Hike Buckskin Gulch, Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness
Utah › Buckskin Gulch Trailhead
Added by Tobin Akehurst
You have the option to hike the whole 15 miles but you can also hike in a few miles and turn back while still getting the experience of exploring Buckskin Gulch, the longest slot canyon in the world. Be super aware and careful of flash floods, check in on weather before going. You'll need a $5 self issue permit required at trailhead.
Buckskin Gulch is a natural wonder. At 15 miles long it is the longest slot canyon in the world. It sometimes is as narrow as 2ft. Because of the nature of this canyon and Utah topography this canyon is subject to deadly flash flood if it rains anywhere along the headwaters. Be sure to check in with local Rangers about current flash flood predictions.
Starting at the Wire Pass Trailhead gives you a shorter, more scenic start to Buckskin Gulch. Once you are in the canyon there is only two ways to go, farther in, or out.
We hiked in 5 miles before turning around without needing to wade through any water deeper than 8 inches. You can backpack the whole length of the canyon if you have appropriate gear and experience. If you choose to go farther will likely have to wade, or swim through deep, sometimes putrid water.
This is a real adventure, not easy, and not always safe. However, the peaceful serenity of the silent canyon with its majestically sweeping sandstone walls, painted in hues of yellow, orange, red and pink will soon seduce you into staying a while in this otherwise inhospitable place.
- The 10 Essentials
- Weather forecast
- When in doubt, STAY OUT
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Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More
Backpacking, Camping, Chillin, Hiking, Photography, Rock Climbing, Swimming
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Incredible slot canyon without all the crowds!
I would agree...if you aren't able to get Wave permits hike Buckskin Gulch instead. It starts from the same trail head. But this is a wilderness experience for sure and make sure you're cautious. We hiked it in winter and it got pretty cold down into the slot so bring plenty of layers. Also be cautious when hiking into the pools. It's very muddy and my friends sank pretty deep into the quicksand! Bring hiking polls to help. Overall you need to add Buckskin Gulch to to your list!
Buckskin Gulch is a sublime wonderland, and though not as delicate as Antelope Canyon (or other area classics), it makes for an exceptional day-hike when you weren't able to snag your Wave permit! Some moderate scrambling skills (Class 2-3) were necessary last time I made my way through the canyon. As always, do not enter the canyon if there is any chance of significant precipitation in the area: Buckskin and the Paria drain from the Colorado Plateau and flash floods can and do reach the canyon from as far North as Bryce!
A wonderful canyon!
It has been called one of the most deadly hikes in the world. Every turn the canyon took I had to snap another photo. I have never been in any canyon that match the magnitude of Buckskin. While in the canyon we saw an owl that tried to land on my fathers backpack but missed and instead landed into some water. We also saw a baby rattlesnake. Before we started it rained really hard and when we entered the canyon there was a small river moving through it. It was crazy. What a fun trip.
Can't Wait To Return!
Did this hike last week (end of March) and it was life changing! Definitely a bucket list trip. We did 24 miles in 11 hours with daylight to spare. Started at wire pass and decided to hike 7 miles up the Paria river at the confluence about 14 miles into buckskin and hitch a ride back to our car at the wire pass trailhead. Waded through several pools with the deepest being waist deep and the temperature being ice cold but it was all totally worth it!
Fun And Dog-Friendly
We were happy to find a hike similar to Antelope Canyon that allowed dogs and didn't have a lottery. There is one huge drop/climb that we had to lift our 60-lb mutt up and down, but you can avoid this if you begin your hike at the Buckskin Gulch Trailhead rather than Wire Pass.
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