Grand Canyon Backpacking Permit Process
Every overnight camping/backpacking trip requires a permit from the appropriate management agency. See below for specific information regarding backpacking permits in Grand Canyon National Park. All-Star Grand Canyon Tours will take care of all the details necessary to apply for a permit, but we provide the following information so our guests can better understand the process.
The National Park Service manages overnight use throughout Grand Canyon National Park by requiring permits for all overnight users. This means that any visitor who wants to take part in a backpacking trip into Grand Canyon must first acquire a permit, issued by the National Park Service. This is true for private backpacking trips or guided commercial tours. The National Park Service has limits on the number of overnight visitors allowed in any particular campground or camping area inside of Grand Canyon. Since Grand Canyon is an extremely popular backcountry destination, this usually creates intense competition for the most popular areas and seasons in the park.
To increase chances of securing permits for guests, All-Star always recommends less crowded areas of Grand Canyon. The most sought-after campgrounds are those along the three "corridor trails": Bright Angel Trail, South Kaibab Trail, and North Kaibab Trail. These corridor trails, aside from being the most popular with dayhikers and backpackers, are also the only trails that can be combined for the classic "Rim-to-Rim" hike. The most popular seasons for backpacking at Grand Canyon National Park are spring (March through May) and fall (September and October). Summer (June through August) is by far the busiest tourist season at Grand Canyon, but the extreme temperatures inside of the Canyon (regularly over 110 F) are not ideal conditions for backpacking tours. Winter (November through February) is generally the easiest season to secure a permit for a tour almost anywhere in the park.
Grand Canyon National Park permits are limited to 6 people (small group) and 11 people (large group), and there is generally much more availability for small groups than large groups. Permits become available four months in advance, and applications for permits are accepted via fax or in person. Because of the common high demand for backpacking permits, it is always best to submit these permit applications at the earliest possible opportunity--which is the first of the month, four months prior to the proposed month for the tour. See the table below for the permit application schedule:
|Hikes during the month of:||Earliest Date for Permit Request:||Itinerary should to be finalized & down payment made by:|
|January||September 1||August 15th|
|February||October 1||September 15th|
|March||November 1||October 15th|
|April||December 1||November 15th|
|May||January 1||December 15th|
|June||February 1||January 15th|
|July||March 1||February 15th|
|August||April 1||March 15th|
|September||May 1||April 15th|
|October||June 1||May 15th|
|November||July 1||June 15th|
|December||August 1||July 15th|
When it comes to backpacking permits for Grand Canyon National Park, there is no preferential treatment for commercial tour companies over private applicants. All applications received are treated equally. As a result, All-Star Grand Canyon Tours can never guarantee a particular itinerary, although we will always do everything we can to secure a permit that guests will be pleased with.
All-Star Grand Canyon Tours can also apply for backpacking permits that are less than four months in the future. These "short notice" permit applications however, are far less likely to be successful, as most of the availability for campgrounds and campsites may already be taken. In these cases, All-Star encourages potential guests to consider joining an existing group backpacking tour, or consider suitable second and third choices for tour dates and itineraries.
In order to submit a backpacking permit application on behalf of potential guests, All-Star requires the following information:
- Tentative number of guests in the group
- Names, addresses, phone and e-mail information for each member of the group
- Tour deposit ($100 per person for group tours, $500 per group for private tours)
- For more information on our backpacking tour terms and conditions, click here.