A Buckskin Gulch Day hike is a perfect activity for adventurous travelers. This hidden gem is located in Southern Utah and partly across the Arizona border. It’s a stunning slot canyon in the Paria Canyon wilderness, with one-of-a-kind hiking, backpacking, and camping experiences for all levels.
At about 14 miles long, it is best known for being the longest and deepest slot canyon in the U.S. and possibly the world!
The amazing colors and skyscraper canyon walls make visiting Buckskin Gulch an unforgettable experience.
Buckskin Gulch is a destination that has been on Jordan and I’s bucket list for quite some time. Join us as we share with you the best way to plan your first trip and customize how far you want to venture into this natural wonder.
Visiting the gulch is beautiful, but there are many precautions that must be taken to have a safe trip.
Distant storms can cause flash flooding in the gulch, and it is highly dangerous during the rainy seasons. Because of this, it is one of the top ten dangerous hikes in the U.S.
But don’t worry, we are here to provide you with the necessary steps from start to beginning, so you can feel confident and at ease during your journey. Which makes this the best beginner’s guide to Buckskin Gulch!
Planning a multi-day backpacking trip or choosing to camp overnight? Check out our complete Camping Packing List to know what to pack!
Looking for a thrilling adventure in the Paria Canyon-Vermillion Cliffs area? This is the guide for you. A Buckskin Gulch Day Hike.
Buckskin Gulch Day Hike: The Best Beginner’s Guide
Planning Your Trip
- Trail: Wire Pass Trail to Buckskin Gulch
- Best Time to Visit: April-June and September-November
- Location: Southern Utah (Paria Canyon wilderness area)
- Length: 5.6 miles (out and back)
- Elevation Gain: 616 ft.
- Type: Slot Canyon
- Difficulty: Easy
- Dog Friendly: Yes, on a leash (some areas may be tricky to maneuver with pets)
- Fee: $5/$6 per person and dog, paid at Wire Pass trailhead (little cell connection, wise to pay ahead)
Firstly, in order to visit Buckskin Gulch, you will need to purchase a permit for day hiking or an overnight trip. The day hiking permit is $6 per person per day and $5 for overnight trips. Dogs also require a purchase permit to enter the gulch. You can purchase your permits beforehand or at the self-pay stations located at each trailhead. We made sure to purchase the passes before arrival but keep in mind that they are non-refundable.
Best Time to Travel
Officially, the hike through Buckskin Gulch and Paria Canyon is open year-round. However, each season brings different conditions to the Paria Canyon area. The best times to visit are April-June and September-November when the temperatures are cooler, and the risk of flash floods are lower.
It is especially important when planning a trip to research the area. Paria Canyon is known for flash flooding during the rainy season and can be extremely dangerous/life-threatening. But don’t let this stop you from visiting, just make sure to take the necessary precautions to have a safe and enjoyable experience.
First, check weather conditions. Call the Kanab Visitor Center or the Paria Canyon Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness BLM (Bureau of Land Management). They will connect you with a ranger who can help determine the safety of the weather conditions for this trail.
Next, it is wise to inform someone (not in your hiking party) when and where you plan to hike. Give them an estimated time that you will be gone, and communicate with them to contact officials if you don’t check in after the allotted time. Even experienced hikers/backpackers can get into situations out of their control and will need help.
Finally, make sure that you have the necessary gear for the trip. Be sure to pack enough water, food, and first aid supplies in case of an emergency. When hiking, it is wise to have a compass that you are familiar with using, and have a map with you of the surrounding area. Always pack/wear layers in case of changing weather conditions or if you find yourself traveling through the night. These simple steps will help you be prepared and create a more enjoyable trip!
Wire Pass Trail to Buckskin Gulch Day Hike
Beginning the Hike
Access the day hike in Buckskin Gulch through Wire Pass Trail, a scenic and direct way into the red stone narrows. There are several other access points to the gulch, but for beginners and all other levels, Wire Pass Trail is a fantastic option. After the trailhead, you will walk through a desert wash for 1.7 miles until you reach the canyon opening.
There is a section of the trail with a 10ft ladder that you will need to climb down.
For this reason, we decided to not bring our two dogs on this visit to the gulch. Although, it would be possible to lower your dog, if you are traveling with more than one person and use a sturdy harness. If you bring pets, pack enough water and food for them as well.
Entering Buckskin Gulch
We were mesmerized by the intricate details and layers of sandstone surrounding us.
It’s not uncommon to see the remnants of logs wedged above you from previous flash floods. As we entered the gulch, the dramatic canyon cliffs opened up and we were truly in awe of how small we felt in comparison.
A group of horsemen traveling through the gulch took a rest as we walked out of Wire Pass Trail. Besides this group, there were only a few people that we passed for the rest of the day.
After the pass, you can choose to travel left or right through the gulch. We decided to go left through the slot canyon until we needed to turn around and head back to our car.
If you choose to go right, there are some areas where the slot canyon is much more narrow. The ground is mostly loose sand/dirt.
Parts of the path may have small pools of water, which makes wearing water-resistant shoes helpful. Plan on entering the gulch late morning/early afternoon to get the full effect of the sun shining red and orange on the canyon walls.
Exiting the Gulch
Enjoy exploring the gulch and be sure to keep track of time.
That way, you can make it back to your car before dark. Since this is an out-and-back trail, you can double the distance you travel to know how long it will take to get back.
Always allow yourself extra time in case of an emergency. Consider if you are making this a day trip or if you are camping somewhere in the area for the night. Then, follow the guidelines above to plan the best trip to Buckskin Gulch!
We hope you enjoyed Buckskin Gulch Day Hike: The Best Beginner’s Guide. Looking for another adventure? Check out other spectacular guides and destinations here!