Thursday, March 8, 2007

Travel - Grand Canyon National Park

We have both wanted to visit the Grand Canyon for some time, and decided that no matter what, we'll be hiking into it this trip, and hopefully camping at the bottom!

Being first-timers to this park, we were unaware of the procedure to obtain a permit for camping in the Canyon. Naively, we thought we could easily make reservation, until we check the National Park Service (NPS) website to make a reservation and found out that we should have made reservations four months in advance (on the first day of the month) of our desired backpacking dates. After speaking to a friendly Grand Canyon presenter at REI, we were told to make reservations by reaching person via phone rather than the normal method of faxing or mailing permit request. After dialing several numbers and being re-directed three times, I was able to talk to a friendly person working at the park. She informed me that the procedure for reservations begins on the first day of the month, four months in advance of the desired camping dates. A permit request, available on the NPS Grand Canyon website, should be faxed or mailed in the park's office and then we wait to hear back from them.

The friendly lady was unable to make a reservation for me but was able to tell me that the park was 95% booked for the month of May. I asked if we would have any chance of getting a permit. She began to give me tips on getting a permit maybe because she heard my dejected tone. Since we were so late in the game, we definitely had to fax our permit request and be flexible in our dates. And if that does not work, our next option is to go to the park and check for cancellations. Usually, after one to three days something opens up.

Despite making our reservation request as flexible as we could, we were denied a reservation to go camping below the rim.

So, now, our plan is to camp at the rim for a few days, and hopefully a back country camping spot will open up... Bummer.

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