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Don’t Hike Buckskin Gulch Unless you Can Handle These 7 Things

Updated: Jan 27

Every hiker’s bucket list should include a hike into Buckskin Gulch. Explore with us to avoid the ever-present dangers the adventure presents. We’re going to share with you amazing views of Wirepass Trail and Buckskin Gulch while sharing with you the keys to deciding whether this hike is right for you and your family. Let’s get started!




Where is Buckskin Gulch Located?


You need to be able to get to Buckskin Gulch and only certain vehicles will make it. It’s located in Southern Utah and Northern Arizona partly within Vermillion Cliffs National Monument. To get to Buckskin Gulch we chose to start at Wirepass Trailhead. The drive from Page Arizona or Wahweap National Recreation Area located on Lake Powell is about an hour drive West on Highway 89 to House Rock Valley Road and about an hour east of Kanab Utah. Beware House Rock Valley Road is a dirt and rock road that requires high clearance. We recommend SUVs at a minimum but, Jeeps and Trucks are better for driving this road. Take cars at your own risk for the 4 miles to the Buckskin Gulch Trailhead or 8 miles to the Wirepass Trailhead. Both trailheads are well marked and easy to find.



Details on Wirepass trail are next including the gift at the end left by ancient explorers. But later we’ll back up and discuss what to pack. You don’t want to be left without the one item most people forget.


Do You Need a Permit to Hike Buckskin Gulch?


When you get to the trailhead you will find a nice parking lot with pit toilets. Here you can finish your preparation for the hike and sign the guest book. You must sign the guest book for your own safety. The book let’s Bureau of Land Management officials know who is in the trail each day and offers a resource for search and rescue responders after a flash flood, wildfire, or other emergency. It is also good to let an emergency contact know you are entering the canyon and call them when you return safely from your hike. Wirepass trailhead is across the street and the hike starts there.



Can you Hike Wirepass Trail to Buckskin Gulch?


Walking Wirepass trail starts as a wash. The scene here is a wide trail of loose stone and gravel. Take care to watch your step as you take in the scenery. This will be an extremely hot part of your hike in the Summer. As you move further into the trail the slots will start to form and the canyon walls will come in closer and steeper. Explore the sandstone and experience centuries of erosion from many storms. As you head deeper there is a 8-10 foot drop. This is helped with a ladder most of the time. However, as you may see during your hike the ladders can get swept away.


When Wirepass Trail comes together with Buckskin Gulch the canyon opens up wider. you will notice signs for petroglyphs here. Take time to explore the sandstone walls and view these remnants of previous life in the canyon. But don’t touch and leave the sandstone as you found it. Turn right to enter into the magic of Buckskin Gulch


Here is our packing list if you plan to day hike into Buckskin Gulch from the Wirepass Trailhead. Coming up later we’ll talk about animals on the trail.



What Should I take With Me to Day Hike Buckskin Gulch?


Make sure you are prepared for the hike. We recommend at least 2 liters of water. We use the teton sports oasis hydration pack. In the pack make sure to have snacks including trail mix, protein bars, and granola bars. We did a full day hike and packed a lunch as well, including oranges and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and jerky. The Teton packs are good for shedding layers. We tied our upper layers in the cinch straps. Make sure to carry a good first aid kit. After one of our sons fell hiking in the Finger Lakes region we now carry two first aid kits for our group just in case one of us forgets. Most people forget to carry a rope for rescue purposes and also to scale large boulders if necessary. But you need to have a little fun in your pack, too. You won’t need binoculars instead carry your cameras and phones for great video and memories with your family. We also like to have candy to cheer us up and usually carry gummy worms or fruit slices as they are a quick hit of sugar and don’t melt.


For examples of the gear we took on our hike check out these links below for more details.

Teton Sports Hydration Pack Video Review: https://youtu.be/KEBrYwp8RQk

Amazon Link: 2021 model https://amzn.to/3SnKcGR

Camelbak Mini M.U.L.E hydration backpack Video Review for younger hikers: https://youtu.be/WbRgZr6C20g


Merrell Moab II Men's Hiking Shoes: https://amzn.to/3Ardw8k


The First Aid Kit we carry: https://amzn.to/3Lcvu2h

Tactical Flashlights: https://amzn.to/3QLY25T


To view any product mentioned by us in our videos, click this link: https://www.amazon.com/shop/campbrood As an Amazon Associate, we earn a commission from qualifying purchases.




Are Dogs Allowed In Buckskin Gulch?


Animals, birds, and reptiles are on the trail. But we wouldn’t take dogs. Many people like to bring their dogs hiking like we do. The rocky terrain, hot environment, and other factors are not good for dogs. The biggest reason though is to make sure you are focused on your hike and not distracted by your pet. We love hiking with our dogs but this hike is better without them. While you are hiking look for reptiles like this one. Also, be on the lookout for birds in the canyon. But even more important are snakes. A variety of poisonous snakes can be found on the trail. We haven’t seen any on the trail but watch your footing and stay focused throughout your hike as they are residents and we are just visitors. But the biggest surprise on the trail was scat from horses and cattle. Another reason to leave dogs at home. But, can you believe horses and cows come through here? Comment to let us know the strangest thing you’ve seen on the trail.


If you don’t want to travel this far to just hike buckskin Gulch what else is there to do in the area? After we share some of our ideas we will discuss deadly weather to be always aware of.


Where Should I Stay to Hike Buckskin Gulch?


Wahweap National Recreation Area on Lake Powell near Page Arizona is a great landing place for hikers. The area is full of great hikes. There is a Lodge and Wahweap RV Park and Campground. We’ll mention a few here and let you dream about your time discovering the area. Probably the most photographed short hike is Horseshoe Bend. Here you can see the most iconic spot on the Colorado river. With handicap accessible paved trails this 1 mile round trip hike is just a short drive from Wahweap. For something a little more adventurous the Toadstools provide a great desert hike to unique rock formations. The Wave and White Pocket are in Vermillion Cliffs and for those more adventurous. For those that want a paid tour with a guide, Antelope canyon is a very popular experience. Wahweap has an abundance of recreation. Speed boats and personal watercraft can be rented from the marina. Houseboats are also available for rent. The beach is great for cooling off at the lake.



When Can I Hike Buckskin Gulch?


If it has rained within 7 days of your hike you need to assess water depths in the gulch. Standing water could create quicksand locations and ponding that is well over your head. Make sure to take a rope with you, as mentioned earlier, for emergencies and tread lightly near wet footing and standing water. But the biggest concern when planning your hike is rain and worse yet are storms while you are hiking. Flash Floods do occur often enough to question whether this hike is right for you. Floods will fill the canyon with up to 100 feet high of raging water. Even now, after hiking Buckskin, I feel we were blessed with good weather. The gulch was very dry for us and we enjoyed our hike in the morning of a hot Summer day. When checking the weather make sure you look out at least 50 miles. Don’t expect to look up and see clouds. Many storms that cause flash floods won’t be seen by hikers in the Gulch. From the Wirepass trailhead, Bryce Canyon is 44 miles North, Page Arizona is 32 miles East, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is 55 miles to the South and Zion National Park is 55 Miles West. These are stated to give you an image of how far you need to look for wet weather. Buckskin Gulch flows into Paria Canyon which is in Vermillion Cliffs National Monument. So any rain within 50 miles West and North of the Buckskin Gulch trailhead is most dangerous. But, if there is any rain within a 50 mile radius of any part of the gulch a storm could cause a flash flood while you are hiking the canyon.


Is it Safe to Hike Buckskin Gulch?


The hike is a more difficult adventure. It is located in the desert which can get very hot. Due to the nature of the slot and depending on the year it can get really cold. Rocks and boulders and sand make up the footing which adds to the difficulty and wet weather provides other risks. It’s really up to you and your risk tolerance. Here is a little of what we mean.


Can Kids Hike Buckskin Gulch?


We were planning to hike Buckskin two years earlier when our daughter was 7 and there was a wildfire that closed House Rock Valley Road and the trails. As disappointed as we were, our brood would have been too young to truly enjoy Buckskin Gulch. Wirepass trail is over 3 miles round trip. With that kind of start a younger crowd can’t travel far into Buckskin Gulch. At 9, 11, and 13 our brood hiked like champs and we made a day of it probably hiking 10+ miles. So, consider this a trail for those 10 years or older if you really want to get immersed into the slot canyon experience. Therefore, you may wonder what the whole experience is like.




If you are getting value from our time today Hit the like button to let us know. These views show more than words can describe.


What is it Like Hiking Buckskin Gulch?


But, here are some words and facts anyway. Buckskin Gulch is the longest slot canyon in the United States and probably the world. It measures a little over 20 miles long. The slot can be anywhere from 40 feet to 500 feet deep. The amazing views brought on by the light and shadow cascading into the canyon and onto the sandstone is breathtaking. As you are watching, consider being in the middle of the slot like here and being totally alone listening to the silence of the canyon. Much of the slot is only 10 feet in width. But we made it to a huge opening in the canyon. The expanse and separation of the canyon walls made us feel smaller still. Pay close attention to the vegetation and environment changing as you hike. There is a lot living and changing in the gulch. Watch the shadows and sun as the day changes your view inside the canyon. Keep an eye on the sky and be on the lookout for clouds and birds, too.


How do you Choose When to Turn Around in Buckskin Gulch?


Make sure you keep in mind Wirepass Trail when you are choosing to press on into the canyon. The advantage of starting at Wirepass trailhead is that you can enter buckskin gulch in the middle and hike as far as you are able then turn around and return safely to your vehicle. However, don’t underestimate the Wirepass trail on the way out. In the heat of the day the wash will be more demanding than earlier in the day. As you choose to turn around, you’ll look back and wonder what is around the next corner of the gulch. But you know better and hike back safely the way you came.


Read these posts next to learn more about things to do near Buckskin Gulch!




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