Info for Packrafters Headed to Grand Canynon

With packrafting in its current state of regulatory flux in Grand Canyon, it is vital to future access that packrafters visiting Grand Canyon comply with regulations and get along well with other Park visitors.

Park Regulations:

  1. Packrafters with lottery-won river permits may put-in and take-out in locations other than Lee’s Ferry, Diamond Creek, or Pearce Ferry, but must comply with both river and backcountry regulations.
  2. For backpackers and canyoneers who wish to packraft the river for a short distance to complete their trip itinerary:
    • Your group must have a backcountry permit with River Assisted Backcountry Travel
      designation regardless of duration of trip. Check the box on the backcountry permit application indicating that packrafts will be used.
    • A Type III or Type V PFD must be worn by each person while on the Colorado River.
    • Multiple crossings/launches are approved if the permitted itinerary requires them.
    • Only the minimal amount of river travel necessary to gain the hiking terrain of the opposite shore is permitted.
    • Multiple crossings are approved if the permitted itinerary requires them.
    • The distance traveled on the river is limited to 8 miles per backcountry permit, or approved exceptions.
    • Any packraft or device used on the river for river assisted backcountry travel must be carried in and out by the person.
    • The river travel does NOT occur within the following restricted areas: Lees Ferry (River Mile 0) to the Navajo Bridge (RM4.5) and Boat Beach (RM 88) to Pipe Creek (RM 89.5).
  3. Hikers, canyoneers, and packrafters who intend to cross or float the river as part of a one-day trip must acquire a backcountry permit and check the packraft box – even if you aren’t spending any nights in the backcountry. Use of the river by day-trippers is governed by the regulations in #2 above. Camping overnight in the backcountry requires a permit.
  4. Hikers, canyoneers, and packrafters who have not won the river lottery, and who intend to use packrafts to float any section of the river greater than 8 miles between Diamond Creek and Pearce Ferry, must obtain both a backcountry permit and a Diamond-Down river permit. If the river stretch is less than 8 miles, only a backcountry permit is required.


Grand Canyon River Permit Weighted Lottery
Non-Commercial River Trip Regulations
Diamond-Down River Trip Information
Diamond-Down River Permit Application
2006 Grand Canyon River Management Plan
Grand Canyon Backcountry Hiking Information
Grand Canyon Backcountry Permit Information

Additional Considerations:

  1. Human Waste: carry a wag bag for feces on the river. Walking above the high-water line to defecate damages sensitive soils. Depositing feces on beaches will disrupt the experience of other river users, who are required to carry their human waste out. When away from the river, employ backpacker rules: dig a 6-inch cat hole, deposit your waste, cover the hole, and pack out your TP.
  2. Safety: don’t packraft solo. Wear a Type III whitewater PFD. Thermal incapacitation can occur in 90 seconds. A wetsuit or drysuit is strongly encouraged. Know the river section you are navigating – portage rapids beyond your ability.
  3. Camping: do not camp at the river camps identified in the 2006 Colorado River Management Plan. These camps are necessary for private and commercial raft trips and there are many camps along the river that are suitable for packrafters but not suitable for larger rafts or groups.
  4. Sensitivity: be very careful with your language and how you come off around rafters, river guides, and rangers. Guides and rangers do not want to hear cocky attitudes and then have to rescue packrafters when we have a yard sale in the rapids. Other private boaters feel it is very unfair that packrafters can float the river more than once a year, without having to enter the weighted lottery, and without having to pay exorbitant river fees. Please be quiet, quick, and respectful as you interface with other users of the river corridor. If you are on the river with only a backcountry permit, sessioning rapids is not allowed.

Contact Us

American Packrafting Association

PO Box 13
Wilson, WY 83014