Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
1,800.00 ft (548.64 m)
Trail type
46.00 mi (74.03 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Hiking Buckskin Gulch and the Paria River from Wire Pass to Lee’s Ferry is a world class backpacking trip that is atop many people’s lists. The route takes you through the longest and deepest slot canyon in the Southwest (and possibly the world) before following the stunning Paria River downstream to it’s confluence with the Colorado River.

A few things to note is that permits are required, and can be difficult to get. For more information click here. Additionally, Wag Bags are required to pack out your waste (they’ll be provided when you pick up your permit). You’ll also need to arrange for transportation back to Wire Pass after you finish the hike. There are companies that offer shuttle services in the area, but as you may expect are quite expensive. If you have a second vehicle or a willing friend who lives in the area you can avoid the shuttle cost. Hitchhiking is also an option, but it will be a long and likely difficult one.

Once you have the logistics taken care of, be sure to check the weather. If there is any chance of storms in the region do not hike! Buckskin Gulch can be deadly when it flashes, as there is almost nowhere to escape to high ground.

You’ll begin hiking from Wire Pass and soon enter Buckskin Gulch. The route follows the gulch for about 13 miles to it’s confluence with the Paria River. Conditions can vary wildly, during my hike Buckskin was completely dry, but having to wade or even swim through deep muddy pools is not uncommon.

The hiking is fairly straightforward, with the exception of one boulder jam near the end of Buckskin. Here you’ll find a rope and Moki Steps to help you descend. The height is enough to make some people a little uncomfortable, but the downclimb itself is relatively easy.

You’ll then reach the Paria River. If you’ve managed to keep your feet dry up to this point congrats, but it is over. You’ll be wading through and crossing the shallow river countless times as you work your way downstream. The banks are muddy and have some areas of minor quicksand to make things even more fun! The Paria also offers the first real camping options thus far.

Continue downstream through the beautiful high canyon walls. While not as narrow as Buckskin, the Paria is equally impressive.

Big Spring is a fantastic water source, with ample camping nearby. There are a couple more springs downstream from here including Shower Spring and aptly named Last Reliable Spring (be sure to grab enough water from here to see you to Lee’s Ferry).

As you continue the canyon opens and changes drastically. You’ll find increasingly well worn paths along the side of the river which offer easier hiking. Continue all the way to Lee’s Ferry, where you’ll come to the historic site - home to the original families that operated the ferry.

The hike ends at the parking lot where you hopefully have a vehicle or shuttle awaiting. Be sure to walk or drive down to the Colorado River for a proper ending to the trip.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass


Open Year-round



World class canyon hiking.


Flash flood danger. Difficult to get permit. Shuttle logistics.

Trailhead Elevation

4,872.00 ft (1,484.99 m)

Highest point

4,872.00 ft (1,484.99 m)


Near lake or river
Backcountry camping
Geologically significant
Big vistas

Typically multi-day


Permit required


Permit self-issue on site




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