COVID-19 River Update, Feb-25-2021. Grand Canyon National Park's COVID-19 Mitigation Phase for River Use will move from "Medium" to "Light" restriction level on April 1, 2021. Where the "Medium" level allowed for up to 75% of summer use levels, the "Light" restriction level allows 100% river use while continuing key COVID-19 Safety Mitigation requirements. (details at https://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/upload/COVID-19_River_Update.pdf)
TWO-YEAR DEFERMENTS. Due to the pandemic, a temporary exception to the no deferment rule has been implemented for permittees who obtained a launch date prior to March 2020 for a launch to occur before the end of August 2021. These permittees have until 70 days before their original launch date to request a 2-year deferment (the replacement launch date will be exactly 2-years later). The deferment option is NOT available for trip leaders who obtained permits after March 2020 - they knew about COVID-19, understood their trips could not be deferred, and applied for dates vacated by others who had accepted a 2-year launch date deferment. Deferment is not an option for these trip leaders.
FOLLOW-UP LOTTERIES. Follow-up lotteries will be used to re-release launch dates made available due to cancellations or deferments. These re-released launch dates cannot be deferred, and those who apply are expected to be aware of potential COVID-19 risks and take appropriate precautions.
For status updates regarding open and closed areas of Grand Canyon National Park visit https://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/grand-canyon-national-park-public-health-update.htm
In early 2006, after the completion of an extensive, multi-year public planning process, a weighted lottery system was selected for Grand Canyon National Park's noncommercial river permit system. The first weighted lottery was held October 2006, and many lotteries have since taken place. Prior to the adoption of the weighted lottery system a waitlist was used to assign river launch dates.
The Annual Main Lottery and Follow-up Lotteries
Each year in February a main lottery is held to assign launch dates for river trips occurring the next year. Lottery applications are accepted online for the first three weeks of February. Lottery results are emailed to applicants as well as available online by the end of February.
Follow-up lotteries are then held as needed to reassign cancelled and/or left-over river trips. Follow-up lotteries typically open around noon on a Tuesday and close at noon Mountain Standard Time on a Thursday. Lottery results are emailed to applicants as well as available online, usually by Thursday evening.
Lottery Eligibility Requirements
You must be at least 18 years old and not already a member of other noncommercial or commercial trips launching within the applied for year. No one may be listed on more than one lottery application.
Lottery and Permit Costs
Applicable lottery and river permits costs must be paid. There is a launch year lottery application cost to apply in a weighted lottery, paid once per launch year. Successful applicants, those who win a launch date, then immediately pay a river trip deposit. This deposit is applied towards river permit costs. Final river permit costs are due 90 days before launch. Lottery and river permit payments are nonrefundable.
The lottery application cost is charged once for each launch year for which a trip leader applies. After you have paid an application cost for a launch year, you can apply in all later lotteries for that launch year for no additional charge. The application cost is paid after a lottery application is submitted and can only be paid when a lottery is open.
Setting up a Profile and Registering to Receive Email Updates
You can access the weighted lottery website (https://grcariverpermits.nps.gov) for free year-round to setup a profile, modify an existing profile, or to sign up to receive email updates on upcoming releases of launch dates.
How to Apply
Lottery applications are accepted through the weighted lottery website (https://grcariverpermits.nps.gov) only when lotteries are open. During those times, you login and click on "Create Lottery Application" (this button is only visible when a lottery is accepting applications).
There are three ways to know a lottery has opened.
Potential Alternate Trip Leader (PATL)
A PATL is a person who would be capable and willing to take over river trip responsibilities if the trip leader is unable to go. If the original trip leader becomes unable to go on the river trip, and there are no confirmed PATLs, the trip will be cancelled. PATLs can be added to a river trip by the trip leader when submitting a lottery application. See Noncommercial River Trip Regulations for clarification.
More information about applying and about other river and lottery related questions can be found at the River and Weighted Lottery FAQ page.
Last updated: February 25, 2021