Grand Canyon Changes Backcountry Permit System

Starting in Feb., backcountry travelers must only submit permit requests in writing

Grand Canyon National Park is updating their backcountry permit system: Starting in Feb. 2010, anyone hoping to hike overnight in the park's spectacular backcountry must submit a request in writing (fax or mail) no more than four months in advance. Previously, written or faxed requests competed with those who could show up in person to obtain a permit.

Park administrators changed the rules in hopes of derailing supposed 'unfairness;' local operators often get in line early in the morning to have their permits considered immediately, while those who fax it on often struggle to get through busy lines. One out of every two applicants gets denied for the 11,500 permits issued every year.

But local guiding companies are unhappy with the proposal, complaining that now they'll lose their home-court advantage in nabbing permits for clients.

"We're trying to provide better equity between locals and international visitors," said Barclay Trimble, a deputy superintendent.

Some of the 26 commercial outfitters who take customers on paid, guided backpacking trips in the canyon are unhappy with the proposal.

"It's going to cost some people some jobs. There's no doubt about it," said Blaine Stuart, manager of Angel's Gate Tours.

Park officials say they hope to move to an all-online system soon, but for now it's all snail mail and fax, unfortunately. There's nothing to be afraid of, Grand Canyoneros—the Internet is your friend.

—Ted Alvarez

Grand Canyon to change unfair permit system (AP) via The Goat

Image Credit: Paraflyer