In the past, taking a group of friends or coworkers out on a Grand Canyon hike was simple and only cost expenses, but due to overcrowding and extreme behaviors during the park’s most crowded seasons, that won’t be true for much longer.
This new policy could be in response to unauthorized ”businesses” taking people on tours, like Duane Hager and Michael Stephens did last year.
Hikers have been littering as well, leaving behind everything from clothing to human waste, bothering other hikers and wildlife in equal measure.
It’s become such a problem that Grand Canyon National Park is forced to issue a new policy for one of America’s defining tourist destinations, requiring each organized group to have a permit to hike in the area. Groups can be no larger than 30 people, and the price for a permit is $175.
Some problems, like overcrowding, aren’t constant, but during the busiest weekends of the year, the overcrowding leads to severe frustration and misbehavior among tourists. The environment takes a toll as well, especially when hikers decide to leave food and clothes stashed on the trail for later retrieval. It may be convenient, but the food attracts animals, causing them to become dependent
The permit will hopefully reduce the number of people hiking Grand Canyon National Park, preserving its natural beauty for those willing to pay the extra fee.
Peter Pettengill, the outdoor recreation planner for Grand Canyon National Park, had this to say about the aesthetic upside to this new policy: “… There are aesthetic implications as well. If people are out engaging in nature, people don’t want to see clothes or something lying on the side of trail.”
To further encourage hikers to preserve the park’s natural beauty, each permit will include a list of guidelines built on a foundation of Leave No Trace ideals and principles.
This new policy is being put in place because the park simply cannot facilitate this many visitors at once, and undeterred, attendance would continue to grow at an alarming rate. This would further overcrowd paths that cannot be made wider and damage waste water treatment facilities, causing them to break down.
Park officials hope that this new policy will encourage better trail etiquette, keep the park cleaner, and prevent many of the issues that plague the park on its busiest days.