Grand Canyon backcountry permit

A backpacker above Elizabeth Lake in Glacier National Park.

How to Get a Last-Minute, National Park Backcountry Permit

By Michael Lanza

You really want to backpack in Yosemite, Glacier, Grand Teton, Zion, Rocky Mountain, Mount Rainier, or another hugely popular national park this summer—but you didn’t apply to reserve a wilderness permit months ago? Well, you just may be in luck: Most parks have a system for getting a last-minute permit. It requires jumping through some hoops, understanding the system’s ins and outs, good timing, patience, and a bit of luck, but many backpackers get permits without a reservation every year.

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A backpacker on the Dawson Pass Trail in Glacier National Park.

10 Tips For Getting a Hard-to-Get National Park Backcountry Permit

By Michael Lanza

Backpackers planning a trip in popular national parks like Yosemite, Grand Teton, Glacier, Zion, Grand Canyon, Mount Rainier, Rocky Mountain, Great Smoky Mountains, and others have one experience in common: A high percentage of them see their backcountry permit application rejected—and many probably don’t realize why.

Countless backpacking trips over more than three decades—during which I was the Northwest Editor of Backpacker magazine for 10 years and have now run this blog for even longer—have taught me many tricks for landing coveted permits in flagship parks, which receive far more requests than they can fill. Follow the strategies outlined below for success reserving your next national park backcountry permit.

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A backpacker on the Grand Canyon's Thunder River-Deer Creek Loop.

How to Apply for a National Park Backcountry Permit

By Michael Lanza

You want to backpack in Yosemite, Grand Teton, Glacier, Zion, Grand Canyon, Rocky Mountain, Mount Rainier, or another popular national park? For trips in many parks, you need to know when and how to apply in advance for a backcountry permit reservation, to ensure you’re able to take your dream trip. In this video, I’ll walk you through the steps of applying for a backcountry permit online, so that you’ll know how to navigate a process that can seem complicated when you submit your own permit application.

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