I am planning to go to Grand Canyon in December, around Christmas time. I want to go Bright Angel Trail, which needs camping in the wild. I searched on this website that I don't need to apply permit early. There is one choice is that "These permits are issued in person only, are for one or two consecutive nights, and cannot be purchased more than one day prior to the start of a hike." But someone said that I have to apply online. So I am wondering whether I have to apply earlier or not. (Online application process seems very inconvenient.)

BTW, I have no car, is it convenient to go to trail entrance by public (commercial) transportation?

EDIT: Nov 21, 2:08

I have no winter hiking experience, actually this will be my first time hiking, and that's the main reason I choose Grand Canyon which is south side of US and everyone said it is not too difficult, but now I know it also could be very cold in winter. So I booked a Bright Angel Lodge Reservation online just now, so I am not going to camp inside the part, I think I will get into trouble to camp in winter without enough experience.

I have been searched for all kinds of information including transportation and lodges online for hours. I also booked a round flight from Pittsburgh to FLG, but it arrives FLG at 9pm, which is too late to catch the last shuttle to Grand Canyon. Is it possible to camp somewhere around the airport? or I must book a hotel in airport? I will arrive FLG in 21 Dec, the Bright Angel Lodge Reservation is on 22 Dec night.

  • 1
    That is the official website. Nov 21, 2016 at 4:58
  • See also The Great Outdoors Stack Exchange.
    – gerrit
    Nov 21, 2016 at 10:27
  • 2
    If you are not an experienced hiker, you stand no chance to make a trip down into Grand Canyon and back out, even in two days. This is very strenuous, and every year experienced hikers die on it.
    – Aganju
    Nov 21, 2016 at 13:08
  • You realize it is the middle of winter?
    – Fattie
    Nov 21, 2016 at 19:10
  • @Aganju Thank you for your advice. I cancelled my plan. And I asked for some advices here for my winter hiking in AZ, can you give me some advices for my hiking plan? Thank you very much!
    – JW.ZG
    Nov 21, 2016 at 21:34

1 Answer 1


You do need a permit, and per the last Space Availability Report, Bright Angel is booked immediately after Christmas, but there may still be availability (the report is from a few weeks ago) earlier in the month. If you cannot get a permit, it's possible to try to for a last-minute permit in person (show up early) or the waitlist; details are on the website you linked.

I would apply immediately by fax (you can use an online service to send the fax from your computer if you don't have easy access to a fax machine) and they'll respond by email.

I don't know your winter hiking experience, but ensure you are prepared for the conditions, which may include considerable amounts of ice and snow on the trail, winter storms, and water not being available during the off-season in some areas. Make sure you have the necessary equipment.

This page has some information on transportation that may be helpful, but we don't know where you're coming from. That page recommends outfits offering both scheduled and on-demand transportation services and taxis. Without a car, careful planning will be required to avoid becoming stranded, especially in winter.

  • Wow, so much thanks for your detailed reply, I have not enough reputation to vote up your answer, but thank you very much. I have no winter hiking experience, that's the main reason I choose south-side Grand Canyon for my hiking. I edited my question, can you give me some hint**/**advices for my coming trip? That may be very helpful.
    – JW.ZG
    Nov 21, 2016 at 7:10
  • 1
    @JW.ZG It sounds like you're making a very prudent choice by not doing this trip as your first time hiking. Such a hike is serious business, especially in winter. I would make your first trip a less strenuous one not during the winter, ideally not alone. You can consult outdoors.stackexchange for more advice on that, info on day hikes you can do from the lodge and what kind of gear you need. I'd ask a new question about transportation from Flagstaff to the lodge and where to stay on the 21st. Nov 21, 2016 at 7:18
  • Hi, Zach Lipton. I really appreciate your patient answer. I have asked another question here. I tried ask questions in outdoors, but I cannot use those key words like Grand Canyon or Hiking because of my low reputation. Thanks again for your time.
    – JW.ZG
    Nov 21, 2016 at 21:31

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