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Grand Canyon permit failure

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Grand Canyon permit failure

Postby kashley0807 » Tue Feb 05, 2013 7:08 am

My husband and I were hoping to make our first trip to the Grand Canyon in early late May/early June, and doing a Rim to Rim hike has been on our itinerary from day one. Unfortunately, we didn't get lucky enough to get a hiking permit for either May or June dates. So now I'm wondering if any of you out there have any information or insight into the whole "walk in" permit system. Success with it? Failure? Tips? Our original plan was to do it South to North, then take the Transcanyon shuttle back. If we were to get a last-minute permit, would the shuttle even be a possibility on that short of notice?

I'm planning to call the GC and shuttle services today, but I'd love to hear some real world experiences regarding how this system works (or doesn't).

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Re: Grand Canyon permit failure

Postby j babu » Tue Feb 05, 2013 7:41 am

Many years back, I had success walking up and getting a permit and bet you can too! I think it took me two or three days of waiting. But I suspect that the number of people hoping to get walk-up permit will increase as schools and colleges get out for summer break. I went during spring break (March). Good luck!

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Re: Grand Canyon permit failure

Postby Scott P » Tue Feb 05, 2013 8:13 am

Try for Tapeats Creek or Deer Creek, which are more scenic anyway (which isn't to say that the Kaibab Trail isn't also scenic).

I guess you are already aware that the time of year you are going is extremely hot. I'd highly recommend postponing your trip until October and trying for a permit then, especially if this is your first time to the Grand Canyon.

If you are set on the Kaibab Trail, you probably could get a walk in permit eventually, but plan on hanging around for up to a week and checking back every day.
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Re: Grand Canyon permit failure

Postby peter303 » Tue Feb 05, 2013 9:52 am

First, did you try for a Phantom Ranch dorm too? Its about twice the cost of a camping permit (plus more for cooked meals). And about as hard to get a camping permit.

Second, a Rim-to-River-same-Rim is about the effort of middle difficulty 14er: 14 miles, 5,000 feet and class 1 trails (the outer trails have class 2 scrambling). Crossing rims is longer, more like 21 miles or a long 14er hike like San de Christo in one day or Longs.

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Re: Grand Canyon permit failure

Postby SummitKathy » Tue Feb 05, 2013 10:02 am

I have not been successful in getting backcountry permits for desired times either. its basically like winning the lottery I've been told by park employees. You have to been very flexible with your trip dates.
However, I have hiked the canyon over 10 times staying at Phantom ranch. Every time that I have stayed there it has been because I called and there were cancellations. Xanterra allows people to cancel up to 48h before their scheduled trip with a full refund. So, people have a tendency to cancel at the last minute. If staying at Phantom ranch is an option for you, I would suggest calling Xanterra every few days non stop between now and then. You will probably get lucky and get a dorm room there. I've done R2R a few times too. If I can be of any more help or you want more details just PM me. Good luck!
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Re: Grand Canyon permit failure

Postby BenfromtheEast » Tue Feb 05, 2013 10:08 am

I'd recommend tabling your rim-to-rim dreams and just showing up. I had success twice doing this, both in the fall. I bet there will be a camping permit for you somewhere if you take whatever is available. And there are places you can camp in the National Forest just outside the park boundary if you happen to get turned down, still allowing you to have some great day hikes. For instance, Plateau Point is one of my favorite spots, and probably my top pick for something with easy access.

I've never been to the North Rim, but I bet you'd have even better luck there; seems like there would be far fewer walk-ups. Maybe someone else can comment on that.

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Re: Grand Canyon permit failure

Postby Wish I lived in CO » Tue Feb 05, 2013 10:10 am

I hiked it a few years ago with a 2 night stay at Phantom Ranch. While my experience was in getting the permit for Phantom Ranch, I suspect getting a permit for camping is the same - COMPETITIVE. If you have specific dates, it's not likely that you will get what you want. The best way is to just call and see what they have available. If you try often enough, (say a few times a day for a few days or more), someone will cancel and you can swoop up their spot, you just have to not be picky and take what they have available at the time. There's no fee to cancel (other than right before), so you can try to "upgrade" you preferred times during the year if you wish. We hiked in March, was low 70's at the bottom, though colder up at the rim. I think anytime of year would be fine as long as you prepare for what the season brings. Others can say when the permits are issued, but isn't the beginning of each month for one full year in advance, with the permits selling out in half hour or less?

I personally believe they should have more permits and camping spots, but it's simply life and ya just deal with it. I disagree with others "just showing up". I have no idea what the odds are then if you get preferred treatment then or not, but way too big a gamble with time off from work, and the long plane and/or car ride to get there, etc.
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Re: Grand Canyon permit failure

Postby SummitKathy » Tue Feb 05, 2013 10:18 am

[quote="BenfromtheEast"]Plateau Point is one of my favorite spots, and probably my top pick for something with easy access.quote]

+1 This is a great day hike if the permit thing doesnt not end up working out.

I've been lucky twice as well as a "walk up" on the day of the hike. Put your name on the waiting list in advance to increase your chances (I think 48h). The north rim is way less crowded, but it all works off of the same wait list, so I think your chances in getting a last minute spot would be about the same. If you go prepared, you can always do the R2R all in one day as well. Getting a spot to sleep at the north rim is not too difficult, and more enjoyable in my opinion than the busy south rim.
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Re: Grand Canyon permit failure

Postby peter303 » Tue Feb 05, 2013 10:58 am

Wish I lived in CO wrote:I personally believe they should have more permits and camping spots, but it's simply life and ya just deal with it. I disagree with others "just showing up". I have no idea what the odds are then if you get preferred treatment then or not, but way too big a gamble with time off from work, and the long plane and/or car ride to get there, etc.

I suspect they are pretty much at capacity based upon year-round springs and toilets at established campgrounds. Every time I've seen a ranger come through they write ample tickets to illegal campers. I suppose people say if they went through a lot of effort to get there, they arent going to let a ticket stop them.

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Re: Grand Canyon permit failure

Postby yedi » Tue Feb 05, 2013 11:35 am

I was there this Labor Day, and the rangers told me there was a good chance of getting a permit on the second day of being on the waitlist, i.e., show up Friday, get a number for Saturday, show up Saturday morning and your number isn't called, trade for a better number, show up Sunday morning and get a permit. Given that I was there on a busy holiday weekend and the waitlist was only a couple of days, if you have flexibility in the dates you want to hike during your time at the Canyon (and can avoid Memorial Day weekend), I would think you would have success.

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Re: Grand Canyon permit failure

Postby madbuck » Tue Feb 05, 2013 11:49 am

peter303 wrote:First, did you try for a Phantom Ranch dorm too? Its about twice the cost of a camping permit (plus more for cooked meals). And about as hard to get a camping permit.

Second, a Rim-to-River-same-Rim is about the effort of middle difficulty 14er: 14 miles, 5,000 feet and class 1 trails (the outer trails have class 2 scrambling). Crossing rims is longer, more like 21 miles or a long 14er hike like San de Christo in one day or Longs.


Right, like Peter said, something to consider. It wouldn't be for everyone, but looks like you have some good long hiking experience, so hiking to the river and back, or R2R, without camping, could be in your comfort zone. A "bonus," from a positive point-of-view (unlike wilderness hikes) would be getting refreshments at Phantom Ranch. That could be "Plan B" if you show up and try to get a camping pass (and make shuttle reservations earlier, if required/desired).

As Scott said, the heat will be a big deal. It's also tough earlier in the year because most of us often aren't as heat-acclimatized (sweat rates and sweat composition) at the beginning of the summer as we are at the end. Plus, there's the "backwards" mountaineering aspect of going down first and then climbing back up to a noticeable elevation.

That said, with plenty of water, electrolytes, and time, and a willingness to begin a beautiful hike under the stars of a clear desert sky, you can have a fabulous hike!

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Re: Grand Canyon permit failure

Postby madbuck » Tue Feb 05, 2013 11:59 am

Wish I lived in CO wrote:I personally believe they should have more permits and camping spots, but it's simply life and ya just deal with it.


I dunno, man, there are already several campgrounds, a restaurant, a bunch of mule/poop trains, etc. crammed into, what, like 7 miles in the bottom? Personally, I wish they'd kinda go the opposite direction towards wildness, IMHO. (But I'll also just deal with it! :-D )

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