2024 Backcountry Permits: BIG Changes!

Are you a seasoned hiker, or just starting out? Let us know your questions or experience with the backcountry permit process.

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2024 Backcountry Permits: BIG Changes!

Post by teapot57 »

I haven’t had a chance to fully read and digest this, but permits are going back to a lottery application in 2024, and a standard group is now 1-8 campers. Other notable changes at first glance:

- Successful lottery applicants are limited to a single reservation during the lottery period but may create additional reservations during the general on-sale period beginning May 1.

- May 1, 2024, at 8:00 MT and continuing until September 30, 2024, all wilderness campgrounds not reserved during the early access lottery period will become available to the general public on Recreation.gov.


Details at this link:

https://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/ ... ations.htm
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Re: 2024 Backcountry Permits: BIG Changes!

Post by orin »

I’m glad they finally went to a lottery. It eliminates the cf on application day. Mt. Rainier and North Cascades already do it this way. I do wonder how a group of 8 works. Did NPS double the number allowed in a single site or do larger groups still need multiple sites?
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Re: 2024 Backcountry Permits: BIG Changes!

Post by paul »

I have the same thoughts as Orin. I'm glad they are using a lottery approach, however I wonder about the 1-8 campers for the standard reservation. That I think will present problems since a group of 5 or more will take 2 sites at a camp. Also, there doesn't seem to be any way to restrict everyone in a group from entering the lottery to game the system. Suppose you have a group of 8 and each person enters the lottery. They would have 8 times the chance of getting a good lottery draw than someone hiking solo. I think they need to address this kind of situation which I know people will take advantage of. Otherwise, it seems like the back country will be taken over by larger groups of people. The park service seems to hate solo hikers :(
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Re: 2024 Backcountry Permits: BIG Changes!

Post by indiana hiker »

Sorry teapot and Paul. I posted a new thread on this, not seeing this one! Oops.
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Re: 2024 Backcountry Permits: BIG Changes!

Post by zozeppelin »

Bravo! Thanks for the link- sanity prevails.

Now of course, at $10 a pop, stuffing the ballot box still is feasible, but at least it is a lottery.

Last wishes would be increasing fees somehow as a no-show deterrent and moving forward the cancelation time to noon or something such that abandoned permits can be used by walkins.
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Re: 2024 Backcountry Permits: BIG Changes!

Post by zozeppelin »

Some confessions creeping out:
“Returning to a partial lottery system is in line with the public comments we received about the transition of the park’s advance wilderness camping reservation system [to the Recreation.gov system],” Icenoggle said. “We also based the changes on lessons we learned this year.”
So basically, the people were right, they cooked the books on survey results and ignored the peoples comments, then went on to bomb the launch with errors and premature start. But to their credit, they have adapted, so kudos for that.

Hidden in there is that there will only be 3000 lottery entries selected for reservations over the 6 week window, after which it will open for all in May 1st. 3000 seems about in line with past years application numbers from memory, so everyone should get a crack at a time slot. It will be interesting to see if interest has started decreasing off the Covid peak.

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Re: 2024 Backcountry Permits: BIG Changes!

Post by sbosecker »

I am trying to get my arms around exactly how this is going to work...

Assuming a "small" group.

On March 15th beginning at 00:01 Mountain Time until about 24 hours later I can submit an "application" for an "opportunity" to create an advanced backcountry reservation via Rec.gov. I will be charged $10 for this application.

My "application" will be dropped into the digital hopper with everyone else's "applications".

At some point after the application submission window closes, Rec.gov will randomly select 3000 of the submitted applicaitons.

On March 17th Rec.gov will send emails to the winners and losers of this lottery. Winners will be given a date & time to exploit this "opportunity" to create an itinerary for an advance backcountry reservation.

The earliest date one would be given an "opportunity" would be March 21st and the last date one can use their "opportunity" is April 30th.

Beginning May 1st, whatever advance reservation campsites are leftover may now be reserved by anyone via Rec.gov.

The information available seems to be silent on just how many dates the winners will be spread over. I'm going to guess 30 dates as that would be 100 oportunities per day and also leaves 11 days for the poor folks whose "opportunity" is on the last day to try to build a trip out of what's leftover.

If they run the dates over 40 days, it would be 75 opportunities per day.

So is the above how others expect this to work?

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Re: 2024 Backcountry Permits: BIG Changes!

Post by Ear Mountain »

sbosecker wrote: Sat Feb 10, 2024 3:03 pm I am trying to get my arms around exactly how this is going to work...
Assuming a "small" group.
On March 15th beginning at 00:01 Mountain Time until about 24 hours later I can submit an "application" for an "opportunity" to create an advanced backcountry reservation via Rec.gov. I will be charged $10 for this application.
My "application" will be dropped into the digital hopper with everyone else's "applications".
At some point after the application submission window closes, Rec.gov will randomly select 3000 of the submitted applicaitons.
On March 17th Rec.gov will send emails to the winners and losers of this lottery. Winners will be given a date & time to exploit this "opportunity" to create an itinerary for an advance backcountry reservation.
The earliest date one would be given an "opportunity" would be March 21st and the last date one can use their "opportunity" is April 30th.
Beginning May 1st, whatever advance reservation campsites are leftover may now be reserved by anyone via Rec.gov.
The information available seems to be silent on just how many dates the winners will be spread over. I'm going to guess 30 dates as that would be 100 oportunities per day and also leaves 11 days for the poor folks whose "opportunity" is on the last day to try to build a trip out of what's leftover.
If they run the dates over 40 days, it would be 75 opportunities per day.
So is the above how others expect this to work?
Scott
That's how I'm thinking it will work. It's not clear though if the time frame awarded to complete my itinerary will be a full day, part of a day or a range of hours. I guess we'll find out on March 17.
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Re: 2024 Backcountry Permits: BIG Changes!

Post by Selkie »

As I read it, "subgroups" are assigned a date and time period (unknown how long) to make a reservation, if chosen in the digital lottery for early access.
So one is still competing, but perhaps at a moderated rate.

Yellowstone, where I am more familiar with the routine, has a leisurely 3 weeks to enter the lottery. As I recall, I had several days of "individual access" time (not "unique" access time) in YELL to put together a reservation. But Yellowstone is a different story in many respects. And paying $10 to enter the lottery got me only slightly ahead of general, non-$10-paying reservers. It all seemed rather pointless, eventually.

Good luck to all.
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Re: 2024 Backcountry Permits: BIG Changes!

Post by zozeppelin »

Thanks for reviving this topic Scott. My summary would be: same as the old lottery system except you’re doing the reservation instead of the ranger.

Some good contest opportunities here with # of applications and release schedule. I’d guess they limit releases to standard working hours), but 7 days a week. I’d guess they use the entire 6 weeks to spread things out, so 500 a week or 71 a day, in 1 hour blocks at 7 an hour. They probably round those, to 560 a week, 80 a day, and 10 an hour and just finish a couple days early (give time buffer). So there will still be ‘competition’ with whatever schedule (even if spreading over 24 hours, at most 20 minutes between openings). That said, availability should be visible (and If not we can make it visible here), so you should know in advance to your window opening what you’re shooting for.

I am optimistic there will be more effective availability:
  • Duplicate entires now won’t be filled (multiple applications for the same group)
  • Ranger’s would be able to find things average applicants would not, compounded by Rec.gov confusing cross-area interface
  • Assumption that people’s availability range /intentions will be smaller come time of reservations (closer to the date more conflicts, change of mind / vacation plan, and assumption people put broader ranges in application as to avoid a rejection)
  • Assumption that there will be ‘northern circle or bust’ types that upon finding it not available will not pursue alternates (or won’t be able to find more complex solutions).
That said, I believe it filled fully rather quickly during last years melee. I believe some of that was the lingering Covid demand bubble (thinking this will keep decreasing) as well as ‘fear of missing out’ during the reservation frenzy.

The 3000 limit is interesting. It has hovered around/above that for awhile. It will be interesting to see if they hit it (I think they will, with closer to 3000 than 4000 applications).
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Re: 2024 Backcountry Permits: BIG Changes!

Post by zozeppelin »

I've refreshed the backcountry site dependency information. It looks like many fixes were made (good!), but a few errors remain and one new one was created (bad!).

One critical error remains I believe and that is not being able to have Many Glacier as a first night of an itinerary (or Reynolds, or Two Medicine) - with the 'is_accessible_as_child_only' logic.
  • New
    • Errors
      • POI-GRN: 14
  • Same
    • Errors
      • ELF-CRA: 16.6
      • LIN-ELL (the long way): 16.5
      • GOA-GLF: 16.9
      • MOJ-JAN: 16.8
      • BOU-KOO: 16.5
      • KIN-BRO: 16.5
      • UPK-JAN: 16.3
      • REF-GUN: 16.8
      • UPP-COA: 16.2
    • Questionable
      • FIF-GLF (technically correct?): 17.0
      • WAT-GLF (could be over as it is slightly past GOA): 16.9
      • SPE-MCD (this was dicey as there is a road section assumed at 5 miles: 15
      • SNY-CAM (this was dicey as there is a road section assumed at 5 miles: 16.3
      • SNY-MCD (this was dicey as there is a road section assumed at 5 miles: 12.7
  • Fixes
    • Errors
      • MAN-HEL (an error): 14.8
      • SLI-GAB (an error): 6
      • ROU-OTO (an error): who knows
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Re: 2024 Backcountry Permits: BIG Changes!

Post by paul »

My biggest worry about this is that I'm not very lucky at lotteries :cant_watch:
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Re: 2024 Backcountry Permits: BIG Changes!

Post by teapot57 »

That's how I'm thinking it will work. It's not clear though if the time frame awarded to complete my itinerary will be a full day, part of a day or a range of hours. I guess we'll find out on March 17.
If it’s similar to the way they do it with the Grand Canyon permit lottery, starting at your awarded date and time, you have unfettered access to make one reservation. Meaning that if you are awarded an access time of March 20 at 10:00 am, for example, you will have access to creating a permit anytime thereafter until the permits are gone. But you’d be wise to be online as soon as possible after your award time for best site selection.
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Re: 2024 Backcountry Permits: BIG Changes!

Post by teapot57 »

My biggest worry about this is that I'm not very lucky at lotteries :cant_watch:
Hopefully karma makes this your year!
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