Difficulty: Easy, fire road, single track, slick rock
If you can get over the fact that you’re hiking alongside the 15 freeway (within sight and sound), this area still delivers big rewards. Whether you hike or mt. bike it, the panoramic views are stunning in every direction from Pine Valley Mt. to Zion. This area seems to capture the best golden light for spectacular sunsets. There’s more than meets the eye, here, at first it seems like just open landscape, but, there ae many nooks and crannies to explore—washes, mini slots, etc…The cluster of mammoth red, temple like, “Church Rocks” is a fun to explore. Watch for the hawks and swallows that have made this area their home.
Getting there: exit 13 from I-15 N, turn left onto Washington Pkwy and park in the parking spots. Red Cliffs Recreation area: You can access the Church Rocks Trail from the Grapevine Trail, Dino Cliffs Trail or to the south and Prospector to the north.
Note: The 100% exposed so be prepared with adequate water, hat, and sunscreen.
Distance: You choose: 1.7 to Buckskin Gulch, 6 miles to Buckskin Gulch Trailhead, 13 miles to Paria Canyon
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