Paria Canyon is a beautiful stretch of desert spanning from Utah to Arizona. The Canyon has towering walls (most famously Buckskin Gulch), huge red rock amphitheaters, sandstone arches, wooded terraces, and hanging gardens. It’s very close to the popular The Wave day hiking area, all of which are included in the Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness Area.
To protect these areas from erosion due to humans, the Bureau of Land Management have limited the number of people (and thus the number of available permits) allowed for overnight use in the canyon.
Advance PERMITS ARE REQUIRED, there are no walk-in permits for overnight use. Day permits, however, are available via self-serve envelopes at each trailhead.
Only 20 People are Allowed Per Day
These 20 spots are across all 4 trailheads. It’s a very popular area for overnights and backpackers, which makes getting a permit difficult due to the demand.
There’s no lottery for getting permits, it’s first come, first serve, but you have to be quick about it! Permits are available four months in advance. So if you want to take a trip in May, you need to get your permit in Feb.
Permits become available on the 1st of the month at 12pm Mountain Time. You need to be online, sitting ready and waiting for the next month to open if you want to have a chance of getting a permit. Refresh the page until the month becomes available. For me, the calendar wasn’t available exactly at noon, it came online 2mins after.
Within 3 Minutes, Most of the Weekends Were Gone:
Within 5 Minutes, Most of the Month was Gone:
- $5.00 per person per day
- $5.00 per dog per day
How to Beat The System
Given how quickly the permits go, in order to get the dates you want, there are a few time-saving tips I noticed which will allow you to fill out the form faster and thus increase your chances of getting your requested dates:
Pro Tip #1: Get familiar with the form before applying. Before the 1st when there will be a mad dash to get a permit, visit the calendar and click on one of the available dates to see what field will be required when filling out the form.
Some important things to know:
- Entry & Exit trailhead – There are 4 trailheads. Plan your trip ahead of time so that you know the names of the trailheads where you want to be.
- Permit Delivery Method – You will need to pick up your permit before entering from one of 3 locations. Once you know your trailheads, use Google Maps to figure out which pick-up spot will be best for you (some of them are an hour away from the trailheads!)
- Vehicle license at trailhead – Which car will you be bringing and what is the license? Save time by figuring this out now before applying for a permit
Pro Tip #2: Pre-set your dates in the URL. When you view the calendar and click on the date you want to enter, you will be taken to a page where you first have to agree to a privacy notice and a security warning and are asked to watch a video. That’s a total of 3 clicks to take you from the calendar to the form – which are valuable seconds when competing for prime dates against other travelers.
Skip these 3 clicks by doing them ahead of time. If you look at the URL structure for the available dates on the calendar (if you’ve checked out the form ahead of time like suggested above), the date is included within the URL:
Change this date to be the date that you want your permit to start on. You will then be taken to the privacy page where you have to agree to the terms, and then to the application form page. Until the new calendar is released, this page will say “Dates Not Available”.
Rather than sitting and refreshing the calendar page, sit here and refreshing the application form page. That way you can start filling out the form immediately rather than having to take those 3 extra clicks to get to the form.