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2 Openings available on permit....Paria Canyon/Buckskin Gulch...UT/AZ border

  • Oct 28, 2012 · 8:00 AM

Peter Medal has opening for Paria Canyon/Buckskin Gulch!

He writes:

Sunday, October 28,[masked]:00 AM
to Tuesday, October 30, 2012, 5:00 PM

We are THREE of FIVE TOTAL persons on the BLM permit.
The fee for this meet up is to cover the cost of the permit ($10/head).

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 stream bed at the end, where Buckskin Gulch meets the Paria 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, and Buckskin lacks the pretty patterns of light and color as are found in, for example, Water Holes Canyon. 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.

Buckskin Gulch (named on some maps as Kaibab Gulch, or The Dive) is a tributary of the Paria River that drains an area around the Vermilion Cliffs in far south Utah and joins the Paria exactly at the Utah/Arizona border, 20 miles from Lees Ferry next to the Colorado River.

Three trailheads give access to the gulch; Middle, Wire Pass and Buckskin. The Middle Trail leads to the canyon about half way, but involves a 5 mile trip on bad roads and a climb down the cliff walls. The other two entry points are more popular, and are both reached along a reasonable quality dirt track - fine for 2WD cars - that heads due south from US 89 near milepost 26, 4 miles east of the turn off to the Paria ghost town. After 4 miles, a signpost points to the Buckskin Trailhead, where the gulch is unremarkable - wide and meandering, filled with soft sand, and remains similar in appearance for several miles downstream. Most people prefer the Wire Pass Trailhead, 3.5 miles further south since it affords quicker access to the deep, scenic parts of the canyon. Only about 2 miles of the narrows are by-passed, and the start of the route is along the Wire Pass side canyon that is also quite narrow and interesting.

The Gulch has some open, shallower sections, but averages less than 10 feet wide for most of its length. There are always some residual pools of water and mud; the extent depends on how recently the canyon has flooded. Occasionally swimming will be necessary but normally the pools are just 2-3 feet deep and a few yards long.

The water is permanently cold and muddy, and the canyon is certainly not a place to take expensive footwear. The walking surface is roughly half sand - sometimes hard and damp but mostly soft and dry - and half stones or boulders, so progress is more difficult than might be expected as the terrain is largely flat. There are some places where the floor drops a few feet but none of the sheer dryfalls found in some other slot canyons.


Confluence with the Paria River
The only possible problem is a pile of boulders, 1.5 miles from the end of the gulch, where the floor drops down by about 20 feet. A rope may be useful (and one is often left in place) but most people manage to climb down between the rocks. Each flood has the potential to make significant changes to the canyon, though, so these boulders may be more of an obstruction on some occasions. There is no drinkable water except for a clear, shallow stream that flows for the last half mile before the confluence with the Paria River.

The junction is a magical place, with a overpowering sense of isolation and adventure. The water of the Paria river is fast-flowing and light-brown colored, quite different to the clear lazy flow down the Gulch. There are some sandbanks but generally the river covers all of the canyon floor. The Paria is narrow for about 2 miles in each direction; downstream the gorge becomes wider although still impressive, and eventually joins the Colorado at Lees Ferry. There are plenty of possible camp sites, and several fresh water sources on the way.

We will go up on SUNDAY 10/28 camp; venture into gulch and camp in the canyon MONDAY 10/29 camp in the canyon on Monday night; venture out TUE 10/30

Plan is to get up there between and 1 and 2pm...so departing the PHX area should be no later then 8AM (from Loop 101/Interstate 17) 7AM from SE valley cities

There is a ride share available with Chris and James who are driving from Tempe/Chandler area. Another ride share is available with me from Arrowhead/Peoria area

Peter Medal
[masked]

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  • luke e.

    Is there a permit required to do this as day trip ?
    I can't get Sunday off but would join for Monday and Tuesday

    October 25, 2012

    • A former member
      A former member

      We have a confirmed permit for one more for Monday Night inside the canyon... Sunday night we are just going to camp at the trailhead

      October 25, 2012

    • luke e.

      This is sooo tempting, wish I could do as day hike. It's on my bucket list of hikes

      October 25, 2012

1 went

  • A former member

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