Hike and backpack through the Paria River area, Arizona.
This is an impressive hike through the premier slot canyon. We took a full pack with the intention of camping two nights in this area. We first made reservations with the BLM (435) 688-3200 or on the web atwww.blm.gov/az/st/en/arolrsmain.html. This is a critical step as overuse has hurt this area in the past and there are stiff fines for not procuring a permit before hiking. We dropped a car at the White House Trailhead, which is after milepost 20 on HWY 89. The dirt road to the left goes 2 miles to the trailhead.
We started our hike in Wire Pass, which features the most awe inspiring narrows on the hike. This would be a good destination for a day hike, however there is something truly spectacular about hiking through narrows like this for several days. Wire pass empties into Buckskin gulch, which provides much of the same scenery. Take a right to follow Buckskin gulch down the canyon. Buckskin gulch contains much more of the impressive high wall canyon.
There are many muddy pools (often cold) that you will need to wade through in Buckskin gulch. As you hike though this canyon, imagine trying to find safe high ground in the event of a flash flood. You will soon realize it would be impossible. In fact, there is only one real place to get out of this slot canyon in an emergency. The emergency exit is about halfway between Wire Pass and the Paria River. It would not be an easy extraction.
After a long bit of hiking, you will have to navigate one scramble down a rock fall. There are multiple paths, so be patient and you'll find the best one. This can change with the periodic flash floods, so you may need to be creative. Last time we were here, there were two fixed ropes and some moki steps cut into the rock to choose from.
After 14 miles of walking, you will reach the confluence between Buckskin Gulch and the Paria River. We camped here not because of the scenery, but because of exhaustion. On another visit, we stopped about 1/2 mile down canyon from the scramble described above. There are a few good campsites in this area.
The next day, we went left up the Paria River Canyon and to the car we left at White House Trailhead (7 miles from the confluence). What a hike!