Utah Travel Headlines Blog

Monday, November 03, 2008

America's 10 Most Dangerous Hikes

Buckskin Gulch

Buckskin Gulch

Backpacker Magainze, October, 2008, lists what it describes as America's 10 most dangerous hikes. Two of them are in Utah. The Maze tops the list as the most dangerous. Buckskin Gulch also makes the list. Below are excerpts about these two areas.

The Maze, UT
You'd better be a map savant if you want to wander into–and back out of–this redrock jungle, which is full of dead-end canyons. "This is not the place for inexperienced hikers," declares park ranger Paul Henderson, who says it could take rescuers three days to reach you in this remote unit of Canyonlands...

The Maze ranks as the riskiest hike on this list–yet it's claimed no lives so far. Why? Because its challenges intimidate all but the most canyon-savvy trekkers...

Plan trips for spring, when temps are lower and a few potholes may hold water. Practice off-trail canyon travel elsewhere. And chart your route with GPS, but carry maps. Says Henderson, "I've encountered visitors who knew their coordinates–but were still lost."

Buckskin Gulch, UT
No one's died here–yet. But the odds mount every time a dark cloud crosses the sky. This tortuously twisting sandstone bottleneck is the longest, deepest slot canyon in the Southwest (and probably the world). Its narrow walls carve a 12-mile gash through the southern Utah desert, although most hikers bypass the first of those pinched miles by starting at Wire Pass, a tributary that enters Buckskin from the south and plunges them right into its tightest squeeze. The extended exposure to flash flood danger makes Buckskin one of the country's most dangerous slots: Rarely more than 10 feet wide, the eerie corridor is 400 feet deep at its junction with the Paria River. Most chilling: The entire length of sandstone wall is virtually insurmountable–except for a single escape hatch at the Middle Route, about 8 miles in from Wire Pass. Should thunderstorm-bloated flood waters come charging down the tunnel, you're no better than a bug in a firehose.

Read the entire article.

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