Backcountry Information


Hikers on the Under the Rim Trail near Hat Shop.



$5 per person, age 16 years and older.

  • Permits are required for all overnight stays.
  • Permits may be purchased at the Visitor Center from 8 a.m. until one hour before closing.
  • We do not accept advance reservations via the internet or mail.
  • Reservations may be made up to 48 hours in advance, in person, at the visitor center.

Hiking at Bryce Canyon National Park Backcountry
Bryce Canyon is best known for its hoodoos and it's awe-inspiring amphitheater. But if your in the mood for a more solitude experience, the backcountry trails offer forests, meadows, stunning views of distant cliffs, plateaus and a feeling of wilderment that only long ago native people and pioneers experience in this still wild landscape.

  • There are 8 campsites on the 22.9 mile (36.9 km) Under-the-Rim Trail.
  • There are 4 campsites on the 8.8 mile (14.2 km) Riggs Spring Loop Trail.
  • The trails are strenuous, with multiple changes in elevation.
  • Elevations range from 6,800 feet (2,073 m) to 9,115 feet (2778 m).

To preserve this experience, Backcountry camping is permitted only in designated backcountry campsites.

Backcountry Trails
The Riggs Spring Loop is an 8.6-mile (13.9 km) loop which begins and ends at the Rainbow/Yovimpa Point parking lot. Either the Yovimpa or Rainbow Point trailhead may be used to access this loop.
The Under-the-Rim Trail is approximately 22.9 miles (36.9 km) from Bryce Point to Rainbow Point. Three connecting trails intersect the Under-the-Rim Trail at Swamp Canyon, Whiteman Bench and Agua Canyon trailheads.
In summer months, the Bryce Canyon Shuttle provides optional transportation to and from Sunrise, Sunset, Inspiration, and Bryce Points, but does not serve the southern end of the park.
You must provide your own transportation to/from those locations. At the time of publication the Rainbow Point Tour is available (when the shuttle system is operating) to transport hikers to/from Rainbow Point. However, this service may be discontinued at any time without notice - inquire at the Visitor Center.

Please note that hitchhiking is not allowed in Bryce Canyon National Park.

The Under-the-Rim Trail may be broken into sections as follows:
Trail sections
elevation change
Bryce Point to Swamp Canyon T.H.
(Steep descent past the Hat Shop)
11.6 mi /
18.7 km
1294 ft /
394 m
Swamp Canyon T.H. to Whiteman T.H.
(Hike through plant communities)
3.6 mi /
5.8 km
848 ft /
259 m
Whiteman T.H. to Agua Canyon T.H.
(Interesting geology and good birding)
7.0 mi /
11.3 km
1460 ft/
445 m
Agua Canyon T.H. to Rainbow Point
(Hike across hogbacks;good views)
7.9 mi /
12.7 km
1365 ft /
416 m
TH = Trailhead
Water in the Backcountry
We recommend you carry at least one gallon (4 liters) of water per person per day into the backcountry. Water sources are intermittent and unreliable.
Water from backcountry sources must be purified by boiling (10 minutes), filtering, or iodine treatment.
Please check at the Visitor Center for the most current information on water availability. Water filling stations are located at the...
  • Visitor Center
  • Bryce Canyon Lodge
  • General Store
  • High Plateaus Institute
  • Sunset Point.
You MAY find water at the following backcountry locations:
  • Yellow Creek (near all campsites)
  • Sheep Creek (near campsite)
  • Iron Spring (trail near campsite)*
  • Riggs Spring (inside log fence area)
  • Yovimpa Spring (below Yovimpa Pass campsite)
* Note: Water in Iron Spring has substantial sediment and metallic taste.

Bear-resistant canister

Bears and other Wildlife
Bryce Canyon is home to many wildlife species, including predatory mammals such as Mountain Lions, Coyotes, and Black Bears. In addition, squirrels, snakes and other small mammals may be encountered along the trail or attracted to your campsite.
Following proper storage techniques for food and other scented items is your responsibility. Also, it is important to remember that feeding or harassing wildlife in the park is a violation of federal law (36 CFR 1002.2).
Due to the presence of Black Bears within Bryce Canyon National Park, use of bear-resistant food canisters on overnight backcountry hikes is REQUIRED. Hikers who choose not to use a canister are still required to follow safe food storage practices. However, please note that during periods of high bear activity, the park may, at its discretion and without prior notice, require use of bear-resistant canisters for all overnight hikes into the backcountry.

  • Bear-resistant canisters are available for loan, free of charge, at the Visitor Center.
  • Store all food, deodorants, toothpaste, sunscreen, food scraps or anything else with an odor in the canister.
  • Never cook, store food and food scraps, or keep scented items in your tent.
  • Do not sleep in the clothes you were wearing as you prepared your meal.
  • Hanging food is insufficient!

In the summer of 2010, a Black Bear had to be killed when it repeatedly exhibited aggressive behavior towards backcountry campers. Unfortunately, bears often lose their natural wariness towards humans when they become habituated to human food.

The following link provides information about Black Bears and what you should and shouldn't do if you encounter one.

Black Bear encounter information (Information courtesy of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)

Information about other animals that may be encountered in Bryce Canyon can be viewed here.



Leave No Trace logo

Backcountry Guidelines

  • Permits - A Backcountry Permit is required for all overnight stays in the backcountry. Permits may be purchased at the Visitor Center from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Water - Carry plenty of water and check water availability with a ranger at the Visitor Center before you leave. Purify all water from backcountry sources.
  • Hygiene - Wash dishes and bathe at least 100 feet (30 m) from water sources, trails and campsites. Collect and bag food scraps and pack out as trash.
  • Waste - Dig "catholes" 6 to 8 inches (15 cm) deep at least 200 feet (60 m) away from water, trails and campsites to bury human waste. Pack out all trash and any you find that has been left by others. Pack out toilet paper in zip-type bags.
  • Fires - NO OPEN FIRES are allowed in the backcountry. Camp stoves are permitted.
  • Safety - Carry a detailed topographic map, compass, extra clothing, food and water, rain gear, hat and sunscreen. Check the weather forecast prior to departure. Always let a friend or family member know your plans.
  • Travel - Prevent unnecessary and unsightly erosion —stay on designated trails. Shortcutting trail switchbacks is illegal and also dangerous.
  • Camping - Camp only in designated sites as reserved on your backcountry permit. Leave no trace of your visit.
  • Groups - Backcountry campsites are limited to 6 people per regular site, and 15 people per group site.
Immediately report emergencies and resource violations to a ranger,
call 911 or 435-676-2411.

Lightning is a year-round danger –especially during summer storms! If you can hear thunder, lightning is within 10 miles (16 km) and you need to seek the shelter of a building or your vehicle immediately.
Click Here for more information.


Click here for Backcountry brochure (PDF 690K)

Bryce Canyon National Park Bear Information brochure (PDF) (coming soon)

(The DATUM provided for each site was derived from a handheld GPS unit and does not represent NPS approved information.)

Backcountry collage, with hoodoos on the left, hummingbird next, flowers next and a buck mule deer on the right. Photos by Ron Warner

Did You Know?