Backpacking Essentials

Looking for a little more excitement and solitude? Trying to escape the tourists and crowds? You may be interested in taking a backpacking journey through Bryce Canyon’s captivating backcountry! The backcountry in Bryce Canyon is quite a beautiful experience and a hidden gem. Not many people take the opportunity to get out and away from the more popular tourist destinations or hiking spots due to lack of knowledge of the area. Luckily Bryce Canyon’s park service has made this a little easier and offers maps and more for those who are interested in purchasing a backcountry permit to explore the area better. There are two main backcountry trails, Riggs Spring Loop and Under The Rim Trail. The most sought after however is Under The Rim Trail due to it’s intensity and length.

Bryce Backcountry Information

  • There is a backcountry fee os $5 per persons ages 16+.
  • Permits must be purchased for all overnight stays.
  • Advance reservations are not accepted, only 48 hours before and must be made at the visitor center.

There are four backcountry trails that are broken down from Under The Rim Trail and total about 30.1 miles all together.

  • Bryce Point – Swamp Canyon (11.6 mi.)
  • Swamp Canyon – Whiteman (3.6 mi.)
  • Whiteman – Augua Canyon (7.0 mi.)
  • Augua Canyon – Rainbow Point (7.9 mi)

You can choose to hike the entire distance and bring along with you the proper backpacking supplies, or simply use one of the segmented trails as a day hike. However, you will not quite get the same experience as if you were to take on the entire Under The Rim Trail. As stated above not many people know of, or dare to explore this entire length of backcountry and therefore miss out on the spectacular beauty and sights that it offers. On the plus side though, for those who do decide to explore the entire trail, it is much less crowded and offers a lot more to explore and be seen. Luckily you can make this hike as long or short as you desire, as each trail that is segmented offers a separate access trail to the and from the main highway.

Preparation

If you are planning a backpacking trip, then one of the most important things you will need to do, is prepare you mind and body for the excursion. This is not something that you can simply just jump into as a beginner and expect to conquer. Backpacking in backcountry is rigorous and very strenuous. Not only can it be hard on your body, but it can be mentally challenging as well. You will want as much practice and preparation as possible before you take on a long backpacking trip. Here are some tips to follow beforehand:

  • Condition your body for the trip
  • Let friends and family know your itinerary and when you plan to be back
  • Plan ahead of time for any possible emergencies
  • Take weekend/over night camp trips in isolated places
  • Practice using all your gear and emergency equipment
  • Break in your hiking boots
  • Practice backcountry etiquette
  • Learn to dig a cathole

Camping

The Under The Rim Trail is Bryce Canyon’s longest backpacking trail in the park, and it will take hikers through 8 total campsites on their way from one end to the other. You are allowed to only camp in the designated areas, and make sure to leave no trace of your visit. Campsites are first come first serve.

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Pack List

When exploring the backcountry of Bryce Canyon, there are certain things that you will need to be able to not only survive, but to be able to make the trip and fun and comfortable as possible. More than often, people will find themselves out in the wilderness and realize they have forgotten something they should have brought, or worse they are in a sticky situation and do not have the proper equipment and gear to help them. It is so important to make sure that you have all the proper necessities before going into the backcountry. Here is a list of the main things you will want to pack on your trip:

Backpack

This is going to be your best friend and your enemy on a backpacking trip. It is important that you find a backpack that is right for you and fits your body well. The reason this will be both your saving grace and your enemy, is because it will carry most if not all of your necessities, all while being carried on your back. So you really want to make sure you choose the best suitable pack for your trip.

Gear

The second most important thing to pack is your gear. You want to make sure that you take the right equipment to match your needs for your trip. The following are going to be the most important:

  • Tent
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Sleeping Pad
  • Stove (no campfires allowed below the rim)
  • Bear Canister
  • Bear Spray
  • Enough clothing for both exposed hiking, cold nights, and inclement weather
  • Food
  • Water (LOTS OF WATER)
  • Water Filter
  • Emergency kit/First Aid
  • Knife

Navigation

Backcountry can be fairly easy to get lost in, although Bryce’s backcountry trails are slightly more maintained it can still get pretty rough and you will want some sort of navigation to find your way from one point to the next. GPS, Maps, etc. will be very helpful when hiking in the backcountry of Bryce Canyon.

Appropriate Attire

When hiking the backcountry in Bryce, you will want to make sure that you check the weather report ahead of time. Depending on the time of year and weather conditions, you will want to wear the appropriate attire accordingly.

Fall – Winter

October to January are the more chilly months of the year, temperatures during this time range from 15F-50F depending on the time of day time of year. December tends to be the most cold month out of the year and snowfall in common here. During these times, it is important to wear warmer clothing. Wool socks, heavy winter coats, long johns, gloves, hat, face protection. Make sure that the attire you bring for this time of year will protect you from the elements.

Spring – Summer

February to September are considered the spring through summer months. During the early spring time it can still get fairly cold, especially at night, so be sure to wear or bring extra layers of clothing that can be easily added or removed depending on the weather an temperatures. During id summer, you will want to wear cooler clothes but still protect your skin from sunburns, bug bites, etc. To do this it’d best to bring with you some bug spray as well as sunblock. The purpose of the right attire is to protect yourself from the elements of nature in this area.

Appropriate Shoes

This may seem like one of those “common sense” things, however, you would be surprised to hear that many people do not wear the appropriate footwear for hiking backcountry in Bryce. This is very important to avoid several things including but not limited to; sprained ankles, blisters, poor grip and more. It’s important to wear a shoe with a good grip for scaling obstacles or rock formations, it is also highly recommended to wear shoes that cover your entire foot. Some prefer to wear hiking sandals, which is not a bad choice for those who are more experience hikers. Although more comfortable, it is much ore likely to get sunburns on your feet, stubbed toes and much more when you choose to wear sandals. Hiking boots are your best bet and the most common, comfortable and safe show to wear while hiking backcountry.

Pine Lake Recreational Area

Camping, hiking, boating, fishing and fun! Pine Lake Recreational Area is a great place to relax and enjoy the stunning scenery around you. Surrounded by a good mixture of Ponderosa Pines and Spruce that are reflected of the crystal blue lake as you sit in your camp chair on the bank and sip some coffee waiting for your next catch. Sounds like a dream right? Well it can be reality and its located only a short 28 minutes from Bryce Canyon!

Pine Lake, Utah
Photo Credit: Ben on flickr

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