Grand Canyon National Park officials have started a week long lottery for 66 river trips all in 2009. The lottery ends at noon Arizona time on Tuesday March 25, 2008.
 
Of the 66 trips the Park has in this lottery, 51 are either in January, February, November or December of 2009.
 
There are only three dates available for the popular months May through September of 2009, and one of these three dates is for a group size of 8 persons or less.
 
Demand for summertime river trips remains extremely high, and is reflected in the last three years of lottery data now available at
http://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/noncommercial-riv-docs.htm
 
During the main lotteries for the years 2007, 2008 and 2009, there were 10 applicants or less for any 16 person launch date between mid November and mid February.
 
This is in stark contrast to the month of June, where for any 16 person launch date, there were between 174 to 320 applicants.
 
Of note is a small but intense spike in demand for a three week period beginning just after the start of the motor-free season, beginning September 15.
 
During this motor-free period, the demand for a coveted September launch date has grown from 403 applicants for September 19, 2007, to 457 applicants vying for the one launch on September 27 in the 2008 lottery, to a whopping 471 applicants jockeying for the one launch on September 25 in 2009.
 
The National Park Service has long known that non-commercial river runners are the group most annoyed by concessions motorized tour boats, and it comes as no surprise then to see the large spike in demand for the launch dates in the second half of September when commercial motor tour boats stop running the river.
 
This latest follow-up lottery will attempt to find "winners" for launch dates which were either not applied for in the main 2009 lottery or for which required deposits were not paid.
 
This lottery will accept applications only through the lottery website at https://npspermits.us from March 17, 2008 through noon on March 25, 2008.
 
The Park Service has posted a complete list of dates for this lottery at http://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/cancelled-dates.htm
 
The lottery system resets all winner's points in a complex point system to 1 regardless of whether or not the winner is able to participate on the river trip or not.
 
The Park Service continues to encourage two or more individuals to sign up as co-trip leaders for non-commercial trips. Co-trip leaders, called Potential Alternate Trip Leaders, may only apply to the lottery on one joint application.
 
Individuals are encouraged by the Park Service to combine Waiting List points with other river runners. While combining points increases a group's chances of winning the lottery, this has sparked numerous conflicts between trip members long before the trip's assigned launch date.
 
The lottery drawings will take place in the afternoon of March 25 and email notifications will be sent by March 26. Statistics for this lottery will be posted by the end of the day on March 26.
 
River Runners for Wilderness (www.rrfw.org) continues to offer free lottery assistance through email and a phone hotline for the complicated 25 page sign-up and lottery application process.
 
The RRFW telephone assistance Help-line is available at (928) 856-9065, throughout this lottery on a first-come first-serve basis and by message.
 
Lottery applicants can refer to the RRFW online lottery tutorial, available for download as an Adobe PDF file of 9.5MB by clicking on the "Lottery Primer" link at http://www.rrfw.org/lotteryguide/
 
Additionally, lottery information is available at the free Rafting Grand Canyon WIKI at: http://www.rrfw.org/RaftingGrandCanyon/Main_Page
 
Discussion of the Grand Canyon lottery and winning strategies may be found at The Rafting Grand Canyon Yahoo group at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Rafting_Grand_Canyon/
 
River Runner for Wilderness offers these services at no charge, supported entirely through your generous donations at: http://www.rrfw.org/store
 
The Grand Canyon River Permits Office also offers help at 1-800-959-9164 or by email at grca_riv@nps.gov