Wire Pass to Buckskin Gulch, Nature’s Cathedral

Distance: You choose: 1.7 to Buckskin Gulch, 6 miles to Buckskin Gulch Trailhead, 13 miles to Paria Canyon

Difficulty: Easy

At over 13 miles long, Buckskin Gulch is the longest and deepest slot canyon in the Southwestern United States. It’s speculated that it may be the longest slot canyon in the world.

The first section from the parking lot at Wire Pass is 1.7 miles through a sandy, exposed wash to entrance of Buckskin Gulch. Entering the Gulch is like entering a cathedral, you’ll be engulfed and awed by its massive scale. You may find yourself whispering in reverence as you would in a church or a library. Experiencing this amazing slot canyon in silent solitude is superb. (Unfortunately, only possible for the earliest of birds.) Petroglyph and hand print panels are a highlight as well.

I explored 5.5 miles out. You’ll lose the crowds a couple of miles in, but there’s no avoiding them on the way back.

Notes: Go early to avoid the crowds and the heat. Be weather aware- this is a flash flood area. Permit and $6 fee per adult required. Click here to obtain your required permit. Dogs are allowed, but not encouraged. There is a ladder inside the gulch that dogs must be carried up and down. Slot canyon passageways are narrow, close quarters—not the place for pets or people to relieve themselves or dogs to encounter each other. If you’re claustrophobic there are a couple spots that may trigger you.

Soapbox: So very disappointing to see petroglyph areas defaced and to see children in the act of it under the approving gaze of their parents. I reprimanded both sets of parents and children that I saw. I don’t understand it. Also, and always, disappointing, people not picking up after their pets. There should be fines for them as well. If fines were enforced, we could solve two problems–end the defacing (and the remains of defecating) and fund our park and wilderness areas. There need to be more signs up so that people can’t plead ignorance. Perhaps setting aside an “artificial” area for children to create their own petroglyphs would be an idea, but how likely is it that they will stay within those boundaries?

Getting there: Take UT-59S, AZ-389 E and US-89 S to House Rock Valley Road for 8.4 off road, rocky miles to the Wire Pass parking lot and trailhead

To Happier Trails!

To Happier Trails!

Zion Narrows, Widely Populated, and Dare I Say, Overhyped

Distance: ~10 miles RT

Difficulty: First and last 1.7 miles is on flat pavement–easy. After that–hard, due to icy water immersion (from ankle deep to hip deep) and treacherous footing over slippery rocks. Water is so murky that you must use your hiking stick / poles every step of the way.

Fortunately, my friend and I were of the first few to step our feet into the icy waters of the Narrows that morning so we were able to soak in its beauty in solitude. Unfortunately, on the way back, the multitudes had arrived—unruly mobs descending on a magnificent citadel destroying all vestiges of a nature’s magnificence.

The waterfall in the feature picture above is the official turning around point for the Narrows. If you wish to add on a nice side trip on the way there, on the way back, or as an alternative, check out Orderville Canyon. It’s the right fork at about the 2.5 mile mark. It’s much greener, and in my opinion, prettier than the Narrows itself. Unfortunately, my bettery dies so I wasn’t able to take any pictures there. Guess, I’ll have to return. Orderville Canyon is also a bit less traveled, which in my book, is always a win

Yes, the Narrows is cool, but in my opinion, over-hyped. I’m so fortunate to be discovering so many equally or more beautiful, less-populated spots all over Utah. Zion National Park’s inability and/ or unwillingness to minimize crowds is discouraging and certainly offputting.

There is a 17-mile top-down challenging route that requires canyoneering and some swimming, likely it rules out the masses, but there’s no avoiding them for your final 5 miles when you’re most likely to be a bit hangry anyway… I’ll let you know if and when

Soapbox: In my opinion, ZNP needs to permit this hike ASAP to preserve the area from the irreversible impact of the HORDS of HUMANS and enhance visitor experience. They do it for the Subway and it works well. Never felt overwhelmed there, but the Narrows felt like being in a city subway. Perhaps they should flip the names.

Notes: Water temperature ranges from 40 to 60 degrees. In the fall, winter and spring, dry gear is recommended. (My first time was inMarch and I froze. Came back in July and was fine in shorts.) Rent info: https://www.zionguru.com/narrows-rental-equipment  Hiking sticks/poles are a necessity. Go early to avoid the crowds as much as possible.

Mansard Trail, Kanab, UT Scenic hike with great views, rock formations, and petroglyphs!

Distance: ~5.2 miles

Elevation gain: 1,311 ft

Difficultly: Easy to moderate depending on your fitness level (1 easy scramble required midway)

I loved this little hike. A feast for the eyes and spirit–the vermillion cliffs, the white rocks, the green pines and Bristlecones, the incredible rock formations along the way, the sweeping views of Kanab and the plateaus of northern Arizona, and the big reward of the magnificent alcove with its amazing petroglyphs. The single-track, switchback trail is red dirt most of the way up and thick, fine sand for the last 1/2 mile – great trail running terrain. If you’re in the Kanab area – it’s an absolute must do! Perhaps you can see why…

Notes: No permits needed. Free parking. The petroglyphs date back to the Anasazi period 0 AD to about 1250 AD and are on the floor of the alcove. Take care not to touch or step on any of the ancient art as oil from your hands or your pets’ paws can destroy the petroglyphs.

Getting there: The trailhead us just 6 miles east of the center of Kanab at 4825-4826 Rock Edge Lane

Happy trails!

Spring Creek Canyon, A Perfect Little Fall Hike, Kanarraville, UT

Distance: ~5.5 Miles

Elevation: 948 ft

Difficulty: Easy to more difficult if you scramble/bushwhack your way further up the slot canyon

Terrain: Starts out as a sandy trail and gradually gets rockier. There are a couple of short slot canyon offshoots to the left and right to explore along the way. At about mile 2.5 the trail begins to disappear into the heavy overgrowth. Continue on if you’re up the challenge.

Located just outside the Kolob Canyons area of Zion National Park, Spring Creek slot canyon makes for a beautiful hike any time of year, but especially in leaf peeping season – as you can see why. There are a few minor creek crossings, but it’s relatively easy to keep your feet dry. (No water shoes needed.) I took the trail 4.5 miles up – if you’re going beyond 2.5 miles, I highly recommend hiking shoes and long pants.

Getting there: Take the I-15 to the Kanarraville Exit, and follow the main route to the south edge of town. At 400 South Main Street, take the route that heads southeast toward the cliffs. Follow it for about 0.82 miles to the parking area and trailhead.