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Cancelling a permit

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Cancelling a permit

Postby balzaccom » Wed May 25, 2016 9:15 am

We were so pleased with ourselves. We had remembered to act early and reserve exactly the wilderness permit we wanted, for Rafferty Creek in the middle of June, to get up into the upper reaches of the Merced Canyon early in the season. And we got it. And then fate intervened.

I was invited to speak at the Smithsonian about a topic near and dear to my heart...and that's an invitation I can't pass up, even at the risk of losing our permit for Yosemite. So yesterday I called the Yosemite Wilderness office and explained the situation. And I was delighted to learn that we can apply the charges we paid for the cancelled permit towards any other wilderness permit in Yosemite this year.

No, we won't have time to get into the Upper Merced this year. But we will take a trip in Yosemite sometime later in the season. And we've already got our permit paid for!

And by the way, the wilderness office seemed surprised and grateful that we would call to cancel. Apparently most people don't do that...

Is this the same policy in other parks?
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Re: Cancelling a permit

Postby LMBSGV » Wed May 25, 2016 10:07 am

I had the same experience with the Yosemite Wilderness office a few years ago including their being grateful for phoning in the cancellation and giving us a new entry date.

With Recreation.gov for Inyo last year, my experience in October was I wanted to switch days due to it snowing. I phoned the Inyo Wilderness Office about switching the entry date to three days later when the weather report was for warm and sunny, and they told me I had to cancel the permit online at Recreation.gov, pay the cancellation fee, and get a new permit for the new day, so that's what I did.

For SEKI, a few years ago I had to switch my entry date due to a family conflict. SEKI gives you a free switch date with your permit. As long as the quota isn't filled for the new entry date one can get a new permit, no questions asked. So switching that was easy since I was one person going in on a weekday.
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Re: Cancelling a permit

Postby longri » Wed May 25, 2016 10:09 am

I hardly ever cancel. It takes too long to get through on the phone. There's no incentive -- or so I thought -- aside from opening up the slot for someone to make an advance reservation as opposed to a walk-in. Some years I'm a no show for several permits.

I'm as surprised by the policy as Yosemite was by your cancellation. I couldn't find any mention of it on the Yosemite or SEKI NPS websites. They might receive more cancellations if people knew about the policy.

The Grand Canyon NPS website says: "Permits cancelled at least four days in advance will receive hiker credit (minus a $10 cancellation charge) valid for one year."

Yosemite, SEKI and Inyo permits are pretty cheap though. It's still only a mild incentive at best. Would you bend over for a penny?
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Re: Cancelling a permit

Postby balzaccom » Wed May 25, 2016 10:25 am

longri wrote:I hardly ever cancel. It takes too long to get through on the phone. There's no incentive -- or so I thought -- aside from opening up the slot for someone to make an advance reservation as opposed to a walk-in. Some years I'm a no show for several permits.

Yosemite, SEKI and Inyo permits are pretty cheap though. It's still only a mild incentive at best. Would you bend over for a penny?


$15 for a permit for two people.

Plus, I couldn't help thinking about hikers who live far away, and were wanting to take this hike...now, at least two more of them will be able to do that for sure.
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Re: Cancelling a permit

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed May 25, 2016 10:40 am

If they really want people to cancel, there should be no cost to that. If going solo I personally would cancel, but not if I have to pay for it. I hate to deal with the Reserve America outfit. That is why I do not get reserved permits in the first place.

I always do the "walk-in" permitting, so I actually am grateful when people do not cancel! Since I normally get the to FS office about 11AM, it is perfect for me to pick up the same day no-shows. I just LOVE you no-shows! :D

Now, if I were to take out a large group that sucked up most of the permits at a trailhead, then I would definitely reserve and cancel and we would just share the cost of the cancellation.
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Re: Cancelling a permit

Postby SSSdave » Wed May 25, 2016 10:45 am

In this era the NFS should improve the ease of cancellations that could be done by simple email to a designated mailbox. Making a long distance phone call, sending a USPS letter with a stamp, or enduring the tediousness of logging in then working through the recreation.gov site labyrinth is negative enough it is no wonder few bother. But that then does not free up quota spots affecting all of us. With an email system only the permit requester will know their reservation number, name, date so when the FS receives that information, they really don't need to do much more than cancel the permit and open the quota for those slots.

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Re: Cancelling a permit

Postby SSSdave » Wed May 25, 2016 10:54 am

Wandering Daisy wrote:... I hate to deal with the Reserve America outfit. That is why I do not get reserved permits in the first place...


Interesting comment? The recreation.gov system is vastly more convenient than what was in place during earlier decades. Not that all wilderness agencies have yet to come up to full speed like the leaders. On the negative, the directions for use could be improved especially a summary description of each permit sequence page and step one needs to go through. Currently one goes from one page to the next like a rat in a maze trying to follow vague directions where each page has several buttons, some of which only get one into trouble. Also it does decrease available permits for walk-ups since more groups are now reserving and that would certainly affect locals and someone like you that does a lot of short notice trips.

The way Desolation Wilderness is set up is ideal especially for spur of the moment weekenders. One works through the permit process online, paying a fee via credit card, and receives an email with instructions for printing out the actual permit along with whatever policy info, one can then put into use on the departure date without having to go to a ranger station and listening to a sermon. Thus on my June 18/19 weekend, I also reserved the 17th as we will conveniently night hike in that Friday evening.
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Re: Cancelling a permit

Postby longri » Wed May 25, 2016 11:32 am

balzaccom wrote:
longri wrote:Plus, I couldn't help thinking about hikers who live far away, and were wanting to take this hike...now, at least two more of them will be able to do that for sure.

They could still get a walk-in permit of course. But I understand what you mean and it's great that you have that compassion.
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Re: Cancelling a permit

Postby longri » Wed May 25, 2016 11:38 am

Wandering Daisy wrote:If they really want people to cancel, there should be no cost to that.

Are you certain cancellation has a cost? The last time I cancelled on the rec.gov site it looked like there would be a fee but there wasn't. The site is just poorly designed (in a myriad of ways).

A monetary incentive for cancellation would probably require that the permit cost be higher in the first place. There needs to be some fixed cost for reservation or else people would over-reserve knowing that they could cancel all but what they really use. Actually, given the low cost of permit reservations this likely happens anyway.
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Re: Cancelling a permit

Postby maverick » Wed May 25, 2016 12:04 pm

Well get ready, Rec.gov or similar may be taking over Yosemite's permit system in the near future.
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Re: Cancelling a permit

Postby balzaccom » Wed May 25, 2016 12:09 pm

Yes--the permit system in Yosemite is done through the Yosemite Conservancy Wilderness Office. I spoke to a live person who answered the phone, found my reservation in their computer system, and said "thank you."

Doesn't sound like Reserve America!
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Re: Cancelling a permit

Postby longri » Wed May 25, 2016 12:29 pm

I don't know about Reserve America but I've called recreation.gov more than once and received courteous help. They manage a lot of different places so their knowledge isn't as intimate as someone working for Yosemite Conservancy.

On the other hand, the last time I tried to call Yosemite for permit information I had to hit the redial on my phone every few seconds for about 20 minutes. The person I spoke to was nice enough, although there was a sense of needing to hurry in his voice. Last year I sent a FAX in every day for two and half weeks before I got a permit. So it isn't all roses there either.
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