Canyonlands NP Needles backpacking permit in winter

TrailScot

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From Recreation.gov:

The Needles District Visitor Center will be closed for the winter. Backcountry permits for the Needles District will only be available first come, first served at a self issue station outside of the Visitor Center from November 29, 2021 through March 9, 2022

Does anyone have experience of how this works practically ? So, for example, if I arrive on March 1st, and want to hike into Salt Creek for 3 days, how will I know what campsites are currently available ?

I am picturing a huge whiteboard, with 3 months worth of dates, for all 25 campsites/zones; but I guess that is unlikely :)
 

Ugly

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Naw, no whiteboard. haha
This is government, think more simple.

The past few years there has been a register outside the VC at Needles. More like a few sheets of paper with a calendar, grid thing with the main campsites and areas. You block out the campsite/date, fill out your permit, and sometimes they also have wag bags in a box next to the register (required btw). There is also a place to dispose used wags. There is a ranger presence, usually driving around, asking questions and honestly helpful.
The trick with March and nice weather is popularity goes up.
 

TrailScot

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Joined
Dec 2, 2019
Messages
64
Naw, no whiteboard. haha
This is government, think more simple.

The past few years there has been a register outside the VC at Needles. More like a few sheets of paper with a calendar, grid thing with the main campsites and areas. You block out the campsite/date, fill out your permit, and sometimes they also have wag bags in a box next to the register (required btw). There is also a place to dispose used wags. There is a ranger presence, usually driving around, asking questions and honestly helpful.
The trick with March and nice weather is popularity goes up.

Thanks for that information ... that is useful to know ...
 

OwenM

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Noone checks, though, at least at the times I was there(edit: may be a whole 'nother ballgame by March). No stress about sticking to a set schedule or campsite when noone else is around. December was my 3rd out-of-season visit of 2020-2021. I saw two other backpackers on the first trip. Everyone else I've seen has been a runner or dayhiker. I spent 2 nights at Peekaboo, coming and going, and another at SC4, and didn't see another person for 3 days. Very nice.
More Ranger presence this last time, and the Visitor Center/gift shop was even open on the weekend.
I didn't know this before, but they have Wifi there, though it may only be on when they're open(?).
 

Ugly

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Just a note too that the Needles has far less ice and snow than any of the last 4 years. It does get a bit busier every year on the weekends, but there were only 2 campsites taken at Squaw on Thursday night. In the backcountry only a few spots were marked off for the weekend. As the weather improves that will change. I know online at .gov it looks 90% booked everywhere from March on.

I did not check the Wifi today, so could not say. Only the bathrooms were open.
Saw a ranger emptying trash at 7am Saturday morning, but that was all.
 
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