Canyonlands National Park Overnight River Permits
Canyonlands National Park
Canyonlands National Park is a wilderness of countless canyons and fantastically formed buttes carved by the Colorado River and its tributaries. Rivers divide the park into four districts: Island in the Sky, The Needles, The Maze, and the rivers themselves. The park preserves the natural beauty and human history throughout its four districts. While they share a primitive desert atmosphere, each offers different opportunities for wildness and solitude.
The Colorado and Green Rivers have played a significant role in shaping the landscape of Canyonlands. Seeing the park from the bottom up affords a unique perspective. Above their confluence at the heart of Canyonlands, the rivers offer miles of flatwater perfect for canoes, sea kayaks and other shallow-water boats. A commercial upriver shuttle is necessary for non-motorized boats. Below the confluence, the combined flow of both rivers spills down Cataract Canyon with remarkable speed and power, creating a fourteen-mile stretch of Class III to V whitewater. It is a particularly hazardous and isolated section of the Colorado River, subject to extreme water level fluctuations, for experienced river runners only.
There are numerous options for responsible camping prior to your Canyonlands National Park river trip. Visit Discover Moab for options in the Moab area.
Permit & Season Information
Permits are required year-round for all overnight river trip. A permit for an overnight trip on either the flatwater sections of the Green or Colorado Rivers or Cataract Canyon on the Colorado River allows for the launch of one group, maximum of 40 people, for the date issued, up to 14 consecutive nights.
- Permit reservations become available 4 months in advance of the start of each season at 8:00AM MT.
- Permits are available to print starting 7 days prior to the launch date.
- Advanced permit reservations close two days prior to a launch date.
- Non-motorized flatwater trips on the Green or Colorado rivers must obtain a commercial upriver shuttle from Spanish Bottom prior to making a permit reservation.
- An alternate trip leader may be entered and cannot be changed after the reservation is made.
- Walk-in permits are only available at the Backcountry permit office in Moab on weekdays.
- Once a permit is printed, no changes to the permit are allowed.
Need to Know
Backcountry Permit Office: email@example.com or 435-259-4351.
- A river permit is required for all noncommercial trips on the Green and Colorado Rivers.
- Current use limits have not been reached within the last 10 years. Reservations can be made up to 2 days before the launch date. There are no daily launch limits. A trip start date CANNOT be changed.
- The trip leader is responsible for ensuring all participants know and understand regulations and the group has the required equipment. Review river regulation and required equipment here.
- A permit reservation may be transferred to one alternate trip leader identified during the reservation process. Once a permit has been printed, no changes can be made.
- This permit is valid for noncommercial groups only. You must have a National Park Service concession contract in order to lead commercial trips.
- Academic institutions doing river trips must do so under a Special Use Permit . Please visit Academic River Trips for steps on how to obtain a special use permit.
- Cataract Canyon is a challenging stretch of river at all water levels and is only recommended for experienced boaters. If you have any questions about boating in Canyonlands National Park, please contact the Backcountry Permit Office.
- Typically, the rivers reach peak flows around early May to late June. Water flows recede throughout the summer and typically reach low flows in the fall months. The character of the river and availability of campsites change with river flows. Sandbars make for great campsites at low flows while campsites can be difficult to find at high flows. Some rapids are most difficult at higher flows, while other become more difficult at lower flows.
- Campsites are first come, first serve. However, on the east bank of the Colorado below the confluence (mile 214.3) there is a sign warning of rapids ahead. At the base of the sign is a campsite registration box. Groups camping below the confluence are urged to indicate which campsites they intend to use so that other boaters may plan their stops in advance. This applies to both flatwater groups meeting their jet-boat shuttle as well as groups continuing down Cataract Canyon. This system is simply a courtesy to others and does not guarantee a campsite. Please do not sign up groups other than your own. Contact the Backcountry Permit Office for a park-maintained campsite list.
- Campsites on the upper reaches of Lake Powell (below Imperial Canyon and above Hite Marina) are limited, unreliable, and constantly changing with the water levels of Lake Powell.
- Trips through Cataract Canyon must cross a portion of Lake Powell to reach the takeout. The location where the river ends and the lake begins varies throughout the year. Given the distances involved and the frequency of strong, up-canyon winds, motors are recommended.
- All motorized boats must be registered, including out-of-state motors. Motorized boats must have valid state registration, decals, placards, and a serviceable fire extinguisher. Boats with out-of-state registration are allowed on Utah waters for 60 days per calendar year; hull numbers are required.
- Non-motorized flatwater trips on the Green or Colorado River must obtain a commercial upriver shuttle from Spanish Bottom prior to making a reservation. Park concession operators are:
- Before launching your boat for Cataract Canyon, it must be Quagga mussel free. Utah state law also requires you to clean, drain, and dry your boat when leaving Lake Powell using self-decontamination procedures. Visit stdofthesea.utah.gov for information on:
- Decontamination Certification and Requirements
- Non-Resident Fees and Education Requirements
- PFDs should be worn below North Wash and Hite. In October 2022, there were two class 2 mud rapids below Hite. Presently the Delta is below Four Mile Canyon at roughly river mile 156. GLCA had a Bouy 126 near there. Refer to the Returning Rapids website for more information.
Reservation Fee: There is a non-refundable $36.00 reservation fee for all permit reservations for Canyonlands National Park.
Recreation Fee: $25 per person
Once a permit reservation is completed, it is non-refundable. Do not pay for more than the number of people confirmed to be on the trip.
Changes to a permit reservation including an increase to group size and trip length may be made up until 8:00AM MT of the launch date. Additional fees apply. You may list one alternate trip leader to which the permit may be transferred.
No changes to the trip start date are allowed.
No permit changes are allowed once the permit has been printed.
2282 SW Resource Blvd. Moab UT 84532
Email is the best option for a quick response, firstname.lastname@example.org. 435-259-4351