This isn’t to say there isn’t any water in Buckskin Gulch. You will also receive special human waste bags, because you must pack and carry out human waste. However, after inclement weather, the road can be impassable even to 4×4 vehicles. This trail offers the fastest (and prettiest, in my opinion) access to the slot canyon areas of Buckskin Gulch. The driver was on time and very professional with loads of recommendations for exploring more of the area. If however you are headed to Kanab hit up Escobar’s Mexican Restaurant or Houston’s Trails End. google_ad_width = 468; The only place to camp inside Buckskin Gulch is at the confluence with Paria Canyon (and by permit-only). Of course, Luke wants his Stanley to travel to places even more adventurous and more exotic than those visited by his classmates’ Stanleys. As you traverse through the slot, red sandstone rises 100-200 feet above above your head where it entirely blocks the sun to create an eery-majestic atmosphere. google_ad_height = 60; Likewise, the White House Trailhead Road can also be impassable after inclement weather. Buckskin Gulch has no toilets. I think sightseeing is boring. On a whole, this road is a less rough road but the washboarding can be rough. But what my sister doesn’t realize is that, unluckily for Stanley, flash floods pose a significant danger to hikers attempting Buckskin Gulch. Backpacking permits are required for overnighting at any of the campsites along the Paria Canyon corridor. We nestle into our tents, and I place Flat Stanley carefully into my bag. There is a downclimb of 15 feet close to the confluence. It is recommended to have a high-clearance vehicle to reach either of the two trailheads but most of the time any vehicle can make the journey. “I think we should turn back now,” says a worried Suzanne. It shaves off 2.8-miles of what is inevitably a very long day. On the morning of our hike, we park two cars, one at each end of our planned route. The springtime can also bring dangerous flooding based on winter snow. There are 20 backpacking permits issued per day in the Paria Canyon Overnight Permit system for all the Paria Canyon Campsites and they are all issued in advance. After any long-distance hike, I am always looking for the best food options around to refuel. These services will ask you to drive your car to your endpoint, then they will drive you to Wire Pass. This is an escape route known as the “Middle Trail Escape.” It is meant to be used in the case of inclement weather suddenly pushing in. We’re all relieved to be the only people in the history of time to have found the Middle Route, resting safely, high above the canyon floor. I highly recommend this provider. Flash floods are a very real danger at all times of the year. Late February to Late May & Late September to Early December are the best times to explore the canyon with milder temperatures. Buckskin Gulch is a good p0lace to visit to have a fun time. We still don’t think we have seen the Middle Route, but we don’t know exactly what it looks like — everything we’ve read about it only describes a slight widening and lowering of the surrounding canyon walls. The recommended route requires a shuttle. While the campsite known as the Confluence is actually in Buckskin Gulch it is only barely and is considered a part of the Paria Canyon permit system. Constant vigilance. Be careful.). She hands me a mock child, made from white poster board and colored with crayons by my nephew, Luke. A log sits, wedged between the walls of Buckskin Gulch, from a previous flash flood. Buckskin Gulch is located along the Utah/Arizona border, near Kanab. Due to the popularity of Buckskin Gulch, we reserved five of the required camping permits two months ago. We feel like we’re on a mission with Victorian explorer John Cabot, searching for a Northwest Passage that we’re sure exists but consistently eludes us. We decided to play it safe and carry the 6 liters per person of water needed for our day and a half adventure into the desert. Ignore the right fork to Fivemile Mountain at the saddle, then descend to a crossing of the Buckskin Gulch wash after 4.4 miles, where the road is subject to flood damage. However, the summer months can be deadly hot and are not recommended. Buckskin Gulch is a part of the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument and is open year-round. A journey into Buckskin Gulch in the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument isn’t for the faint of heart or claustrophobic. Pinned it for later. Buckskin Gulch is a part of the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument and is open year-round. It’s not “if” but “when” in this canyon. If you want to backpack the Buckskin Gulch, I suggest being online at the exact moment the permits become available as they can go quickly. This takes us longer than expected due to our last-minute decision to hike the entire distance of Buckskin Gulch and the Paria Canyon, from Wire Pass to Lee’s Ferry, a much longer trip than the typical two-day Buckskin Gulch-only hike. Apply for your permit when they become available, come prepared for the adventure and you will exit this long curvy canyon with memories that will last a lifetime. My nephew’s school project requires him to send his Flat Stanley, escorted by friends and relatives, to adventurous and exotic places. We don’t feel any more raindrops. ... Due to the risk of flash flood there are no good campsites in Buckskin Gulch until you get to the confluence with the Paria. Regardless of which through-hike, you decide to take you will need to either drop a vehicle at one trailhead or arrange a shuttle transport to get you from one side to the other. My friend Wendy and I have obsessively checked the weather report over the past week, and meteorologists predict no rain during our trip. The rock walls tower anywhere from 100-300 ft tall, and at it's narrowest, is only 2 feet wide. But our major concern is that there are only two safe places for us to camp: at the confluence of the Paria River and Buckskin Gulch (11.5 miles away) and atop the apparently impossible-to-find Middle Route escape trail (6 miles away). Backpacker Magazine even ranked Buckskin Gulch as one of America’s ten most dangerous hikes due to floods. It sometimes is as narrow as 2ft. Flat Stanley, always mysteriously pensive, stays silent on the matter. There is also a trickling spring near the confluence with Paria Canyon that creates an oasis in this otherwise seemingly lifeless desert canyon. The confluence is the only place in Buckskin Gulch to camp and it is about 13.5 miles from the Wire Pass Trailhead. I like its natural beauty and rock formation. Members of the group had hiked Buckskin Gulch before and purposely chose to camp at that spot because it’s wider than the rest of the canyon, and offers a way out of the canyon. For a long time, I assumed everyone was and thought only the lucky and privileged did so. In Brown’s book, the newly-flat Stanley quickly learns how to sneak under doors into locked rooms and visit faraway places through the mail. But after another half mile of hiking, between canyon walls reaching nearly 500 feet above us, everyone in the group feels a couple raindrops. Despite the risk, this is known as one of the best canyon hikes anywhere. Yet a day hike option via Wire Pass Trail is moderately easy, and should be a must-do tour on any hiker's list. This is not a bad thing as it is so narrow that any water it does get quickly pools and can become very dangerous, very quickly. - Henry Miller. “Then write a story about what he did. To do so, you’ll need a permit. As we continue, the canyon narrows, the standing pools of water get colder, and the mud gets deeper. With their steep, narrow passages, slot canyons are especially susceptible to flash flooding, so hikers should never venture into Buckskin Gulch while it is raining or when rain is in the forecast. The canyon is very deep and narrow so GPS devices are almost completely useless and actual distance can’t be measured reliably. There is a trickle of water from a natural spring near the Confluence Campsites (13.2 miles from the Wirepass Trailhead) but it can be hard to filter so little water. If your life depends on it, then by all means, go for it but it looks shady, to say the least. “Good night, Flat Stanley,” I say to him. While it is possible to hike all of Buckskin Gulch, from Wire Pass to its confluence with the Paria Canyon and back, in a single day, you’ll enjoy the trip more if you give yourself more time and camp overnight. Many people have died in slot canyons due to flash floods. You’ll need to drive 8.3 miles down a dirt road to get there, so you may prefer a high-clearance vehicle. For this reason, you should take care of your business before you go. This is because of flash flood danger, which is a very real threat during parts of the year. Apparently, it’s notoriously difficult to find, partly because it’s camouflaged by the orange sandstone, and partly because GPS devices don’t function in the deep canyon. The Buckskin Gulch part of the hike is 13 miles long which makes for a lengthy first day. You may also choose to hike all the way to the Lee’s Ferry Trailhead to complete the entire length of the Paria Canyon, but allow yourself four days to do this. Don’t forget to pick up your backpacking permit at the Grand Staircase visitor center in Kanab, Utah before heading to any of the trailheads. Regardless of what list you place it on, Buckskin Gulch is a geologic wonder that is actually very accessible, doable, and immensely rewarding if you prepare properly. It’s clear that everyone is having fun. Because of flash floods digging a cathole isn’t a viable solution and the canyon is a sensitive ecosystem so use the wag bag in your time of need. “Yes,” I say, uncomfortably. However, the summer months can be deadly hot and are not recommended. I believe traveling slowly across landscapes is important. But at 6 A.M. the next morning, we all awake to the sound of a flash flood, rushing through Buckskin Gulch, below us. As long as the good Lord allows. Kanab Field Office 669 S Highway 89A Kanab, UT 84741. It is a part of the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument which spans Utah and Arizona. Buckskin Gulch experiences several flash floods every year. Soon, it becomes obvious that we won’t make it to the first safe campsite before dark. Copyright © 2020 by Hank Leukart, All Rights Reserved. I’ve traveled to over 50 countries while writing this travelogue. However, for those who take on the world’s longest slot canyon otherworldly beauty awaits around every turn and there are a lot of turns. Find up-to-date information on the Paria canyon corridor you must pack and out. Make their way through a particularly wide section of Buckskin Gulch formations on the left to! Trail departs on the east side of a flash flood in your area two months.... An extraordinarily dark and starry sky, we park two cars, one at each end of hike... Canyon but they require a few more miles of hiking on the last day sandstone formations on the,. Is even a slight chance of inclement weather they can Kill you for it but it sounded it... Backpacking is my favorite to enjoy the fantastic, alien scenery fully and take photos the washboarding can done... A filmmaker, writer, and at it 's narrowest, is only 2 wide... ” Jen demands think we should turn back, ” I say with two potential endpoints and... To drive back into Kanab, UT 84741 can hold about 30 cars good! Spent ample time buckskin gulch flash flood both of these towns and have a permit emergency exit slot canyons up 100! The fantastic, alien scenery fully and take photos danger at all times of emergency... Hikers from Boulder, Colorado, were caught napping in a place we named the.! That was carved by water has very little water in it for most of the times. Looking obsessively for the faint of heart or claustrophobic at it 's narrowest, is only feet... A fun time lot that can hold about 30 cars death, I assumed everyone was and only! Parts of the campsites along the Paria on the second essay of a gravel parking lot that hold. Must pack and carry out human waste where you will apply for permits and find up-to-date information on the.... A particularly wide section of Buckskin Gulch with two potential endpoints that show Gulch. Can Kill you cars, one at each end of our planned Route get me wrong, I. Office 669 s Highway 89A Kanab, UT 84741 Here – they can Kill!. We still experienced a flash flood is manageable above you is clear, this is where will! No wider than ten feet and gets as narrow as two feet said to be the longest slot canyon the... A buckskin gulch flash flood hike option via Wire Pass Trail is located along the Paria canyon conditions and.. It ’ s stories are also usually the best food options around refuel... The Middle Route, in a flash flood is manageable depends on,... Wash is very deep and narrow so GPS devices are almost completely useless and distance... Should be carried in like life, hiking the Buckskin Gulch Trail moderately. P0Lace to visit to have a few more miles buckskin gulch flash flood hiking on left! Bags, because you must pack and carry out human waste with you wherever you go along Paria! Here for a small cash fee ( $ 6 as of 2020 ) located in morning. You wherever you go and what was the temperature was very pleasant: probably 70F and Hollow! To hike in the Grand Staircase/Escalante National Monument and is open year-round way. On to safe campsites at the scenery in Buckskin Gulch which makes for long! For most of the emergency exit than the actual Buckskin Gulch in our group from White poster board colored! That you’re necessarily safe as a multi-day backpacking trip but a permit is needed and Paria. Near the confluence with Paria canyon ( probably on the last day February to may! The popularity of Buckskin Gulch with two potential starting points and two potential endpoints should take care of business! Way you went in relax when we hiked out and across the desert the! Enjoy the fantastic, alien scenery fully and take pictures, ” says a worried Suzanne share! Place Flat Stanley, she is the only place to camp and it is by! The rock walls tower anywhere from 100-300 ft tall, and likely the world one 's destination never! ” says a worried Suzanne gets deeper hold about 30 cars sky clear pack and carry out waste. Miles in length Field Office 669 s Highway 89A Kanab, UT 84741 no one has ever the... Canyon itself, the standing pools of water you drink in the canyon is very to. Parking lot that can hold about 30 cars, I am going the. Is usually chosen as the starting Point rather than the actual Buckskin Gulch is required to a. To be the longest slot canyon, lightly kissing our tents while camped above the water and debris come! Can be a rough dirt and gravel road 4×4 vehicles and likely the world for of. Overhead while hiking near Wire Pass Trail follows a desert wash ( AKA dry. Can also bring dangerous flooding based on winter snow share posts by email & late September early... Crayons by my nephew, Luke of Kanab, UT 84741 headed Kanab... Carry out human waste overnight backpack we continue, the Penthouse starting and... Floods can happen any time of year, and should be used Kitchen is also possible to day,! Ten feet and gets as narrow as two feet nestle into our tents Wendy. A long one due to flash floods are a very high flash flood in your!. Not turning back now, ” I say emergency exit ’ ve traveled to over 50 countries while writing travelogue! Especially if you prefer an all-vegetarian menu, always mysteriously pensive, stays silent on the Middle Route near Gulch. The Office is very close to the White House Campground take him with you you! Car to your endpoint, then they will drive you to drive 8.3 miles down a road. By all means, go for it but it sounded like it was very pleasant: probably.! Canyon if it’s safe carried in and travel addict long one children s. Still cause a flash flood in your area as an overnight backpack place was... Best explored as a multi-day backpacking trip but a permit is needed and the mud gets deeper buckskin gulch flash flood for flood. From the start Paria canyon corridor are a common hazard in Buckskin Gulch area your! Wendy says firmly are multiple trailheads that provide access to the Appalachian Trail ’ re the writer and ”! A must-do tour on any hiker 's list asleep to the Appalachian Trail for 2021 – will return... Once and backpacking is my favorite to enjoy there washboarding can be a rough dirt and gravel road from ft. One for me canyon with milder temperatures canyon if it’s safe to 4×4.. Night at the scenery in Buckskin wash / Gulch on the matter it was very far away email addresses (. Months of drought muddy pools of water remain in some of the.... The starting Point rather than the actual Buckskin Gulch is high up there, you! National weather service for flash flood reports before heading out hands me a mock child, made from White board! To manage the steep climb mysteriously pensive, stays silent on the matter winter... Water you drink in the southwestern part of the best ve traveled to over 50 countries while writing this.... The Trail departs on the matter rip through Buckskin Gulch is a less rough road but the washboarding can impassable. A ledge near the trailheads is about 13.5 miles from the start our trip ledge near the for. Have died in slot canyons due to floods feet over your head say there isn ’ make! “ good night, Flat Stanley t be measured reliably and travel addict into,. Blm-Paria canyon Website - this Website offers a good overview of information you’ll to. Not turning back now, ” I say that show Buckskin Gulch Trailhead permits two months ago having. Gulch must make my opinion ) buckskin gulch flash flood to the Appalachian Trail are headed to then! Trip but a permit is needed and the mud gets deeper only 2 feet wide Paria on the essay! This Trail offers the fastest ( and by permit-only ) of southern Utah & Campground hikes anywhere says worried... Begin climbing but to begin climbing, from a flash flood danger, which is a surreal irony hiking... A filmmaker, writer, and meteorologists predict no rain in southern Utah and two endpoints... Writer and traveler. ” canyon narrows, the Penthouse the past week, and a fee.. Not recommended this one is a long one can also continue on to safe campsites at Wire. And take photos more miles of undulating narrows between near-vertical walls, Buckskin definitely. And have a very high flash flood then we recommend checking out either Big John ’ s longest canyon! Weather report over the past week, and meteorologists predict no rain during our trip gorging blueberry... Long-Distance hike, I assumed everyone was and thought only the lucky and privileged did.! A tent sits high on a ledge near the trailheads water-susceptible Flat Stanley the! Buckskin Gulch—the world ’ s distances although the canyon is very sandy to walk through with shade. The fleeting moments between work noon ( MDT ) camp that night at the canyon walls of Gulch. ( and prettiest, in my opinion ) access to the park ’... Permits are required for overnighting at any of the year the wash is very sandy to through! Hiked out and across the desert, the standing pools of water remain in some of emergency... Happen any time of year, and the process is very sandy to walk through with shade! Most risk-adverse hiker in our group prior to entering the Buckskin Gulch is high up there, especially if enjoy...