Grand Canyon Reservation System Change?

by Dave Baker Friday, November 20th 2009

Grand Canyon National Park is proposing a change to the procedure for reserving backcountry permits for overnight wilderness camping in the Canyon.

Under the current system users who are able to show up in person at the Backcountry Information Center on the South Rim when permits first become available get first shot at reservations, ahead of those who mail or fax their requests to the office. Reservations are made available on the first day of the month, four months before a user’s proposed trip start month.

On the Cranberry Route

For example, October is one of the two most popular months for wilderness outings in the Canyon, and permit reservations first become available four months earlier on June 1st. A couple of years ago I drove to the South Rim on a June 1st to get an October trip reservation, and was very surprised to find myself in line with well over a hundred people jockeying for the opportunity to get the permit they desired. There were plenty of locals in line but I talked to others who had come from as far away as Seattle! Permit requests that were arriving in the office on that June 1st via fax and mail were ignored by the reservation staff until all of the people present in person had an opportunity to place their requests.

The Park Service thinks this is unfair (I do too, even though I currently have the “local advantage”), and is proposing a change that will put all users on a more equal footing for getting the permit they desire. The Park wants to eliminate in-person requests during the first month of the four month early reservation period. So, in the first of the four months prior to a trip start, virtually all users would have to apply via fax or mail, and all such applications would be processed in the order received by the reservation office. In months two, three and four, walk-up users would again have an opportunity to be “first in line” on days they might show up in person at the office.

Commercial users and locals probably won’t like the proposed change, but I think its a good way to go. The Park is considering implementing this system or something like it as early as February, 2010.

Grand Canyon National Park describes these changes on this web page. Information about the current reservation system is available on the Park’s Backcountry Permit web page. You can also read  more about this in an Arizona Daily Sun article.  

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Comments (1) -

11/24/2009 1:30:41 PM #

I am all for opening up the process to others. If you want to take a vacation your should not have to take a second vacation to drive up to the visitor center and get in line. I have always viewed the public lands as a place for all people to be able to experience. I remember going to many Parks and Monuments when I was a child and think that others should have the same opportunities. People who do not live close to the park are currently being punished. It is already expensive enough to take a trip to the Grand Canyon, there is no reason to take two. I would also like to see changes in special use permits but that is another fight for another time.

Jon

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Dave BakerDave Baker

I'm Dave Baker, founder of Summit Hut, an independent outdoor retailer based in Tucson, Arizona since 1969. As an experienced and passionate hiker, climber and backpacker, my blog is intended to be an informative and interesting look into the outdoors and the outdoor industry.

Dana Davis

Dana Davis

I’m Dana Davis, co-owner of the Summit Hut. I mostly enjoy hiking and road biking though I often do other things to keep it interesting (mountaineering, motorcycling, backpacking, climbing, you name it!) My biggest challenge is sometimes finding the balance between career, family, and fun but it’s working out so far!

Dan Davis

Dan Davis

I'm Dan Davis, after retiring from the National Park Service as a Ranger and manager, I worked for the Summit Hut until 2009, then retired for good (maybe). I'm now spending my time traveling around the southwest writing and working on my nature and fine art photography business.

Emily Gindlesparger

Emily Gindlesparger

I’m Emily Gindlesparger, a member of the Summit Hut floor staff. Since moving here from the Midwest, I’ve been taking advantage of all possible adventures in Arizona: rock climbing, mountain biking, backpacking, whitewater kayaking, caving and trail running; I’m always excited to see what’s next!

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