|Note: Under The Rim Trail is 23 miles long. In order to reduce the number of pictures on this page and to create reasonable day hikes, I have arbitrarily broken it into a northern and a southern section. Trail Description below is for the northern section (between Whiteman Trailhead and Bryce Point). For the southern section click here.|
Bryce Canyon National Park is famous for its colorful hoodoos. These formations are primarily found in the northern parts of the park. The southern parts of the park (south of Bryce Point) are made of a long line of forested hills that run north-south. On the eastern edge of these hills, you will find a continuous line of pink colored cliffs that drop down several hundred feet. These cliffs go from Rainbow Point, the southern-most point on the park road, to Bryce Point to the north. Park road runs near the top of the hills and gives access to the many designated vista points on top of the cliffs. Under The Rim Trail takes you below the cliffs and gives you much less frequently seen views from the bottom of the cliffs away from the crowds.
The trail starts at the highest point in the park, the 9115 ft Rainbow Point and quickly goes down 1100 vertical feet. It then follows a path north at the base of the pink cliffs. Over its 23 mile length, the trail goes up and down many times creating a few thousand feet of vertical uphill. At its northern end, the trail goes up 1500 vertical feet to end at the 8300 ft Bryce Point (The trail can obviously be hiked in either direction).
In four places, where the cliffs allow it, short connecting trails descend from park road to Under The Rim Trail. South to north, these include:
1) Agua Canyon Trail
2) Whiteman Trail
3) Swamp Canyon Trail
4) Sheep Creek Trail
Whiteman Trail is one mile long and connects to Under The Rim Trail near its middle point. This allows you to break the Under The Rim Trail into a 13.3 mile northern section and an 11.7 mile southern section. The usual park shuttle bus does not go to the areas south of Bryce Point. You can, however, contact the park to arrange a shuttle ride. Designated camp sites along the length of the trail make multi-day backpacking trips possible. Camp sites require reservations before the trip. Please see the link to park site under Red Tape below.
Getting ThereDirections to Rainbow Point:
From Park entrance, drive 18 miles south to the end of the road at Rainbow Point Parking Area.
Directions to Bryce Point:
From Bryce Canyon Visitor Center drive 1.5 miles south until you see the sign for Bryce Point. Turn east and follow the road to Bryce Point parking area. Parking is limited. Come early or take the park shuttle.
Directions to Whiteman Trailhead:
Drive the park road south to mile marker 9 and turn left to the small pull-off. There is parking area for only a few cars.
Hike StatisticsThis information is for the northern section (Whiteman TH to Bryce Point) only
All distances are per my GPS
Route DescriptionWhiteman TH to Under The Rim Trail, descend from 8700 to 8200 ft
Hike Whiteman Trail down a forest to the junction with Under The Rim Trail. When I was in the area, the forest appeared burnt.
Descend to Swamp Canyon 7400 ft
Head north on Under The Rim Trail. You will see Mud Canyon Butte and Swamp Canyon Butte to your northeast.
As the trail descends, it reaches the rim of Mud Canyon giving you spectacular views of the canyon.
The trail then goes away from the rim of mud canyon and goes into a gently sloped area between pink cliffs to the west, Mud Canyon Butte and Swamp Canyon Butte to the east. The trail may be poorly marked here but the route is clear.
Ascend to 7580 ft, descend to Sheep Creek 7380 ft
You will soon reach the junction with Swamp Canyon Connecting Trail.
The trail then goes up to a 7580 ft high point.
It then descends into Sheep Creek Valley. You will have impressive views of colorful walls to the northwest.
Ascend to 7700 ft, descend to Pasture Wash 7260 ft
As you go uphill, this impressive formation will be to your left (north).
From the high point, you can look south and still see Swamp Canyon and Mud Canyon Buttes. More walls will be visible ahead.
As the trail descends, you will see the other side of the impressive formation that you saw earlier.
More colorful walls in Pasture Wash.
Ascend to 7680 ft, descend to 7380 ft
From the high point, you can see walls behind you.
As you go forward, you will not have any views of walls for a short time. You will hike in a pretty forest.
Ascend to 7580 ft, descend to Yellow Creek Crossing 7120 ft
The trail goes up to another high point where the canyon of Yellow Creek appears below you. You will actually have a view of the vista point known as Pariah Point on top of the cliffs.
The trail drops steeply into Yellow Creek Canyon. The vegetation becomes dense.
You will then cross Yellow Creek.
Continue to descend to 6760 ft
The trail parallels Yellow Creek for sometime where the vegetation continues to remain dense. It then veers away from the creek and reaches a sandy area with a juniper forest. No walls will be visible from here.
Big ascent to Bryce Point 8300 ft
The trail then gets into the valley of the Right Fork of Yellow Creek and begins to go up in elevation. At 7430 ft, you will reach an area known as Hat Shop. The reason for this name becomes obvious.
The trail then makes its final twists and turns as it goes up toward Bryce Point.
Near Bryce Point, hoodoos will appear all around you. Go beyond the junction with Peekaboo Connecting Trail to reach Bryce Point.
Red TapeYou must pay park entrance fee.
No permits required for day hikes. Camping on the trail is allowed only in designated campsites and requires prior reservations. For all rules and regulations see the official park site: