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Buckskin Gulch Trail to Lees Ferry is a 45.6 mile moderately trafficked point-to-point trail located near Marble Canyon, Arizona that features a river and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, nature trips, and backpacking and is best used from March until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 45.6 miles Elevation Gain: 5,400 feet Route Type: Point to Point

dog friendly

backpacking

camping

hiking

nature trips

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

no shade

There are several different ways to hike in this area. While starting at the Buckskin Gulch trailhead shown here you can: 1.) Hike a multi-day backpacking trip one-way all the way to Lees Ferry in Arizona (permit required). This is the hike shown on this page. 2.) Hike into Buckskin Gulch, then turn left at the confluence of Paria River and Buckskin Gulch and exit at the White House Trailhead (if staying the night permit required). 3.) Hike just an out-and-back from the Buckskin Gulch Trailhead shown here and come back the way you came, exiting through Buckskin Gulch Trailhead (if staying the night permit required). 4.) Hike south on Buckskin Gulch, then exit quickly at the Wire Pass Trailhead. All of these variations of hikes can be found on AllTrails. The most popular method is getting a permit, starting at the White House Trailhead, and doing a multi-day backpacking trip to the Lees Ferry Campground. Overnight stays in the canyon require a permit from the BLM. Please visit this site for permits: https://www.blm.gov/programs/recreation/permits-and-passes/lotteries-and-permit-systems/arizona/paria-canyon If you're bringing a dog for an overnight stay, the dog also needs a permit. Paria Canyon is the longest slot canyon in the world and has four main points of entry: White House Trailhead, Wire Pass Trailhead, Middle Passage, and Lee's Ferry Trailhead. There are several clusters of campsites throughout the canyon. Beware, there are rattlesnakes in this area. Other potential wildlife includes canyon wrens, peregrine falcons, condors, and great horned owls. Keep an eye on the weather and watch out for flash floods. It gets very hot in the canyon, so it is not recommended to do this hike in the middle of summer.

hiking
2 months ago

Hi, we have our permits for two nights starting out of Wire Pass Trailhead on May 23. Any recent back packers have advice on how they obtained their permits with the contact center closed and Kanab not allowing visitors? Thank you in advance!

2 months ago

What an amazing hike! Beautiful scenery the entire way. Was out 2 months ago so it did get a bit chilly walking so far in the water. Do not wear hiking boots or waterproof shoes. Wear only light weight and quick drying footwear. Lots of time spent in the water and the extra weight of wet shoes filled with sand will definitely wear on your muscles. Didn't bother with a tent so looking up through the canyon walls to the stars was a beautiful sight. Plenty of springs to filter water along the way but I'd recommend at least a 3 liter bladder to be safe. Keep an eye out for the petroglyphs high up along the way, some you might miss if you aren't paying attention. Photos don't even come close to doing this hike justice. What an adventure!

hiking
muddy
rocky
3 months ago

Easily one of the best hikes I've ever been on. We estimated our trip at something more like 55 miles. Went with a group of five and if we did this again I think we would all agree that we would do a better job of pushing for a couple extra miles each day. We were under the impression that it would be 45 miles, which made our last day much more demanding than we expected. The views are incredible every step of the way. If you don't come out of Buckskin Gulch with some of the most amazing photos you've ever taken, it's because you didn't take your camera out at all. This trail did not require previous experience with water crossings when we did it because the water crossings are so shallow, but there are definitely spots where you could end up going for a swim if you weren't careful. I would strongly advise against wearing hiking boots on this trail because of the number of crossings and how heavy hiking boots would be when wet. On the third day of our hike, my sister counted 132 different times that we stepped foot in water and I think this was likely the second driest day of the hike. I wore a pair of Saucony's Mad River TR trail running shoes, which I drilled drainage holes into. The best equipment during this hike was a pair of socks that was tight fitting when wet. If I did this again I might even consider wearing compression socks as liners for a tight fit, which would again help avoid blisters and help with circulation. This trail would not be suitable for someone who has no previous backpacking experience or a group with little collective previous experience.

hiking
muddy
5 months ago

Possibly the best hike of my life. We did this hike at the beginning of February in 3 days and 2 nights from Buckskin G. trail head to Lees Ferry, almost 50 miles. We did not meet a single soul the whole way. Had the place to ourselves and the sheer beauty of it was breathtaking. My basic recommendations for this hike are: you need to be reasonably fit, be a patient hiker, be ready to get wet and have strong footing. We had to wear dry suits and boots with neoprene socks the whole way. You may not need this gear if you're hiking it in the summer or late spring but make sure you have plenty of spare clothes and foot wear. We spent much time hiking in the water, however, it wasn't as deep as expected. In fact, it didn't go much deeper than the waist and that was before the Boulder Jam. Regarding the Boulder Jam, we passed it by squeezing through under the huge boulders instead of using the rope, which is always an option but you have to bring your own! Hiking under the boulders might be difficult, or even impossible, if the water level is high. The rope does require some basic technical skills. Past the confluence with the Paria river, there are no major obstacles. Also, after the confluence, there are many options to set up camp for the night on high ground. We trusted the map for water sources and did use water from the Springs, but there are not always easy to find. Look for grass or moss on the side of the canyon and you're likely to see a trickle of clean water there. The river water is too silty. Make sure you have plenty of clothes as it gets cold at night and a second pair of shoes is a must! We only had the boots and one pair of hiking shoes. The quicksands can be tricky to negotiate. If you find yourself stuck in mud don't push up, just use your knees to slide out forward. Make sure you plan this hike well. It is definitely a tough hike but if you have 3 or 4 days to yourself and don't mind getting all your stuff wet and muddy you will have the time of your life. We saw it all: from deep and narrow slot canyons where sunlight barely streaks in, to majestic, sheer walls of rocks by the end of the trail. This is easily one of the best hikes in the world.

hiking
blowdown
muddy
scramble
10 months ago

Buckskin Gulch is an intense 14 mile slog through narrow canyons, quicksand, drops, potential life threatening gully washers. Whatever hiking shoes you wear through the gulch? Be prepared to pitch them when you’re through with your hike. Bring two pairs of shoes...you’ll need em. One pair wet shoes, one pair dry shoes. Bring some rope. Also, do NOT go if there is a threat of bad weather anywhere nearby. Gullywashers will kill you in the gulch. There is no escape. There is also a filthy cesspool about 8’ deep around the ten mile mark that requires a little doggy paddling. About a mile from the confluence there is about a fifteen foot drop. A knitted rope is there for climbing down but you will have to rope your pack down. . Don’t get me wrong, this is one of the best hikes in the country but it is extremely dangerous. Once you get through the spectacular gulch, the next 40 miles of the Paria River are breathtaking. With petroglyphs, painted canyons, and an old ranch towards the end of the trail. Don’t be fooled, the river IS the trail...and no you can’t filter the river water. It is too silty.

hiking
Sat Jul 06 2019

we've done this a couple of years now, and it's simply incredible. so much so that by the end you are thoroughly unimpressed by the views. we do it in 4 days 3 nights, but our last day is loooong. it gets tricky if you end up starting the first day late like we do trying to get a car parked at the bottom and rent a driver to get to the top. the river water is pretty icky and we have run out of water both times before we get to big springs. I hate the extra weight but next time we go we'll be sitting heavy with lots of extra so we can just take our time in wire pass and the gulch, which are the prettiest parts anyway. I recommend early in may when things aren't stupid hot. once you get to the last 20 miles or so and the shade of the cliffs disappears in the heat of the day it gets pretty brutal even in may. we had to shelter under a rock overhang in the only shade we could find to keep from burning the dogs paws. at that point you can walk in the river shallows to keep a little cooler but the sun is still brutal. keep a close eye out for springs because they are unmarked and scarce enough you dont want to miss them! amphibious shoes are a must, if you're going past the confluence, and i'd recommend some neoprene socks for comfort. also be prepared to pack out your poop so you dont spoil the canyon for the people coming down after you!

hiking
Mon Jun 17 2019

Completed Wirepass entry to White House exit (camped at the confluence). This was the most amazing and challenging thing I’ve done. It was insanely beautiful and pictures can’t tell the story. It had many uncomfortable spots and a couple semi-dangerous areas. But overall I would (and will) do it again for sure! Absolutely amazing!

hiking
Tue Apr 09 2019

Had an amazing trip down the Buckskin with my son on his 40th birthday, my daughter-in-law, and my 8 year old grandson. A little muddy, counted 42 wades from ankle deep up to my stomach. Saw a baby rattlesnake, found our way through the rockfall at mile 11-12 via the rabbit hole, and camped out in complete solitude just before the confluence with the Paria. Nice hike up the Paria narrows to Whitehouse back to our car. The previous year, made the trip from Whitehouse to Lee’s Ferry. Truly magnificent, maybe the most beautiful in the country, stacks up with the John Muir Trail! As good as it gets

Mon Dec 31 2018

I first hiked this canyon in 1999 and plan on returning in 2019 to do it again. Can’t wait.

backpacking
Wed Oct 03 2018

The most difficult backpacking I’ve ever done. The quicksand type mud is incredibly dangerous and not something that is forgiving. Make sure to do this with experienced and physically fit backpackers as It’s quite easy to get trapped in the quicksand mud and fall forward into chest deep water (that happened to me). It is not an easily trail. Do not take it lightly. I’ve backpacked all over (Narrows, Mt Whitney, Iceland etc) and this was by far the most dangerous one I’ve done.

backpacking
Tue Sep 18 2018

A few days ago, we sucessfully backpacked buckskin gulch in utah, which is referred to as the longest slot canyon in the world and one of the most dangerous hikes in north america. We scored the last of the highly coveted overnight permits, and embarked on the most physically and psychologically demanding hike I have ever participated in. The walls reached 400 feet above us, and at times we could touch the walls to either side of us. we waded through pools of freezing, chocolate milk colored muddy water up to our waists and chests. At one point, we had to gag our way through a seemingly endless stretch of neck deep, black, putrid, stagnant floodwaters full of dead animals and decaying plant matter. At other points, we couldnt touch the ground, and we had to swim with our packs. There were multiple snakes and tarantulas. We also learned that quicksand is a real thing. Most of the trip felt like an episode of fear factor, but worse since once you're in, you dont have enough time or supplies to turn back. Flash floods are the real danger here, as there is only one escape route halfway in. If you can't make it in time, or already passed it, you will have a hard time trying to survive. Our trip had 0% chance of rain and was supposed to not have a single cloud in the sky, but ominous clouds hung over the gulch for part of our trip, raising tension and reminding us that the gulch had total control. What made matters worse is that our gps was 3 miles off. Cold, wet, and exhausted towards the end of day 1, we thought we had just 1.5- 2 miles left until our campsite, but we actully had over 5, leaving us to navigate pools of water in the dark, clear a boulder jam without rope, and accidentally miss our campsite and having to hike to the next one. We're covered in mosquito bites, our bones are bruised, we still smell terrible, and I can barely walk, but the experience was once in a lifetime. Buckskin Gulch feels neverending, twisting your mind and body in ways we never could have imagined. While the views are beautiful, Buckskin Gulch is truly relentless. 10/10

Mon Sep 17 2018

Incredible experience. We went from Wire Pass to White House, roughly 20 miles total, over two days and one night. Do not underestimate this hike... it is extremely demanding. With packs on it took us a full twelve hours to do those 13 miles of Buckskin. We waded through over 20 pools of waist-level depth. Despite starting early, we had to use our headlamps to finish the hike due to running out of sunlight! The hike out of Paria was less taxing but still difficult. A few things: 1) be sure to have proper footwear. Water shoes and neoprene socks are highly recommended, 2) utilize a dry bag and a separate waterproof bag for your phone, as you’ll be taking lots of pictures, 3) stock up on water before you go through. You won’t have access to any spring water until right before the confluence, 4) I don’t recommend doing this one alone. I’m typically a solo hiker, but I’d be afraid to do this one without company. The trail is as psychologically onerous as it is physically.

Thu Sep 13 2018

Great experience! The road was not bad at all, easily done without 4wd. it is a walk from the parking area to the actual slot canyon, but once you get into it it is amazing! we had waist deep water in some parts, and a lot of mud, but nothing extreme. Would definitely suggest entering from Wire Pass to the Buckskin intersection then exploring the slot canyon in both directions to avoid the walk along the wash.

Sat Aug 25 2018

Hardly any shade the first miles but once you make it to the slot canyons it cools down and it's pretty amazing how long it goes.

running
Sat Jul 14 2018

I started from the Wire Pass trailhead, which has bathrooms but no water. As a warning to those who may be driving there in a small rental car like I was, the gravel/dirt road to get there is in fairly poor condition, and I had to drive slowly and cautiously to avoid getting a flat tire. I didn't have too long to spend here, so I just did 8.5 miles. The first mile+ is in direct sun with no shade, so make sure to have enough water to survive the heat and get back to your car. It was 81 degrees when I left my car and 111 when I got back 2 hours later. The narrow canyons were pleasant and fairly cool, but the canyon does intermittently open wider and is hot in the sun, so just make sure you carry enough to drink if you go in July like I did. I don't think it had rained at all recently when I went, so I did not have to go through even a drop of water. There were a lot of sections of dried mud, so I could tell where there is typically water. It was definitely an easy trail in these mud-less and water-less conditions, though it was still not entirely runnable due to thick dune-like sand in some places and incredibly rocky uneven surfaces elsewhere. I definitely can't relate to previous reviewers who rate this as hard, but the difficulty is clearly entirely dependent on the conditions, and I obviously went when the conditions were incredibly favorable. It's a beautiful and incredibly memorable trail, and I would encourage anyone to take at least a couple hours to explore it.

Tue Jun 26 2018

Amazing trail but expect it to be hard, not moderate. Our route was Paria Canyon to Big Spring, back-tracked to Buckskin Gulch and exited at Wire Pass. Wire Pass is very hot with a 7 ft boulder jam to traverse half way through. Buckskin had calf-deep mud that will keep your shoe, ten waist deep 55 degree water holes about 20 to 50 feet long lots of sections with technical river rock hiking which can be tiring with a heavy pack. Expect 50/50 exposed vs shade with temps ranging from 70 to 100. Camping spot was great with lots of tent spots ready. Amazing trail with lots of visual apeal. Very memorable and worth the effort.

hiking
Tue May 22 2018

A LOT HARDER than I read or any YouTube video showed. I went in 2015 with 2 other guys I was in the Marines with. The gulch was a hell of a lot of fun, incredibly beautiful but we did it in high heat of July and we went through over a gallon and half of water each. This section took us literally all day. Our plans were to turn right and hike all the way down to Lee’s ferry but on night 1 we were strongly considering hooking left for the shirt route out. We took an easy day to go 5 miles and refill water so actually finished at Lee’s FERRY BUT NONE WAS AS HARD AS buckskin. It wasn’t horrific, definitely doable but ensure you have the right mindset for it. We did not understand what we headed in to and this were not quite mentally prepared. As for the hike- stunning. Incredibly satisfying. The entire gulch is carved from heaven. It’s simply one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen in 26 countries. DO NOT DO IT IN JULY. lol. I recommend doing it in cooler weather.

Tue May 08 2018

Just amazing !!! Few people, canyonning boots were necessary in April ( water up to the knee and above). Great memories there. Don’t miss it

backpacking
Wed Apr 18 2018

Such an amazing place to push your limits! I did the whole Paria canyon and buckskin gulch in a five day trip in mid March, and it was incredible. Can’t wait to go back. I’m 5’ 10”, and the water level in some places were up to my chest. Weather was kinda cold but not freezing.

backpacking
Thu Mar 29 2018

Best day hike I have done. I hiked BG in March. The first hour was dry. The second hour was in and out of a couple dozen pools that ranged from knee to waste deep (I am 5’6”). My neoprene socks and pants helped me stay warm because it was 30 degrees but my feet stayed numb throughout because I only went with 2mm. My bf had 5mm and was much more comfortable. After an hour in the pools, the canyon opens up and I warmed up a bit but quickly hit the deeper pools known as the cesspools which are chest and neck deep. One has a rock slide into the pool which if you slide down it will submerge you. If you stay to the left there are small steps down and the left side is slightly higher (stay to the right on the return). Started at 8:30AM and got back to the trailhead at 4:20PM. I didn’t use poles so my knees and ankles were sore the next day. We only saw one other couple during the hike and were mostly alone with the exception of some people at the beginning of the trail.

hiking
Tue Mar 06 2018

Absolutely gorgeous. Be prepared to run into water during the winter months. We came across knee deep water in Feb.

hiking
Tue Jan 16 2018

Wanted to ditch the crowds today and it worked on this trail! We didn't go too far but we had our 5 yo and it was perfect for us. Lots of beautiful scenery and plenty of exploring to do and scrambling around on the slick rock. We were here in good weather in January - I imagine it gets real hot in summer but once you get down towards more of the narrow sections it's probably a lot cooler. Just lots of exploring to do here - I look forward to coming back and making it further down the gulch.

backpacking
Fri Dec 08 2017

Did Buckskin to Lee's Ferry. Changed my life. After the first day of hiking, didn't see another human for 48 hours. It was unreal.

Tue Nov 28 2017

Gorgeous!

Mon Nov 27 2017

Entered Buckskin via Wire Pass trial and went right. There were 5-6 pools calf deep with a few inches of mud. Pools are very cold however not to bad. Turned around and headed back up Buckskin for about 2 hours and I might say it was well worth it. We were told not to head that way due to not much to see “wrong”. Look for the whole cow skeleton of to the left of the dry bed. #neverstopwandering

backpacking
Wed Nov 08 2017

The water may be 40 degrees, but at least it’s thigh deep!

Thu Sep 21 2017

I entered Buckskin Gulch from Wire Pass on 9/20. Wire Pass was dry. Immediately after joining Buckskin Gulch (to the right), I encountered a pool that was waist deep making it difficult to proceed with backpacks. I continued through approximately 6 more pools. Though none were quite as deep as the first, they were substantial enough to slow travel. The water was also very cold. It was still a beautiful hike, but plan on getting substantially wet and potentially cold in the current conditions!

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