The potential permit holder should consider what the trip will cost and who is going to pay for it.
Costs include Agency fees and, if the trip takes out at Diamond Creek, Hualapai fees. There are food and gear costs as well, along with rental fees if your group decides to rent gear. Shuttle costs should be considered as well, if your group uses a shuttle service. Trip costs are variable. A two person 30 day winter trip can cost as low as $16 per day per person if the two folks in this example already own a boat and boating equipment, the trip goes all the way to Lake Mead (avoiding Diamond Creek Fees) and they have a friend to help with the shuttle. Summertime fifteen night trips to Diamond Creek using a rental company for food, boats, all river gear and shuttle, can run around $50 to $70 per day per person.
No matter how you do it, a multi-week Grand Canyon Colorado River adventure requires someone to do the accounting, collect trip funds, pay the bills, and reconcile all the costs at trips end.
Keep in mind that it is MUCH EASIER to give money back at the end of a river trip than it is to ask participants to pay additional funds at the end of the trip.
How the permit holder divides up who is going to pay for what on a Grand Canyon river trip has a few restrictions placed on the trip participants by the National Park Service. These are listed below and are taken from the Noncommercial River Trip Regulations, revised April 19, 2011, page 2 of 29:
Definition of a Noncommercial River Trip:
Sometimes referred to as private river trips, noncommercial river trips are self-guided and non-profit. They are required to be participatory [in] nature where costs are evenly shared among all participants. No trip member may be paid to participate on the trip, and no trip member may pay less than other participants as compensation for their skills.
A. Self-Guided and Not For Profit – Noncommercial River Trips must be self-guided and may not hire guides. Noncommercial River Trips may not be used by any person or organization in any way to obtain a profit. Participating in advertising for a profit will result in the revocation of the permit.
B. Cost Sharing and Participatory Nature - All noncommercial river trips must be participatory in nature. Trip preparation, costs, and conduct of the trip must be shared by all members of the group. This includes logistics, food purchase, equipment assembly, transportation, vehicle shuttle, food preparation, and sanitation. Failure to comply will cause cancellation of the permit and may jeopardize any future applications by the Trip Leader and/or other trip members.
C. No Paid Participation - Collecting a fee (monetary compensation), payable to an individual, group, or organization for conducting, leading, or guiding a noncommercial river trip is not allowed. The Trip Leader should delegate responsibility (financial and otherwise) for various aspects of trip preparation and conduct. Trips may be considered noncommercial even though a member of the trip, within their normal scope of employment, receives a salary from an educational institution or non-profit organization to participate in the trip. This salary may not come directly through fees contributed by members of the party. No person may be hired or paid to participate in a trip under the noncommercial permit system.
So that's what the NPS says. What else?
One thing most permit holders need early-on in the trip planning process is commitment from the folks who say they are going. To this end, some Permit holders will require a $200 to $300 up-front and non-refundable deposit from the folks saying they would like to go.
Another factor to consider in trip costs is the formation of a damage deposit fund, up to $1,000. An early-on decision should include how the group will use this deposit for replacing lost or broken community gear on the trip. Either decide to replace with new or with like-new. There is a difference. This fund can be used as the end-of-trip reimbursement fund once all trip expenses have been paid.
Either way, once the trip is over, an accounting of all trip costs will need to be done, and extra funds need to be returned to the trip participants, if there are any.
Click here to return to The Pre-Trip Planning page.