Grand Canyon National Park is beginning civic engagement to seek comments on implementing a three-year pilot advance day-use reservation system to manage day-use visitation to the Tuweep Visitor Use Area including all park areas within Toroweap Valley and the Kanab Plateau. A $2 ticket fee per vehicle is proposed for visitors to get to Tuweep.
Increasing popularity of the Tuweep area has led to excessive day use for vehicles and visitation, resulting in crowding and congestion along the roads and parking lot, organized groups traveling in vehicle convoys, vehicles exceeding noise limits, and the degradation of natural and cultural resources.
Day-use Ticket Reservation
The park’s 1995 General Management Plan set a carrying capacity to maintain the character of Tuweep. Public comments and participation helped to develop the plan and envision the future of Grand Canyon National Park. As part of that plan, the NPS outlined a potential entry reservation system for Tuweep to mitigate vehicle congestion diminishing access, degradation of area features, and impacts to safety and the visitor experience. Visitation has since grown 250%.
Building from these previous efforts and public input, Grand Canyon is proposing to implement an advance day-use reservation system in 2022. This means visitors would be required to obtain a day-use ticket prior to arriving at the Tuweep area. The pilot day-use ticket reservation system would be available on recreation.gov. Visitors with a valid Tuweep backcountry permit for overnight camping will be able to enter without purchasing a day-use ticket. Visitors must also possess a valid park entrance pass or site pass.
The day-use ticket system will authorize 20 vehicles for daily entrance plus existing backcountry permit holders. Of the 20 vehicles with day-use tickets, 18 tickets will be reserved for private vehicles and two tickets will be reserved for authorized Tuweep Tour commercial use authorization holders. This is a change from the previous daily allotment of up to two vehicles per authorized Tuweep Tour commercial use authorization holders per day. By issuing the designated day-use vehicle tickets, the recommended number of vehicles should reduce congestion on the roads, parking lot, and campground and improve the overall experience while reducing exposure to sensitive resources.
To implement the day-use reservation system, a new park-use fee would be introduced. A $2 fee would be used to cover the administration cost for recreation.gov to build and operate an online, reservation platform. Up to six tickets would be available for private vehicle owners to purchase 120 days in advance, and the remaining 12 will be available for purchase up to two days prior to the reservation date.
Commercial use authorization holders can purchase tickets for commercial vehicles up to 120 days prior to the reservation date. A more formalized system to visit Tuweep will provide an equitable process that prioritizes visitor safety while ensuring park resources are protected and desired visitor experiences are available. The system would be closely monitored and adjusted to allow park managers to learn and improve the application of the day-use reservation system. If successful, the day-use reservation system may be adopted permanently as part of a larger visitor use planning effort.
Public comments on the day-use ticket pilot at Tuweep are being accepted from March 24 through April 6, 2022, on the NPS Planning, Environment, & Public Comment (PEPC) website at Parkplanning – Day-use Reservation System Pilot and Proposed Reservation Ticket Fee at Tuweep (nps.gov)
The ancestral home of the Southern Paiute people, “Tuweep” refers to Grand Canyon National Park’s broad volcanic valley and surrounding western parklands on the Northwest Rim. Today, based on an extensive public process, the area is managed for an uncrowded, rustic, and remote wilderness experience dominated by nature and solitude.
The Tuweep area is reached by one of three challenging and unmaintained single-lane dirt roads, which can take approximately three hours each way to navigate. The roads require visitors to travel in high clearance vehicles with reduced tire pressure, adequate fuel, and repair items like tire plugs and a bike pump. Seasonal weather conditions of summer monsoons and winter snow can make the roads hazardous and potentially impassable, which is why driving in muddy conditions is prohibited. After departing developed highways to the dirt roads, there’s no cellular or Wi-Fi service available, so towing or mechanical services may not be available. At Tuweep, there’s no water, gas, food, or lodging, and all trash must be packed out.
The Tuweep Campground consists of backcountry campsites available for reservation only by applying for a backcountry permit in advance. The backcountry permit provides certainty in securing a campsite prior to arriving in the remote area. Amenities at the Tuweep Campground include picnic tables and composting toilets. Water, electricity, showers, and trash cans are not available, and wood and charcoal fires are not authorized.
Additional information about the Tuweep reservation system and backcountry permits is available on the Grand Canyon Tuweep website.