A permit is required to camp in a location other than a developed campground on the North and South Rims. Visit the Backcountry Permit page to learn how to obtain a permit. Also, read the Backcountry Food Storage and Safe Drinking Water guidelines when planning a backcountry trip.
Backcountry Trails and Use Areas
HIKE SMART - For a safe and enjoyable hike prepare for your hike before you arrive:
Introduction to Backcountry Hiking Brochure
This brochure is for day and overnight inner canyon hikers. It has information about hiking the Bright Angel, South Kaibab, and North Kaibab trails, as well as permit, planning, Leave No Trace, and Hike Smart information. It is distributed at park visitor centers and backcountry information centers.
Corridor Use Areas:
Hiking the Corridor? Be sure to visit the Trail Courtesy Practices That Leave No Trace webpage.
Corridor Availability Report (PDF file)
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)
Grand Canyon Backcountry Use Areas Map
Poster-size map of Grand Canyon use areas (7mb PDF). This pdf shows Grand Canyon backcountry use areas overlayed on a topographic map.
|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.
Backcountry Use Statistics
Backcountry use statistics (from overnight backcountry permits). The statistics include:
- yearly statistics (2000-2016)
- permittee breakdown by country and US state
- use trends, corridor and non-corridor
- use area details for 2016
Last updated: October 3, 2017