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Wire Pass Canyon to Buckskin Gulch Slot Canyon

Updated: Oct 27, 2022

Location : Paria Canyon-Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness Area, Kanab, UT

Parking : Parking lot at trailhead, permit required

Trail type : Out and Back

Trail Length : 6 miles rt

Elevation Gain : 616 ft

Difficulty : Easy

Trails traversed : Wire Pass Slot Canyon to Buckskin Gulch slot canyon

Pro Tip : This trail involves hiking through sand, wet mud and scrambling over rocks. Wear appropriate shoes with ankle support and deep treads.


Buckskin gulch in Southern Utah, near Kanab, is the longest slot canyon in the United States, and probably the longest in the world - 21 miles long! Unlike its famous counterparts, the Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon in Arizona, this slot canyon is little-known, and hence does not require a guide to take you around the canyon and explain all the formations. Access to the slot canyon is via Wire Pass Slot canyon, and requires a day permit, which can be easily obtained at https://www.recreation.gov/activitypass/10006175

 

>> Got a question about the Wire Pass Slot Canyon or Buckskin Gulch Slot Canyon that you need answered quickly? DM me on Instagram @SolaraStills and I’ll be happy to help! I only accept DMs from followers, so hit the follow button before sending.

 

Parking: Parking is at the trailhead of Wire Pass Slot Canyon trail. To reach the parking, you will need to drive down a narrow, rocky, unpaved road for 8 miles. This can be done with a sedan or a mini van. However, if the road is wet, do not attempt to drive in any car other than a 4x4, as there are multiple streams to cross along the way to the parking lot. There are porter potties available at the parking lot. Also, make sure you sign in, providing your permit number, before starting your hike.

The Trail : The easiest (and fastest) way to access Buckskin Gulch canyon is via the Wire Pass trailhead, which intersects Buckskin Gulch. The trailhead is along a dry, sandy wash, and is unshaded for about a mile and a half. Along the way you pass many sandstone walls with interesting, horizontal layers carved in.


"Pride Rock" along Wire Pass Trail

This layered rock formation marked the entrance to the Wire Pass Slot Canyon

You will soon know you are entering Wire Pass Canyon when the landscape turns beautiful and photogenic and the sandstone walls turn into reddish-orange color which look really pretty under the right sunlight.


Play of light on the canyon walls

Walking through this slot canyon will be like navigating through an adult obstacle course, what with fallen boulders and tree trunks in your path. But that just adds to the overall fun and adventure to this hike.

Navigating through the canyon was like an obstacle race!


A tree trunk stuck between the canyon walls overhead

When we went, in mid September of 2022, a huge rock had fallen and blocked a portion of the Wire Pass Slot Canyon, due to which we had to follow a detour to climb over and out of the canyon, to get to the other side, in order to enter Buckskin Gulch canyon. This detour required scrambling on all fours over a steep canyon wall, and is not recommended for folks who are not fit or sure-footed. I did hear that the Park ranger often installs a ladder for folks to cross over the boulder in Wire Pass, but ever so often, the ladder gets washed away by flash floods.


View of Wire Pass Slot Canyon from above

The detour resulted in a lot of scrambling up and down the sandstone walls.

Once we completed the detour route, we were in Buckskin Gulch territory! The canyon walls were redder than before and the sandstone formations on the walls were really impressive. The first formation you see is the "amphitheater" - a huge shallow cave carved into the wall, giving the entire place a surreal feel. This is the widest portion of the canyon, after which the walls slowly start to close in on you, as you hike deeper into the canyon.

"The Amphitheater"

Alas, within a short distance, our hike had to come to an end, as the ground got very muddy due to the recent rains, and hikers who were ahead of us were returning as they encountered knee deep mud along the trail.

The hike back up over the detour wall was just as adventurous as the hike down, but this time, a kind soul (a guide) had installed a rope with which we could repel upwards.

In summary, this is an easy hike for people of all ages. We saw a guided group of 70+ year olds on the trail, as well as fit backpackers and families with pets and little ones. We came across a number of park rangers monitoring the trail for flash floods or for hikers who need assistance. We were immensely impressed with both slot canyons, even though we had to turn back due to the fallen boulder and the muddy trail. I highly recommend this hike, if you are in the Zion/Kanab/Bryce area and you have a morning to spare.

Below are more pictures taken during this hike.

 

>> Got a question about the Wire Pass Slot Canyon or Buckskin Gulch Slot Canyon that you need answered quickly? DM me on Instagram @SolaraStills and I’ll be happy to help! I only accept DMs from followers, so hit the follow button before sending.

 













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