Buckskin Gulch

Stephen Fischer Photography

Rating: 1A-II/III

This is a nice leasurely hike to take if in the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument area.  I explored the initial portion of this canyon with Don Van Dyke after being unsuccessful in getting a permit that day for the Wave.  Given both areas start from the same trailhead, it is a good backup hike if you strike out at the BLM office while competing with the other hordes for this popular location.  The distance is variable, only limited by how much time you have.  More hiking information on Buckskin Gulch can be found here.

Buckskin Gulch feeds into the Paria River, being the initial leg for a popular longer multiple day hike into this very steep canyon country.  Some areas of this slot are fairly tight, deep, and dark as shown in images 1-3.  Some scrambling is required, but nothing too difficult.  Where the canyon opens up  you can also see some petroglyphs on the southern wall of the mouth for the first major opening. 

Continuing on you will find the route is muddy in places.  Some places are known to have quicksand, especially down along the Paria River.  Some of my friends that have done overnight hikes into this area in the past, ended up rescuing a person who became stuck. He was unable to free himself or with the help of his group after hours of trying.  They got him out by digging furiously around his legs as new mud tried to seep back into the hole, eventually breaking the suction as more of the feet became exposed. Others have reported similar situations with the deep mud found in these sections further down.  In the case of the photos captured here, I ended up turning around earlier after the initial tighter slot section ended, and thus not reaching the Paria.


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