RRFW Riverwire – Applications Now Open for Grand Canyon 2018 Main Lottery

February 9, 2017

Grand Canyon National Park opened the main 2018 river season lottery for self-guided river trips through Grand Canyon on February 1, 2017. The lottery will remain open through noon Mountain Standard Time on Wednesday, February 22, 2017.

The lottery is strictly online based and winners are notified solely through email.

Of the 463 permits offered in the 2018 lottery, 225 full sized trips of up to 16 people are in the winter season October through March. In the summer, there are 77 trips with group sizes of eight or less and 153 full sized trips of up to 16 people. This is in comparison to the park’s river concessionaires who have 600 summer launches of 32 people each trip.

A listing of the available 2018 river trip dates are posted at: https://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 2016 lottery for trips in 2017, 5,550 applicants tried for 472 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 2016, there were 371 applications for one date alone at the start of the motor-free season.

Lottery applicants must first establish a profile by visiting https://grcariverpermits.nps.gov/login.cfm. The Park Service charges a non-refundable $25 application fee to be able to play the lottery, the highest lottery fee of any federal land river application lottery in the country. Last year’s main February lottery alone generated $138,750. On being awarded a permit, each winner must submit an immediate down payment for the $100 permit fee each trip participant will need to pay the Park.

For 2015, the last year annual use figures were available, the Park generated over $750,000 in do-it-yourself river runner lottery and permit fees.

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.

Grand Canyon National Park has recently posted a 22 page advisory on how to apply for the do-it-yourself lottery here: https://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/upload/River_and_Weighted_Lottery_FAQs.pdf

The Colorado River in Grand Canyon National Park is managed for its wilderness values. As such, the number of river trips is tightly restricted to preserve wilderness qualities in the Grand Canyon. While many give Grand Canyon National Park high marks for controlling the number of river trips allowed to pass through the Canyon each year, how those trips are distributed between do-it-yourself river runners and the parks river concessionaires remains a contested issue.

According to the National Park Service website, the highly subsidized river concessionaires will have an opportunity to renew their ten year permits this year, rolling the 2006 Colorado River Management Plan and lottery forward till at least 2026.

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