Overnight Backcountry Permits


Do I need a permit?

If you're planning an overnight trip into the backcountry of Canyonlands National Park or the Orange Cliffs Unit of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, you must have a permit. Canyonlands National Park issues permits for the Orange Cliffs Unit, which shares Canyonlands' western boundary and the same backcountry management plan, permits, and reservation system.

You must have a signed permit in your possession during your entire trip. Permits can either be printed or saved on a mobile device. Digital permits must be readily available to view without cell service.


Must I reserve a permit in advance? How early?

Advance reservations are not require but we strongly recommend it. Overnight permits are very competitive for White Rim trips in spring and fall and Needles backpacking trips in spring. For these activities, we recommend you apply as early as possible. Space is limited. Any campsites and permits not reserved in advance may be made available first-come, first-served at visitor centers.

All backcountry overnight campsites and areas become available on a seasonal basis, four months before the start of the season.

  • Spring permits (March 10 – June 9) open November 10.
  • Summer permits (June 10 – September 9) open February 10.
  • Fall permits (September 10 – December 9) open May 10.
  • Winter permits (December 10 – March 9) open August 10.

Permits will open at 8 am MT.

How do I reserve a permit?

Reservations are available through Recreation.gov. Check out our step by step guide for making your Backcountry Overnight Permit Reservation on Recreation.gov.

NOTE: Your reservation is not your permit. You will receive instructions on where to obtain your permit once your reservation is complete.

If needed, you may also request a reservation by email or phone. Please contact the Backcountry Permit Office at canyres@nps.gov or call 435-259-4351.

I don't have a reservation. Can I get a walk-in permit?

Advanced reservations close 2 days prior to a trip start date. If a campsite remains unreserved, it becomes available for walk-up. You can get the permit in person seven days a week at visitor centers. We issue permits until 2:30 PM MT each day.

Please review the backcountry regulations before applying for a permit.

How much does a permit cost?

There is a non-refundable reservation fee for each permit, whether they're reserved in advance, or in person at a visitor center.

Activity Fee Group Size Limit (Per Permit)
Island in the Sky The Needles The Maze
Backpacking $36 Permit Reservation fee
(includes $6 Recreation.gov fee)
+ $5 per person, per night
7 people 7 people 5 people
Four-Wheel Drive/
Mtn. Bike
$36 Permit Reservation fee
(includes $6 Recreation.gov fee)
+ $5 per person, per night
15 people /
3 vehicles
10 people/
3 vehicles
9 people /
3 vehicles

Vehicle limits include motorcycles and trailers.

You must pay a park entrance fee for Island in the Sky and The Needles at a park entrance station, visitor center, or online via pay.gov. Each vehicle, motorcycle, and individual entering the park by foot or bicycle must pay an entrance fee.


Where can I camp?

Mountain bikers and four-wheel drivers must stay on designated roads and camp in designated sites.

Backpackers in heavily traveled areas, primarily at The Needles, stay in designated campsites. Most backpackers at Island in the Sky or The Maze stay in at-large zones and may choose their own campsites.

Where are the sites and zones?

Each district of the park has its own map of roads and trails which shows campsites and zones.


How long can I stay?

You may have an overnight permit for up to 14 consecutive nights. If you are backpacking, you may stay up to seven consecutive nights in any one site or zone. If you are using the designated vehicle camps, you may stay a maximum of three consecutive nights at a camping area before having to relocate.

How are the road conditions?

For up-to-date road conditions, contact the district visitor centers, road conditions web page, or backcountry reservation office at 435-259-4351. Salt Creek and Horse Canyon are often impassable with flash flooding. Peekaboo campsite reservation holders and day-use permit holders must contact the The Needles Visitor Center, 435-259-4711 the day of your trip or the day before.

What if I need to cancel?

If you are not using a reservation, you must cancel it as soon as possible. This allows other visitors to enjoy the park. Please cancel your reservation on Recreation.gov under your account or email your cancellation to: canyres@nps.gov.

Can I cache supplies in the backcountry?

Adding food, water, or supplies is only allowed with written notification of the district ranger. You may not damage resources, and you must remove all items. Email us for a cache requestion form at: canyres@nps.gov.

Where can I camp prior to my permitted backcountry trip?

There are numerous options for responsible camping prior to your Canyonlands National Park backcountry trip. There are two developed campgrounds inside the park: Needles Campground and Island in the Sky Campground. There are also numerous options outside of the park. Visit Discover Moab for options in the Moab area and Bears Ears Education Center for options in the Needles area. Contact the Hans Flat Ranger Station for information on the Maze District.

More questions?

We are available by phone to answer questions and assist with trip planning Monday through Friday, 8 am to noon (mountain time), at 435-259-4351. When workload permits, we may be able to answer phones until 4 pm. You may also email us at canyres@nps.gov


Last updated: September 18, 2023

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