/or exploration of any caves and mines must be approved in advance through Grand Canyon National Park.

Leave no trace

All Grand Canyon backcountry users are asked to follow Leave No Trace principles. The goal is to have minimum human impact on the canyon as a result of your trip. Important Leave No Trace principles at Grand Canyon include: Be well prepared. Know the route and area in which you are planning to hike. Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site should not be necessary. Stay on main trails; do not shortcut switchbacks. Pack out what you bring in. This includes used toilet paper and all trash. Fires are prohibited below the rim. Do not burn toilet paper pack it out! Bury solid human waste at least 200' from water in a shallow cat hole 4-6 deep and 4-6 in diameter. To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200' away from creeks and potholes. Scatter strained dish water. Let nature's sounds prevail. Keep loud voices and noises to a minimum. Leave what you find. This is particularly important when it comes to cultural resources of any kind, including artifacts and archaeological remains. Leave them as you find them.

Availability of Permits

The demand for permits far exceeds the use limits established to protect the canyon and the quality of the user's backpacking experience. Advance reservations are strongly recommended. Below are suggestions for maximizing your chances of obtaining a permit.

When to Apply

The earliest you can apply for a permit is the first of the month, four months prior to the proposed start month (see table below). Applying as soon as allowed will improve your chances of obtaining an overnight backcountry use permit for the dates and use areas of your choice.

The Backcountry Information Center can receive over 800 permit requests in a day, and permits are processed in order received. We need time to work on your request!

Requests processed less than three weeks before the start date could be denied when additional processing time is needed to correct information and/or obtain additional information. Please allow us three to six weeks to process requests.

Fees

There is a non-refundable fee of $10 per permit plus $5 per person per night camped below the rim and $5 per group per night camped above the rim. Permit cancellations will incur a $10 cancellation fee. All fees paid to the Backcountry Office continue to be non-refundable. Frequent users may wish to purchase a one-year Frequent Hiker membership for $25 that waives the initial $10 fee for each permit obtained by the trip leader for twelve months from the date of purchase.

When sending in a permit request, the preferred method of payment is by Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express, or Diners Club. Please be sure to indicate the maximum amount you authorize the Backcountry Information Center to charge so that your longest trip alternative can be considered. Valid personal checks and money orders against a United States bank are also accepted when made out for the correct amount. Please do not send cash in the mail. Permit holders will be responsible for paying park entrance fees upon arrival .

South Bass Trail and Pasture Wash Trail visitors may be charged an additional fee by the tribe for crossing the Havasupai Indian Reservation.

Responses to Requests for Permits

All written requests are responded to through U.S. Mail - never by fax or e-mail . Due to the volume of requests received, the park cannot confirm receipt of requests until they have been fully processed. Please allow at least three weeks for processing. When space is available and all fee requirements are met, a permit will be issued and mailed to the trip leader. The permit is valid only for the trip leader named on the permit. Overnight hikers are not permitted to enter the canyon without a valid permit in the trip leader's possession.

If you have been denied a permit through the mail, you may want to consider day hikes or attempt to obtain a last minute, walk-in permit.

Use Areas

Each area has an overnight capacity based upon the size of the area, the number of suitable and available campsites within the area, the ecological sensitivity of the area, its management zoning, and its use history. Use areas range in size from several hundred acres to several thousand acres.

Length of Stay Camping in the Corridor, Hermit, Monument, Horseshoe Mesa, and Tapeats Use Areas is limited to designated campsites or campgrounds only. Camping in these designated campsites or campgrounds is limited to two nights (consecutive or non-consecutive) per campsite or campground per hike. One exception is made to this rule: from November 15-February 28, up to four nights will be allowed in popular corridor campgrounds.

Outside the use areas named above, at-large camping is permitted, meaning that camps are not limited to designated sites. Group Size More permits are available for small groups (1-6 people) than for large groups (7-11 people). Because there are only a few large group sites, limiting the size of your group will increase your chances of obtaining a permit.

Larger groups tend to cause a disproportionately higher amount of damage to the canyon, largely due to the effects of social trailing. For this reason, the park's Backcountry Management Plan does not allow groups larger than eleven people to camp in the same campground or use area.

Regulations stipulate that all permits are void when a group obtains multiple permits for the same campground or use area for the same night . The alternative for these larger groups is to obtain permits for smaller groups and ensure the itineraries for these permits never bring more than one of the permits into the same campground or use area on the same night. No more than four large groups or eight small groups that are affiliated with each other may camp within the backcountry on the same night.Commercial Use In addition to following all normal backcountry permit requirements, commercial organizations must obtain an Incidental Use Permit. Contact the park's Concession Management Office at (928) 638-7713 for further information. North Rim Winter Use During the winter season (approximately late October through mid-May), a Backcountry Permit is required for overnight use of the North Rim from the park's northern boundary to Bright Angel Point on the canyon rim. Winter access is by hiking, snowshoeing, or cross-country skiing only.

Permittees are allowed to camp at-large between the park's north boundary and the North Kaibab trailhead but not at the trailhead itself. Between the North Kaibab trailhead and the Bright Angel Point area, camping is permitted only at the North Rim Campground group campsite.

Human waste may not be buried in the snow in areas that will be in view of summer users. Last Minute Permits People without a permit may be able to obtain one upon their arrival, in person, at the Backcountry Information Center. However, permits are very difficult to obtain during popular seasons.

When demand for campsites exceeds supply, a waiting list procedure is implemented. Participation in this procedure is limited to walk-in visitors only. Obtaining a same-day permit is unlikely; anticipate a 1 to 3 day (or longer) wait.

People may participate in the waiting list for as many consecutive days as are necessary to obtain a permit. However, those on the waiting list must be present at the Backcountry Information Center at 8am Mountain Standard Time each day in order to maintain their position on the waiting list.

The South Rim Backcountry Information Center is open daily for walk-in visitors from 8am-noon and 1-5pm Mountain Standard Time. The North Rim Backcountry Information Center is open mid-May to mid-October for walk-in visitors from 8am-noon and 1-5pm Mountain Standard Time. Remote Sites With a valid credit card, last minute permits may sometimes be obtained from rangers on duty at the Tuweep, Meadview, and Lees Ferry ranger stations for a limited number of use areas in their vicinities. However, these rangers have other patrol responsibilities and may not be available to provide assistance. It is recommended that all trips be planned well in advance through the Backcountry Information Center.

Pipe Spring National Monument near Fredonia, Arizona, and the Bureau of Land Management offices in St. George and Kanab, Utah have a similar arrangement as remote sites.

Vandalism or theft of park cultural or archaeological resources (ruins, projectile points, pottery shards, etc.) is a violation of federal law. If you witness such a violation, please contact the National Park Service Silent Witness program at (928) 638-7767. All information received is confidential.

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