Buckskin Gulch & Paria Canyon Utah Backpacking
An Epic Experience

Trip Details

Type: Backpacking

Trip Code: UTPB

Duration: 5 Days

Distance: 44 mi/70 km

Fitness: 3
Comfort: 1
Solitude: 4

Origin: Flagstaff, Arizona

Cost: $1250/person

Trip Description:

The Paria Canyon-Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness and Vermillion Cliffs National Monument is a geologic playground for the intrepid adventurer. It’s home to spectacular geologic features, numerous narrow canyons, outrageous sunsets, solitude, and the world’s longest slot canyon, Buckskin Gulch. A Buckskin Gulch to Paria Canyon Backpacking tour explores a deep, narrow canyon carved by the forces of water, wind, and time into gleaming sandstone walls, towering over 1000 feet above the Paria River. The hike covers roughly 38 miles of canyon, and as you make your way through the canyon, the beautiful sunset red-orange sandstone cliffs clim higher with every step. You will marvel at the beautifully sculpted walls, natural springs, ancient petroglyphs and a natural arch. Near the confluence, Paria Canyon opens to spectacular views of Lee’s Ferry and the Colorado River, the mouth of the Grand Canyon. Paria Canyon is a secret wonder of the Southwest and this backpacking tour is sure to astound, astonish, and leave an indelible mark and memory.

  1. Buckskin Gulch, Utah Backpacking
  2. Paria Canyon, Utah Backpacking
  3. Buckskin Gulch, Utah Backpacking
  4. Paria Canyon, Utah Backpacking
  5. Paria Canyon Petroglyphs, Utah
  6. Buckskin Gulch Narrows, Utah
  7. Lee's Ferry, Grand Canyon
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Trip Itinerary

Day 1:

The Buckskin Gulch to Paria Canyon Backpacking tour begins at the Wire Pass Trailhead in the Paria Canyon-Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness of Utah. After final preparations, we will begin our hike along Buckskin Creek.  From the relatively wide Wire Pass Trailhead, the canyon will narrow fairly quickly and dramatically, with sandstone walls rising above us. There are frequent stream crossings, as well as a short jaunt to Cobra Arch, as we make our way deeper and deeper into the amazing narrows of this stone maze. After several miles we will arrive at our camp near the confluence with the Paria River. Kick back as your guide sets up camp and prepares an excellent dinner.
Drive Time: 3.5 hours
Distance & Elevation: 9 miles, 160 foot descent
Light Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 2:

Today’s hiking adventure starts with a gorgeous stroll in Upper Paria Canyon to Slide Rock, a unique feature of this canyon, made all the more enjoyable with only your daypack! Bring your camera and sense of wonder…this canyon is outstanding. Returning to camp, we’ll pack up and head further into the depths of Paria Canyon. Expect another day of frequent creek crossings, towering canyon walls and outstanding scenery.
Distance & Elevation: 9 miles, 160 foot descent
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3:

Our third day offers more sunset sandstone, freshwater springs and world-class hiking. A short side hike will take us to Wrather Arch, an excellent geologic feature spanning over 200 feet. It is one of the most secluded natural arches in the Arizona and the American Southwest. Tonight’s camp will be in the vicinity of Shower Spring.
Distance & Elevation: 9 miles, 350 foot descent
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4:

Today’s hike will watch as Paria Canyon begins to open up as we exit the narrows and enter its wider desert gorge reaches. Keep your eyes open for ancient petroglyphs, etchings left in the rocks and boulders by ancient civilizations traveling through the area. In warmer weather, you will find some nice pools to cool off in on your way to camp near Wilson Ranch.
Distance & Elevation: 12 miles, 600 foot descent
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5:

Our final day on the trail is a relatively short one but offers the great reward of completing a truly wonderful journey. Soak in the scenery of 2500 foot cliffs surrounding the wide open valley of the lower Paria River and the multi-colored rock layers. The trail ends at Lonely Dell Ranch, a historic homestead and lush orchard a short walk from the Colorado River and Lee’s Ferry, the official beginning of Grand Canyon. Your shuttle driver will meet you here and prepare a tasty lunch by the banks of the river before packing up and heading back to Flagstaff.
Distance & Elevation: 5 miles, minimal descent
Breakfast, Lunch
Drive Time: 2 hours

6-Day Option: 

This longer itinerary allows for a slower pace and some shorter backpacking miles each day. It will also allow for more time to explore side canyons and just take time to relax and enjoy your amazing surroundings. The 6-day itinerary requires a minimum of 4 people to book a custom tour.

*Final itineraries are occasionally subject to change due to permit/campsite availability, park restrictions/closures, weather conditions and/or road closures.

What’s Included:
A professional, degreed, licensed and medically trained geologist/guide
All necessary gear: backpack, tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, trekking poles
All cooking/eating gear: bowls, cups, utensils (your geologist/guide will prepare all trail meals)
All food, including a mix of fresh and pre-made backcountry meals
Roundtrip Transportation from your hotel in Flagstaff to Buckskin Gulch/Wire Pass Trailhead and all activities/attractions
Entrance fees, camping fees, and backcountry permits

Meals: what to expect
We provide all your meals from a light breakfast on day 1 through lunch the last day. Your geologist/guide will prepare a variety of meals on the trail that will fit the day's activity. Feel free to tell us about your food preferences, as we're more than happy to tailor the menu to your needs/desires. Some specialty diets may require an additional fee.

All meals will consist of one entree, prepared by your geologist/guide.  Fresh options will be limited, as backpacking typically requires lightweight, non-perishable foods.  There will be trail snacks that consist of nuts, fruits, chocolate, and other "gorp" style mixes.

We regularly accommodate vegan, vegetarian, kosher and non-gluten diets and will make adjustments for food allergies. These and other special dietary requests may require an additional fee

What’s Not Included:
Transportation to/from Flagstaff, Arizona
Lodging the night before/after the trip
Clothing, raingear, and footwear
Personal toiletries, sunscreen
Water bottles/hydration bladder
Headlamp or flashlight
Guide gratuity (suggested 10-15% of trip cost)
*Upon booking you will receive a detailed trip information packet

How many people are in the group?
Most backpacking trips in Paria Canyon will accommodate 5 people plus one guide. On occasion, a group may be as large as 8 people plus 2 guides.

Are there age restrictions?
Children under 12 are generally not permitted on any of Blue Marble's scheduled trips.  This can be negotiable on private tours, please contact us to discuss this policy

How do I sign up?
In order to confirm a reservation , we require an initial deposit of $500 per person, with the final balance due 90 days prior to the trip’s departure. If you book a trip within 90 days of the trip’s scheduled departure, then full payment is due at the time of booking.  Your deposit is payable over the phone by Visa, MasterCard, AmEx, or Discover. Checks by mail are fine as well, as are bank transfers ($35 transfer fee). Call our office Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm Arizona time. 1-602-904-2536
Travel Logistics

Where does the trip begin/end?
This trip will begin/end in Flagstaff, Arizona and you will need to spend the night prior to your trip’s scheduled departure in Flagstaff. You will want to fly into either Phoenix (2 hour drive) or Flagstaff. Please visit our  Travel Resources  page for information on airports, shuttles/rental cars and recommended hotels.

Where do you meet our guides?
We will hold a pre-trip orientation at 4:30pm the evening prior to your trip’s departure at the host hotel in Flagstaff. Departure times and logistics for the following morning will be discussed at the orientation.  Most trips will depart between 5am and 6am.

*This meeting is not mandatory, but highly recommended, as we will depart early the next morning. If you are unable to attend, please let us know in advance so that we can make alternate arrangements.

What do we do with our car and extra stuff?
We will provide all transportation to/from trailheads for the duration of the trip. We will pick you up at the host hotel in Flagstaff and return you there at the trip’s conclusion. Guests staying at the host hotel can leave their cars at the hotel. These hotels will often store your luggage for you, as well. If not, we are happy to store extra luggage at a secure location for the duration of the trip. If you are staying at a different hotel, you will need to check with them as to whether you can leave your car there

What time will we get back on the last day?
Expect to be back in Flagstaff by 6pm at the latest on the last day of the trip. Some trips will return earlier but we cannot make any guarantees. In general, it is recommended that you do not plan to fly home on the same day your trip finishes. Since each trip has slightly different logistics, feel free to contact us with specific questions related to the expected return time for your trip.

Trip Dates

2017 Dates
April: 25-29
May: 20-24
June: 25-29
September: 6-10
October: 11-15

2018 Dates
April: 25-29
May: 20-24
June: 25-29
September: 6-10
October: 11-15

More dates to come soon…
Don’t see your dates? Custom dates may be available!
Call 1-602-904-2536 or email us  for details.