By Michael Lanza

Backpackers planning a trip in popular national parks like Yosemite, Grand Teton, Glacier, Zion, Grand Canyon, Mount Rainier, Rocky Mountain, Great Smoky Mountains, and others have one experience in common: A high percentage of them see their backcountry permit application rejected—and many probably don’t realize why.

Countless backpacking trips over more than three decades—during which I was the Northwest Editor of Backpacker magazine for 10 years and have now run this blog for even longer—have taught me many tricks for landing coveted permits in flagship parks, which receive far more requests than they can fill. Follow the strategies outlined below for success reserving your next national park backcountry permit.

Just in the past several years, using these strategies, I’ve gotten permits for backpacking trips on two hugely popular trails, the Wonderland Trail around Mount Rainier and the Teton Crest Trail (a trip I’ve taken multiple times), as well as in Yellowstone, Glacier twice, Great Smoky Mountains, Zion’s Narrows and Subway, Sequoia, both the Needles District and Maze District of Canyonlands, North Cascades, Yosemite three times (this trip, this one and this one), and Grand Canyon five times (this trip, this trip, this one, and this one, and another coming up in 2022)—and I’ve had just two unsuccessful applications, a previous attempt for the Wonderland Trail and one for 2021 in Glacier that was rejected for reasons I fully anticipated and explain in tip no. 3 (below).

And if you want to take a trip in one of those popular parks this year, the time for reserving permits is now or coming up quickly.


Hi, I’m Michael Lanza, creator of The Big Outside. Click here to sign up for my FREE email newsletter. Join The Big Outside to get full access to all of my blog’s stories. Click here for my e-guides to classic backpacking trips. Click here to learn how I can help you plan your next trip.

A backpacker descending from Panhandle Gap on the Wonderland Trail, Mount Rainier National Park.
” data-image-caption=”Todd Arndt descending from Panhandle Gap on the Wonderland Trail, Mount Rainier National Park.
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Did you miss our previous article…
https://www.mansbrand.com/heres-darts-first-picture-from-space-we-are-already-looking-forward-to-its-last-image/

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