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Grand Canyon 2022 Main Lottery Update (AZ)

Posted: 02/05/2021
By: Kestrel Kunz

In December, we shared an update on how the Grand Canyon has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. To recap, the Grand Canyon closed on March 24, 2019 and all permitted river trips were canceled through June 14, 2019. Up to 1600 self-guided trip participants had their trips canceled by the NPS and were given the option to reschedule for the same launch date in 2022. Additionally, a number of trips scheduled for the summer and fall of 2020 opted to cancel their trips due to personal COVID-19 concerns and these trips were made available through multiple follow up lotteries. To make up for the lost trip opportunities due to the pandemic, American Whitewater's affiliate club, the Grand Canyon Private Boaters Association (GCPBA), advocated for additional self-guided permits in the 2021, 2022, and 2023 season. At GCPBA's request, the National Park Service approved the addition of small (8-person or fewer) trips every other day in March and October for 2021, 2022, and 2023. The additional March 2021 dates were made available in a follow-up lottery that rain on October 27, 2020. 


Fast forward to February 2021 and it is again that time of year. The annual Grand Canyon main lottery began on February 2 and will run through February 26. In regular Grand Canyon permitting fashion, the current permit application is for launch dates in the 2022 calendar year. However due to the COVID-19 impacts explained above, the 2022 launch dates have some modifications. There are limited dates available between April and June 15, 2022 due to the 2020 trips that were rescheduled to 2022. This is no doubt going to be a bummer for many who were hoping to score a spring launch date. However, an additional 32 total trips were added in March and October. We think that the additional trips are something to celebrate and they would not have happened without the dedicated efforts of the GCPBA. 


The National Park Service included the following statement in their recent email announcing the 2020 main lottery application: "Grand Canyon National Park noncommercial river permits are normally final and cannot be deferred. During the 2020/2021 COVID-19 pandemic, an exception was created to help those river trips awarded prior to the pandemic and scheduled to launch any time through August 2021. This included those trips in March 2020 through June 2020 which could not launch due to the temporary shutdown of the river, plus deferments from permittees with concerns about launching during COVID-19. Trips were rescheduled to launch two years later, on the same month and day as their original launch date. The result for the 2022 Main Lottery is that most April, May, and early June dates have already been claimed. Additionally, and because of the effects of the pandemic on the number of noncommercial trips that could launch in 2020, the park approved a request from the Grand Canyon Private Boaters Association to add an additional small trip every other day to both March and October for the 2021 and 2022 years. All together this has resulted in a total of 244 launches being available for the 2022 Main Lottery."


American Whitewater wishes you the best of luck with your Grand Canyon lottery application and we hope to see you on the river this season! In the meantime, if you do get out to paddle in the coming months, please recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic is still very real and take appropriate precautions to keep your community and your neighbors safe. American Whitewater has published guidelines for paddling in a pandemic here and if you have an upcoming Grand Canyon trip the latest COVID-19 guidelines can be found here


Photo Credit: Tom O'Keefe

Kestrel Kunz

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