Grand Canyon Weighs Backcountry Access Restrictions

A new proposal would limit the number of South Rim wilderness permits to just one per week.

Grand Canyon National Park officials are considering a proposal that would drastically curtail backcountry access in some remote wilderness areas near the South Rim.

Under the terms offered to the neighboring Havasupai tribe, the park's revised management plan would limit the number of seasonal permits in these popular backcountry regions to just one per week. The Associated Press reports that the measure comes at least partially in response to increased annual usage from dayhikers and canyoneers, some of whom trespass on tribal land in order to access coveted areas:

[Park superintendent Dave] Uberuaga expects the backcountry rules to stay the same in most areas, but he said one avenue being explored is only allowing commercial permits in some regions and canceling private trips.

[The park] is also revisiting rules for usage in areas such as Great Thumb, Pasture Wash and Deer Creek, which was also recently “temporarily” closed down to canyoneering because some tribes see the area as the sacred place they go after death.

Opponents of the measure argue that the park's plan would curtail access to some to the best hiking and canyoneering in the park unnecessarily. The first public draft of the proposal is due to be released this spring.

Read more: Associated Press / Las Vegas Review-Journal