Science Research - Permits


Grand Canyon National Park Research Permitting Policy

It is the policy of the National Park Service (NPS) to guarantee that management of parks is enhanced by the highest quality scientific information. Understanding our natural and cultural resources is vital to improving park management and expanding scientific knowledge. Research will be allowed as long as it can be conducted in a manner that does not threaten or diminish the resources for which Grand Canyon National Park was established.

Research projects designed to advance the understanding of resources or systems that are considered to be a top priority to park managers are strongly encouraged, and we request that researchers contact the park Research Permitting Coordinator to gain assistance designing studies accordingly. However, "pure" research designed to advance broad scientific understanding is also recognized as potentially significant. Because of Grand Canyon's unique character and relatively wild condition, it is understood that the park will attract investigators whose interests may appear unrelated to management's present needs. As far as practicable, such investigators are welcome to pursue their research in Grand Canyon. A Scientific Research and Collection Permit is required to conduct research in the park, and is approved by the Superintendent or his/her authorized representative. The following criteria are used to evaluate research proposals:

  • Is the proposed research in accordance with applicable laws, regulations, and federal administrative policies?
  • Will the proposed activity result in degradation of the values and purposes of the park?
  • Could the proposed research be performed outside of the park?
  • Is the proposed research important to the stated scientific resource management goals of the park?
  • Does the proposed research unreasonably disturb park resources or visitors?
  • Does the proposed research require additional state, federal, or local permits? Have those permits been obtained?
  • Does the proposed research require collection of specimens or artifacts? What will be the disposition of any collected specimens?
  • Does the proposed research encumber NPS resources that may be limited (e.g., government housing, equipment, or logistical support)?

This screening process is designed to ensure that park resources and visitors are not unduly affected by the research, that all investigators are treated fairly, and to allow appropriate tracking and reporting of park research. A researcher must be an official representative of a reputable scientific or educational institution or governmental agency. Students who propose to conduct research studies must have a representative from their institution or agency serve as either the Principal Investigator or a co-Principal Investigator.

The collection of certain wildlife specimens may require additional federal or state permits which can be obtained from the Arizona Game and Fish Department or from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The examination, excavation, or removal of archaeological, historical, paleontological, or other artifacts requires additional federal permits. It is the responsibility of the researcher to apply for, obtain, and provide copies of all necessary permits to GRCA's Research Office prior to receiving a GRCA research and collection permit.

All specimens collected within the park are the property of the NPS. Regardless of where the collections are stored, they must be properly accessioned and cataloged into the National Park Service's cataloging system. Collecting of specimens not authorized on your permit or for private purposes is not allowed.

Researchers are required to report all results of their investigations to the park annually. Copies of final reports, papers, theses, or other publications relating to research findings in Grand Canyon National Park should be sent to:

Grand Canyon National Park
Research Permits Office
1824 S. Thompson St., Ste. 200
Flagstaff, AZ 86001

Please include your permit number (GRCA-20xx-SCI-xxxx) or study number (GRCA-00xxx) along with your name and study title. These materials will be filed in the Grand Canyon National Park Research Library where they are available to park resource managers, other researchers, and the public. Failure to abide by these terms, or others outlined in the Scientific Research and Collecting Permit, may result in permit revocation or a citation.


How To Apply

Grand Canyon National Park hosts over 80 research projects annually. Every project must be reviewed to ensure that it satisfies regulatory requirements, is appropriate to the park setting, meets accepted scientific criteria, and does not unduly impact park resources or the visitor experience. Understanding Grand Canyon's resources is vital to improving park management and expanding scientific knowledge.

To apply for a Scientific Research and Collection Permit, go to the National Park Service's Research Permit and Reporting System (RPRS) web page and submit the following:

  1. An application
  2. A full research proposal (download the Study Proposal Guidelines (updated April 2017.) Visit the RPRS website for assistance with required content)
  3. A copy of your Curriclum Vitae (CV).

Proposals submitted to other agencies and peer reviews received from that process may be photocopied and submitted in partial fulfillment of these requirements. Two Peer Reviews are required as part of the GRCA research permit application package. You may choose to use the peer review forms provided or submit your own.

Submit all paperwork as far in advance as possible to allow time for the review process, which can take up to 90 days.

Any direct assistance you might need from the park, such as logistical support or study site selection, should be requested with your permit application. GRCA's logistical support capabilities are quite limited and will be assigned according to management priorities.

Please contact the Research Permit Office (928) 638-7447 for assistance and additional project information.


How Your Application is Processed

Process Graphic
Once the online application, proposal, and peer reviews are received, they are checked for completeness
and prepared for consideration by the Research Review Team by:
  • Composing a summary of the proposal
  • Addressing questions the Research Review Team might ask
  • Informing the appropriate park staff
  • Reviewing relevant compliance -- National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), The Wilderness Act, and other relevant regulations
  • Evaluating impacts to cultural and natural resources
Following project review by the Research Review Team, the proposal will be either:

Approved – with or without stipulations (such as limiting the amount of sample collections or restricting entry into closed, restricted, or sensitive areas); or

Denied – A letter will be sent to the Principal Investigator with an explanation for denial.

Once Grand Canyon National Park approves a new research project and issues a research permit, an electronic copy (pdf) of the permit is emailed to the Principal Investigator (PI) for signature. Once signed by the PI, the signature page is to be returned to the Research Permit Office for the final signatory process. A copy of the completed signature page is then sent to the PI and the entire permit is to be carried with all research party members while conducting field work.


Research Needs

For more information, email the Research Permitting Coordinator or call 928-638-7447. (Updated April, 2017)

Additional Information

Guidelines on Information Deliverables

Museum Collection Requirements

Contact the Research Permitting Coordinator at: 928-638-7447 with questions, or email us.



Additional research and monitoring efforts are conducted by the Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center (GCMRC), located in Flagstaff, AZ. A summary of these projects are found below. If you have questions regarding any of these projects, please contact Grand Canyon's Research Coordinator at 928-638-7447 or email us.

Studying Changes in Upland Landscapes and Archaeological Sites (5 MB)

Monitoring Sand Storage to Conserve Sandbars in Grand Canyon National Park (webpage)

Sandbar and Campsite Monitoring in Grand Canyon National Park (webpage)

Citizen Science—Quantifying Food for the Fishes of the Grand Canyon (webpage)

Riparian Vegetation Studies - Monitoring Vegetation Change (5.35 MB)

Last updated: April 30, 2024

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

PO Box 129
Grand Canyon, AZ 86023



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