Backcountry Permits & Reservations
Canyonlands National Park

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Backcountry permits are required for all overnight stays in the backcountry. This includes backpacking, four-wheel drive or bicycle camping, flat water river trips on the Green or Colorado to the Confluence, and Cataract Canyon river trips. Permits are also required for day use by vehicles, horses, and bikes in Salt Creek/Horse Canyons and Lavender Canyon in the Needles District.

Reservations are highly recommended if you plan to visit Canyonlands National Park during peak season. During the spring and fall, demand for backpacking and four-wheel drive camping permits frequently exceeds the number available.

Reservations must be made at least two weeks before a trip. The backcountry vehicle campsites along the White Rim Road are especially popular, and should be reserved at least six months in advance for peak times. Currently, there is no limit on the number of flatwater permits issued. For these activities, groups should apply during, or as close to open season as possible. In the past few years, the Cataract Canyon allocation has been filling by early Spring. Permits not reserved in advance are made available to walk-ins on a first-come, first-served basis.

Backcountry Fees

To help recover some of the costs of the reservation system and permit processing, Canyonlands now charges a non-refundable, reservation fee for each permit.

Permit Type

Fee

Group Size Limits Per Permit
(p:people, v:vehicle)
. . Island Needles Maze
Backpacking $15 7 people 7 people 5 people
Vehicle Campsites $30 15p/3v 10p/3v 9p/3v
Flat Water $20

40 people (recommended)
Cataract Canyon $30

40 people (recommended)
Day Use (Needles only) $5

1 vehicle per permit

Please note that permits are not required for day hiking.

When combining different activities on a backcountry trip, reservation fees are not cumulative: only the higher of the appropriate fees will be charged. For example, groups planning to backpack during a Cataract Canyon trip will not be charged an extra $10 for the backpacking reservation. However, group size limits vary by activity and location (see above), and a large group on the river may have to divide into smaller groups when backpacking. In this case, a second reservation must be made and another fee charged.

When combining other activities with group camping or day use, reservation fees are cumulative. For example, groups spending the night at Devil's Kitchen Camp must pay an additional fee for day use permits to enter Salt Creek/Horse or Lavender canyons. The only exceptions to this are that groups camping at Peekaboo in the Needles, or backpackers using the Angel Arch trailhead, do not have to purchase a day use permit to gain access to Salt Creek.

Day use permits are required for each vehicle in a group and are valid for one day only. Please note that a permit to travel in Salt Creek/Horse canyons does not provide access to Lavender Canyon.

Backcountry permits are valid only for the dates and sites/zones listed on the front of the permit, and they must be in your possession and made visible while you are in the backcountry. Permits are valid for up to fourteen consecutive days. When multi-district trips are planned, permit holders may spend one night outside the park in order to travel and re-supply. Permits are non-transferable and fees are non-refundable. A trip may, however, be rescheduled at the time of cancellation for other dates during the same calendar year. Special instructions apply for river permits and reservations.

Obtaining Backpacking & Vehicle Permits

Backpack and vehicle permits must be obtained from the national park visitor center closest to where your trip originates (i.e., if your trip is in the Needles, you must pick up the permit at the Needles Visitor Center). Permits are issued to walk-ins, on a space-available basis, and to confirmed reservation holders. Reservation holders must pay the fee at the time their reservations are confirmed. Reservation holders may pick up their permits the afternoon before the trip or up to an hour before the visitor center closes on the first day of the reservation. If you have a reservation and cannot meet this time, you must call the issuing visitor center to specify your expected arrival time.

On a trial basis, 1997 White Rim permits will be mailed to reservation holders requesting this service. In addition, visitors entering the park's backcountry through remote locations that do not involve passing one of the visitor centers may make alternate plans to obtain their permits. In order to receive a permit by mail, visitors must contact the reservation office, provide vehicle information and coordinate parking arrangements at least two weeks before a trip begins.

Allow plenty of time for travel to the districts. Rangers will not issue permits during the last hour of visitor center operation.

Obtaining a Flat Water Permit

Flat water permits must be obtained from the reservation office. Since flat water permits are currently not limited in number, we encourage you to finalize your plans before requesting a permit. To receive your permit by mail, you must submit your application at least two weeks in advance. Last minute river permits may be obtained at the Reservation Office during business hours.

There is no vehicle access to common "take-out" areas like Spanish Bottom or the Confluence. Visitors must arrange for upstream travel on their own, or by contacting a jetboat shuttle service. This service is available for a fee from two licensed concessions operators, both located in Moab: Tag-a-Long Expeditions, (801)259-8946, and Tex's Riverways, (801)259-5101.

Flat water reservation request must contain the following information:

  • Name and address of trip leader, with daytime and evening phone numbers.
  • Date and location of launch.
  • The number of people and boats in your group.
  • Date and location of take-out.
  • Shuttle arrangements for up-river travel.
  • $10 non-refundable permit fee payment.

Faxed reservations must include a VISA or MASTERCARD number and expiration date. Mailed reservations may include credit card information or a check/money order made payable to the National Park Service.

Mail or fax to:
Canyonlands National Park, Reservation Office 2282 S. West Resource Blvd., Moab, UT 84532 (801) 259-4285

 

Obtaining a Cataract Canyon Whitewater Permit

Cataract Canyon permits must be obtained from the reservation office. To receive your permit by mail, you must submit your application at least four weeks in advance. If there is space available, you will receive a worksheet in the mail, which must be returned to the Reservation Office before you receive your permit. Last minute river permits may be obtained at the Reservation Office during business hours. Cataract Canyon use is limited by the number of individuals doing trips in a given season. Applications are accepted for the calendar year beginning the first business day in January. As demand is increasing for "Cat" trips, visitors are encouraged to submit their applications as close as possible to this date.

All applications must include:

  • Name and address of trip leader, with daytime and evening phone numbers.
  • Date and location of launch.
  • The number of people and boats in your group.
  • Date of take-out at Hite Marina on Lake Powell.
  • Non-refundable permit fee payment. Faxed reservations must include a VISA or MASTERCARD number and expiration date. Mailed reservations may include credit card information or a check/money order made payable to the National Park Service.

Mail or fax to:
National Park Service
Reservation Office
2282 S. West Resource Blvd.
Moab, UT 84532-3298
Fax: (435) 259-4285

Making a Backcountry Reservation

Reservations must be made at least two weeks in advance of a trip. To make a reservation, write a letter with the following information, and fax or mail it with payment to the reservation office. You will receive a mailed response. Due to the unique nature of day use permits, visitors may make special arrangements with the reservation office for last minute trips into restricted day use areas.

All reservation requests must include:

  • Name and address of trip leader, with daytime and evening phone numbers.
  • Dates and campsites, zones, or day use area desired (with alternates if possible).
  • The number of people in your group.
  • The number of vehicles in your group.
  • Non-refundable permit fee payment. Faxed reservations must include a VISA or MASTERCARD number and expiration date. Mailed reservations may include credit card information or a check/money order made payable to the National Park Service.

Mail or fax your request to:
Canyonlands National Park, Reservation Office
2282 S. West Resource Blvd.
Moab, UT 84532
(801)259-4285

Helpful hints for requesting backcountry reservations

Provide as many specifics and options for your desired trip as you can. Details such as favorite campsites, preferred direction of travel, or several possible itineraries will help us schedule your trip. If you're visiting for the first time, just say so and reservation office staff will use their experience to give you the best trip possible based on what's available.

If questions arise about your application, you will be contacted you by phone.

How early may I apply?

The earliest day to apply varies by activity. Reservation requests for backpacking, backcountry vehicle and day use permits are accepted (postmarked or faxed) no earlier than the second Monday in July for the following calendar year. Requests for group campsites and river trips are accepted no earlier than the first business day in January for trips during that calendar year.

Reaching the reservation office by phone

Reservation office staff are available by phone to answer questions and assist with trip planning Monday through Friday, 8 AM to 12:30 p.m. (MST), at (435)259-4351. When workload permits, phones may be answered until 4:00 p.m. Please have a map available if you would like assistance with trip-planning. Visitors may also email questions to "canyres@nps.gov". Reservations may not be made over the phone or by email.

 



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