Grand Canyon National Park has initiated its first ever online lottery for river trips to raft the Colorado River in the park.

The online "Weighted Lottery" has two steps, a registration component and a lottery application component. Completion of the registration process allows entry to the lottery but does not require it. Registration is free and collects trip leader information.

River Runners for Wilderness urges anyone interested in a trip, now or in the future, to register. The park says registrants will be notified of ongoing lottery details via email.

Once registered, the second step is to submit an online lottery application. The application costs $25, and allows hopeful rafters to choose up to five dates from an online calendar.

River runners will need to decide the size of their group, as the available launch dates shown on the calendar change based on trip size. The two choices for trip size include a small trip size of 8 people or less, and a standard group size of 16 people or less.

Although the online calendar is divided into motorized and motor-free seasons, none of the 48 small trips are available in the motor-free season.

For standard sized trips, 90 launches are listed in the motor-free winter months of October through March, while 60 launches are in the motorized summer season of April through September.

The online lottery applications will be closing October 21, 2006. Permits will be awarded shortly after the lottery is held October 23, 2006. Be advised that winners will be immediately charged a substantial portion of the trip fees upon winning a date.

The on-line lottery registration and application can be found at
http://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/weightedlottery.htm