Bryce Canyon National Park is best known for its hoodoos, intricately carved rock spires left standing through the processes of weathering and erosion. Hoodoos are best experienced through day hikes in the main amphitheater of Bryce Canyon. The backcountry trails of Bryce Canyon offer forests, meadows, stunning views of distant cliffs, wildflowers, wildlife, interesting geologic features and solitude, but few hoodoos.
There are two backcountry trails at Bryce Canyon, the Under-the-Rim Trail and Riggs Spring Loop Trail. Both descend below the rim into a pinon-juniper-ponderosa forest. The trails are strenuous, with multiple changes in elevation. Both trails may be hiked either direction.
Elevation ranges from 6,800 feet to 9,115 feet.
The Under-the-Rim Trail is approximately 22.9 miles from Bryce Point to Rainbow Point. Three connecting trails intersect the Under-the-Rim trail at Swamp Canyon, Whiteman Bench, and Agua Canyon trailheads. Agua Canyon Connecting trail is currently closed. There are seven campsites on the 22.9 mile Under-the-Rim Trail.
The Under-the-Rim trail can be broken up into the following sections:
Bryce Point Trailhead to Swamp Canyon Trailhead
Distance: 11.6 mi (18.7 km) / Elevation change: 1294 ft (349 m)
Steep descent from Bryce Point through Hat Shop to Yellow Creek through juniper forests and gambel oak thickets. Hike through some sandy areas.
Swamp Canyon Trailhead to Whiteman Bench Trailhead
Distance: 3.6 mi (5.8 km) / Elevation change: 848 ft (259 m)
Hike through plant communities. Excellent views across southeastern Utah and into northern Arizona.
Whiteman Bench Trailhead to Rainbow Point Trailhead
Distance: 11.7 mi (18.7 km) / Elevation change: 1460 ft (445 m)
Hike through interesting geology. This section of trail is known for rough terrain, but beautiful scenery and some sandy areas. Hike up and down ridges. Ponderosa pines yield to spruce, fir and aspen. Steep climb to Rainbow Point.
Riggs Spring Loop Trail
The Riggs Spring Loop Trail is an 8.6-mile loop, which begins and ends at the Rainbow/ Yovimpa Point trailheads. This trail descends to the valley below the cliffs at the south end of the park, through ponderosa pine, fir, aspen, maple, and gambel oak. There are four campsites on the 8.6-mile Riggs Spring Loop Trail.
A permit is required year-round for all overnight stays in the backcountry. A backcountry permit allows the permit holder and their group to camp in designated backcountry campsites.
Your reservation is not a permit. Permits must be issued in person at the Bryce Canyon Visitor Center within two days of the trip start date, but before 2:00PM MT on the trip start date.
Conditions along the Under-the-Rim Trail are very rugged, and the trail may be difficult to follow. Orienteering skills are strongly recommended. Please carry a topographic map and compass.
Water sources in the backcountry are intermittent and unreliable. Water may be found in Yellow Creek, Sheep Creek, Swamp Creek, Iron Spring, Riggs Spring, and Yovimpa Spring. However, because water sources are unreliable, we recommend you carry at least one gallon (4 liters) of water per day per person. You may encounter large stretches of trail without access to water sources. Water from backcountry sources must be purified by boiling 10 minutes, filtering, or iodine treatment. Current information on water sources is available at the visitor center.
Bryce Canyon National Park does not provide a shuttle or transportation to/from Rainbow Point. You must provide your own options for transportation. For alternate options visit our Commercial Tours and Services page. https://www.nps.gov/brca/planyourvisit/commercial-tours-and-services.htm
Bear-resistant canisters are required on overnight backcountry hikes. 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.
Bear-resistant canisters are available for loan, free of charge at the visitor center. If you have your own bear-resistant canister, you must present it to the ranger to make sure it meets park requirements (hard-sided and lockable).
The following regulations and recommendations are also in place:
Store all food and scented personal items in the bear canister
Do not eat or use scented items in your tent
Do not sleep in clothes you were wearing when you cooked
Keep bear canisters locked when not tending to them
Hanging food from trees is prohibited
In the summer of 2010, a black bear had to be killed because it was conditioned to associate food with humans and began to exhibit aggressive behavior. Feeding wild animals is a form of animal cruelty. Please take your food storage practices seriously.
Cell service is very limited. Cellular phones may work in some areas but should not be relied on.
Lightning is a year-round danger, though most common in July, August and September. During the rainy (monsoon) season expect frequent, usually brief, afternoon thunderstorms which produce heavy rain and frequent lightning. If you are planning your trip during these months remember that in the backcountry there may not be a safe place to take shelter.
Winter camping requires appropriate equipment and knowledge of basic winter survival skills. Backcountry trails are not marked for winter use and can be extremely difficult to find when snow covered. During snowstorms, UT-63 is temporarily closed from mile 4 to Rainbow Point until it is plowed. This affects all backcountry trailheads except Bryce Point.
Reservation Fee: $10.00 non-refundable reservation fee.
Recreation Fee: $5 per each person listed on the permit. The recreation fee is charged year-round for permits secured through recreation.gov or in person at the Bryce Canyon Visitor Center. This fee is refundable up to 3 days before permit start date.
Entry into Bryce Canyon National Park requires an entrance fee or pass.
Cancellation Policy: Reservations cancelled 3 or more full days before the reservation start date receive a full refund of the recreation fee. ($5.00 per-person fee)
Reservations cancelled less than 3 days before the permit start date are non-refundable.
The $10 reservation fee is non-refundable.
Change Policy: You may make changes to your permit itinerary, if space is available, up to 3 full days before your reservation date.
Your start date cannot be changed without cancelling your existing reservation and booking a new reservation.
If the group size is increased (quota permitting), you will be required to pay the additional per person fees.
If the group size is reduced more than 3 days before the permit start date, a refund of the per person fees will be provided.
One additional permit holder can be identified when the reservation is created. Otherwise, reservations and permits are non-transferable.
P.O. Box 640201 Bryce UT 84764
(435) 834-5322 - Phones are answered and messages returned as soon as possible as staffing allows.