Originally Posted By: Steve C
Joshua, people just don't bother going online and releasing any slots, since there is no incentive to do that. IF rec.gov would give a small refund, they'd definitely make a profit, because the slots could then be sold again. But I am told that giving money back is a crazy big deal. ...you know, all those online stores never do it (not) wink

The only true indicator you can use is the unused permits pages. And also, watch for returned slots online in the last two weeks before you go. That's when a few people go online and confirm their reservations, and some will return some or all their slots (but it's just rare).

Since recreation.gov went to a whole new online reservation system, I was unable to interactively return 2 of the 3 permit res that I had for overnight main trail Mt Whitney for this week (changing group size from 3 to 1). So, I called the visitor center a week in advance and returned those two via phone. The surprise? I received a refund for those, even though the permit res said 'no refunds'.

I hope this is a change in policy, because it is definitely for the better.