The first thing to do is to read about the weighted lottery and create a profile on the NPS page. The profile is free and once it is created, you start earning additional chances, up to 5 times what you would have the first year you tried for a permit. You need not make any decisions when you create the profile - that comes later.
The page that explains the weighted lottery system and that gives you a link to the profile page is http://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/weightedlottery.htm
After that, you can sit on the list as long as you want and strategize with all of your friends about whether to go in mid-summer, in the winter, in the shoulder seasons; whether to go for a small trip or a regular trip; big rafts or small rafts; rental or private gear; pack your own food or buy a package; Diamond Cr. or South Cove; who's going to lead the way over the edge at Horn Creek, etc. And I'm always happy to talk about this...
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Getting ready @ Lee's Ferry