Paria Canyon

The Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness straddles the Arizona-Utah border with about 20,000 acres of the 109,400-acre property in Utah.

This is an area of soaring red walls enclosing serpentine canyons: extremely rugged and starkly beautiful. Some of these canyons are so narrow that the sky above is just a ribbon of light way up there... (The photo to the left is down in Paria Canyon.)

Among the canyon backpacking set, Paria Canyon is one of the top places on Earth to be. Beneath sandstone arches and above huge red rock amphitheaters there's hanging gardens of ferns and orchids. This is an other-worldly place with all the beautiful erosion-carved hoodoos and forested terraces.

Buckskin Gulch

Groups in this area are limited to 10 members, but less is better. This is a Pack it in, Pack it out area. And no campfires are allowed in either Paria Canyon or Buckskin Gulch.

Most folks leave the White House Campground/Spring area to make the hike through Paria Canyon, but some hardy souls prefer the much more difficult Buckskin Gulch Trail further to the west. Buckskin Gulch Trail runs about 12 miles down through the Buckskin Gulch chasm before dropping into Paria about 7 miles downstream from White House Campground. At points, the bottom of the Buckskin chasm is only 3' wide, and that final drop into Paria is a 30' climb down a rock jam.

Before you go this route, you'll want a good weather forecast: flash floods can make for a 20' wall of water rushing down Buckskin Gulch (note the tree trunk suspended between the canyon walls in the photo to the right).

Outside the canyons, the massive and multi-colored Navajo sandstone walls of the Vermilion Cliffs rise as much as 3,000' above rugged arroyos and boulder-strewn slopes.

This is huge, vegetation-challenged country... if you have a problem out here it's almost as bad as "Houston, we have a problem..." If you have a problem on the bottom of the canyon, you might be better off if you were on the Moon...