Backcountry Information

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Hikers on the Under the Rim Trail near Hat Shop.

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Under-the-Rim Trail Closures, Damage, and Hiker Advisory
Due to recent wildland fire, the Under-the-Rim trail is closed from Rainbow Point north to Agua Canyon (including the Agua Canyon Connecting Trail). The Rigg's Spring Loop is also closed until further notice. Sheep Creek is the only campsite north of Agua Canyon that remains closed.

Due to deteriorating trail conditions, those hiking the Under-the-Rim trail north of Agua Canyon must understand that they do so at their own risk. Strong wayfinding skills are a must, and responses to emergency situations may be difficult and delayed. The Agua Canyon Connector Trail is closed until further notice due to storm damage.

Hiking Bryce Canyon's Backcountry
Experience the solitude of Bryce's forested backcountry on the Under the Rim Trail. Descending from the rim, this 22.9 mile trail meanders through forests & meadows, offering stunning views of rainbow-hued cliffs in the distance. The Under the Rim Trail follows the base of the Paunsaugant Plateau and is largely forested. The hoodoos are part of the distant vistas to the west as you hike the valley floor. To preserve this experience, backcountry camping is permitted only in designated campsites. A backcountry permit must be obtained at the Visitor Center prior to any overnight trips.

  • 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 ranging from 6,800 feet (2,073 m) to 9,115 feet (2778 m)
 
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Backcountry Fee
$5/person, ages 16+

  • Permits are required for all overnight stays, and camping is permitted in designated sites only.
  • Overnight stays are limited to a maximum of 14 nights.
  • Purchase permits at the Visitor Center. Permits may not be issued for departures late on the same day. Check at Visitor Center for further information.
  • You must be physically present at the Visitor Center to obtain a permit. Permits will not be issued by phone, email, etc.
  • Reservations may be made up to 48 hours in advance, and only at the Visitor Center. All site reservations are subject to availability.
 
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Backcountry Trails
The Under-the-Rim Trail is approximately 22.9 miles (36.9 km) from Bryce Point to Rainbow Point. Connecting trails offer access from the park's Scenic Drive and intersect the Under-the-Rim Trail at Swamp Canyon, Whiteman Bench and Agua Canyon trailheads. NOTE: Agua Canyon Connector Trail is closed until further notice due to storm damage.
The Riggs Spring Loop is 8.6-mile (13.9 km) beginning and ending at the Rainbow/Yovimpa Point parking lot at the south end of the Scenic Drive. Either the Yovimpa or Rainbow Point trailhead may be used to access this loop.
The Bryce Canyon Shuttle provides optional transportation to and from Sunrise, Sunset, Inspiration, and Bryce Points only in the summer. It does not serve the southern end of the park. You must provide your own transportation to/from those locations or make reservations on the Rainbow Point Tour.
The Under-the-Rim Trail May Be Broken into Sections as Follows:
Trail Sections
Distance
(one-way)
Elevation Change
Agua Canyon T.H. to Rainbow Point
(Hike across hogbacks;good views)
7.9 mi /
12.7 km
1365 ft /
416 m
Whiteman Bench T.H. to Agua Canyon T.H.
(Interesting geology and good birding)
7.0 mi /
11.3 km
1460 ft/
445 m
Swamp Canyon T.H. to Whiteman Bench T.H.
(Hike through plant communities)
3.6 mi /
5.8 km
848 ft /
259 m
Bryce Point to Swamp Canyon T.H.
(Steep descent past the Hat Shop)
11.6 mi /
18.7 km
1294 ft /
394 m
TH = Trailhead
Note: Hitchhiking is not allowed in Bryce Canyon National Park.
 
Rainbow Shuttle Tour icon
When available, hikers may reserve seats on the Rainbow Point Tour bus for transportation to and from Rainbow/Yovimpa Point. However, this service is seasonal in nature. Reservations and detailed information may be obtained by calling (435) 834-5290.
 
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Water in the Backcountry
We recommend you carry at least one gallon (4 liters) of water per person per day.
  • Water sources are unreliable.
  • Water from backcountry sources must be purified.
  • Purify water 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
  • Sunset Point parking area
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
 
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Bear-resistant canister

Anonymous

Bears and Other Wildlife
Bryce Canyon is home to many animals including mountain lions, coyotes and black bears. Squirrels, snakes and other small animals may also be present near your campsite.

  • Follow proper storage techniques for food and other scented items.
  • Feeding or harassing wildlife in the park is a violation of Federal law (36 CFR 1002.2) and such behavior is subject to fines or other penalties.
Due to the presence of black bears within Bryce Canyon National Park, the use of bear-resistant food canisters on overnight backcountry hikes is highly recommended.
  • Bear-resistant canisters are available for loan, free of charge, at the Visitor Center.
  • Store all food and scented personal items in the bear canister.
  • Never cook, store food and food scraps, or keep scented items in your tent.
  • Do not sleep in the clothes you were wearing when you cooked.
  • Hanging food is insufficient!

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

Brochure information about Black Bears and what you should and shouldn't do if you encounter one.

  1. Utah Division of Wildlife Black Bear Encounter Brochure (PDF 192 KB)
  2. Bryce Canyon National Park Black Bear Brochure (PDF 4.45 MB)

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

REPORT ALL BEAR & MOUNTAIN LION SIGHTINGS TO THE VISITOR CENTER INFORMATION DESK!

 
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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. Backcountry water must be purified.
  • Hygiene - Wash dishes and bathe at least 100 feet (30 m) from water sources, trails and campsites.
  • 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.
  • Fires - NO OPEN FIRES 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 - Stay on designated trails. Shortcutting trail switchbacks is illegal, dangerous and causes erosion!
  • Leave No Trace - Pack out all trash and any you find that has been left by others. Pack out toilet paper. and food scraps!
  • 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.
 

Backcountry Map Brochure

Click here for Backcountry Brochure

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

Back to main hiking page.

 
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LIGHTNING SAFETY
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.

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

Last updated: October 26, 2018

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

P.O Box 640201
Bryce, UT 84764

Phone:

(435) 834-5322

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