Buckskin Gulch / Paria Canyon

Buckskin Gulch is a long slot canyon tributary to Paria Canyon. It is managed as wilderness and regarded as one of the world's best hiking destinations.

Together with Paria, a number of hiking options esist here, with one route stretching for some 38 miles, from trailheads near the Utah/Arizona border down to Lees Ferry on the Colorado River. There is no trail-you simply hike down the canyon, which is so narrow you can touch both walls in some spots. Towering sheer cliffs rise above you. For mile after mile, there is no escape from the canyon other than hiking to its end. That makes it an extremely dangerous place should a flash flood occur. Hikers must gauge weather conditions carefully before entering.

Paria means "muddy water" in the Paiute Indian language. Hikers must wade through the muddy waters of the wild and twisting canyon. One hiker counted approximately 300 river crossings. Boulders and other obstacles increase the challenge.

Permits are required to hike or backpack here. This website has more information.

Visit the old Paria movie set and ghost town north of the wilderness area. Petroglyphs and campsites show that Pueblo Indians traveled the Paria more than 700 years ago. Please do not touch the petroglyphs and take only pictures and memories from these sites. If you plan on hiking the canyons, be aware that permits may be required. All visitors need to take special care to minimize impact on this canyon.

Recreation Sites

The BLM Paria Canyon Rangers Station is in Utah, 43 miles east of Kanab on US 89 near milepost 21. The Buckskin trailhead is two miles south on a dirt road near an old homestead site called White House Ruins. The Wire Pass trailhead is a few miles further down that same road. There are no developed campsites.

The Wave, a beautiful area in Coyote Buttes, located nearby.

Wildlife

This area is home to a variety of wildlife species. In the winter, bald eagles may be seen, while golden eagles are spotted year round. Other birds of prey include the endangered peregrine falcon, red-tailed hawk, great horned owl, and Cooper's hawk. Swallows, wrens, killdeer, flycatchers, and black-throated sparrows nest on sheer walls or sand beaches. Tiny birds such as ruby-crowned kinglets, blue-gray gnat catchers, and black-chinned hummingbirds are noticed in early morning hours. Along the river, look for great blue herons. Occasionally, bobcats, foxes, mountain lions, porcupines, and beavers can be seen. Often sighted are coyotes, jack rabbits, cottontails, ground squirrels, bats, kangaroo rats, and other rodents. A variety of lizards, and rattlesnakes are found within the canyon. The Paria River is home to the flannel mouth sucker, bluehead sucker, razorback sucker, and speckled dace.

Geology

The scenic beauty of Paria Canyon is known nationwide. Hikers are drawn to colorful, winding corridors of stone, narrow gorges, and its stunning display of seven major geologic formations exposed like pages of a book. The canyon geology includes Moenkopi Formation, Chinle Formation, Moenave Formation Kayenta Formation, Navajo Sandstone, Temple Cap Sandstone, and Carmel Formation.

Land Administration

The 112,000 acre Paria Canyon-Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness was established by the Arizona Wilderness Act of 1984. Located along the Arizona-Utah border, it contains public lands in Kane and Coconino counties. Paria Canyon is managed by two federal agencies, the Bureau of Land Management--Vermillion and Kanab Resource Areas, and the National Park Service--Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. The BLM is required to preserve the area's natural conditions, outstanding opportunities, for solitude and primitive recreation, and the area's educational, scenic, and historical values. This is accomplished through required management of a variety of uses such as hiking, backpacking, hunting, and livestock grazing. More restrictive visitor use limits may at times be needed to protect wilderness resources, which is the top priority when a choice must be made between preservation and visitation.

Please see this website for more information, or to obtain permits to hike/backpack in this area.

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