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garlic08
11-26-2009, 11:18
This is from the Arizona Trail Association's (ATA) latest newsletter:

Grand Canyon to stop offering walk-up backcountry permits

The ATA is looking into recent news that the Grand Canyon National Park is changing the system for getting backcountry permits. This could create a very difficult problem for AZT users who have been on the Arizona National Scenic Trail for many days. Starting Feb. 1, 2010, the park has announced that it will consider only written requests for backcountry permits (details are at http://www.azcentral.com/php-bin/clicktrack/email.php/9029892 (http://www.azcentral.com/php-bin/clicktrack/email.php/9029892)). Requests can be sent up to four months in advance of trips. Let us know your thoughts on this action please at ata@aztrail.org (ata@aztrail.org) .

The Solemates
11-26-2009, 11:45
i think its a great idea. but i also think there should be an exclusion for AZT hikers, maybe similar to the Smokies.

Shutterbug
11-26-2009, 13:11
i think its a great idea. but i also think there should be an exclusion for AZT hikers, maybe similar to the Smokies.

Explain how the exclusion for AZT hikers would work. I am not opposed to the idea, I just don't understand. Are you suggesting that some sites be held out of the reservation system for AZT hikers? How many and at which camp sites?

It seems to me that another approach would be to use the Katahdin approach (The Birches is reserved for AT hikers) -- make one of the group sites at Bright Angel Campground permanently reserved for AZT hikers. The group sites hold up to 11 people. AZT hikers who want to spend more than two nights in the canyon would have to follow the normal system.

garlic08
11-26-2009, 16:24
Explain how the exclusion for AZT hikers would work.

It sounds like you can't even try to get a walk-in permit under the new rules, even if a site happened to be available that day.

There's no way the number of AZT hikers (a small handful a year) would justify a separate site like The Birches, or even a separate blanket permit like the PCT. But it would be nice to be able to just walk up to the desk and ask if anything's available at all. I got really lucky once doing that, and now that option will be closed.

A side note: I hiked the Pacific Northwest Trail into North Cascades NP this year without a permit. My guidebook said that hikers had to apply for permits by mail, fax, or in person, at Park HQ conveniently located about 180 miles away from the last town before I entered the Park. No way for a thru-hiker to do this, so I figured I'd stealth it. So I got caught right away, but the ranger was very cool about it and field-issued me a permit by radio, going way beyond the call of duty. He was aware of the PNT and said that recently the Park had been making exceptions to their permit rules for PNT hikers, letting you do it by phone from your nearest town, for instance. I hope the GCNP will do something like this, too, for AZT hikers.

ShelterLeopard
11-26-2009, 16:48
Sounds like a good system to me- though I agree, it'd be nice if it was similar to the smokies thru hiker exception system.

Maybe it'd stop SPOTers from thinking they can go in without any experience.

Spirit Walker
11-26-2009, 19:51
I hope this doesn't become the rule in other National Parks. There are a lot of CDT hikers who would have a problem. As it is, you can call to get a reservation in Yellowstone and in Glacier people do walk-in permits. If you have to have a preauthorized permit, there would be a lot of people hiking illegally.

rompel
12-21-2009, 22:03
Sorry to drag up an old thread, but the linked article is extremely misleading. The change only stops people (mainly locals, especially commercial tour guides) from using the in-person permit process to jump the queue on folks who mail in their permit requests. Specifically, you may submit a written permit request 4 months before your proposed hike, but can only get an instant in-person permit 3 months before. This in no way affects thru-hikers showing up wanting a same- or next-day permit.

http://http://www.nps.gov/grca/parknews/news_2009-11-20_procedure_change.htm (http://http//www.nps.gov/grca/parknews/news_2009-11-20_procedure_change.htm)

I've been itching for a change like this for years. Now if they'd only follow the lead of Glacier and treat all requests received in the first 15 days of the eligible period equally (I'd happily settle for a week--more than enough so that you could mail your request on the 1st of the month from anywhere in the country and be on an equal footing with those who have a fax machine dialing all day to get through).

--John

rompel
12-21-2009, 22:08
Oops. Let me try that link again:

http://www.nps.gov/grca/parknews/news_2009-11-20_procedure_change.htm

Shutterbug
12-21-2009, 23:10
Sorry to drag up an old thread, but the linked article is extremely misleading. The change only stops people (mainly locals, especially commercial tour guides) from using the in-person permit process to jump the queue on folks who mail in their permit requests. Specifically, you may submit a written permit request 4 months before your proposed hike, but can only get an instant in-person permit 3 months before. This in no way affects thru-hikers showing up wanting a same- or next-day permit.

http://http://www.nps.gov/grca/parknews/news_2009-11-20_procedure_change.htm (http://http//www.nps.gov/grca/parknews/news_2009-11-20_procedure_change.htm)

I've been itching for a change like this for years. Now if they'd only follow the lead of Glacier and treat all requests received in the first 15 days of the eligible period equally (I'd happily settle for a week--more than enough so that you could mail your request on the 1st of the month from anywhere in the country and be on an equal footing with those who have a fax machine dialing all day to get through).

--John

I agree that anyone who gets their application in during the first week of the month should have an equal chance. I was a couple of days late and couldn't get two nights together at Bright Angel Campground in April. I wanted to hike the Clear Creek Trail as a day hike out of the Bright Angel Campground. I only got a permit for one night.

I will try again on Jan. 1 for the month of May.

skinewmexico
12-22-2009, 00:04
I'm trying for the same thing Shutterbug.

Erin
12-22-2009, 23:26
When three of us hiked in the GC two years ago, we applied at the four month point to get a permit. We got our permit, but when we camped, in October, there were alot empty campsites. That is when the day of walk ups would have gotten a spot. I hope the rules will have an exceptiion for thru hikers who did not have the luxury of knowing exactly what dates as we did.

Dogwood
12-22-2009, 23:36
Thank you Rompel! I didn't read the article, but strongly suspected that GCNP WAS NOT eliminating ALL in person same day and next day walk up hiking permits.

Shutterbug
12-22-2009, 23:47
When three of us hiked in the GC two years ago, we applied at the four month point to get a permit. We got our permit, but when we camped, in October, there were alot empty campsites. That is when the day of walk ups would have gotten a spot. I hope the rules will have an exceptiion for thru hikers who did not have the luxury of knowing exactly what dates as we did.

It has been my observation that there are usually empty campsites. I assume it is because people fail to let the Park Service know that they aren't going to use their permit.

Dogwood
12-23-2009, 00:18
I can't say what occurs at every NP Backcountry Office, but what the NP Rangers tell me at the more than 20 NPs I've hiked at, is that they hold back a few campsites for same day walk-up permits. With some flexibility, as far as routes or campsites, I've never been totally shut out of hiking in a NP. Of course, if the NP Service can plan as far in advance as possible when it comes to planning use and services for all involved it makes their jobs easier and assures some, who may be traveling from afar, to hike with definite plans.

rompel
12-23-2009, 00:51
It has been my observation that there are usually empty campsites. I assume it is because people fail to let the Park Service know that they aren't going to use their permit.

I, too, assume most of the empty campsites are due to no-shows. However, I've been told (by a ranger at Phantom Ranch) that the campgrounds have a quota on the total number of campers. Given enough larger parties, they'll hit that quota before they fill all the campsites.

Erin
12-23-2009, 01:22
We talked to the Ranger also. He told us they try to hold a couple for walk ins (Indian Garden) but also there were permit no shows. Bright Angel Creek campground had alot of empites also. The Rangers at GC are fantastic, by the way.

Dogwood
12-23-2009, 13:52
Agreed, Erin. With some patience, planning ahead, knowing park policies, politeness, and the realization that we are not the only ones in the world wanting to fulfill our hiking/traveling agendas, I think I've never had a bad experience with any of the many dedicated informative cordial National Park Rangers I've ever had the pleasure to meet.

DuctTape
01-02-2010, 00:35
This change in the permit system will not effect Arizona Trail hikers! Walk-in request will still be accepted, even weeks in advance. The permit change only applies to fourth-month out-requests.

Four months in advance is the first date available to apply for permits. For example, permits for May just became available yesterday, January 1st. Permits for June become available Feb 1st, etc. The problem was that for prime GC hiking season (April and October) there would be a rock-concert like line out the door of the backcountry office on the 1st day of the respective months permits became available. These walk-up applicants were given priority over faxed requests.

The only change is that those walk-up applicants will now be thrown into the same pool as faxed requests, and only during the fourth-month-out. Later walk-up requests will still be considered immediately, even three months prior to the desired days. It's not a big deal, really, unless you operate a guiding business, or happen to be a local GC hiking addict.

yappy
02-06-2010, 21:50
We did a walk up last year and had no problem . I was kinda amazed at how easy da and I got it.

Shutterbug
02-24-2010, 12:42
This is from the Arizona Trail Association's (ATA) latest newsletter:

Grand Canyon to stop offering walk-up backcountry permits

The ATA is looking into recent news that the Grand Canyon National Park is changing the system for getting backcountry permits. This could create a very difficult problem for AZT users who have been on the Arizona National Scenic Trail for many days. Starting Feb. 1, 2010, the park has announced that it will consider only written requests for backcountry permits (details are at http://www.azcentral.com/php-bin/clicktrack/email.php/9029892 (http://www.azcentral.com/php-bin/clicktrack/email.php/9029892)). Requests can be sent up to four months in advance of trips. Let us know your thoughts on this action please at ata@aztrail.org (ata@aztrail.org) .


The new system seemed to work as intended. I was successful in getting permits for a rim to rim to rim hike in June. In the past, I have gone to the Grand Canyon to stand in line on Feb. 1 to get June permits. Because of the change in rules, I just faxed in my request this year. I am a happy camper.

I guess I need to join the "frequent hiker" program. I now have permits for April, May and June. I will probably skip July and August because of the heat, but will apply again in the fall.

Obiwan
02-22-2012, 13:10
You do not need a permit if you do not stop :-)