As Grand Canyon National Park's lottery registration for river running permits nears its close, registrants are encountering confusion and technical obstacles. The 2-step lottery consists of a registration, called a "profile" by the park, and a formal lottery entry with payment of a $25 fee. While registration is required for entering the lottery, registrants may elect to sit out this lottery. Registration closes October 21st, with the lottery to be held and winners notified by October 23rd.

River Runners for Wilderness has heard about technical issues and problems encountered by website registrants. One primary point of confusion is the requirement for lottery entrants to decide between a small trip group of 8, and a standard size of 16 participants before selecting their 5 dates. Since the 8-person trip size is the website's default, registrants will not automatically see the dates available for the standard size trip until they select that option-only the dates available for the small size will appear.

Although the phrase "weighted lottery" implies the hunting license system of awarding points to lottery losers to boost future chances of winning, Grand Canyon's lottery points are not related to entering or losing this or any future lottery. The system is more correctly called a "waited lottery" since points are awarded for years spent off the river, or "waiting", whether or not one enters the lottery. There is no benefit to entering the lottery and losing, although the Park does say "adaptive management" may help those who fail to win a trip after many years of trying.

Another frustration has been the website's automatic point tally system. As part of the registration process, points are awarded for the number of years elapsed since the registrant's last noncommercial trip. The problem appears to be with figuring the total points for combining the possible points of the primary and designated alternate trip leaders.

Even debit card payment, a process long perfected on the Internet, is causing headaches for some unlucky entrants.

Regardless of the challenges, River Runners for Wilderness encourages anyone who wishes to try for a permit to run the Colorado River in Grand Canyon to register and enter the lottery. The last day to apply is October 21, 2006. Permits will be awarded shortly after the lottery is held, on October 23, 2006. Be advised that winners will be immediately charged a substantial portion of the trip fees upon winning a date, $400 for standard trips and $200 for the small trip.

For more information on the lottery, click the "Lottery Information" link on our homepage underneath the video at www.rrfw.org, including a lottery FAQs Riverwire, links to the Park lottery pages and other helpful hints.