Tag Archives: national park backcountry permits

November 6, 2017 Big Spring Canyon-Squaw Canyon pass, Needles District, Canyonlands National Park.

5 National Park Backcountry Trips to Put on Your Radar Right Now

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, National Park Adventures, Paddling, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   4 Comments

By Michael Lanza

Your next national park backcountry adventure may seem far off your planning radar at this time of year—but this is precisely the time to start planning and looking into backcountry permits if you have your sights trained on the Grand Canyon, Canyonlands, Yosemite, Grand Teton, or the John Muir Trail. For all of them, the time to apply for a permit for a trip during the prime season next year is fast approaching. Here’s what you need to know and do. Continue reading →

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

May 30, 2017  |  In Backpacking, National Park Adventures, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Dawn above the Lyell Fork Canyon of the Merced River in Yosemite.

Mark Fenton enjoying the dawn above the Lyell Fork Canyon of the Merced River in Yosemite.

By Michael Lanza

You really want to backpack in Yosemite, Glacier, Grand Teton, Zion, Rocky Mountain, Rainier, or another hugely popular national park this summer—but you didn’t apply to reserve a wilderness permit months ago? Well, you’re in luck: Most parks have a system for getting a last-minute permit. The bad news? It requires jumping through some hoops, good timing, and a bit of luck. Here are the tricks I’ve learned from numerous backpacking trips to major national parks over the past three decades. Follow them and you just might go backpacking this year in a classic national park. Continue reading →

March 12, 2017 The Narrows, Zion National Park, Utah.

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

In Backpacking, National Park Adventures, Paddling, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   8 Comments

By Michael Lanza

The first time I backpacked in Yosemite National Park, more than 25 years ago, I applied months in advance for a permit to start at the park’s most popular trailhead, Happy Isles in Yosemite Valley—and got it. I had no idea at the time how lucky I was. I’ve since been shot down trying to get permits for popular hikes in parks like Yosemite, Grand Canyon, and Glacier. But I’ve also learned many tricks for landing coveted backcountry permits in flagship parks—which receive far more requests for permit reservations than they can accommodate. Continue reading →

April 4, 2016 Mount Rainier National Park.

Will the National Parks Bring Their Backcountry Permit System Into the Digital Era?

In Backpacking, National Park Adventures, Paddling   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments

By Michael Lanza

Last month, a storm caused a power outage at Mount Rainier National Park during a two-week period when rangers received about 2,000 requests from backpackers and climbers for backcountry permit reservations for 2016. (One of those requests, coincidentally, was mine.) The outage sparked a “critical failure” of the park’s reservation system, forcing management to abandon it and announce they would issue permits only first-come, first-served for all of 2016—not convenient for anyone traveling a distance to explore Rainier’s backcountry or thru-hike the Wonderland Trail.

Rainier’s crisis throws a spotlight on a larger dilemma facing the National Park Service: In an age when we can swipe and click to purchase almost any product or service, many national parks have plodded into the Digital Era with an archaically 20th-century system for reserving and issuing permits to camp in the backcountry—a system involving snail mail and fax machines. (If you’re not old enough to remember the 1980s and 1990s, Google “fax” on your smartphone.) At some parks, you must actually still show up in person, stand in line, and hope for the best.

Finally, though, it appears the national parks are making a bold leap into the 21st century, a change that should make exploring the backcountry of most parks—or at least getting permission to do so—much easier. Continue reading →

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Grand Canyon Hiker