> This works if you are there for 3-4 days because you have to be there at 11am for the next day permits
Actually, the no-show day hike permits (for next day) are made available at 2 PM. It's the same-day overnight permits that come available at 11. There are also some permits available earlier due to group-size reductions by those picking up their reserved permits. Those are available immediately.
Also, understand that the unused permits are the numbers available at the end of the day, after ALL people asking for them are done. So you don't actually have to be there at the 11 AM or 2 PM times.
Playing the walk-in no-show pickup game always works better on week-days, especially later in summer.
You can also keep checking the online permits. As I write this, there is currently one Day Use available
for July 6 (and 2 overnight slots
). Those pop up occasionally when the really conscientious reservation holders logon and reduce their permit numbers. I sure wish rec.gov would refund a little $$ to make this a more useful option.