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Backpacker Magazine – June 2009

Rip & Go: Under-the-Rim Trail - Bryce Canyon National Park, UT

Dupe the daytrippers on this rugged trail to brilliantly colored backcountry cliffs and hoodoos.

by: Steve Howe

A view from the last day (
A view from the last day (
(Photo by Julia Vandenoever)
(Photo by Julia Vandenoever)
Casto Canyon (Whit Richardson)
Casto Canyon (Whit Richardson)

Take it With You
Download a printable PDF of this entire weekend.

GPS-Enabled Trip Report
See this trip on a map, download it to your phone, GPS, or computer, and more.

Key Skill | Purify Scummy Water Water is rare in Bryce Canyon, so you take what you can get. Sources will likely be silty, algae-filled, or downright manky, particularly in Iron Spring at mile 19. This is filter-clogging territory; here's how to beat the grime and stay hydrated.

1) Gather water in a large pot or water bag. Let silt settle for an hour. If the silt is really fine (water looks cloudy), boil the untreated water to help bring the particles out of suspension, then let it settle.
2) Pour the settled water into a Nalgene or reservoir using a standard conical coffee filter and paper inserts. Don't filter the muddy dregs. Pack two paper filters for every planned water stop.
3) If boiled, the water is good to go. Otherwise, filter through a pump, add chemical purification, or treat with UV. 4) Don't like the treatment's chemical aftertaste? Add a drink mix (a tart citrus flavor works best).
5) Drink up. Start each day with a gallon per person for drinking. Consider packing another gallon if it's extremely hot, or if your next camp might be dry.

See This
Clark's Nutcracker
This foot-tall, white-and-gray member of the jay family was first seen by William Clark (of Lewis and Clark fame). It uses its long beak to cache and eat pine nuts, and though its brain is smaller than a piñon seed, it finds 75 percent of its caches in winter.

Locals Know
You can't mountain bike in Bryce Canyon National Park, but you can in its identical twin, nearby Casto Canyon. Head west on UT 12 11.6 miles from the UT 12/UT 63 junction, and drive 2.8 miles north on the graded dirt road to the signed trailhead. Start with the 14.4-mile Casto-Fremont lollipop loop, with its broad, gravelly trail and numerous shallow stream crossings. Within a mile of starting you'll be rolling between castellated Pink Cliffs and the very same layers you'd see exposed in Bryce. Then you'll diverge onto singletrack through aromatic ponderosa stands before descending back into hoodoo country. Head to to download a GPS map and tracklog.

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