Grand Canyon National Park has completed the Main Permit Lottery for the 2008 river rafting year. This year's Main Lottery ran from May 1st through noon on May 28, 2007.
This year's lottery had 2304 applications for 213 available permits. According to the National Park Service, 194 permits were awarded to lucky lottery winners. In 2006, the Grand Canyon Lottery had 2,534 applicants for 197 available dates.
Applicants had an average one-in-eleven chance of winning the lottery, while concessions passengers can still book open seats on their choice of dates for river trips in either 2007 or 2008.
While park planners had originally estimated 7,000 river runners would apply for the lottery each year based on other river lotteries around the country, the Grand Canyon lottery is unlike any other river lottery in the country.
Other river lotteries allow applications by mail, e-mail or fax on a simple one page application. In the Grand Canyon lottery, potential applicants must navigate through two dozen pages of online web-based application forms, and pay a $25 per application fee. The park netted $57,600 on application fees during the lottery.
The park has notified the winners of the lottery that they must submit a $400 trip deposit within the next two weeks. This will net the park an additional $77,600. Throughout the year, based on lottery fees and the $100 per person fee, the park may collect over $762,000 in fees yearly from an estimated 7,000 self guided river runners.
This year's lottery, like last year's, was fraught with computer troubles. Computer users using the latest Microsoft software had difficulty finding the pop-up launch calendar window. Some individuals were unable to log in, links on the NPS web site were broken, and others were instructed to pay twice.
River Runners for Wilderness helped lottery applicants from around the world sort through the complex lottery system. RRFW offered assistance with a website tutorial, through e-mail and a telephone call-in hotline program.