Canyon trails are open for day hiking, and overnight backcountry permit requests are being considered.
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 on how to enter the Phantom Ranch lodging lottery, or to check general availability, please contact Xanterra Parks and Resorts at 303-297-2757 or 888-297-2757 (http://www.grandcanyonlodges.com). For hikes into Havasu Canyon contact Havasupai Tourism Enterprise at (928) 448-2180 or (928) 448-2237 or (928) 448-2141 or (928) 448-2121
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.
$10 per permit plus $8 per person or stock animal per night camped below the rim and $8 per group per night camped above the rim. Denied requests will not incur a charge. Permits cancelled at least four days in advance will receive hiker credit (minus a $10 cancellation charge) valid for one year. Backcountry Information Center charges are NON-REFUNDABLE!
When sending in a permit request, the required method of payment is with a credit card. Indicate the maximum amount you authorize the Backcountry Information Center to charge so that your longest trip alternative can be considered. 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 hikes starting in:
The day does not matter, just get it to us any time between these dates. Equal, random order consideration is given to all written requests received between:
|IN-PERSON VERBAL REQUESTS
not eligible for consideration until:
|January||Aug 20 and Sep 1 (by 5pm MST)||Oct 1|
|February||Sep 20 and Oct 1 (by 5pm MST)||Nov 1|
|March||Oct 20 and Nov 1 (by 5pm MST)||Dec 1|
|April||Nov 20 and Dec 1 (by 5pm MST)||Jan 1|
|May||Dec 20 and Jan 1 (by 5pm MST)||Feb 1|
|June||Jan 20 and Feb 1 (by 5pm MST)||Mar 1|
|July||Feb 20 and Mar 1 (by 5pm MST)||Apr 1|
|August||Mar 20 and Apr 1 (by 5pm MST)||May 1|
|September||Apr 20 and May 1 (by 5pm MST)||Jun 1|
|October||May 20 and Jun 1 (by 5pm MST)||Jul 1|
|November||Jun 20 and Jul 1 (by 5pm MST)||Aug 1|
|December||Jul 20 and Aug 1 (by 5pm MST)||Sep 1|
Earliest Consideration Requests: For requests received during the Earliest Consideration time period, the day received does not matter; all Earliest Consideration requests received during this span of dates are treated exactly the same. Requests are combined together into one pile, duplicates are removed, and then processing begins using a computer generated random order. It may take Rangers up to three weeks to process all Earliest Consideration requests.
Subsequent Requests: Once all Earliest Consideration requests have been processed, Rangers will begin processing written requests received on subsequent dates. These Subsequent Requests are kept and considered in the order received. Requests are accepted as late as two weeks prior to a hike start date.
What: A backcountry permit will be issued to the trip leader if space is available and all fee requirements have been met.
When: While we try to respond as quickly as possible, it can take up to three weeks to respond when popular months first open for permits and up to 2,000 requests are received at the same time. You can help us keep this response time as low as possible by NOT asking us to search for and confirm receipt of your request.
How: All permit requests are responded to by email. If you do not see a response, please check your SPAM and JUNK folders before contacting the park.
Who: A backcountry permit is valid only for the trip leader, itinerary, and number of people specified on the permit. Overnight hikers must hike together with the permit in the trip leader's possession.
Other Options: If a permit is NOT available, consider either day hikes or seek to obtain a last minute permit through our waitlist.
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. 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. One exception is made to this rule, during the off-season (November 15 through February 28), and within the Corridor Use Area only, overnight stays up to a total of four nights per campground per trip are allowed.
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/learn/management/cua.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 the rangers on duty at the Lees Ferry ranger station for a limited number of use areas in their vicinity. 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.
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 the Manzanita Rest Area 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/learn/management/sup.htm
Backcountry Use Statistics
Backcountry use statistics (from overnight backcountry permits). The statistics include:
- yearly statistics
- permittee breakdown by country and US state
- use trends, corridor and non-corridor
- use area details
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 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.
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)
Last updated: December 17, 2020