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What to Consider When Applying for a Private River Permit

PermitBlogThe Southwestern United States is home to some incredible geographic features. Beautiful high plateaus, sweeping panoramas of the sky and stars, painted deserts and valleys and deep winding gorges through ancient rock. One of the best ways to experience all that the Southwest has to offer is by taking a river trip. Spending days by the riverside, hiking through side canyons and exploring ancient ruins. Placidly floating down smooth green water or careening through white water, you will discover things about yourself and your environment that you never knew.

Ceiba Adventure’s goal is to help you create an efficient services, mindfully planned details and expertly executed logistics so that you can get out there and enjoy these phenomenal rivers of the Southwest.

The first step often is to apply for a permit. These processes are not tricky but do require some time to understand the process. This article will hopefully make that process go a little more smoothly.

Things to Consider When Applying:

When applying for a permit, always check the website pertaining to the river you are interested in floating. Each river will have regulations and requirements that are in place in order to manage the river experience and environment. The Ceiba team makes certain we are well versed in the requirements of each river so that we may offer you the exact equipment that you are required to have.

Be flexible. Always check what the river is running before you go on a trip. This is especially true for the San Juan and the Salt River which can sometimes be flowing as low as 300 cubic feet per second. Be able to adjust your equipment accordingly. If the San Juan is flowing at 3,000, take 16′ rowboats! If the Verde River is flowing at 300, take duckies! The Ceiba team is here to help you assess the equipment you’ll need and get you outfitted. The flow of Grand Canyon is perfect for any number of boats. Talk to us about what kind of boats you want to try!

Make certain you know the cancellation policies of the river you are hoping to run. Just in case. It’s good to have an idea before applying for your permits of the number of people you intend to have in your party and each person’s skill level. This way you’ll know tentatively how many boats your trip will have.

Read up on your river before planning how many days your trip will be. You want to make sure you have time for spectacular hikes and resting by the rolling river.

Grand Canyon 

Things to know before applying: At least one person on the trip must have the experience and skills required by the NPS; non-commercial trips must be self-guided; non-commercial trips must be cost-sharing; once awarded, launch dates may not be changed, deferred or traded; and you may not participate on more than 1 recreational trip a year (means you have not been on more than one private trip or a passenger on a commerical trip).

T0 apply for the weighted lottery you must create an online profile and fill out an online application that costs $25. The lottery opens on February 1st and closes on the 26th. Check the website for yearly changes.

San Juan 

A permit is required year round to float any section of the San Juan from Montezuma Creek to Clay Hills. There are three permitting seasons.

Shoulder Season (March):  If you want to float the San Juan in shoulder season, you must apply online in the first week of November of the year before you wish to go. You will be notified by email if your permit was successful.

Peak Season (April through October): For a peak season permit, you must apply online before February 1st of the year in which you intend to go. You will be notified if you got a launch date by March 1st.

Off Season (November through February): These applications are received on a first come first serve basis. You must apply in November of the year before you wish to go.

Verde River 

A permit is not required for a group less than 75 people. Check out the website for more information on camps and requirements.

Salt River

Apply November 15 – January 15 for a permit. This is a class III-IV, multi-day river trip. The White Mountain Apache Tribe requires permits for the section of river from first campground to highway 60 which is upriver of the traditional put-in for a Salt River trip. The tribal office number is 928-338-4385.


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