Paria Canyon and Buckskin Gulch

Paria Canyon Map

(Download a printable PDF version of this guide – has a larger map and also the hiking narrative.)

Access and Trailheads

  • Driving Directions. Please download our Area Map (PDF).
  • Buckskin Gulch. Main entrance is 16.6 miles to the Paria River confluence and 44.8 miles to Lees Ferry. Access to both Buckskin Gulch trailheads is by House Rock Valley Road (BLM-1065) which connects US-89 and US-89a. This dirt road is passable to most vehicles during dry weather.
  • Wire Pass entrance to Buckskin Gulch, 42 miles to Lees Ferry, 13.9 miles to the Paria River confluence, and 1.5 miles from trailhead to Buckskin Gulch. The preferred access point because the narrow canyon section, or “Dive”, starts about a mile upstream from Wire. So named because of the constricted cave-like lower end where the hiker must turn sideways or even remove his pack to get through.
  • White House visitor center and entrance to the Paria River canyon. Information may be obtained here. Also, there is a small campground. It is 35 miles to Lees Ferry (from the actual trailhead which is three miles south of the visitor center), 6.8 miles to the Buckskin Gulch confluence. Off of US-89, all-weather access.

Buckskin Gulch

  1. Mile 3.0: The start of the “Dive of the Buckskin”. The Buckskin Gulch is 3 to 15 feet wide for the next 12 miles and roughly 400 feet high. There are only two safe areas in the event of bad weather.
  2. Mile 4.2 – Confluence of Wire Pass and main Buckskin Gulch. (Mile 1.5 from Wire Pass Trailhead)
  3. Mile 1.0 (here and below from confluence): Open area, possible camping.
  4. Mile 6.6: Long, dark canyon narrow with possible stagnant pools and mud.
  5. Mile 7.4: Access to the top of the canyon. Recommended for first night’s camping.
  6. Mile 9.4: Sand slide. Possible camping, canyon exit.
  7. Mile 10.9: Major rock jam. Primary obstruction in Buckskin Gulch. Degree of difficulty varies with changes from flash floods. As of 2000, it is a 12 foot dropoff which you can scramble down. Rope is recommended to hand down packs.
  8. Mile 12.0: Water seeping from rocks forms small stream.
  9. Mile 12.2: Popular camping site on bench just before Paria River.
  10. Mile 12.4 Confluence of Buckskin Gulch and Paria River.

Start of Paria River from White House Trailhead

  1. Mile 3.9: Last good campsite before Narrows.
  2. Mile 4.2: The start of the Paria River Narrows which extend for about five miles downstream. Extremely hazardous when high water threatens. During some years there may be deep pools requiring swimming.
  3. Mile 6.2: Site of Sliderock Arch. The much photographed landmark is actually a huge rockfall which formed a bridge over the river.
  1. Mile 6.8 (from White House Trailhead): Confluence of Paria River and Buckskin Gulch. A shorter trip can start at Buckskin Gulch or Wire Pass and proceed upstream to the Paria Canyon trailhead. The Buckskin is never hiked going upstream.

Confluence of Paria River and Buckskin Gulch to Lees Ferry

  1. Mile 1.9 (here and below from confluence):Spring on south side of river. It is important to be aware of where springs may be found as the river water is extremely muddy and not drinkable. Most of the springs in the area are found on the south side of, and adjacent to, the river.
  2. Mile 2.2: First good campsite after Paria Narrows. Spring nearby. Good campsites and springs the next few miles.
  3. Mile 4.2: Free-flowing spring on south side.
  4. Mile 4.4: Side canyon on south side has lush riparian vegetation and fresh water.
  5. Mile 6.5: Excellent campsite on a wooded bench.
  6. Mile 8.8-9.6: Following a short rough stretch, there are remnants of a water station used by early settlers. Downstream there are numerous springs and good campsites for the next several miles.
  7. Mile 11.7: Wrather Canyon is a scenic side canyon with a clear stream. The 200-foot Wrather Arch is 1/2 mile up the canyon. Very scenic. No camping allowed in Wrather Canyon.
  8. Mile 13.1: Good spring on north side of river. This is the last really obvious spring along the river before Lees Ferry. The canyon becomes narrower and very boulder-strewn for the next three miles, and progress is slow.
  9. Mile 16.2: Small side canyon to south. Spring upstream.
  10. Mile 17.3: Lush side canyon with last spring before Lees Ferry. Paria Canyon starts to widen, and there is a trail of use on the south side for several miles, bypassing the boulder filled river.
  11. Mile 20-28.2: The canyon broadens widely into open desert terrain. No shade or drinking water. Very warm. Least interesting part of the trip although the canyon walls become very steep and scenic as you approach the Colorado River.
  12. Mile 27.2: Historic Lees Ferry Ranch and cemetery.