COVID-19 River Update, Oct-7-2020. Since June 14, 2020 Grand Canyon National Park has been in the first stage of a phased opening of the Colorado River. This phase will continue until park leadership and health officials mandate otherwise. From mid-June through the first half of September total launches were reduced to 75% of Colorado River Management Plan (CRMP) limits. The park also offered trip leaders, either who had their river trips cancelled by the park or who chose on their own to cancel due to COVID-19 concerns, the opportunity to defer their launch date by exactly two years. This offer remains available to all trip leaders with trips scheduled to launch through the end of February 2021 (but only for those trips won in lotteries before April 2020). Now that we are in the slower river season, the Superintendent has authorized the River Office to resume normal CRMP limits and launch patterns through April 2021. Consequently, we are once again holding follow-up lotteries to re-release previously cancelled launch dates. Anyone who applies in a follow-up lottery is expected to be aware of potential COVID-19 risks and, as a result, awarded launch dates cannot be deferred. River trips are expected to adhere to health guidelines, not share river camps, limit size of gatherings, avoid tribal lands, and carefully monitor all trip members. (details at https://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/upload/COVID-19_River_Update.pdf)
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. Even if you are presently not seeking a river trip but are interested in a future date, you are strongly encouraged to register.
How to Apply
When a noncommercial lottery is open, a list of available dates can be found on the Available Noncommercial River Launch Dates web page.
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).
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: October 8, 2020