SUBSCRIBE | NEWSLETTERS | MAPS | VIDEOS | BLOGS | MARKETPLACE | CONTESTS
TRY BACKPACKER FREE!
SUBSCRIBE NOW and get
2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Backpacker Magazine – November/December 2005

Essential National Park Skills: The Ultimate Park Pass

Write your own ticket to new adventures with these 10 territory-expanding skills.

by: Mike Lanza, BACKPACKER Northwest Editor


The Parks: Denali, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Great Smoky Mountains, Yosemite
The Skill: Snagging a permit

In some parks, the greatest challenge is bagging a backcountry permit. Our best advice is to get cracking early, as much as a year ahead. Do this:

>>> Go to www.nps.gov/parks to determine the earliest date you can reserve a permit. Dates vary from park to park: Grand Canyon is the first of the month, 4 months prior to your trip, but Grand Teton is January 1.

>>> Fax an application that morning and include backup itineraries; expect to redial numerous times. For some parks, the best strategy is to construct a route that starts at a less popular trailhead, or in an adjacent national forest, and spend a day or two hiking into your desired spot.

>>> For all parks, visiting during the off-season or going midweek boosts your odds of getting the trails and campsites you want.

>>> If the above approach fails, call the park's backcountry desk and ask how to nab cancelled permits or walk-up reservations. Or simply skip the paperwork and take a guided trip instead.

Follow these insider tips to the country's most popular parks:

Grand Canyon Get a permit for a remote area, like South Bass Trail or the North Rim. Didn't reserve a permit in advance? Show up at the South Rim or North Rim Backcountry Information Centers for a permit beginning that day; both open at 8 a.m. Get in line at sunrise during spring at the South Rim, especially on Thursdays and Fridays; at the less-busy North Rim center, just be there when it opens.

Great Smoky Mountains Stay off the Appalachian Trail from April to June, when shelters overflow with thru-hikers. In other months, start your hike on side trails and make your way to the AT.

Grand Teton The park's namesake peak is a hiking magnet. Start your trip away from this epicenter, like at Desert or Granite Canyon, to make getting an overnight permit easier.

Denali Permits get claimed early every day, and you can't get a permit more than a day in advance-unless you're spending one or more nights at one of the park's interior campgrounds before starting your hike. If you can't afford the extra days, map a route that starts in a less popular sector and enters your first-choice area after a day or two. If you're taking the train from Anchorage, send a runner to the backcountry office the minute you pull in; it could gain you 10 places in line.

Yosemite Permit quotas are for trailheads only. You up your chances of getting a last-minute permit (40 percent are issued first-come) by getting in line at dawn. Or start your trip at a non-Yosemite Valley or Tuolumne Meadows trailhead.



Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip:
Email (req):
Reader Rating: -

READERS COMMENTS

Star Star Star
TJ
Dec 26, 2013

Some really good tips here.
But kids...don't "lean your weight in to your poles" on a descent. Poles break. Poles slip. They are there to guide you...not support your weight.

ADD A COMMENT

Your rating:
Your Name:

Comment:

My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

Gear
GPS insurance
Posted On: Jul 27, 2014
Submitted By: OldBill
Trailhead Register
Is wilderness dying?
Posted On: Jul 27, 2014
Submitted By: hikerjer

Go
View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site MyRockyMountainPark.com.

>
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
City:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
State:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions