Backcountry Permit

In 2000 Grand Canyon National Park received 50,000 requests for backcountry permits. The park issued 13,000 permits, and close to 60,000 people camped overnight in the backcountry at Grand Canyon. The majority of Grand Canyon hikers are here for the first time, and although many are avid hikers, they find that hiking at Grand Canyon is very different from most other backpacking experiences. They tend to react to the experience in one of two ways: either they can’t wait to get back, or they swear they’ll never do it again.

Depending upon how prepared you are and what the canyon serves up at any particular time, your trip can be a vacation or a challenge, a revelation or an ordeal.

You will be hiking in a desert climate, where water and protection from the elements make the difference between life and death. Your trip begins at a high elevation (7000-8000 feet) and requires a bone-jarring descent at the beginning of your trip, when your pack is heaviest. You’ll face the long climb out when you are already tired.

Grand Canyon National Park encompasses more than 1.2 million acres, the vast majority of which are inaccessible due to the predominance of cliffs, and inhospitable to all but plants and animals able to survive in the desert. The Colorado River bisects the canyon; hikers can cross the river only at Phantom Ranch. If you choose to hike from rim to river to rim, you will have to deal with an elevation differential of more than 10,000 feet from start to finish.

If you wish to camp anywhere in the park, other than in developed campgrounds on the rims, you must obtain a permit from the Backcountry Information Center (see procedures in the permits section of this guide).

If you are interested in guided hiking and/or camping trips, please contact one of the Hiking Guide Companies.

Rangers recommend that you plan your trip well in advance of your arrival at the park, and when possible, indicate flexibility as to the dates and routes you request. Permit requests for popular hiking seasons spring, summer, and fall generally must be made as early as possible (see the permits section of this guide). While summer is definitely not the ideal time to hike in the canyon, it remains the busiest hiking season.

The earlier you plan your hike and apply for permits, the more likely you will be to get the dates and itinerary of your choice.

Despite the fact that canyon hiking is extremely demanding, requests for backcountry permits far exceed the use that the canyon’s fragile, desert environment can sustain without serious resource damage. Therefore, overnight camping in the canyon and in undeveloped areas along the rim is carefully monitored and controlled, and demand usually exceeds availability.

Further Information
The Backcountry Information Center is open daily for walk-in visitors from 8AM to 12 noon and 1PM to 5PM Mountain Standard Time.

Backcountry Information Center staff answers information telephone lines at 928-638-7875 between 1PM and 5PM Monday through Friday, except on federal holidays. This telephone number is for information only.

Backcountry Information Center
P.O. Box 129
Grand Canyon AZ, 86023

FAX number for permits is 928-638-2125.