One of the most-visited national parks in the US, the Grand Canyon sees millions of visitors each year, but they mostly stick to the developed areas above the rim of the canyon.

Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon. Image by Airwolfhound / CC BY-SA 2.0

Far fewer visitors head into the park’s 1.1 million acres of backcountry, but officials are seeking new ways to manage the rugged areas before visitation gets out of hand. New commercial tours and activities are drawing visitors into the backcountry. One plan considers a $5 permit fee for anyone hiking five miles below the rim. The proposals also seek to address relatively new activities in the Grand Canyon, such as canyoneering and rim-to-rim excursions, by limiting the size of commercial group tours. Officials at the park are trying to get a handle on how many visitors actually head into the backcountry, but they estimate that between 30,000 and 35,000 people spend the night in the backcountry each year. Read more: