Overnight Backcountry Permits

Backcountry and river day use permits may be obtained online. All overnight permits must be requested online at least two days before start of trip.

Note: The information below is for normal operations. Because of phased reopening, some of the information below may not match current operations.


Learn and Explore

Do I need a permit?

If you're planning an overnight trip into the backcountry of Canyonlands National Park or the Orange Cliffs Unit of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, you must have a permit. Canyonlands National Park issues permits for the Orange Cliffs Unit, which shares Canyonlands' western boundary and the same backcountry management plan, permits, and reservation system.

You must have a printed and signed permit in your possession during your entire trip. A permit is not valid from any mobile device.

Where can I camp?

Mountain bikers and four-wheel drivers must stay on established roads and camp in designated sites.

Backpackers in heavily traveled areas, primarily at The Needles, stay in designated campsites. Most backpackers at Island in the Sky or The Maze stay in at-large zones and may choose their own campsites.

Where are the sites and zones?

Each district of the park has its own map of roads and trails which shows campsites and zones.

Read more at our backcountry travel planner.


Do I need to reserve a permit?

We recommend reservations, but they're not required. Permits can be very competetive for White Rim trips in spring and fall and Needles backpacking trips in spring. For these activities, we recommend you apply as early as possible. Space is limited. Backcountry reservation cancellations will be processed between 11:30 am and 12:00 pm Monday through Friday. Any campsite/zone cancellations released during this time will be immediately available through the permit reservation system. Any campsites and permits not reserved in advance may be made available first-come, first-served at visitor centers.

How early can I reserve a permit?

You can make a reservation no more than four months, and no less than two days, before the permit start date. For very popular sites, you may have to make a reservation at midnight mountain time, exactly four months before the start date.

If you are reserving four months before your start date, you may have to reserve each night separately. When making a reservation, please write the total number of nights you plan to use in the comments section. This way we can link your nightly reservations and only charge one permit fee.

How do I reserve a permit?

To check availability or apply for a backcountry permit, visit our online reservation system. Please do not make reservations for nights you do not intend to use. It prevents other people from using those nights. If we believe you have reserved sites you do not intend to use, we may contact you to cancel your reservation.

NOTE: Your reservation is not your permit. We will cancel your permit if we don't receive your payment. We will send payment instructions via email within three business days after we receive your reservation.

If needed, you may also request a reservation by email, mail, or fax. Please contact the backcountry reservation office via email or call 435-259-4351 for a form to fill out. Because this is a lengthy process, we do not recommend it. The easiest and quickest way to get your preferred sites is to use the online reservation system.

When will I get my permit?

Once we process your reservation, we will send you an email with instructions to pay online. If you don't pay your reservation within 48 hours, we will cancel your reservation. When we receive your payment, we will either issue your permit by email, or we will email you a reservation confirmation.

If you have any at-large zone or any Maze district reservations, you must check in and pick up your permit at the visitor center where you trip starts. You must carry a signed copy of your permit with you during your entire trip.

I didn't make a reservation. Can I get a walk-in permit?

Yes, if permits are available, you can get one the day your trip starts or the day before your trip starts. If you'd like to reserve your permit further in advance, use the reservation system listed above. You can get the permit in person seven days a week at visitor centers. We issue permits up to one hour before the close of business each day.

Please review the backcountry regulations before applying for a permit.


How much does a permit cost?

Canyonlands charges a non-refundable reservation fee for each permit, whether they're reserved in advance, or in person at a visitor center.

Activity Fee Group Size Limit (Per Permit)
Island in the Sky The Needles The Maze
Backpacking $30 7 people 7 people 5 people
Four-Wheel-Drive / Mtn. Bike $30 15 people /
3 vehicles
10 people/
3 vehicles
9 people /
3 vehicles

Vehicle limits include motorcycles and trailers.

You must pay a park entrance fee for Island in the Sky and The Needles at a park entrance station, visitor center, or online via pay.gov. Each vehicle, motorcycle, and individual entering the park by foot or bicycle must pay an entrance fee.

How long can I stay?

You may have an overnight permit for up to 14 consecutive nights. If you are backpacking, you may stay up to seven consecutive nights in any one site or zone. If you are using the designated vehicle camps, you may stay a maximum of three consecutive nights at a camping area before having to relocate.

How are the road conditions?

For up-to-date road conditions, contact the district visitor centers, road conditions web page, or backcountry reservation office at 435-259-4351. Salt Creek and Horse Canyon are often impassable with flash flooding. Peekaboo campsite reservation holders and day-use permit holders must contact the The Needles Visitor Center, 435-259-4711 the day of your trip or the day before.

Can I cache supplies in the backcountry?

Adding food, water, or supplies is only allowed with written notification of the district ranger. You may not damage resources, and you must remove all items. Email us for a cache request form.

What if I need to cancel?

If you are not using a reservation, you must cancel it as soon as possible. This allows other visitors to enjoy the park. If you cancel your reservation more than two days before the start date of your trip, you will receive a credit for a future reservation starting within one year. Please call the backcountry reservation office at 435-259-4351 or email your cancellation.

More questions?

We are available by phone to answer questions and assist with trip planning Monday through Friday, 8 am to noon (mountain time), at 435-259-4351. When workload permits, we may be able to answer phones until 4 pm. You may also email questions.

Last updated: September 5, 2020

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2282 Resource Blvd.
Moab, UT 84532



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