Big Changes Coming to Bryce Canyon National Park’s Backcountry Permits

by Amy Myers
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Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

In the past, Bryce Canyon National Park backcountry visitors could only reserve the proper permit up to 48 hours in advance of their visit. Thanks to a new system, though, backcountry campers and explorers will no longer need to cross their fingers and hope that they’ll be able to secure a spot in the park’s wildest regions. Starting December 1, these overnight visitors can reserve their permit up to three months in advance of their trip during the busy season.

According to Bryce Canyon National Park, the change is a part of the initiative to create a more predictable and convenient experience for visitors. While the park has plenty of attractions featured in its day hikes and the amphitheater, Bryce Canyon’s backcountry trails are even more glorious because they’re that much more secluded from the rest of the world.

“The backcountry trails of Bryce Canyon offer forests, meadows, stunning views of distant cliffs, wildflowers, wildlife, interesting geologic features and solitude, but few hoodoos,” the national park explained. “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.”

Now, backcountry visitors can begin thinking about their trips for 2023.

“Permits for peak season trips occurring March through November will be available online up to three months in advance, as well as on a walk-in basis at the Visitor Center,” the release read. “The first online permits for March 2023 will become available on December 1st, 2022 at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time.”

Meanwhile, for off-season winter trips (occurring December through February), the 48-hour walk-in reservation system will remain the same.

You can find reservations at the new site here.

Bryce Canyon National Park Backcountry Explorers Will Have ‘Greater Control of Their Trip Planning’

Naturally, with these backcountry options becoming increasingly popular, the national park wanted to adjust its reservation system to support the growing community of outdoor experts.

“This change aligns our backcountry permits with the developed campground reservations and digital pass options already available on Recreation.gov,” said park spokesperson Peter Densmore, “It also gives our visitors greater control of their trip planning. Under the walk-in system we’ve consistently heard from people concerned about backcountry permit availability during the park’s peak season. We hope that this new system will give them greater peace of mind knowing that their permit is secure.”

According to the park, amidst these changes, a few elements will remain the same, specifically, the mandatory check-in and rates.

“Online permit holders will still be required to check in at the Visitor Center before departing on their overnight trip to review backcountry regulations, rent a free bear canister, or have theirs inspected. This change will not affect permit costs, which remain $10 per permit plus $5 per person. 

Outsider.com