You may need to purchase a Grand Canyon permit and make reservations for many of the activities available at the National Park. It is important to do this well ahead of your travel date—in some cases, many months in advance. Lodging, camping and RV site reservations need to be made promptly to secure the best locations.
First-time visitors of the Grand Canyon are often surprised to learn how many activities require authorization from National Park Service (NPS). While day hiking and horseback riding trips do not require permits, rafting and backpacking in certain locations do. Be prepared when traveling to the natural phenomenon by learning all you need to know about Grand Canyon reservations and permits.
Grand Canyon Backcountry Permits
A Grand Canyon backcountry permit is required for specific overnight activities in the Canyon. This includes overnight hiking, horseback riding, cross-country skiing and camping at rim sites that are undeveloped campgrounds. Fees are $10 per permit, plus $8 per person or stock animal per night when camping below the rim. Camping above the rim, however, requires $8 per group per night.
If you plan on doing any of these overnight activities, then you must submit your Grand Canyon backcountry permit application well in advance of your travel date. For example, if you plan to go backcountry camping in June, your application should be submitted via mail or fax between January 20 and February 1. If you miss the application deadline, a limited number of walk-in permits are issued daily at the North Rim or South Rim Backcountry Information Center. A waitlist is also available.
For more information about backcountry permits, call the Grand Canyon National Park’s Backcountry Information Center at (928) 638-7875 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. MST Monday through Friday. Fax completed applications to (928) 638-2125. Mail applications to:
Grand Canyon National Park
1824 S. Thompson St., Suite 201
Flagstaff, AZ 86001
Grand Canyon Campsite and RV Site Reservations
The Grand Canyon is a dream destination for many camping and RV enthusiasts. Making Grand Canyon camping reservations can help ensure you get to camp at your chosen spot. There are over 450 total campsites within the national park and 79 RV sites. A Grand Canyon camping permit is not needed to stay at any of these official sites.
Reservations are required at two of the three National Park Service’s campgrounds located within Grand Canyon National Park: Mather Campground on the South Rim (open all year) and the North Rim Campground (open May 15 through October 31 each year). Make a reservation by calling the National Recreation Reservation Service at (877) 444-6777 up to six months in advance.
If you forget to make Grand Canyon campsite reservations, then you can try the South Rim’s Desert View Campground located 25 miles east of Grand Canyon Village. Campsites are issued on a first-come, first-served basis only and are usually fully booked by noon. Keep in mind that Desert View Campground is only open seasonally from mid-April to mid-October of each year.
Full RV hookups are available year-round at Trailer Village located in Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim. It is the only RV park located within Grand Canyon National Park, and it is suitable for vehicles up to 50 feet long. Call (877) 404-4611 to book a Trailer Village RV site.
Grand Canyon River and Rafting Permits
There are different types of river trips on the Colorado River. Half-day and full-day commercial smooth water trips are available through tour companies. River concessioners also provide longer three- to 18-day river trips on motorized rafts, oared rafts, paddle boats and dories. If you are doing a tour, then the tour company will obtain the required Grand Canyon rafting permit for you.
However, you must purchase a Grand Canyon river permit yourself if you are going on a noncommercial or private, river trip. The National Park does not currently charge permit fees for two-to-five-day noncommercial trips that launch from Diamond Creek. However, only two trips of up to 16 passengers are authorized daily and the Hualapai Tribe charges access fees for crossing tribal land.
To navigate this portion of the Colorado River, you must first complete a Diamond Creek to Lake Mead permit application. Submit it to the Grand Canyon River Permits Office up to one year in advance. For more information, call the office at (800)-959-9164 or (928) 638-7843 if you are traveling from outside of the U.S.
Longer river trips require the purchase of a 12-to 25-day Noncommercial River Permit. These are issued to the public through a weighted lottery process. Note that applicants must be at least 18 years old and at least one party member must meet the National Park Service’s river rafting experience and skill requirements. Noncommercial Grand Canyon River Permit costs include:
- $25 to submit a lottery application during an open lottery.
- $200 for a small trip deposit or $400 for a standard trip deposit.
- $20 entrance fee per participant.
- $90 river permit cost per participant.
- $100 late charge for any participants added after the permit has been issued.
Organized Group Rim to Rim and Extended Day Hike/Run Permits
A Grand Canyon rim to rim permit is required for any noncommercial or nonprofit group organizing rim-to-rim and extended day hiking and running events. This includes scouts, clubs, churches and other groups that have their own itinerary. Group size is limited to 12 to 30 people.
The application fee for this type of Grand Canyon hiking permit is $200. Additionally, groups must have at least one first-aid/CPR-certified leader for up to seven participants, and two certified leaders for eight to 30 participants.
Reservations and Permits for Other Grand Canyon Activities
Because the Grand Canyon is such a special place, many people wish to host weddings, family reunions and other meaningful events here. Grand Canyon Reservations and permits are required for many types of activities. Prices for each permit type are as follow:
- Shoshone Point: $450
- Shrine of the Ages: $275
- Wedding (non-Shoshone Point locations): $150
- Special Events: $375
Visitors wishing to scatter ashes from cremated remains may do so free of charge. However, they must notify the Concessions Management Office at (928) 638-7707 or email GRCA_Permits_Mail@nps.gov prior to visiting. The date, time and exact area where the ashes will be scattered must be provided.