Applications Now Open for Grand Canyon 2013 Main Lottery

Grand Canyon National Park opened the main 2013 river season lottery for self-guided river trips through Grand Canyon on February 1, 2012. The lottery will remain open for only three weeks. All applications must be submitted by noon Mountain Standard Time February 22, 2012. 

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 449 trips available in the 2013 season, 181 full sized trips of up to 16 people are in the winter season October through March. There are 140 full sized trips open in the six summer months, with an additional 75 summer trips for small groups only, of 8 people or less. 

River Runners for Wilderness continues to offer an online guide to navigating the complex 2013 Grand lottery is at:

A listing of the available 2013 river trip dates are posted at:

Applications are being accepted on the Grand Canyon National Park’s lottery website at:

The NPS reports that in last year’s 2011 lottery for trips in 2012 there were 3,755 applications submitted for 436 launch opportunities. As in all the main lotteries run since 2006, the highest demand dates are the first available dates after the start of the motorboat-free period beginning September 15. In 2010, there were 511 applications for one date alone at the start of the motor-free season. This number quadrupled in two years, there were 2,123 applications for that date in 2012. 

Lottery applicants mustfirst establish a profile by visiting 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 participation in any self guided or concession river trip in Grand Canyon. 

River runners who purchase yearly access to the river through the authorized river concessionaires face no parallel obstacles and are free to purchase a trip year after year. 

All self-guided river runners are required to show photo identification to law enforcement rangers at the start of their river trip. No such enforcement is required for concessions passengers. River Runners for Wilderness continues to hear anecdotal reports of passengers who participate on two or more concessions river trips per year. 

For the last six winters, Grand Canyon National Park has been unable to find applicants for most of the self-guided permit dates for December and January launches. River Runners for Wilderness continues to ask Grand Canyon National Park to decrease the restrictions imposed for obtaining these unclaimed winter permits. In a letter to RRFW dated December 12, 2011, Park Superintendent David Uberuarga requested patience while his staff considers ways to make these trips more attractive to river runners. 

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 $93,875, while last year’s lottery generated $84,525. 

Unlike other river lotteries, Grand Canyon’s lottery requires a substantial financial commitment, and possible forfeiture of those funds from winners. Winners will have 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.