Lottery for 2018 Grand Canyon Rafting Permits Opens Today

Breanna Jay | Grand Canyon

Yesterday, we told you about a recent attempt to set a speed record for rafting through the Grand Canyon. The timing was apparently fortuitous: If you'd like to make your own trip down the river next year, today is your day.

The lottery for 12- to 25-day noncommercial river rafting permits for the Grand Canyon opens today, Grand Canyon Natonal Park announced in a news release. Just 463 permits will be available for the year 2018. If you're hoping to snag one of them, you can enter until noon Arizona time on February 22.

As we described in the January 2014 issue of Arizona Highways, rafting the river is a rare privilege. The Park Service typically sees more than 3,000 entrants in the lottery, which costs $25 to enter. It's a weighted lottery, which means that the more times you enter and don't get picked, the better your chances of getting picked in subsequent years. In addition to entering every year, you can increase your chances of winning by aiming for the winter months, which tend to have the lowest demand (and the coldest Colorado River water).

Lottery winners must immediately pay a nonrefundable deposit of $200 or $400, depending on the trip size; the deposit is applied to final permit fees. There are various other terms and conditions, too, and you'll want to get familiar with those before entering.

It should go without saying that this lottery is for experienced river runners who want to tackle the Colorado on their own, but we'll say it anyway. If you'd like to run the river with a commercial group, you can find information about one-day trips and longer excursions on the park's website.

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