Grand Canyon "walk in" backcountry permits

Dan_85

Member
Joined
Jul 25, 2013
Messages
226
So I found out in mid-Feb that i'd be able to get back to the Grand Canyon in June. It's not the most "off the beaten track" trip ever but i've always wanted to hike to the river & camp at Bright Angel Campground. Naturally I fired off my BC permit application as soon as possible, but of course as the window for June applications opened on Feb 1, I feared I was probably too late. That has been confirmed today, I received the email to tell me I didn't get a permit :(

Does anyone have any experience getting "Walk in" permits by just showing up at the Backcountry office? How many become available? And i'm right in thinking that the best I can hope for is to turn up & obtain a permit for the following day as opposed to the same day? I have a pretty tight schedule so can't really hang around the GCNP area for more than a couple of days if there's no permit on the cards...

Which brings me to my final question; rim to river and back dayhiking... I know the NPS strongly urge against it, but has anyone done it? I've read a few reports online from people who've done it & said it's tough but do-able if you're a fit & experienced hiker. In my mind i'm envisaging hitting SK trail by 5am at the latest, hopefully getting down to the river for 10am, resting & refuelling for an hour or so before starting the hike back up BA trail. I'd consider myself pretty fit & knowledgeable about the required water/food/electrolytes etc. I've clocked up several 15-20 mile days hikes both here in Europe & in Yosemite/the Sierras, including dayhiking Half Dome. Is it comparable? To be honest my biggest fear for June is the heat in the canyon...

Any opinions, advice or recommendations would be great. Or feel free to tell me that i'm totally crazy for even considering dayhiking!
 

Jammer

❤2Hike
.
Joined
Feb 23, 2012
Messages
641
Walk-in permits are always for the next day unless it's early in the day and there just happens to be spots available (not likely for Bright Angel.) I've gotten walk-ins for Bright Angel before, but I think I was lucky and know others who had to waste an extra day waiting.

A day hIke down and back is definitely doable for a strong hiker -- but I wouldn't want to do it in June because of the heat. I think it becomes more of an exercise challenge than fun this way (though you don't have to carry as much as an overnight trip which is a big plus.) IMHO it's much harder than day hiking Half Dome, not only because of the heat, but because you end the day going UP.

Maybe try hiking down Hermit or Monument to the river. You'd be more likely to get walk-in permits for these areas. They would also be much less busy than the corridor trails.

Good luck.

- Jamal
 

Dan_85

Member
Joined
Jul 25, 2013
Messages
226
Thanks for the info Jamal. I'll take my chances with a walk in then but probably won't hang around if I can't get something for the following day. Failing to secure one, I might get an early start, perhaps down as far as Cedar Ridge & see how I feel regarding going to the river and back in a day...

On the upside, one less day at GC means one more day in Escalante ;) Every cloud!
 

Laura

freespirittraveler
Joined
Oct 1, 2012
Messages
957
I was just there in February. Going to the river and back is perfectly doable in one day in 60 degree weather, but heat overrules fitness and anything else. Plus, if you realize you're overheating on the way back up, there's nothing you can do about it. There's no shade and no water on that trail. And no matter how early you start, you are coming back up in the peak heat of midday. Cedar Ridge is a good destination for a try out hike, you get spectacular views and a great taste of the canyon. Skeleton Key might be doable in June, but don't get river fever and rationalize going all the way down.@Aldaron is compiling a list of backcountry deaths, better to come back in a cooler season than risk getting on that list.
 
Last edited:

Joey

walking somewhere
Joined
Apr 1, 2014
Messages
878
Walk up permits are easy in January, not sure about June. Especially for Bright Angel. Your getting into the hot season, but still Bright Angel is the most popular spot in the park.

The beach campsites at Hermits Rapids, Granite Rapids, Tanner Beach, along the Beamer Trail, and at Red Canyon are all prettier than Bright Angel. Bright Angel is basically a car campsite, with parking lot style campsites. The only reason I would go there is because they sell beer at Phantom Ranch, and you can get food/hang out there. Don't get me wrong, its pretty. Its just that there are so many better places to go in the Grand Canyon.
 

Dan_85

Member
Joined
Jul 25, 2013
Messages
226
Thanks of the info guys, very helpful. Tbh I'm a bit of a Grand Canyon n00b which is why I'd wanted to start off with the classic SK - BA route but I like the sound of the campsites Joey mentioned, will definitely look further into those!

Think I've pretty much ruled out a rim to river and back day hike. I don't believe the distance to be an issue for me but I think the June heat is gonna be too much. Think this is gonna be one of those trips where I don't know what my itinerary will be until I rock up at the GC haha.

Thanks all!
 

Laura

freespirittraveler
Joined
Oct 1, 2012
Messages
957
Thanks of the info guys, very helpful. Tbh I'm a bit of a Grand Canyon n00b which is why I'd wanted to start off with the classic SK - BA route but I like the sound of the campsites Joey mentioned, will definitely look further into those!

Think I've pretty much ruled out a rim to river and back day hike. I don't believe the distance to be an issue for me but I think the June heat is gonna be too much. Think this is gonna be one of those trips where I don't know what my itinerary will be until I rock up at the GC haha.

Thanks all!

If @Jammer, who has walked all over Utah, wouldn't do it in the heat, that's about as good advice as you're going to get. :cool: You'll still have a fun adventure playing it by ear, looking forward to your trip report because going to the bottom and back is definitely on my list.
 
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