Backcountry Trails and Use Areas
HIKE SMART - For a safe and enjoyable hike prepare for your hike before you arrive:
Corridor Trails Brochure
Only the South Kaibab, Bright Angel, and North Kaibab Trails (known as the Corridor Trails) are maintained and patrolled on a regular basis. These three trails meet at the bottom near the only bridges that span the Colorado River. Together, they create a popular cross-canyon "corridor". The Corridor Trails offer expansive views, reliable water sources, great camping, and the opportunity for hiking in and out on different trails. Backcountry rangers highly recommend this area, especially for your first Grand Canyon adventure.
Two PDF versions of the brochure are available:
Corridor Use Areas:
There are three campgrounds located along the Corridor Trails: Indian Garden Campground (CIG), Bright Angel Campground (CBG), and Cottonwood Campground (CCG). You may spend up to two nights (consecutive or non-consecutive) per campground per hike. One exception is made to this rule: from November 15 - February 28, up to four nights per campground per hike is allowed. To camp in one of these campgrounds you must obtain a backcountry permit.
Every campsite at Indian Garden, Bright Angel, and Cottonwood Campgrounds has a picnic table, pack pole, and metal food storage can. All food, toiletries, and plastics must be placed inside the food storage can.
Indian Garden Campground (CIG), located along the Bright Angel Trail, is a beautiful riparian area filled with cottonwood trees. A small creek passes through on its way to the Colorado River. Indian Garden is 4.8 miles below the South Rim. Indian Garden has a ranger station, emergency phone, year-round potable water, and toilets. Mule trains stop to rest on their way to Phantom Ranch. Day hike destinations include Plateau Point (with panoramic views of the Colorado River). (campground photos)
Bright Angel Campground (CBG) is at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, 9.9 miles from the South Rim and 14 miles from the North Rim. The campground is 1/2 mile north of the Colorado River, and sits along Bright Angel Creek. The campground is less than 1/2 mile from Phantom Ranch. The area is characterized by the river delta where Bright Angel Creek meets the Colorado River. There is a ranger station, emergency phone, pay phones, year-round potable water, and toilets. To reach this campground you can travel the South Kaibab Trail (and cross the black bridge) or the Bright Angel Trail (and cross the silver bridge) from the South Rim, or travel the North Kaibab Trail from the North Rim. Cottonwood trees shade Bright Angel Campground and the creek is a wonderful place to cool off. Deer, ringtail cats, gray foxes, and squirrels are often seen. Popular activities include relaxing, wading in Bright Angel Creek, stargazing, fishing (license required), and day hiking. Day hike destinations include the River Trail and Phantom Overlook. Seasonal ranger programs are offered. Snack items and meals are available for purchase at Phantom Ranch Lodge (meals must be reserved in advance 303-297-2757). (campground photos)
Cottonwood Campground (CCG) is a small campground 6.8 miles below the North Rim of the Grand Canyon on the North Kaibab Trail. Bright Angel Creek nearby offers a cool and refreshing place to get wet. Seasonally (mid-May to mid-Oct) potable drinking water is available at the campground. During other times of the year you should be prepared to filter/treat water obtained from the creek. There are deer, ringtail cats, and squirrels in the area. Cottonwood has an emergency phone and toilets. Day hike destinations include Roaring Springs, Ribbon Falls, and Manzanita Canyon. (campground photos)
|Code||Use Area Name||Mgmt. Zone||Camping Type|
|AH9||Vishnu||Wild||At Large Camping|
|AJ9||Cheyava||Wild||At Large Camping|
|AK9||Clear Creek||Threshold||At Large Camping|
|AL9||Greenland Springs||Wild||At Large Camping|
|AP9||Phantom Creek||Wild||At Large Camping|
|AQ9||Trinity Creek||Wild||At Large Camping|
|AR9||Scorpion Ridge||Wild||At Large Camping|
|BE9||Hance Creek||Primitive||At Large Camping|
|BF5||Horseshoe Mesa||Threshold||Designated Sites|
|BG9||Cottonwood Creek||Primitive||At Large Camping|
|BH9||Grapevine||Primitive||At Large Camping|
|BJ9||Cremation||Primitive||At Large Camping|
|BL4||Horn Creek||Threshold||Designated Sites|
|BL5||Salt Creek||Threshold||Designated Sites|
|BL6||Cedar Spring||Threshold||Designated Sites|
|BL7||Monument Creek||Threshold||Designated Sites|
|BL8||Granite Rapids||Threshold||Designated Sites|
|BM7||Hermit Creek||Threshold||Designated Sites|
|BM8||Hermit Rapids||Threshold||Designated Sites|
|BN9||Boucher||Primitive||At Large Camping|
|NA0||Walhalla Plateau||Primitive||At Large Camping|
|NB9||Thompson Canyon||Wild||At Large Camping|
|NC9||Ken Patrick Primitive||At Large||Camping|
|ND9||Robbers Roost||Primitive||At Large Camping|
|NF9||Widforss||Threshold||At Large Camping|
|NG9||Outlet||Primitive||At Large Camping|
|NH1||Point Sublime||Threshold||Designated Sites|
|NJ0||Swamp Ridge||Primitive||At Large Camping|
|SC9||Eremita Mesa||Threshold||At Large Camping|
Corridor Zone Recommended for hikers without previous experience at Grand Canyon. Maintained trails. Purified water stations. Paved roads to trailheads. Toilets, signs, emergency phones, and ranger stations. Use of private livestock (horses and mules only) allowed only when specified on permit.
Threshold Zone Recommended for experienced Grand Canyon hikers. Non-maintained trails. Scarce water sources. Dirt roads to trailheads. Pit toilets. Use of private livestock (horses and mules only) allowed with permit only on Whitmore Trail and on designated roads and trails on the rim.
Primitive Zone** Recommended for highly experienced Grand Canyon hikers with proven route-finding ability. Non-maintained trails and routes. 4-wheel-drive roads to trailheads. Occasional signs. No other developments. Use of private livestock (horses and mules only) allowed with permit only on the Ken Patrick Trail to Uncle Jim Trail to Uncle Jim Point and on designated roads on the rim.
Wild Zone** Recommended for highly experienced Grand Canyon hikers with extensive route finding ability. Indistinct to non-existent routes require advanced route finding ability. Water sources scarce to non-existent. No other development. Use of private livestock is not allowed.
** Primitive and Wild Zones are not recommended for use during summer months due to extreme high temperatures and the lack of reliable water sources.
Leave No Trace
All Grand Canyon backcountry users are asked to follow Leave No Trace principles. The goal is to have minimum human impact on the canyon as a result of your trip. Important Leave No Trace principles at Grand Canyon include:
- Be well prepared. Know the route and area in which you are planning to hike.
- Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is prohibited.
- Stay on main trails; do not shortcut switchbacks.
- Pack out what you bring in. This includes used toilet paper and all trash.
- Fires are prohibited below the rim. Do not burn toilet paper -pack it out!
- Bury solid human waste at least 200' from water in a shallow cat hole 4-6" deep and 4-6" in diameter.
- To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200' away from creeks and potholes. Scatter strained dish water.
- Let nature's sounds prevail. Keep loud voices and noises to a minimum.
- Leave what you find. This is particularly important when it comes to cultural resources of any kind, including artifacts and archaeological remains. Leave them as you find them.
Backcountry Use Statistics
Backcountry use statistics (from overnight backcountry permits) can be found here. The statistics include:
- use trends (1998-2009) by year and month
- backcountry use breakdown by country and state
- permits issued to Grand Canyon Field Institute, Boy Scouts, and CUAs
- backcountry use by use area
Did You Know?
The more recent Kaibab limestone caprock, on the rims of the Grand Canyon, formed 270 million years ago. In contrast, the oldest rocks within the Inner Gorge at the bottom of Grand Canyon date to 1.84 billion years ago. Geologists currently set the age of Earth at 4.5 billion years.