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New Day-Hiking Rules at Grand Canyon

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The National Park Service published new rules for "extended day hiking" and rim-to-rim trips by non-commercial groups, stating the changes were necessary because of the impact of the increasingly popular activity. The rules include obtaining a $175 permit -- a large increase from the previous price of "free" -- and limits on the number of hikers from each group.


"Larry Abbott, CEO for the Boy Scouts of America's Grand Canyon Council in Phoenix, which oversees most of the state's Boy Scout districts except the Tucson area, says he's especially concerned that only one permit per day, per group, will be issue by the park service.


If the National Park Service counts the Boy Scouts as a single nonprofit agency, only one permit per day would be issued for the Scouts' Grand Canyon Council, which is made up of about 2,000 separate troops. The limits take away the ability for several of the separate groups to do extended day hikes on the same day, even if members of each group aren't hiking together, Abbott points out. When hiking the Grand Canyon, Scout groups usually include a dozen or fewer hikers, he says


Abbott could provide no estimate on how many Scouts hike the Grand Canyon each year, whether on day hikes or camping trips.


He also expresses concern about the new process for proving group members are covered by insurance, and about the $175 fee, which he called "pretty onerous."


For troops in low-income areas, the fee could "crush" some planned trips, he says.


Kirby-Lynn Shedlowski, spokeswoman for Grand Canyon National Park, had little sympathy for Abbott's criticism. Several Boy Scout troops could do day hikes under one Boy Scouts permit, she tells New Times, and the 30-person maximum rule would apply for the total number of people doing a rim-to-rim hike.."



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From the NPS Website:

Who is required to obtain a permit: Any organized, non-commercial, group conducting rim-to-rim and extended day hiking and running, including rim-to-river-to-rim, and rim-to-rim-to-rim that are operating in the inner canyon. The inner canyon is defined as the area below the Tonto Platform (Tipoff and Indian Garden) from the South Rim and below Manzanita Resthouse (Pumphouse Residence) from the North Rim.

Groups including, non-profits, schools, church groups, scouts, clubs, and other similar organizations will be required to obtain an SUP for their activity. Any group, regardless of size, which has advertised to the general public, required individuals to sign up prior to participation, or that has an organizer who has been compensated for their services (including subsidized participation in the activity), are required to operate under an SUP.

Non-profit organizations are prohibited from deriving taxable income under this permit. Any individual who has been compensated, including subsidized participation, must prove 501©(3) status. You may call the Permit Coordinator to determine if a special use permit is needed for your activity.

Commercial operations are not authorized under an SUP.

What will be required with the SUP?

  • An application fee of $175
  • The group must provide a certificate of insurance for general liability in the amount of $300,000 with the United States Government listed as additionally insured.
  • Group size is limited to 30 individuals, including all organizers and trip leaders.
  • The permittee and its' organization (club, non-profit, group, etc.) is allowed to obtain one permit per day.
  • All groups will maintain a ratio of no less than 1 trip leader with certification in Wilderness First Responder (WFR) or Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) and CPR for 1-7 participants or 2 trip leaders with certification in Wilderness First Responder (WFR) or Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) and CPR for larger groups.
  • All non-profits applying to operate under an SUP must provide proof that the Internal Revenue Service currently recognizes the applicant as an organization to which contributions are tax deductible under section 501©(3) of the Internal Revenue Code
  • Any individual who has been compensated, including subsidized participation, must prove 501©(3) status
  • Non-profits are prohibited from making taxable income under an SUP


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Not many scouts can hike rim to rim in a day. That's 22 miles, 10,000' elevation (5 up, 5 down), plus the heat. This is a non issue. I know some people that have done it (and even rim to rim to rim in 20 hours) and they're athletes in another class.


Did you notice the $300k insurance policy? Having hiked the Canyon and seen some of the people (that are not prepared) trying to go rim to rim in a day, I bet the insurance is the biggest issue. Prove that you can pay for the helicopter ride out before you start hiking.

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"Leave no trace, just leave your money".


Yes , in this day and age, it is not unreasonable. It will help in the preservation of this natural wonder. Many moon ago, our family visited the GC, and were suitably impressed. Did the short mule ride.

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