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Paria Canyon (pronounced "pah-ree'-ah"), located on the Arizona-Utah border, provides one of the best canyoneering opportunities in the West.
Extending 38 miles through the Paria Canyon-Vermillion Cliffs wilderness, the hike from White House trailhead to Lees Ferry offers an outstanding variety of
canyon scenery. The fabulous Buckskin Gulch is a tributary to the Paria River and connects with the Paria at a spot known as "the Confluence", located
directly on the Arizona-Utah border. Buckskin Gulch is one of the most spectacular slot canyons in the world due to its length. The Gulch ranges in width
from 3 to 20 feet over its entire length of 12 miles, with walls rising to to a height of well over 100'. A walk through the Buckskin is nothing
short of spectacular.
Dave first visited Paria in July, 1991, and again in June, 1994 and October, 1995. Cindy and Dave went together to Paria in October, 1998. Below is a pictoral account of those journeys through Buckskin Gulch and Paria Canyon.
My first trip into Paria Canyon was in the company of Doug Minderlen and Tim Lange, two Honeywell co-workers. We hired a driver to shuttle our
vehicle the 90 miles from our starting point at Wire Pass trailhead to our exit point at Lees Ferry. This plan allowed us to walk through Buckskin Gulch and
downstream through Paria Canyon, to its outlet at Lees Ferry, and have our vehicle waiting for us at the end, 43 trail miles away. It was well worth the
$50 shuttle fee to avoid having to drive two vehicles up from Phoenix.
Wire Pass provided a tantalizing preview of what was to come. After walking for a mile across open, hot terrain, we finally entered our first slot, which was short, but very tight. We were forced to turn sideways to squeeze through the narrow crevice and even then, our backpacks scraped the sides. Once through Wire Pass, we entered Buckskin Gulch. Our spirits and our expectations were high and we were excited with the anticipation of what lay ahead. The Gulch would not let us down.
The Buckskin started innocently enough, with casual walking through a stone corridor about 10 feet wide, with side walls ranging from 30 to 50 feet high. Gradually, the canyon walls gained height. The width of the slot varied. It became only 4-5 feet wide most of the time, with infrequent "openings" up to 20 feet wide. After more than a mile of walking through the narrow, dry passages, we entered the first of the pools. Shallow mudholes came in rapid succession. One, two, three.... five.... ten.... 24 in all.   These ranged from 1 to 3 feet deep, 10 to 30 feet long, and had a consistency varying from thin, brown water to thick, mucky, boot-sucking, pudding-like goo, depending on the particular mudhole. All were cold.... and all were fun!