Yellowstone Backcountry Permits Available Online In 2022

scatman

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The drowning of sorrows begins. :(

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TractorDoc

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The drowning of sorrows begins. :(
Did you participate in some Retail Therapy as well? I see some REI packaging on the table. :)

Also, are those a pair of Emmys in the cabinet? I really don't know my award shows, but I know one of the prizes is a golden statue.

I feel your pain Hugh. Probably not at the same level. . . but it is definitely a disappointing form of progress.
 
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€££¥¥@#$$&&&##$&****+*—-&$$##$&$###$&&&&&$##$$$$#@%###€££¥§^[[]][££€€¥¥¥£€€!!!!!!!!!!
Looks like my beloved NPS is tryin to push us over to th USFS- lands of multiple abuse!
Wreck dot gov….sucks for th most part…now where’s that beer.
 

scatman

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How long does it take to drown sorrows? Isn't there some kind of law against that, you know, an anti-cruelty to sorrows law or such? And I love the cat clock.

Drowning sorrows is like airing of grievances, it can take awhile.

Isn't it against the law to replace a good system with one that sucks? As in Recreation.gov. :mad:

Here's you another cat clock for our cat Asheville.

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scatman

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Did you participate in some Retail Therapy as well? I see some REI packaging on the table. :)

Also, are those a pair of Emmys in the cabinet? I really don't know my award shows, but I know one of the prizes is a golden statue.

I feel your pain Hugh. Probably not at the same level. . . but it is definitely a disappointing form of progress.

That box has snow tent stakes in it. :thumbsup: I'm starting to plan our winter trips you know. :)

Of course those are Emmys. I'm famous! ;) That's one of the reasons I can call Robert Redford Bob.

I see that there is a Hayden Valley Trip report that I need to take a look at. I'm sorry I didn't get to it today, but I played basketball for the first time this morning in two years, and it kicked my ass. Then we had to get Sheila a road bike, so I was out shopping most of the day. She is going to do a 100 mile ride through Logan/Cache Valley in June and her mountain bike just wouldn't cut it I'm afraid. I'm going to attempt reaching Dude Benchmark tomorrow, so I probably won't get to it then either. I should be able to sit down and go through it with a fine toothed comb on Monday. I'm betting that it is excellent. :thumbsup:
 

TractorDoc

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I see that there is a Hayden Valley Trip report that I need to take a look at. I'm sorry I didn't get to it today, but I played basketball for the first time this morning in two years, and it kicked my ass. Then we had to get Sheila a road bike, so I was out shopping most of the day. She is going to do a 100 mile ride through Logan/Cache Valley in June and her mountain bike just wouldn't cut it I'm afraid. I'm going to attempt reaching Dude Benchmark tomorrow, so I probably won't get to it then either. I should be able to sit down and go through it with a fine toothed comb on Monday. I'm betting that it is excellent. :thumbsup:
Oh don't worry too much about that trip report. Its just stuff you've already seen. . . in person! :)

Basketball, eh? Just be careful with those knees. You have a lot of downfall in your future. That 100 miles will be an impressive accomplishment for Mrs. Scat. I doubt I could ever master a road bike as my bum gets sore after a couple miles on the bike trails in my area. I'd have to add one of those banana seats from back in the day with extra padding. I hope you reach your mark tomorrow. . . I'll be looking forward to the report!
 

LarryBoy

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I’m not a fan of recreation.gov, but at least the costs are reasonable. I saw a post about Rocky Mountain NP, and their reservations are $36. Everytime someone went a little bonkers about the cost, someone from Rocky responded that they’ve been charging a fee since 1969. Um, that didn’t address what people were saying. I must admit, once Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (near where I previously lived) started charging an overnight fee, in about 1998, in a few years, lots of trails were better. If they use the money to take care of the resource I’m using, and it seems an appropriate fee, I’m ok with it, I guess. At Pictured Rocks, they started by charging $15, whether one person for one night, or 20 people for 14 days. If we’re trying to protect the resource, then I think the 20 people at the group site should pay more. Eeventually, things worked out, and there was a per person fee ($4 per person, at that time). As it was initially proposed, I was especially upset because the fee to get a drive in campsite was $7.50. So I was paying $15 for a weekend night, for the opportunity to pee behind a tree, while someone with a 35 foot fifth wheel could park on a flat pad, and have a picnic table, a fire ring, potable water nearby, and an outhouse to use for $7.50. It was like the park service hadn’t noticed that was a little bit unfair.

As to only being able to make one early reservation, I can’t complain much. I live about two hours from the park, and over the last few years, have made four or five early reservations per year. Often, I got exactly what I wanted on the little form. If I didn’t get what I wanted, someone called and we talked, and I got something else—once I just flipped the dates from one trip I had just gotten word about, to another trip where the sites I wanted weren’t available on the dates I wanted. The park service folks have been great. Sometimes I got sites that, in hind sight, I probably needn’t have reserved. But if I was going to spend money in the park, better the $25 for that reservation go to the backcountry folks than the make-a-bigger-RV-parking-lot folks.

I’m also relieved to see that a person can still get walk up permits, and for a reasonable price ($5). I live by this park for a reason, and love that last summer and fall, I spent 12 weekends in a row in the backcountry. Now many of those sites weren’t superdooper. If I had come from Indiana, I probably wouldn’t have wanted to get some of those sites. But driving three hours to get a spot where I could watch steam rise from a thermal area, or eat my morning oatmeal looking at the Red Range, yay. I got to do that for low cost, and will continue to, unlike at Rocky, where the last minute permit is $36. I believe Pictured Rocks is now $24, and the last time I went to the Tetons, it was something like $45 (maybe that included how many nights I signed up for). Understand, if I had come from Indiana, those walk-in sites would have been really nice, but they didn’t lead anywhere—I just hiked back to my car and went home. They weren’t on the way to some big site, and I couldn’t later brag that I had earned a patch for walking the whole Thoroughfare. I tell friends that come out from Michigan and Indiana and wherever, that we’re better off doing two shorter trips, than trying to find one thirty or fifty mile “see it all” adventure. I show them, by walking in and getting a site where we walk by thermals, or a site with beautiful views, or a site with a neat meadow that always has bison. Then a couple of days later, we do a planned (reserved) hike to a waterfall or something that IS a destination. Walk-in permits still let me take people to see special things, but hasn’t kept people trying to do lifetime trips from having the sites they need. They reserved their site long before, I hope that the Yellowstone Backcountry folks get things settled out fairly quickly. And I hope they don’t learn too much from the parks that leave their customer service to recreation.gov. GASP.

Sorry this was so long. And, sorry if it rambled too much. When I first saw that the park was changing their reservation mechanism, I was afraid that I wasn’t going to be able to afford my retirement hobby, and I’m relieved that that is still intact. I hope that people get the permits they truly want.

Hey, does anyone know how the outfitters are getting their permits? Actually, how did outfitters get their permits before??

Pringles
I respectfully disagree. Rec.gov must have huge margins. It's not that complicated of a portal (no different than any of hundreds of e-commerce sites out there) and I can't imagine R&D + site maintainence costs more than what... 50 cents a permit? So at six bucks a pop, they're raking in the dough. And all that money comes straight out of your pocket and mine and goes to Booz Allen.

It'd be one thing if the service fee were minimal/reasonable, but six bucks is not, especially when the permit itself often only costs 3.

I must agree with you though that flat fees for permits are completely bonkers. It costs a solo backpacker on a one night trip the same $30 (plus 6 bucks to the Booz Allen Slush Fund) as it does a troop of Boy Scouts for a week.
 

wsp_scott

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Warning: Long post with lots of quotes from different websites. TL;DR I'm am uncertain about the "slushfund" for BoozAllen

I have a couple permits for this summer. Yosemite (which just moved to recreation.gov) charged $10 to enter the lottery and then $5/person "use fee" which is the actual permit. I added on a second permit after the lottery which charged a $10 "reservation fee" and then $5/person "use fee"

Inyo NF charged a $6 "reservation fee" and a $5/person "use fee". Inyo says "Reservation fees are used to finance the on-line reservation system and software for permit data."

So why is Yosemite's fee ($10) different from Inyo ($5)? And where does this money go? Inyo implies that the NF doesn't keep it.

I agree that it is a relatively simply website, but it does have to link with a large number of independent permit systems. That doesn't really change your argument though, just increases the cost of each permit to maybe something like a dollar which is still a lot less than five or six dollars. The big question is where does the money go? BoozAllen or the Federal Gov?

This made me start googling a bit.

In 2019 Recreation.gov had 163 million views, 4 million transactions, 1 million contact center calls. The whole thing runs on AWS, so there are some largish costs, but I have no idea. In addition, "the new site makes approximately 5,000 updates annually" and "site has generated more than $141 million in revenue for the Federal Government" from the Booz Allen site (https://www.boozallen.com/s/insight...g-the-recreation-gov-customer-experience.html)

Picking a random number, at $5 per reservation, this is approximately $20 million in annual revenue but the costs have to come out of this money.

I've seen this in a couple of places a contract worth "$182 million for ten years". But, I can't figure out if this is to build/maintain the site and the reservation is extra (profit?) or if this $182 million is what BoozAllen got to build/setup and the $5 is for running the site (programmers, AWS, call center, ...).

"Once the contract -- $182 million for ten years -- was signed, Booz Allen Hamilton built recreation.gov's online presence, a security system for it, handled the marketing, and subcontracted call center services.

"If you go online to make a reservation right now, their system is what’s allowing you to see what’s available, allowing you to select your days and so forth," DeLappe said. "Your payment actually goes through their system, through their secure system, and then into a Treasury account. So the finances are all handled by the government.”

The revenues pay Booz Allen Hamilton's monthly invoices to the government with the rest returning to the respective land-management agencies where the campsites and other reservable services are located." (https://www.nationalparkstraveler.org/2021/03/rush-outdoors-has-challenged-recreationgov)

From a Wall Street Journal article in 2019 (https://www.wsj.com/articles/seekin...ent-offers-revamped-travel-portal-11570742343)
"For Olympic National Park near Seattle, the revamp cut costs. The park, which was added to Recreation.gov this year, projects it will save about 5,000 staff hours and up to $150,000 a year."

Service Snapshot (all data for fiscal year 2020) - https://ourpublicservice.org/our-work/customer-experience/cx-2021-rec-gov/
  • 67.5 million online visits.
  • 800,000 calls to the Recreation.gov contact center.
  • 5.5 million recreation reservations made.


All of this is to say that it is uncertain that BoozAllen is pocketing the reservation fee or if its profits come out of the $182 million after paying costs. I don't have a lot of respect for our legislators/government, but I'd like to think that they did not give the contractor a bottomless bag of money on top of $182 million for 10 years. I'd love to see more information about this but googling mostly returns sites with people complaining about recreation.gov :) and not a lot of information about the structure of the actual contract.
 

Rockskipper

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This has a little background and some interesting comments:

 

TheMountainRabbit

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All of this is to say that it is uncertain that BoozAllen is pocketing the reservation fee or if its profits come out of the $182 million after paying costs. I don't have a lot of respect for our legislators/government, but I'd like to think that they did not give the contractor a bottomless bag of money on top of $182 million for 10 years. I'd love to see more information about this but googling mostly returns sites with people complaining about recreation.gov :) and not a lot of information about the structure of the actual contract.
I think you bring up valid points, but the lack of transparency and difficulty in locating this sort of information doesn't inspire confidence. I'd be greatly fascinated to read an in-depth analysis by a talented, FOIA-savvy journalist - because you're right that a deep look into the structure/financials of recreation.gov (and the associated contracts) is missing from the conversation. Maybe it'd be good news? But if that was the case, you'd think "they" would be bragging about it...

For Yellowstone specifically - ignoring the rec.gov elephant in the room - I don't think the process itself is too bad. It's better than a lot of others, in fact - the existence of a lottery at all puts it above both GTNP (which has been rec.gov for years) and RMNP (which is newly adopting rec.gov). I don't like the limitation of only a single lottery entry, but hopefully that's something they can do away w/ in the near future - and after looking closer, it's pretty easy to work around unless you only hike solo.

And I don't find the fee amounts to be an issue - if the funds are going to the right place (which they probably aren't) - but that just loops back to the general lack of information about rec.gov and BAH.
 

swmalone

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Drowning sorrows is like airing of grievances, it can take awhile.

I greatly appreciate the airing of grievances. That beer sounds delicious. I tend to avoid epic mostly because of the cost and partly because of a rumor I heard about them wanting to oppose the increase to 5% in store and wanting to co-pack for bud and coors when they killed their 4% by volume. I was trying to find the article but no luck, so I'm probably just a crazy beer conspiracy theorist and everything I mentioned can be disregarded. Maybe I should go buy one of those high ABV beers and forget all about it.
 

scatman

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The Epic brews can be costly, but they have a few like the 825 Stout and the Cross Fever Amber that are reasonably priced, at least if bought at the brewery, that I enjoy. The raisin stout was $6.00 for a bottle.
 

Pringles

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But complaining about Recreation.gov here won’t change anything. And the Rocky Mountain National Park Facebook page was really, really negative, and that won’t accomplish anything either. So, is there something we CAN do? Who can we contact? Years ago I wrote about a parks issue to my two senators and my representative. One responded about the wrong park and a different issue (no points for that one). One responded about the right park, the wrong issue (half points?). The third responded about the right park, the right issue, and said he personally believed the opposite and was going to push for that (at least I knew he understood what I was talking about). Is there anything we can do that might help the issue?
 

TheMountainRabbit

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End government contracting to private companies ...
I don't know if I'd say end it completely - though it's so out of control right now, maybe we do need a hard reset. I'm not sure we need a new government entity for everything the government should be responsible for, but proper funding for the government entities providing oversight and a mandatory transparency requirement for all such agreements seems like a no-brainer - at the absolute least.
 
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CodyL

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I've enjoyed reading the differing opinions on this. I may be in the minority on this one. I guess the unpopular take on this is that change isn't easy, but going to rec.gov may make it easier and faster to get a permit. The old system of mail and fax or email with a ranger calling back to change dates or make adjustments is antiquated, outdated and inefficient. From what I can tell, anything you wanted to do before you can still do now. As mentioned above, there are ways around the early access lottery limits if you want to schedule multiple trips in advance. They are still saving a % for walk ups so that won't change. I think it will be in getting your "general permits" that this system will make faster and easier. I can sit at my desk at work and check availability online and schedule it in 5 minutes. I don't have to have a back and forth with someone in the backcountry office. Maybe I'll change my mind on this and you guys on the other side are right, but initially I didn't like when canyonlands switched over- and it ended up being no big deal.
 

TheMountainRabbit

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Definitely some kinks to be worked out of the new system - was quite a hassle getting my September trip booked since the system didn't like some of the campsites I wanted to link up. Shorter trips were easy enough though. Overall it wasn't too bad, I guess.

How was everyone else's luck/experience?
 
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