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.
A backcountry permit is required for:
A backcountry permit is NOT required for:
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 - 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.
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.
|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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Organized Group Rim-to-Rim and Extended Day Hike/Run
Any organized, noncommercial, group conducting rim-to-rim and extended day hiking and running, including rim-to-river-to-rim, and rim-to-rim-to-rim in the inner canyon is required to obtain a Special Use Permit from Grand Canyon National Park. The inner canyon is defined as the area below the Tonto Platform (Tipoff and Indian Garden) from the South Rim and below Manzanita Resthouse (Pumphouse Residence) from the North Rim. Any group, regardless of size, which has advertised to the general public, required individuals to sign up prior to participation, or that has an organizer who has been compensated for their services (including subsidized participation in the activity), is required to operate under a Special Use Permit. For more information visit www.nps.gov/grca/parkmgmt/sup.htm
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
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 8 am 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
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)