- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 3, 2016

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz. (AP) - The highly competitive lottery for self-guided rafting trips on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon is open.

Anyone 18 or older can apply for the trips with specific launch dates in 2017. Applications will be accepted through Feb. 24.

The National Park Service says 472 permits are available for the 12- to 25-day trips. Additional draws are held for trips that are canceled or left over after the application deadline.

Nearly 5,000 people applied in last year’s main lottery. Follow-up lotteries bumped that number of up nearly 7,000, some of whom applied multiple times.

Technical whitewater experience is mandatory.

Those who are drawn can participate in only one commercial or private river trip per year.

The lottery system replaced a waiting list in 2006.

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