Demand for permits at Grand Canyon fewer than expected

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) - Officials at the Grand Canyon have yet to figure out if a new permit program for rim to rim hikes is proving successful.

The Arizona Daily Sun said Sunday that Grand Canyon National Park so far has given out fewer permits than excepted since the new system went into effect last September.

Park spokeswoman Kirby-Lynn Shedlowski says only nine permits have been given.

Park rangers say there is still confusion among visitors about whether a permit is needed for the cross-canyon hike.

Rangers say the number of people making the grueling trek has gone up in recent years.

They say between 400 and 600 people make the trip on any given weekend.

Park officials say the permit program allows them to address overcrowding, litter and safety issues.