Hike Buckskin Gulch, Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness

Buckskin Gulch Trailhead

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.

Pack List

  • The 10 Essentials
  • Sandals
  • Weather forecast
  • When in doubt, STAY OUT
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RT Distance 15 Miles
Activities Chillin, Camping, Photography, Swimming, Backpacking, Hiking, Rock Climbing
Skill Level Advanced
Season Year Round
Trail Type Point-to-Point
Features
Easy Parking
River
Romantic
Scenic

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Great hike

I really enjoyed this one. I got a little muddy and wish I had brought poles and minimalist outdoor shoes in addition to my boots for the muddy spots. Bring exact change ($6) for the permit. Check the weather and stop at the BLM office as rain as far away as Brice Canyon can affect the slot. Some video I took - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GiQyGFl_hzM

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!

Worthwhile Wonder

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!


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

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

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