If you wish to camp anywhere in the park, other than in developed campgrounds on the North Rim, South Rim, or Tuweep, 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:
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 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.
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 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 office in St. George, Utah have a similar arrangements for issuing remote site permits.
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
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 is prohibited.
- 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.
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
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.
Having difficulties opening the Backcountry Permit Request Form? You must have Adobe Reader version 7 or newer (as of Jan 2012 the current version of Adobe Reader is 10). 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)
Did You Know?
The impacts caused by tamarisk within the Grand Canyon are well documented. These prolific non-native shrubs displace native vegetation and animals, alter soil salinity, and increase fire frequency. What is park management doing about this exotic plant? More...