Grand Canyon National Park opened the main 2011 river season lottery on February 1, 2010. The lottery will remain open to applications until noon February 24, 2010.
 
The lottery is strictly online based. The National Park Service (NPS) will not allow applications via fax, mail or phone. Winners are notified solely through email.
 
Of the trips available, 169 full sized trips of up to 16 people are in the winter season October through March. There are 70 full sized trips open in the six summer months, with an additional 45 summer trips for small groups only, of 8 people or less.
 
River Runners for Wilderness continues to offer an on-line guide to navigating the complex 2011 Grand lottery is at: https://www.rrfw.org/lotteryguide
 
A listing of the available 2011 river trip dates are posted at: http://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/cancelled-dates.htm  
 
Applications are being accepted on the Grand Canyon National Park’s lottery website at: https://npspermits.us
 
The NPS reports that in last year’s 2009 lottery for trips in 2010 there were 3,381 applications submitted for 266 available launch opportunities. On the first available date after the start of the motorboat-free period beginning September 15, there were 511 applications for that one date alone.
 
Lottery applicants must first establish a profile by visiting https://npspermits.us and during the application process river runners must update their last river trip information, as the Park does not supply this data.
 
Unlike lotteries that award participants extra points for participating in the lottery and losing, this lottery gives up to five additional points to do-it-yourself river running applicants for every year the river runner has stayed away from river trips in Grand Canyon.
 
No such framework of awarding better chances to go river running by staying away exists for the river runners who purchase yearly access to the river through the authorized river concessionaires.
 
The Grand Canyon lottery is set up so that all applicants must be at least 18 years old. Applicants may not already be members of other noncommercial or commercial trips launching in the same calendar year as the desired launch date. The NPS also notes that no one may be listed on more than one application within any individual lottery. These restrictions apply year-round.
 
In the last three winters, Grand Canyon National Park was unable to find applicants for some of the self-guided permit dates for December, January and February launches. River Runners for Wilderness has repeatedly asked Grand Canyon National Park to decrease the restrictions imposed for obtaining these unclaimed winter permits.
 
The Park Service charges a non-refundable $25 application fee to be able to play the lottery. This is the highest lottery fee of any federal land river application lottery in the country. Last year’s main February lottery alone generated $84,525.
 
Unlike other river lotteries, Grand Canyon’s lottery requires a substantial financial commitment from winners. Winners will have until noon, March 2, 2010, to pay a $400 trip deposit, both for small and standard sized trips. This deposit goes toward the $100 per person river running fee.
 
The Park also encourages applicants to list at least one Potential Alternate Trip Leader (PATL) on their lottery application. This is important because PATLs cannot be added after a trip date has been awarded.
 
By the lottery rules, listing at least one PATL on an application is the only way the permit holder can protect trip participants against a cancelled trip if for some reason the permit holder is unable to make the trip.