Do I need a permit to camp in the Grand Canyon?

Venturing into the Grand Canyon can be a dangerous endeavor for anyone who is not adequately prepared. Since the canyon is so big and virtually no cell phone coverage exists, the National Parks Service has established a backcountry permit system to help keep tabs on people who plan to spend more than one day in the canyon.

Colorado River and Grand Canyon from watchtower at Desert View on South Rim
Grand Canyon from watchtower at Desert View. Photo by Paul Fiarkoski

Following is a breakdown of the guidelines for when a permit is required and when it is not according to, the official website of the National Parks Service.

If you wish to camp anywhere in the park, other than in developed campgrounds on the North Rim or the South Rim, you must obtain a permit from the Backcountry Information Center.

A backcountry permit is required for:

  • overnight camping outside of Mather Campground, Desert View Campground, and North Rim Campground
  • overnight camping in all sites at Tuweep Campground
  • overnight camping anywhere on the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park between Nov 1 – May 14 (includes ski-camping)
  • off-river camping by river trip participants
  • overnight camping with private stock outside of Mather Campground or outside of North Rim Campground (May 15 – Oct 31)
  • packrafting, other than that which occurs under a river permit

A backcountry permit is NOT required for:

  • day hikes (this includes nighttime “day” hikes)
  • day stock rides
  • overnight camping at Mather Campground and Desert View Campground *
  • overnight camping at North Rim Campground between May 15 – Oct 31*
  • overnight camping with private stock at Mather Campground or (May 15 – Oct 31) North Rim Campground
  • overnight stays at the dormitories or cabins at Phantom Ranch**

* Campground reservations for Mather Campground and North Rim Campground may be made online at

** Advanced reservations with Grand Canyon National Park Lodges required


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