Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
March is just around the corner, bringing with it a big wave of permit opportunities. With thousands of people clambering to snag a slot for a once-in-a-lifetime hike like Half Dome or The Narrows, your chances of grabbing a day-of permit if you miss the lottery are slim. We’ve rounded up six of the hottest tickets in the outdoors to help you land them.
Mount Rainier sees a tremendous amount of traffic by both backpackers and climbers each year, which can make applying for an early access lottery permit beneficial. About two thirds of permits are made available through this system, with the early access lottery runs from February 21 to March 7, accounting for dates that range from May 27 (or May 6 for climbers) to October 10. Permits are required for all overnight stays. Successful reservations cost $26 each. Outside of the peak reservation system, wilderness and climbing permits can be obtained in person on a first-com first-serve basis.
Mount Whitney is the tallest peak in the lower 48, making it a bucket list attraction to backpackers and adventurers from around the globe. But because of its allure, it’s permitted from May through November first. The current lottery runs through March 15, with results announced on March 24. The lottery application costs $6. If your permit request is successful, each person on the permit is required to pay an additional $15. Those who are hoping to climb Mount Whitney can either apply for a day use permit or a backpacking permit.
Camping in Yellowstone’s backcountry is a unique experience, but it’s also popular enough that landing a spot can take a little advance planning. If you’re planning on hitting it this spring, an early-season lottery is available from March 1 to March 20, covering backcountry camping dates between April 1 and April 24. The application charges a non-refundable fee of $10. And the results of the lottery should become available by March 25.
Every year, Yosemite rangers install chains on Half Dome in order to assist hikers up this iconic route. Located on the eastern side of the park, it’s one of the most popular and well-known hikes in the area. But those who want to summit the feature must apply for a permit.
The park service currently permits 300 hikers to climb Half Dome per day, 225 of which are reserved for dayhikers and 75 of which are for backpackers. The pre-season lottery for Half Dome permits begins on March 1, and runs through March 31, with results arriving by e-mail in April. Limited permits are also available in person the day before your hike. Backpackers should apply for a Half Dome permit at the time of their wilderness permit application.
One of Zion National Park’s top attractions is the Narrows – a magnificent 16-mile slot canyon that visitors from all around the world come to see. While the bottom section of the Narrows can be hiked without a permit, those who want to hike the Narrows from the top to the bottom (a 16-mile route), are required to obtain a permit. On the fifth of each month, the Narrows reservations for the following month become available. So, if you apply for a permit on March 5, you may secure a reservation for the month of April. This process is extremely competitive, and most permits are booked within minutes. The calendar reservation process costs $5; the cost for a Narrows permit for 1 to 2 people is $15; the cost for 3 to 7 people is $20; and the cost for 8 to 12 people is $25. Some hikers also turn this hike into a multi-day backpacking trip, which requires a wilderness permit in addition to the Narrows permit.
Rather go high than go low? Angels Landing now requires a permit as well. The next lottery for Angel’s Landing Permits will run from April 1 to April 20.
Backcountry camping permits for the Summer season in Grand Teton National Park are available from January 5 to May 15; permit reservations cost $45. Backpackers who are unable to reserve a permit online may still be able to obtain a permit in person, but the competition for these permits is high. From May 16th to December 31st, all backcountry permits are available in person on a first-come first-serve basis.