• View of Grand Canyon National Park at sunset from the South Rim

    Grand Canyon

    National Park Arizona

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  • Expect Isolated Afternoon and Evening Thunderstorms Through the Weekend

    Monsoonal weather patterns have moved into the Grand Canyon area decreasing fire danger. As a result, on Tuesday, July 8 at 8 a.m. fire managers lifted fire restrictions within Grand Canyon National Park. More »

  • Two Bats Collected in the Park Have Tested Positive for Rabies

    One on the North Kaibab Trail and the other at Tusayan Ruin/Museum. Any persons having physical contact with bats in Grand Canyon National Park, please call 928-638-7779. Rabies can be prevented if appropriate medical care is given following an exposure. More »

Backcountry Permit

If you wish to camp anywhere in the park, other than in developed campgrounds on the North Rim or the South Rim, you must obtain a permit from the Backcountry Information Center.

 
Grand Canyon Backcountry Information Center
 

A backcountry permit is required for:

  • overnight camping outside of Mather Campground, Desert View Campground, and North Rim Campground
  • overnight camping in all sites in Tuweep Campground beginning September 1, 2014 (reservable starting May 1, 2014)
  • overnight camping anywhere on the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park between Nov 1 - May 14 (includes ski-camping)
  • off-river camping by river trip participants
  • overnight camping with private stock outside of Mather Campground or outside of North Rim Campground (May 15 – Oct 31)
  • packrafting, other than that which occurs under a river permit

A backcountry permit is NOT required for:

  • day hikes (this includes nighttime "day" hikes)
  • day stock rides
  • overnight camping at Mather Campground and Desert View Campground (campground reservations for Mather Campground at www.recreation.gov)
  • overnight camping at North Rim Campground between May 15 – Oct 31 (campground reservations at www.recreation.gov)
  • overnight camping with private stock at Mather Campground or (May 15 – Oct 31) North Rim Campground
  • overnight stays at the dormitories or cabins at Phantom Ranch (advanced reservations with Grand Canyon National Park Lodges required)
 
Grand Canyon Backcountry Information Center
 
Visitor obtaining a permit at the Grand Canyon Backcountry Information Center

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.

Reservations for overnight tent or RV camping in developed use areas on the canyon rims (Mather, Desert View, North Rim) are not obtained through the Backcountry Information Center. The Backcountry Information Center does not make reservations for river trips, mule trips, Phantom Ranch lodging, or trips into the canyon on the Havasupai Reservation.

To obtain additional information or reservations for Phantom Ranch lodging, please contact Xanterra Parks and Resorts at 303-297-2757 or 888-297-2757 (www.grandcanyonlodges.com). For hikes into Havasu Canyon contact Havasupai Tourism Enterprise at 928-448-2141 or 928-448-2121 (www.havasupai-nsn.gov/tourism.html).

 
Hike Smart at Grand Canyon

HIKE SMART - For a safe and enjoyable hike prepare for your hike before you arrive:

 

Rules and Regulations

Visit the Backcountry Rules and Regulations webpage to review the regulations you are expected to follow if issued a Grand Canyon backcountry permit.

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. 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 with a credit card. 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.


How to Apply

Obtain and fill out the Backcountry Permit Request Form:

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The Grand Canyon Association sells maps and guides on hiking in Grand Canyon National Park.

Do not forget to include the following with your permit request:

  1. Trip leader's name, address, and telephone number.
  2. Credit card number, expiration date, signature, date signed, and largest amount you authorize the National Park Service to charge.
  3. Number of people and/or stock in the group (see Private Stock).
  4. License plate numbers of any cars to be left at the trailhead.
  5. Proposed night-by-night itinerary showing use area codes and dates for each night
  6. Organization name if applicable (see Group Size and Commercial Use below).
  7. Alternative proposed itineraries.

Submit the permit request form in one of the following ways:

  1. Fax request to the Backcountry Information Center, 928-638-2125.
    NOTE: You can send a fax 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year - HOWEVER the first day of every month we receive many faxes and the number may be busy.
  2. Mail request to Grand Canyon National Park, Permits Office, 1824 S. Thompson St., Suite 201, Flagstaff AZ, 86001
  3. Bring request to the Backcountry Information Center, located inside the park on both the South Rim and the North Rim. The South Rim Backcountry Information Center is open daily, year round, for walk-in visitors from 8 am to noon and 1-5 pm Mountain Standard Time. The North Rim Backcountry Information Center (located in the administrative building) is open daily mid-May to mid-October for walk-in visitors from 8 am to noon and 1-5 pm Mountain Standard Time.
Permit requests are not accepted by telephone or by email.


When to Apply

The furthest in advance permit requests are accepted and considered by the Backcountry Information Center is the first of the month, four months prior to the proposed start month.

To obtain a backcountry permit for the dates and use areas/campsites of your choice, ensure your request arrives at the Backcountry Information Center on the first day it will be accepted (but not before). Faxing is strongly recommended. Popular use areas/campsites fill up the first week of the first month they become available for permit requests.

Only written requests are accepted during the fourth-month-out. Written requests may be submitted by fax, by letter, or by hand delivery. Regardless of how they are submitted, written requests will be considered based on the date on which they are received, and all of the requests received by 5:00 p.m. on the first day of the fourth-month-out will be placed in random order by computer and considered in that new order before the next day's requests receive consideration.

Verbal in-person permit requests are only considered for start dates one to three months out.

For hike dates during the month of: Submit written permit requests on or after: In-person verbal requests accepted on or after:
January September 1 October 1
February October 1 November 1
March November 1 December 1
April December 1 January 1
May January 1 February 1
June February 1 March 1
July March 1 April 1
August April 1 May 1
September May 1 June 1
October June 1 July 1
November July 1 August 1
December August 1 September 1

Mailed requests must be postmarked no earlier than than the date indicated on the chart. Faxed requests must not be received earlier than the date indicated on the chart above.

Operational changes were made on February 1, 2010 to backcountry permitting procedures. Additional information can be found at www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/permit_change.htm


Permit Responses

Permit requests are responded to via U.S. Mail 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.


Last Minute Permit for Corridor Campgrounds

A limited number of last minute walk-up permits are available at the South Rim and/or North Rim Backcountry Information Center for Corridor Campgrounds (Indian Garden, Bright Angel, and Cottonwood Campgrounds). These permits are issued in person only, are for one or two consecutive nights, and cannot be purchased more than one day prior to the start of a hike.

Last minute permits are issued by the Backcountry Information Center, located inside the park on both the South Rim and the North Rim. The South Rim Backcountry Information Center is open daily, year round, for walk-in visitors from 8 am to noon and 1-5 pm Mountain Standard Time. The North Rim Backcountry Information Center (located in the administrative building) is open daily mid-May to mid-October for walk-in visitors from 8 am to noon and 1-5 pm Mountain Standard Time.


Waitlist

You can stop by the Backcountry Information Center at any time during open hours and request a waitlist number. This number is valid for the following morning and will be used to determine priority of service. At 8:00 a.m. Backcountry Information Center staff will call waitlist numbers. When your turn comes you can request a permit, exchange your number for a new waitlist number good for the following day, or simply ask questions. You may participate in the waitlist for as many consecutive days as is convenient.

Waitlist numbers are issued by the Backcountry Information Center, located inside the park on both the South Rim and the North Rim. The South Rim Backcountry Information Center is open daily, year round, for walk-in visitors from 8 am to noon and 1-5 pm Mountain Standard Time. The North Rim Backcountry Information Center (located in the administrative building) is open daily mid-May to mid-October for walk-in visitors from 8 am to noon and 1-5 pm Mountain Standard Time.

Following is an example showing how the waitlist can be used to secure a lower number for the next day and increase your chances of obtaining your desired permit. This is an example of how the process works in the busy season. It's rare to wait longer than this scenario, and it can be faster than this. Backcountry Information Center staff can give you a much clearer picture of how long the potential wait time will be once you arrive. During the busy season it is rare to get a last minute permit the same day.

Last minute permit and waitlist example:

  • Day 1, Tuesday: You come to the Backcountry Information Center at 11 a.m. and request a permit for Bright Angel on Wednesday night and Indian Garden on Thursday night. No permits are available. You join the waitlist for the next day and are assigned #10.
  • Day 2, Wednesday: You return at 7:59 a.m. Unfortunately by the time Backcountry Information Center staff reaches your waitlist number, all Corridor Campground permits have been assigned. You exchange today's waitlist number for tomorrow's waitlist number; you are #2.
  • Day 3, Thursday: You return at 7:59 a.m. You obtain a permit for Bright Angel on Friday night and Indian Garden on Saturday night, hiking out Sunday morning.

Use Areas

The backcountry is divided into "use areas". Each use area has an overnight capacity based upon the size of the area, the number of suitable and available campsites, its ecological sensitivity, 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 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 to February 28, up to four nights will be allowed in popular Corridor campgrounds (Indian Garden, Bright Angel, Cottonwood). Designated campsites include the Corridor (Indian Garden, Bright Angel, Cottonwood), Hermit, Hermit Rapids, Monument, Granite Rapids, Cedar Spring, Salt, Horn, Horseshoe Mesa, South Bass Trailhead areas (SE1, SE2, SE3), Cape Final, Point Sublime, Swamp Point, Fire Point, Tapeats, and Deer Creek Use Areas.

Outside the use areas named above, "at-large" camping is permitted, meaning that camps are not limited to designated sites.

Trips are limited to a maximum of seven nights per use area; however, overall trip lengths are not limited.


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 a Commercial Use Authorization. Contact the park's Concession Management Office at (928) 638-7707 for further information or visit www.nps.gov/grca/parkmgmt/businesswithpark.htm


North Rim Winter Use

Winter use guidelines come into affect after the North Rim receives adequate snowfall to close Highway 67 or on Dec 1st, whichever comes first. Once in effect, winter use guidelines apply until mid-May, when the North Rim reopens for the season.

During the winter season 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. A permit can be obtained in advance at the Backcountry Information Center.

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.


Remote Sites

With a valid credit card, last minute permits may sometimes be obtained from rangers on duty at the Meadview or 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.

Visitors may also be able to obtain a walk-up permit for western areas of the park, no more than six days in advance and based on availability, by visiting Pipe Springs National Monument in Fredonia, AZ or at the St. George Public Lands Visitor Center in St. George, UT.


Backcountry Use Statistics

Backcountry use statistics (from overnight backcountry permits) can be found here. The statistics include:

  • use trends (1998-2009) by year and month
  • backcountry use breakdown by country and state
  • permits issued to Grand Canyon Field Institute, Boy Scouts, and CUAs
  • backcountry use by use area
 

Leave No Trace

Hiking the Corridor? Be sure to visit the Trail Courtesy Practices That Leave No Trace webpage.

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:

  1. Be well prepared. Know the route and area in which you are planning to hike.
  2. Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is prohibited.
  3. Stay on main trails; do not shortcut switchbacks.
  4. Pack out what you bring in. This includes used toilet paper and all trash.
  5. Fires are prohibited below the rim. Do not burn toilet paper -pack it out!
  6. Bury solid human waste at least 200' from water in a shallow cat hole 4-6" deep and 4-6" in diameter.
  7. To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200' away from creeks and potholes. Scatter strained dish water.
  8. Let nature's sounds prevail. Keep loud voices and noises to a minimum.
  9. 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.
Video: Leave No Trace
 
 

Backcountry Information Center

The South Rim Backcountry Information Center is open daily for walk-in visitors from 8 am to noon and 1-5 pm Mountain Standard Time. The North Rim Backcountry Information Center is open daily mid-May to October 31 for walk-in visitors from 8 am to noon and 1-5 pm (Mountain Standard Time).

Backcountry Information Center staff answer information telephone inquiries at 928-638-7875 between 1 pm and 5 pm Monday through Friday, except on federal holidays. This telephone number is for information only.

Email the Backcountry Information Center.

FAX number for permits is 928-638-2125
you can send a fax 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year - HOWEVER the first day of every month we receive many faxes and the number may be busy.

Mailing address is:
Grand Canyon National Park
Permits Office
1824 S. Thompson St., Suite 201
Flagstaff AZ, 86001

Backcountry Permit Request Form (PDF file) NOTE: This is a printable form only. You must print the form, fill it out, and then fax/mail it directly to the Backcountry Information Center. We recommend you read the seasonal update before submitting your permit request.

PDF Form Issues? If you are using a web browser to view and use our PDF forms, you may experience issues where the PDF does not function correctly. Some web browsers do not automatically open PDFs using the Acrobat Reader application. Using a different PDF viewer in a web browser can cause the form to malfunction.To fix issues with our PDF forms you have two options. 1. You can select the Acrobat Reader plug-in for your browser's default application for viewing PDFs. Or 2. You can right click and save the PDF document to your desktop and then open it with the Adobe Reader application. Get the newest version of the free Adobe Reader.

Trip Planner (2mb PDF file): The information in this newspaper can assist you in obtaining a backcountry use permit.

Video: Hiking Grand Canyon, Prepare for Backpacking. This video is designed to help you plan for and enjoy your hike into the canyon's harsh, yet fragile, environment.

Video: 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.

Hike Smart: Be sure and listen to the Hike Smart Podcasts! (transcripts available)

The Grand Canyon Association sells maps and guides on hiking in Grand Canyon National Park.

Did You Know?

WHITEWATER RAFTING

There are different river trip opportunities through Grand Canyon National Park, including professionally guided raft trips, available to the public and often reserved a year or two in advance; and self-guided, or "private" river trips, made available to the public through a weighted lottery. More...