RRFW Riverwire – Grand Canyon River Lottery Delayed
February 1, 2019
With the possibility of another Federal Government shutdown deadline looming February 16, 2019, officials at Grand Canyon National Park have decided to accept applications to the main public river permit lottery from February 16, 2019, to March 12, 2019. Applications will be accepted on the Grand Canyon National Park’s complicated lottery website at
This lottery, held at the end of February since 2006, decides which do it yourself river runner will win and lose river permits for the entire 2020 river year. During the 2018 main lottery, there were 6, 650 applicants competing for 463 public trips.
Additional lotteries are conducted throughout the year. Called follow-up lotteries, in 2018, one follow-up lottery had 2,345 applicants competing for 25 permits.
The Grand Canyon river permit lottery is one of the last river lotteries that has not been privatized out to the rec.gov website. The lottery is strictly online based. The National Park Service will not allow applications via fax, mail or phone. Winners are notified solely through email.
Concessions river trip passengers do not apply to the public do it yourself lottery. These commercial passengers sign up on concessionaire websites for guaranteed spots on trip dates of their choosing. Concessions river trips can cost as much as $700 per person per night.
As one lottery loser noted, it’s not the river that is hard to boat, but getting a permit has become the hardest part of the whole trip. It is unknown how many do it yourself river runners has opted out of playing the Grand Canyon river permit lottery given the odds are such that one can play this lottery for thirty years and never win a permit.
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