- The Colorado River through Grand Canyon is a highly technical river, not something for the inexperienced to try. At least one member of each trip must have the experience and skills required by the National Park Service.
- Noncommercial trips must be self-guided and may not hire guides.
- All noncommercial trip expenses must be shared among all participants on a full cost sharing basis.
- Once awarded through the weighted lottery, noncommercial trip launch dates may not be changed, deferred, or traded.
- Trips may be passed to qualified Potential Alternate Trip Leaders (PATLs) who: were listed on the original lottery application, confirmed their co-applicant status online before the lottery drawing, and met all other NPS requirements.
- The main applicant must be at least 18 years old. PATLs must be at least 18 years old by the launch date.
- Lottery application fee and river permit fees are nonrefundable. Applying through the Weighted Lottery costs $25, and those who are successful must immediately pay a nonrefundable deposit ($400 for standard size trips, $200 for small size trip). The deposit applies toward final permit fees. Final permit fees are currently $100 per person and are due 90 days before launch.
- All individuals are prohibited from participating on more than one (1) recreational river trip (commercial or non-commercial) per year through any part of the Lees Ferry to Diamond Creek section of the Colorado River.
Details of the noncommercial river trip permitting process
Colorado River rafting permits are distributed via a weighted lottery. The 2006 Colorado River Management Plan can be found at www.nps.gov/grca/learn/management/crmp.htm. Below is an overview of the noncommercial river permitting process.
Step 1: Create a profile. Each person listed on a lottery application (the trip leader and all Potential Alternate Trip Leaders (PATLs)) must have a user account (profile) in this system. Creating an account takes just a few minutes and is free: click on the "Create New User Profile" button on the login page and follow the instructions. Once you have a profile, you can login at any time and visit your personal profile page. This page shows your contact information and all past and present lottery applications. (New user profiles cannot be created when the river permit system is closed for maintenance.)
Step 2: Login and create your lottery application. When a lottery is open and accepting applications, a "Create Lottery Application" button will appear on your profile page. To create an application, click on this button and follow the instructions. Important, in order to list a PATL on your lottery application, the PATL must have an existing profile in this system before you list them on your lottery application. As you add PATLs to your application, you will see a running total of the points that your application will have based on the persons listed as trip leader or PATLs. (See also "Tell me more about how points work".) You can be listed on only one lottery application within a lottery. You can be either a trip leader or a Potential Alternate Trip Leader (PATL). Once you have been listed on one lottery application, you cannot be on any other application within that same lottery.
Step 3: Submit your completed application. You will be able to monitor your application status and verify that it is complete through this website. You may login and make changes to your application (e.g., changing your preferred trip dates, adding/deleting PATls, canceling your application) at any time prior to the designated lottery close date and time. All PATLs listed on your application must login to this system and accept their PATL status before the lottery drawing date; PATLs failing to do so will not be included in your lottery application.
Step 4: Pay lottery application fee. Once submitted, your completed application will appear as "pending" on your profile page. The application status will not become "active, awaiting lottery" until your $25 application fee has been received. Pending applications will not be considered for the lottery, so please be sure you have completed all the steps to activate your application! A completed application is not active until fees are paid. Lottery applicants are required to pay a $25 application fee only once per launch year. Once an application fee has been paid for a launch year, you can apply in all lotteries for that launch year for no additional fee. Pay the $25 lottery application fee through this website. IMPORTANT: Lottery application fee and river permit fees are nonrefundable.
Step 5: Lottery occurs. After the lottery, you will be notified of the success/failure of your lottery application by email. You may also log onto this site and check your application status. If you win a launch date, you must pay a trip deposit fee ($400 for standard size trips, $200 for small size trips). Trip deposits are usually due the day after a lottery closes.
Step 6: Complete a noncommercial river trip permit application and trip participant list and pay fees. If successful in the lottery, you complete a noncommercial river permit application to provide the remaining permit information and pay your permit fees. You will also submit a draft river trip participant list. Both the application and the participant list are available online. If you have won a launch date, and you have paid the trip deposit, a "River Permit Application" button will appear on your profile page. The permit fee is $100 per trip participant minus the trip deposit you have already paid. The actual amount due is calculated after you fill out the river trip application.
NOTE: THERE MUST BE AT LEAST ONE QUALIFIED BOAT-OPERATOR PRESENT ON THE ENTIRE RIVER TRIP. That person must have participated in a previous Grand Canyon river trip as a boat-operator in command of a boat or participated as a boat-operator in command of a boat on a river of similar difficulty to the Colorado River through Grand Canyon. Your boat-operator must be guided by a thorough understanding of the technical skill required to navigate the major rapids found in Grand Canyon National Park. The selection of boat-operators is the responsibility of the trip leader. Rivers of similar difficulty to the Colorado River through Grand Canyon (this list is not all-inclusive): Cataract Canyon, Utah; Lodore Canyon, Colorado; West Water Canyon, Utah; Middle Fork Salmon, Idaho; Rogue River, Oregon; Green River, Utah; Selway River, Idaho; Yampa River, Colorado; Tuolumne River, California; Main Salmon, Idaho.
Step 7: River permit is issued. Once you have submitted a valid noncommercial river permit application, draft trip participant list, and paid all fees, your river permit will be issued. After your permit is issued you may add participants to your trip up to 14 days before launch. The cost will be $100 per person plus an additional late fee of $100 per person. Contact the River Permits Office to make changes to an issued permit.
Step 8: Go rafting! Have a safe and pleasant trip down the magnificent Colorado River. Remember to bring a copy of your final trip participant list with you to Lees Ferry.
For more information see the Noncommercial River Trip Regulations (pdf file, 970kb).