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Buckskin Gulch - Wire Pass to Paria River, UT

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452 45 2
Guide 45 Triplogs  2 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List UT > Southwest
Rated
5
5 of 5 by 28
 
26
Canyons are inherently risky. Flash floods occur without notice on sunny days. Technical skills & surrounding topography knowledge required yet does not eliminate risk.
Canyoneering
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Difficulty 2 of 5
Distance Round Trip 28.37 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,914 feet
Elevation Gain 314 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 13 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 29.94
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Seasonal Creek & Perennial Creek
Backpack Yes & Connecting
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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Inaugural Calculation next Tap
29  2018-05-08
Wire Pass to Lee's Ferry
outdoor_lover
21  2017-04-29 arizona_water
42  2017-03-11
Wire Pass - Buckskin Gulch - Paria Canyon
ddgrunning
55  2016-03-18
Wire Pass - Buckskin Gulch - Paria Canyon
John9L
70  2016-03-18
Wire Pass - Buckskin Gulch - Paria Canyon
chumley
12  2014-10-29
Wire Pass
AZWanderingBear
12  2014-05-16 RickVincent
4  2013-09-27 Lucyan
Page 1,  2,  3,  4
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Preferred   Oct, May, Jun, Sep → 7 AM
Seasons   Spring
Sun  7:06am - 5:19pm
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Water
Nearby Area Water
Coyote Buttes North - Wire Pass TH
Coyote Buttes North - Wire Pass TH
0.0 mi away
6.0 mi
1,136 ft
Wire Pass to Buckskin Gulch
0.0 mi away
3.4 mi
183 ft
Wire Pass
Wire Pass
0.0 mi away
1.7 mi
-200 ft
Buckskin Gulch TH to Wire Pass
Buckskin Gulch TH to Wire Pass
3.5 mi away
4.4 mi
Coyote Buttes via Cottonwood Cove
Coyote Buttes via Cottonwood Cove
5.0 mi away
Middle Route Trailhead to Cobra Arch
Middle Route Trailhead to Cobra Arch
6.0 mi away
6.6 mi
300 ft
Coyote Buttes South
Coyote Buttes South
6.5 mi away
Long Canyon - West Clark Bench
7.2 mi away
1.5 mi
94 ft
Cat Stair Canyon - Car Wash
Cat Stair Canyon - Car Wash
8.1 mi away
0.5 mi
63 ft
Buckskin Mountain - AZT #43
8.4 mi away
10.5 mi
719 ft
[ View More! ]
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Phenominal Serpentine Twists!
by Boscoaz & Sredfield

Boscoaz 2011-06-22 This hike has been on my bucket list for some time and it did not disappoint. It is the longest and deepest slot canyon in the southwest. The hike can certainly be completed as a day hike but an overnight trip is my recommendation. We obtained an overnight permit from the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) which definitely made the experience more enjoyable. Overnight permits are limited as the BLM only allows 20 overnight campers each day. Our permits were relatively easy to get though.


First let me say that this hike can be extremely dangerous which is the reason for the 2.0 difficultly rating. The hike is nearly flat however since this is a slot canyon hike there is no way out of the canyon in the event of a flash flood. The only escape route (if you want to call it that) is at the 6.5 mile mark. This route, called the Middle Trail, is up a very precarious rock face and I would not want to attempt this unless absolutely necessary. Weather reports should be thoroughly checked before you hike to ensure rain is not forecasted. There are also potential for pockets of quicksand which I actually did get to see. I made sure to stay away.

This trail description goes from the Wire Pass trailhead to the Paria River confluence and back. The Wire Pass trail starts out very easy and plain down a sandy wash. After about a half mile of exposed hiking you begin to wonder what everyone was talking about. Shortly you come to a slot in a canyon wall and you are about to enter the Gulch!! The very first part of the hike is quite narrow. My pack was rubbing against both sides of the canyon walls. After a short distance the canyon walls separate and the trail starts to widen. Within another half mile the Wire Pass trail intersects with the Buckskin Gulch trailhead and widens up significantly. There are some petroglyphs on the south walls of the canyon at this point. They are difficult to find but luckily one of my fellow hikers was able to point them out.

Within moments the trail narrows back into tall canyon walls to reveal what water has done to the canyon walls. Words cannot describe the amazing facets of the rocks walls. What is even more amazing is that some of the canyon walls tower over your head by 500 feet. There are some open sections of the trail but they do not open up to more than 150 feet wide. While I did not experience it on my hike, there are several sections of ankle to chest deep water. These pools of water are very cold and stagnant as they typically never see light to dry out. There are some sections that may even require a swim. Water shoes are a must! For my hike there hadn't been a significant rain in 3-4 months so the canyon was virtually dry. Since it was dry, most of the canyon floor was similar to beach sand which actually made the hike more difficult. I would rather have cold water and hard packed sand than soft beach sand!

The hike continues through the Buckskin Gulch canyon to the Paria River. You know you are getting close to the Paria River when you get to the rock jam. I climbed over the rock jam and was presented with a 30 foot straight drop. I did a little backtracking and found a spot under a large boulder to climb down and under. Luckily the drop under this rock was only a little over 10 feet. After a short rest I continued down the canyon where I started to see water seeping from the canyon walls. Shortly thereafter you come to the Paria River.

At this point, the trail can be continued down the Paria River to Lees Ferry (which is a 3 day hike) or up the Paria River to White House Campground. I went back the way I came to the Wire Pass trailhead since I wanted to experience as much of the slot canyon as I could.

Just before the Paria River confluence there are two campsites on either side of the canyon. Both are fantastic however I prefer the campsite on the north side. There is an elevated campsite which offers you some protection should water start flowing through the canyon. There isn't any realiable water to filter at this spot. The nearest reliable water spring is about 1.5 miles downstream the Paria River towards Lees Ferry. I opted to carry in water to ensure that I didn't have to walk 3 miles round trip from camp for water. You can filter the water from the Paria but I wouldn't recommend it. The Paria River is laden with dirt and sediment and you would likely destroy your water filter.

This is by far one of the most unique canyoneering experiences I have ever had and I will definitely be back. As a side note, I took my GPS along to see how well it could track in the deep canyon and surprisingly it did quite well. There were several sections though that my GPS could not get a satellite signal.

Sredfield 2002-10-02 A hiking buddy called with an invitation to do Buckskin Gulch, a slot canyon tributary to Paria Canyon on the AZ-UT state line.

Work has intruded on my leisure life lately, forcing me to postpone my long-planned Blue Range trip. I've been traveling just a little too much, cutting into my gym time. I've avoided slot canyons, after a few Arizona horror stories about rain storms up stream and resulting tragedies. But being we have apparently seen the last rain of the century here, maybe now was the time. The plus is that with the drought, there are no pools in the canyon to wade or swim through. So the invitation motivated me to get a few things in order, hit the gym 3 times to get a little ready, and go along.

If you've not seen a slot, imagine the surface of a small lake in high wind, freeze that in stone, stand it vertical, put a mirror image facing it, squeeze it up about 10 feet from the other, put some serpentine twists and turns in the route, and you have something of an idea. The walls in Buckskin are probably 150' +/- tall. In most places the sun never strikes the inner canyon, making for some natural air conditioning. The footing varies from hard pack to deep sand, a feature not much appreciated after a few hours.

We started down from the Wire Pass Trail Head about 7:30 AM, a bit late for my taste, but when your with a group . . . . The user fees ($5/hd, honor system) have paid for a new toilet there, a nice touch because there is nothing else out there. And the employer is keeping it clean, thank you. A sign warns that "Emergency Response is Never Rapid" and to be careful of rain. Do you know the sharp angle pass-throughs constructed to keep cattle from going through an opening in a fence, but allowing hikers to walk through without opening a gate? The worst one I've seen is on the Payson Ranger District-its made of barbed wire! The one at Wire Pass is at the other end of the spectrum; it's made of at least 1-inch rebar, probably 1 and 1/4, set in concrete. Way to go BLM, sometimes it is the little things that matter.

It's about a mile of open wash to the beginning of the slot; you pass the cut-off to the "Wave" along the way. The Wave is a wind eroded feature of alternating white and red sand stone carved in sweeping shapes, about 3 mile from the trail head.

The slot starts out shallow; then deepens quickly. Three short drop offs require a bit of scrambling, only one presents any challenge. Some help from co-hikers makes it an easy navigation.

Then we're in the surreal world of the slot canyon. In the morning, sunshine is rare; it's quite dark. The rocks are cool, mitigating the rising temperatures above. We pass through a few open areas, still narrow by normal canyon standards, where the sun shines and a little greenery grows. Then as quickly as the canyon opens, the route passes back into the narrow grotto-like world. In one spot my shoulders touch both sides at the same time, in many places you can touch both walls with outstretched arms. The walls are carved in waves, and the swirls and bends are impressive. Logs and once-floating debris jammed high above give rise to speculation-did it come over the top, was it left there as the slot deepened, or was it deposited in horrible floods, as the water flushed down the canyon at incredible depth and speed? Probably all three. Hanging from the underside of one low setting jam is a hiker's sock. It is a well-traveled route.

A few petroglyphs along the way, mostly small animal figures are about the only indication of human presence. Not a great deal of animal sign either, lizards dart around here and there in the open spots; some birds escape to the canyon, lingering in the cool. Some larger mammals have been in and left small deposits. An avian scream noted someone's objection to our intrusion-a raven, eagle, hawk?

We had set a goal of hiking in until one o'clock, then turning around and heading back out. It would have been nice to reach the confluence of Buckskin and Paria, but we met three folks coming out at about 12:30 who informed us that would be 2 miles farther. That was the signal, and we turned around just before 1.

The back track was a bit dicey. Temps were up to 95 in the sun, ten degrees less in the shade. It's dry there. How dry is it? While eating a sandwich for lunch the bread dried noticeably during the time it took me to eat it-not long. The wind picked up, which was both a blessing and a curse. The breeze helped with the heat, but it also moved the blow sand across the desert up above, and when it reached the canyon, it rained down on us. Scratching our heads thereafter filled our fingernails with a mix of sand, salt, and sweat. It did wonders on the cameras also.

The area is quite popular; we saw maybe 25-30 other hikers, some backpacking, others day hiking like us. Hour number 9 got a bit warm, every hike has a time when it should be over, and it's usually just a bit before it really is. Four pretty worn out trekkers climb in the car and headed home.

Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.

Boscoaz & Sredfield

    BLM Division Reports Buckskin Gulch, the primary tributary to Paria Canyon, is recommended for only very experienced and well-prepared hikers. Part of being prepared means knowing weather conditions and Visitor Use Regulations(Further Down). No drinking water is available in Buckskin Gulch, so carry plenty of water (recommended four quarts of water in the summer for each person per day.)

    Once inside this narrow canyon, flood potential is high during any period of precipitation. There are few safe exits or camping areas. At Mile 10.5, safe terrain above may be reached by an extremely difficult climb up through cliff walls. If injured, there is little hope for a quick rescue.

    Buckskin Gulch presents numerous hiking difficulties such as miles of streambed strewn with small cobble stones making footing difficult, threats of flash floods, large and deep stagnant pools of cold water that may require swimming, and log and rock jams, such as the one encountered at Mile 14.5. This boulder jam may require the use of ropes to assure a safe descent.

    Hiking Buckskin Gulch can be challenging. Be prepared with extra clothes to wear for warmth after wading through cold, stagnant pools of water, rather than depending on campfires, which are prohibited in this confined environment.

    The visitor rules apply to the Paria Canyon, Buckskin Gulch, and Wire Pass portions of the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, AZ-UT. The objectives of the rules are to prevent further damage to wilderness resources and to improve visitors' opportunities to enjoy the area. The rules represent the minimum level of visitor management needed to accomplish those objectives.

    Fees


    a. BLM is operating a year-round fee/permit and reservation system.
    b. Use fees are collected for all visitors to Paria Canyon, Buckskin Gulch, and Wire Pass.
    c. The fee schedule is: per person/day.
    d. Dogs are allowed in the canyons with the following requirements:

    1) Owners pay a daily use fee: per day for each dog (fees are not required for guide dogs for the blind.)
    2) Owners be informed of rules and restrictions
    3) Owners agree to keep dogs under control at all times (to prevent harassment of wildlife and visitors)
    4) Owners dispose of dog waste with the same method used for human waste.
    5) All dogs must be on a leash in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area portion of lower Paria Canyon.


    e. Day-use visitors to these areas deposit fees at self serve fee stations located at White House, Buckskin Gulch, and Wire Pass Trail heads. No reservations for day-use are needed. Each trip leader is required to fill-out a fee envelope and obtain fee receipt.

    f. Overnight visitors must make a reservation and pay fees at that time, either online or via FAX or mail, with BLM's fee project partner, Arizona Strip Interpretive Association (ASIA). A permit is then issued via mail, or you may choose to pick it up at one of two BLM offices.

    g. No fees are charged for children 12 years and under for day-use in Paria Canyon, Buckskin Gulch, and Wire Pass.

    h. Hikers must register at the trail heads when entering or leaving the area.

    i. To keep fees as low as possible, refunds, date changes, and group size changes will not be made. Processing these types of actions substantially increases the cost of administration, which requires charging higher fees to recover costs. Be sure of trip plans before making application and paying fees.

    j. Golden Eagle/Golden Age/Golden Access passes do not apply to use fees, but are only for entrance fees to areas such as national parks or some national conservation areas or campground fees.

    k. American Indian Access Rights - If it is determined that the canyons of Paria are sacred or traditional areas to local Native American populations, then Native Americans are exempted from paying fees.

    Reservations



    a. Reservations are required for overnight use in these areas. Permits (Link is further down the page, above the weather chart) are required before entry.

    b. All reservations are issued on a first-come, first-served basis.

    c. Each trip leader is issued a permit.

    d. Overnight use in Paria Canyon, Buckskin Gulch, and Wire Pass is limited to a combined trail head entry total of no more than 20 persons per day.

    Visitor Behavior



    a. Group size for all use in the canyons is limited to ten persons per group. All groups larger than ten must split up and begin hiking on different days. These groups are not permitted to rejoin during the trip. Minimum distance is two miles apart.

    b. Visitors staying one or more nights in the canyons must camp only in existing campsites or, if necessary and safe, on shoreline terraces.

    c. Wrather Canyon is closed to camping.

    d. All camp, latrine, and pack stock restraint areas must be at least 200 feet from springs.

    e. Cutting of trees, limbs, or other plants to make camp "improvements" is prohibited.

    f. Private recreational use of horses, burros, llamas, and goats is allowed in Paria Canyon. Horses must stay on the shoreline terraces.

    g. Campfires and burning of trash or toilet paper are not allowed in the canyons.

    h. Disturbing or defacing prehistoric or historic ruins, sites, artifacts or rock art panels is prohibited by law.

    i. All trash associated with an individual or group trip, including used toilet paper, must be packed out by that individual or group.

    j. The wilderness is closed to motor vehicles, motorized equipment, and other forms of mechanical transport, including bicycles and hang gliders.

    k. Hunters (during hunting season, in possession of a valid state license and permit/tag for the areas), livestock grazing permittees, and employees, contractors, and volunteers working onsite for a state or federal agency do not count against the total daily visitor limits, nor are they subject to fee requirements. However, these individuals are required to comply with group size limitations. They are subject to any closure or other restriction implemented to protect sensitive resources.

    l. BLM may, based on monitoring, temporarily or permanently close areas of the canyons in order to protect sensitive resources.

    White House Campground



    a. For campground use, visitors deposit fees at the self serve fee station located at the campground. Each group is required to fill-out a fee envelope and obtain fee receipt. The fee schedule is: per site/night.

    Commercial Guides and Organizations



    a. Organized groups, companies, or individuals who use the public lands for business or financial gain or benefit from salaries, or support other programs ( ie; professional guides, Sierra Club, schools, college clubs, Museum or Elder Hostel Sponsored trips, etc.) are considered commercial users.

    b. Commercial users intending to operate within the wilderness must obtain a Special Recreation Use Permit (43 CFR 8372) prior to operating on or utilizing public lands.

    c. The use of horses in conjunction with an approved Special Recreation Use Permit is allowed only in Paria Canyon from Bush Head Canyon downstream to the wilderness boundary.

    d. Commercial users may, after receiving authorization through procedures set forth in 43 CFR 8372, operate in the canyons under one or both of the following modes:

    1) Authorized commercial users will depend on visitors to contract their services when visitors have either:
    a)successfully acquired a non-commercial use permit for areas requiring reservations/permits or,
    b) desired a guide for areas not requiring reservations, such as day-use in the canyons or the remaining non-fee/non reservation portions of the wilderness.

    All authorized guides will be listed in various forms of BLM hiking information media, with the information sent to successful permit holders. Commercial guides may market their availability as guides. As guides are retained for service under this mode, they will not count against the group size limit or the total visitor limit for the given day. Parties will be limited to one guide each under this option.

    2) For areas requiring reservations/permits, commercial users compete with non-commercial visitors for permits on a first-come, first-served basis. Commercial users reserve no more than one entry day per week under this option. Fees for reserved dates will be paid at the time of reservation. For permits reserved under this option, guides will count against both the group size and the total visitor limit for the given day. BLM would not limit the number of guides per permit under this option.


    FLASH FLOOD WARNING!!
    July, August and September are the months with the highest flash flood danger due to thunderstorms, but they could happen any time of the year. The Paria Narrows and Buckskin Gulch are the most dangerous areas. If you find yourself in a possible flash flood situation, get to the highest point possible. Flood conditions usually subside within 8 to 12 hours. Get a long-range weather forecast before entering the canyons.




    Visitor Use Regulations for Coyote Buttes


    The visitor rules apply to the Coyote Buttes portion of the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, AZ-UT. The objectives of the rules are to prevent further damage to wilderness resources and to improve visitors' opportunities to enjoy the area. The rules represent the minimum level of visitor management needed to accomplish those objectives.



    Fees

    a. BLM is operating a year-round fee/permit and reservation system.

    b. Use fees are collected for all visitors to Coyote Buttes. Permits (Link is further down the page, above the weather chart) are required before entry.

    c. The fee schedule is: per person (permit required).

    d. Day-use visitors must make a reservation and pay fees at that time, either online or via FAX or mail, with BLM's fee project partner, Arizona Strip Interpretive Association (ASIA). A permit is then issued via mail, or you may choose to pick it up at one of two BLM offices.

    e. Dogs are allowed in Coyote Buttes with the following requirements:
    1) Owners pay a daily use fee: per day for each dog (fees are not required for guide dogs for the blind.)
    2) Owners be informed of rules and restrictions
    3) Owners agree to keep dogs under control at all times (to prevent harassment of wildlife and visitors)
    4)Owners dispose of dog waste with the same method used for human waste.

    f. A separate reservation and fee payment must be made for each day requested.

    g. Golden Eagle/Golden Age/Golden Access passes do not apply to use fees, but are only for entrance fees to areas such as national parks or some national conservation areas or campground fees.

    h. To keep fees as low as possible, refunds, date changes, and group size changes will not be made. Processing these types of actions substantially increases the cost of administration, which requires charging higher fees to recover costs. Be sure of trip plans before making application and paying fees.

    i. American Indian Access Rights - If it is determined that Coyote Buttes is a sacred or traditional areas to local Native American populations, then Native Americans are exempted from paying fees.

    Reservations
    a. The Coyote Buttes Special Management Area (SMA) is limited to day-use only. No overnight camping in the SMA.
    b. Reservations are required for day-use in this area.
    c. All reservations are issued on a first-come, first-served basis.
    d. Each trip leader is issued a permit.
    e. Walk-in permits (no reservation) may be available at times. Reservations for available walk-ins may be made only at the Paria Contact Station up to seven days prior to the available date.

    Visitor Behavior
    a. The Coyote Buttes SMA is divided near Top Rock Spring into the Southern and Northern Coyote Buttes SMAs.

    b. Visitor use in the Southern Coyote Buttes Special Management Area is limited to no more than ten persons per day.

    c. Visitor use in the Northern Coyote Buttes Special Management Area is limited to no more than ten persons per day.

    d. The maximum group size limit in Coyote Buttes is six persons.

    e. Campfires and burning of trash or toilet paper are not allowed in Coyote Buttes.

    f. No private recreational use of horses, burros, llamas, and goats is allowed.

    g. Disturbing or defacing prehistoric or historic ruins, sites, artifacts or rock art panels is prohibited by law.

    h. All trash associated with an individual or group trip, including used toilet paper, must be packed out by that individual or group.

    i. The wilderness is closed to motor vehicles, motorized equipment, and other forms of mechanical transport, including bicycles and hang gliders.

    j. Hunters (during hunting season, in possession of a valid state license and permit/tag for the areas), livestock grazing permittees, and employees, contractors, and volunteers working onsite for a state or federal agency do not count against the total daily visitor limits, nor are they subject to fee requirements. However, these individuals are required to comply with group size limitations. They are subject to any closure or other restriction implemented to protect sensitive resources.

    k. BLM may, based on monitoring, temporarily or permanently close areas of Coyote Buttes in order to protect sensitive resources.

    Commercial Guides and Organizations

    a. Organized groups, companies, or individuals who use the public lands for business or financial gain or benefit from salaries, or support other programs ( ie; professional guides, Sierra Club, schools, college clubs, Museum or Elder Hostel Sponsored trips, etc.) are considered commercial users.

    b. Commercial users intending to operate within the wilderness must obtain a Special Recreation Use Permit (43 CFR 8372) prior to operating on or utilizing public lands.

    c. No commercial use of horses, burros, llamas, and goats is allowed.

    d. Commercial users may, after receiving authorization through procedures set forth in 43 CFR 8372, operate in the canyons under one or both of the following modes:

    1) Authorized commercial users will depend on visitors to contract their services when visitors have either:

    a)successfully acquired a non-commercial use permit for areas requiring reservations/permits or,
    b) desired a guide for areas not requiring reservations, such as day-use in the canyons or the remaining non-fee/non reservation portions of the wilderness.

    All authorized guides will be listed in various forms of BLM hiking information media, with the information sent to successful permit holders. Commercial guides may market their availability as guides. As guides are retained for service under this mode, they will not count against the group size limit or the total visitor limit for the given day. Parties will be limited to one guide each under this option.

    2) For areas requiring reservations/permits, commercial users compete with non-commercial visitors for permits on a first-come, first-served basis. Commercial users reserve no more than one entry day per week under this option. Fees for reserved dates will be paid at the time of reservation. For permits reserved under this option, guides will count against both the group size and the total visitor limit for the given day. BLM would not limit the number of guides per permit under this option.
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Permit $$

    Directions
    Map Drive
    or
    Road
    FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

    To canyon trip
    These directions are from Page, AZ. Head northwest on US-89 to Utah. Approximately 30 miles turn left onto Long Valley Rd. The Wire Pass trailhead will be about 6 miles in.
    page created by Boscoaz on Jun 22 2011 10:40 pm
    help comment issue

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