John Guilford's Hikes
Paria River, Utah on 2002-05-22
Location: Paria River, Utah
People: (including myself): Joe Tarantino
Start: 8:30 0
Confluence: 11:55 7-1/4
End lunch: 1:05 8
Confluence: 1:30 8-3/4
Out: 4:40 16
Joe and I camped at the White House trail head. This "camp ground"
has two outhouses, a half dozen camp sites with tables and BBQ grills, with
water available two miles back up the dirt road. To get there, go 44 miles
from Kanab or 30 miles from Page on highway 89. There you'll find a road
on the south side of the road leading to the Paria Information Station
(which has the water supply). Two miles further south is the
A short hike from the trailhead puts you in the Paria River Canyon.
When we got there we found no trace of water. The Paria river was
completely dry. At this point the canyon was wide with relatively shallow
walls. We started south trying to find firmer sand to walk on. After the
hike up Sandy Gulch to Red Cave, we were tired of walking on sand.
Slowly the canyon narrowed and the sides rose higher. At 2-1/2 miles
we crossed under a pair of power lines. The day was warm but not overly
hot. The river didn't meander much and we pretty much followed it down
into the Vermillion Cliffs.
The canyon walls rose and narrowed and we entered the Narrows about at
mile 4. From this point on we were in a tall, narrow, sandy canyon. Joe
tried hunting up some quicksand, but it was too dry and we never found any.
The canyon scenery was spectacular. About 6-3/4 miles into the hike
we got to Slide Rock Arch. This is a huge slab of rock that split off the
top of the canyon and fell into the bottom. Instead of shattering, it
remained whole forming an archway.
A half mile further, at 7-1/4 miles, we reached the confluence with
Buckskin Gulch. Just before this we started hitting damp spots and pools -
the first signs of water that we saw. At the confluence we found a tiny
stream flowing out of the Buckskin and down the Paria. The sand was damp
down here and the going easy. Just past the confluence we passed from Utah
into Arizona. A short ways below the confluence we stopped for some
lunch. Then we continued down canyon for a little ways, probably going to
mile 8 before turning back. We investigated going up Buckskin Gulch, but
the canyon is narrow and the water and mud soon spanned the width of the
canyon. Not wishing to get our feet wet, we didn't go too far up into
The way back was uneventful. However, unlike most hikes where the
return trip seems quicker than the trip out, this time the return trip
seemed to take longer to me. Perhaps it was because we were heading over
terrain I'd already been on. Perhaps it was because we were going from
more interesting to less interesting terrain. In any case, the top part of
the hike seemed to drag on. We finally reached the trail out of the canyon
and returned to our campsite.
It was a pleasant, relatively easy hike. It looks like it would be
fun to hike the Buckskin Gulch or perhaps the length of the Paria River
Beginning of Paria River hike. No deep canyon here!
John in deeper part of canyon.
Slide Rock Arch.
Looking up Buckskin Gulch from the confluence.
Looking down the Paria from near our lunch spot.
Please send comments or corrections to
Last updated on: Mon Jun 8 16:50:16 PDT 2015