Details of the noncommercial river trip permitting process

General Requirements

Colorado River rafting permits are distributed via a weighted lottery. The 2006 Colorado River Management Plan can be found at 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: select 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, select 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 the launch year lottery application cost. There is a launch year lottery application cost to apply in a lottery, paid once per launch year. Once submitted, your completed application will appear as "pending" on your profile page. The application status will not become "active, awaiting lottery" until your lottery application payment has been received. Pending applications are not included in a lottery, so be sure you have completed all the steps to activate your application! Once an application cost has been paid for a launch year, you can apply in all later lotteries for that launch year for no additional fee. IMPORTANT: Lottery and river permit payments are nonrefundable.

Step 5: Lottery occurs. If you win a launch date, pay the trip deposit. 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. Trip deposits are usually due the day after a lottery closes. This deposit is applied towards final river permit costs. (detailed cost information can be found on the FAQ page at How much are permit costs?)

Step 6: Complete a noncommercial river trip permit application and draft trip participant list and pay final permit costs. All of these are done online through this website. If you have won a launch date, and after you have paid the trip deposit, a "River Permit Application" button will display on your profile page. You will need to complete a noncommercial river permit application and provide your trip details. You will also need to complete a draft river trip participant list. Lastly, you will pay final river permit costs. The actual amount due is calculated after you fill out the river trip application and is dependent on how many participants are on your trip. (detailed cost information can be found on the FAQ page at How much are permit costs?)

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. After you have submitted a valid noncommercial river permit application, a draft trip participant list, and paid all costs, your river permit will be issued. After your permit is issued you may add participants to your trip up to 14 days before launch by contacting the River Permits Office. Participants added after a permit has been issued will incur an late charge per participant in addition to the participant permit cost. Only the River Permits Office can 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).