The Websheikh day hiked down Buckskin Gulch in summer 1999, having started from Wire Pass trailhead, for a couple of miles in thigh-high mud, and I mean MUD! As you may have read on my Utah 10/96 Trip page I had planned to go into the Paria River Gorge in 1996 but the weather was rather uncertain and given the then recent Accident at Antelope Canyon I think such caution was and is ever amply justified.
I had intended hike a loop in the gorge either starting at the White House trailhead going down the Paria River to the confluence with Buckskin Gulch and then back up to Buckskin Trailhead. An alternative had been to go straight down the Paria river to Lees Ferry a 5 - 8 day trip depending on the time taken for exploring side canyons or other side trips and weather permitting! As it transpired a friend and I only got to day hike down Buckskin Gulch. So below you will find some photos of the 1999 day hike. I hope they inspire you to attempt the hike. I was enormous fun despite the mud.
Advice: From the experience I would advise anyone attempting the loop hike to be certain to obtain up to date information on the conditions inside the canyons. When we hiked it had not rained for about a week and still the left over mud from the previous downpour was a real killer, and we only had daypacks!
Photography: As you can see it is difficult to get correct lighting conditions in dimly lit canyons. I had a tripod along and often took 2, 3 or 4 second shots since I was using 100 film for low grain negatives in the event I wanted to enlarge any of them. I found a warming filter or color compensation filter indispensable in order to lessen the effect of Reciprocity Failure of film that shows up as a definite blue tinge in most films exposed over 1 second. Regrettably during this particular trip I did not have it along and therefore some images are 'bluish'. However in the future I intend to only use slide film (Fujifilm Velvia) for the superior result that I have seen from other photographers of slot canyons. If you want to learn more about photography there is an amazing site by Philip Greenspun.
Permits/Limitations: As of March 1, 1998 reservations (20 person limit per day for overnight camping), permits, and advance payment of fees are required for overnight use in Paria Canyon, Buckskin Gulch and Wire Pass! Detailed Information and available dates
Caution: Always, ALWAYS, get an up-to-date weather report, and not just for the vicinity. A rain storm 40 mile north of the hiking area by Bryce Canyon or Escalante can still cause a flash flood several hours later inside the narrows of Paria River canyon or Buckskin Gulch. If you get stuck in the canyon during a flash flood you will probably die! I've seen a flash flood and know what it can do, take a look at some images of a flash flood. (page not yet up)
Kelsey's Book 2: Maps 24 to 27 starting on page 108 give quite a detailed description of the hike and scenery.
This is one of several trailheads that leads into Buckskin Gulch proper about 1.7 miles downstream. By starting here you avoid the less interesting upper past of Buckskin Gulch. The day we went there was thundercloud activity every afternoon so we left early to return before the rains started. The rock art I saw just before the confluence with Buckskin Gulch on the left. Please do not touch such rock art as the oils and dirt on your skin will eventually leave permanent marks.
The gulch was very muddy in many eares a few hundred feet after the confluence with Wire Pass drainage. The further we went the worse it got but it was tremendous fun. We hiked down a few miles before returning to avoid the afternoon rains. As you can see from the image with the tree stumps lodged high between the canyon walls, during a major flash flood the water can rise dozens of feet, don't get caught in one!
United States Geological Survey: (USGS)
Seven 7.5-minute maps of the area
These maps cost about US$4.00 each and can be ordered by mail (foreign orders accepted, payment via credit card). So instead of paying US$10.00 or more at your local supplier, why not order them. I've done so and the USGS is fairly efficient.
Online Map: From American West Travelogue, with
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