Hiking The Paria River Canyon
The 17th most popular hiking trail in Utah.
Friday 1 July 2016 03:53 GMT
East of Kanab in the Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument, Utah, and north of Lees Ferry, Arizona, the Paria River Canyon is the longest, narrowest slot canyon in the world. Paria River Canyon is one of the premier hikes within the Colorado Plateau. This is a challenging 38 mile route in the river bed that WILL require rock climbing /rapelling, swimming and wading, so plan to have cold, wet feet the entire time. It typically requires 4 to 6 days to complete the entire route. For the most part, the river bed is the trail. Generally, Paria River Canyon is started upstream at one of three entrances in Utah and hiked southeast downstream crossing the border to Lees Ferry, Arizona.
Extreme caution must be excercised with this hike -- flash floods from upstream storms are unpredictable and extremely dangerous in the narrow canyon with little change of escape, especially in July, August and September. Even after floods, the river bed becomes a muddy quagmire. The are some springs within the canyon, which are indicated on the map available from the Paria visitor center.
There are three upstream trailheads: White House Trailhead on the Paria River near the Visitor Center; Buckskin Gulch Trailhead; and Wire Pass Trailhead. The latter two trailheads are on BLM Road 1065 (FS700) south of US89. Buckskin Gulch is the largest tributary to the Paria River. This is a very narrow slot canyon about 16 miles long and intersects with the Paria River about 1/3 of the way down. There are cold deep water pools that will require full immersion to cross. This is an incredible journey, though quite dangerous. Many hikers choose to shorten the hike down Buckskin Gulch by using Wire Pass as a shortcut. The Wire Pass route is 1.7 miles from the trailhead to Buckskin Gulch. It is also a slot canyon, but much narrower than Buckskin or Paria, barely shoulder width. It has several drop-offs that are about 10. The route is mainly a dry wash bed.
Note: Overnight permits are required and can be obtained from the Paria visitor center on SR89 between Kanab and Page, west of Big Water.
Overall, Paria River Canyon is the 17th most popular hiking trail of all 37 hikes in Utah. Several of the better hiking trails are nearby Paria River Canyon including Lower Calf Creek Falls, Escalante River Trail and Wolverine Loop.