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If you plan to spend the night below the rim of the Grand Canyon (except at Phantom Ranch), you'll need a backcountry hiking permit. You can apply for a backcountry permit by downloading a form online and then faxing or mailing it to the Backcountry Permit Office at the canyon, or you can apply in person.
You can apply for a permit up to four months prior to the date you'd like to hike the canyon. There is also an in-person waiting list for cancellations. You must be in attendance in the Backcountry office by 8 a. m. on the day you're hoping for a permit.
You can also add your name to a waiting list for a cancellation, but you still have to be present to apply for the waiting list. You can expect a wait of up to three days for a permit if you apply in person.
The permits cost $10, plus a fee of $5 per person camping per night. Permits can take three to six weeks to process, so you have to allow enough time for processing before your planned hike.
There are a limited number of permits issued for each area of the canyon because the number of people allowed below the rim at any one time is monitored. There may be times that the date you want is simply not available. For more information, contact the Backcountry Office at the Grand Canyon. (Offices are located on both the North and South Rims.)