Buckskin Gulch - Longest and deepest slot canyon in the Southwest - intimidating, sheer-walled narrows that extend for 12 miles
this picture above is a National Geo picture, the ones below are just with my camera...
This year I am thinking of heading to this amazing canyon on the 1st weekend of June (weather permitting, Flash floods are possible - subject to cancellation). You have to be in amazing shape to come with! Although camping en route for one night is the most common way of doing this trip, why carry camping gear when the whole canyon can be hiked in one day? Last year I swept, and was still through this hike in 7-8 hours.
RSVPs will be done the following way to avoid me going crazy. I will take a $20 (+paypal feel) deposit if I don't know you. This is mainly to ensure that you are committed to coming, and don't back out last minute leaving your fellow car 'poolers' unhappy. If you show up, you'll get your money back (less paypal fees of $1-2). How does that sound?
Day 1 (Friday night): We'll drive up Friday evening (4-4.5 hours to Page, plus another 1-2 hours for the car shuttle), and arrange the car shuttle to the ending trail head. WE NEED A VOLUNTEER FOR THIS, OTHERWISE WE'LL WASTE 2 HOURS IN THE MORNING! If you drive up early on Friday, please volunteer:) Then driving to and setting up camp at our starting point.
Day 2 (Saturday): Early Saturday morning we venture into this beautiful canyon, and while we will take plenty of photos (you will certainly want to), we'll keep moving as we have a long day ahead. We'll check out the hieroglyphs on the wall, i.e. the longest snake, and finally hit Buckskin. So far we have hiked ~4 miles...and another 12 to come in a narrow canyon! If there is water on the bottom, this will be a tought and slow hike to get through this section. Mud is possible at certain points, and we could have waist high water, in which we will be wading through. If we are lucky, we'll hike through dry grounds the entire way.
At some point we'll reach an obsticle where we have to climb through depending on conditions. A handline may be needed to guide us through this, plus to lower our packs. Please expect to keep the pace of the group because you don't want to be alone in this section in case you need help getting through it. Once we reach Paria, we still have another 4-5 miles to our destination. Good news is, this trail is pretty much flat the whole way. Bad news, if it rained within the last week, the bottom of the canyon might be very muddy, and any threat of rain will cancel /re-schedule our trip. We will not take any chance!
Once we are back at the car, we'll drive into Page, and stay in town. You, of course, have the option to camp out a second night (I will personally need my shower!!!). We'll have dinner as a group, and hopefully party a little
Page 3 (Sunday): we have several options, depending on weather, time, and how the group is holding up after the previous long day. All I can say is that we are NOT starting early in the morning, and would be great to be back in Phoenix by 8 pm the latest.
Option 1: Cathedral Wash (this is a scenic, short canyon close to the Grand Canyon...about 1.5 miles long, basically a walk in the park - in canyon terms)
Option 2: Jackass Canyon: this will take us down to the Colorado river, and is semi technical. It has a couple of section with scrambles, and even a spot we have to use a handline to proceed. This is a strenous option versus Cathedral Wash.
Option 3: Upper Waterhole Canyon:
Cost: gas money (~[masked] miles RT), $6 pp for day permit, and if you want to stay in town, the cost (shared cost) of the room. Plus dinner Saturday night.
Length: (to the Paria confluence) 13.5 miles from Wire Pass, plus another 7+/- to Whitehouse. Overall it will be ~21 miles in 1 day!
Difficulty: Moderate; few major obstacles apart from long muddy pools, but the full hike is long and tiring. High flash flood danger, and if there is rain a few days before the trip, or forecasted for this weekend, the trip will be cancelled / re-scheduled.
----------------------write up from American Southwest ----------------------------
Buckskin Gulch is the longest and deepest slot canyon in the Southwest, and while others are narrower, prettier or more challenging to explore, the length and variety of the terrain in the gulch make it the best overall. The canyon is narrow for 12 miles; the cliffs become steadily higher downstream, reaching a height of 500 feet above the streambed at the end, where Buckskin Gulch meets theParia River which also flows through a deep canyon for several miles either side of the confluence.
The walls of both canyons are rather dark, and the great depth means that the sun rarely illuminates the narrow passages fully, still, the walls of the gulch do show the characteristic swirls and curves worn by countless millennia of floods, and they are eroded into innumerable eerie rock formations which, given a vivid imagination and the right kind of light, can resemble all kinds of distorted creatures and strange objects.
------------------------write up from National Geographic--------------------------------
From start to finish, the Buckskin Gulch offers a subterranean tour of the layer cake that is the Colorado Plateau, beginning with the dramatic red rock of the Navajo sandstone and ending with the strata of the Moenave and Chinle formations. Traveling downstream through each layer, it meanders between fluted rock walls that reflect indirect sunlight in quintessential desert hues. Buckskin is the most impressive slot canyon hike in North America and likely anywhere: a 13-mile (21-kilometer) corridor of stone so deep you can barely see the sky and so narrow it sometimes forces you to remove your pack to get through.
The gulch lies near Kanab, Utah, smack in the middle of the nation's finest region for desert hiking: It's north of Grand Canyon National Park, south of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, east of Zion National Park, and west of Lake Powell. But in the entire region, there's no start to a hike as dramatic as Buckskin Gulch's two-mile (three-kilometer) squeeze through the two-foot-wide passage of Wire Pass. Hikers then follow the sandy bottom of the gulch 13 miles (21 kilometers) to its confluence with the Paria River Canyon, a bizarre underground intersection of two drainages that's as hauntingly beautiful as it is abrupt. Hiking upstream, the narrows of the Paria River extend another five miles before widening and returning hikers to blue sky at the trail's end. In both the gulch and the Paria River Canyon, obstacles like deep pools, rock jams, and quicksand come and go, created and cleared by the frequent flash floods that make the Buckskin different each time you descend it.
INSIDER ADVICE: Bring a 20-foot (6-meter) rope to lower your packs when descending rock jams.