Getting a Permit to Hike the Grand Canyon

March 21, 2013 by

Things to Do, Top Attractions, Travel Tips, Unforgettable Experiences

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Morning sun over the Grand Canyon. Photo courtesy of prochasson frederic via Shutterstock.

While visitors don’t need a permit to hike the Grand Canyon just for a day, a backcountry permit is required for those doing overnight hiking and overnight camping at rim sites other than developed campgrounds like dormitories or cabins at Phantom Ranch. Hikers can apply for a permit from the first of the month, four months before the planned visit. Keep in mind the earlier you send in your request the better, especially during busy season from April through October.

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If you’re sending in your permit request at four months out, it must be in written form sent via:

  • Snail mail to Grand Canyon National Park, Permits Office, 1824 S. Thompson Street, Suite 201, Flagstaff, Arizona, 86001
  • Fax  to 928-638-2125
  • Hand delivery to address above

Fill out this Backcountry Permit Form and use this Grand Canyon backcountry map and camping information sheet to help. From three months out you can request a permit using these methods, as well as by doing it verbally in person at the Backcountry Information Center on the South Rim. Keep in mind there are fees associated with the permit request, including a non-refundable $10 per permit plus $5 per person, per night. If you frequently hike the Grand Canyon you may want to consider a $25 Frequent Hiker Membership which waives the $10 permit fee. Payments can be made via credit card, personal check or money order. Once permits are submitted be prepared to wait about three weeks for confirmation of processing and to receive your permit in the mail.

There are times when you can’t get a permit to hike the Grand Canyon, either because it is too late or because it there are none left. If this happens you have a few choices. First of all, you can choose to partake in only day hikes where a permit is not necessary. Your other option is visit the Backcountry Information Center at 8am once you arrive and add your name to the waiting list for last-minute permits. This usually takes about one to three days to obtain, but can sometimes be longer. Keep in mind this can be a tedious process, as you’ll need to return to the information center each day at 8am to keep yourself on the list.

-Jessica Festa

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