The Best Hike In Utah (Buckskin Gulch Slot Canyon)
Hello, My name is Shane, and I am an addict…. My addiction is nature and the outdoors. Yep, you heard me right. I feel most alive when I am far away from any and all civilization. I just can’t get enough of the outdoors and exploring the places not many others go. When I find that perfect camping spot in a perfectly unlike place after a hike or a drive, the dopamine just sours. But I can never stay in one place for long. My wife says I am probably a direct descendant from the nomads or the gypsy people. If you’re here to read about the outdoors, maybe you have some nomad in you too and we may just be distant relatives.
Now, let’s get down to business. I assume you are reading this blog post because you are looking for a good hike. So, let me tell you about one of the most incredible hikes you may ever go on. It is called Buckskin Gulch and it is supposedly one of the longest slot canyons in the world. This is a hike that you must put on your bucket list. I have hiked all over Utah and this is by far one of my favorites in the state. The slots canyon at times goes uninterrupted for miles and miles, 10 to 15 miles at one point.
Buckskin Gulch Hike
The entire hike is about 21 miles and is best done in two days. That way you can enjoy the sights along the way. That said, I actually want to tell you mostly about just the first few miles, a shorter version that you can do with the entire family; including children.
The last time I was there was in November 2015 and we were lucky to have great weather. Always a good idea to check ahead on the weather. We drove down Saturday to Kanab and got a hotel. problematically we ended up sleeping in on Sunday and didn’t actually get to the hike until noon. If we didn’t have work on Monday it wouldn’t have been an issue but that wasn’t the case. Instead of just forgetting the whole thing, we decided to venture in as far as we could.
We only went in 3 miles and then came back out, which took us about 4 hours. Of course we wanted to do the whole hike, but even the short bit we tackled was surprisingly good. The sights we got to see were amazing and you can be sure we took pictures. If you decide to only go in a few miles before turning around, you will still leave completely satisfied and in awe. So, if you do have kids along for the trip and can’t do the entire hike it will still be worth going in just a few miles.
Some Things To Keep In Mind
As you venture through the slot canyon you will encounter some obstacles. You will have to slosh through water and mud at spots, which will slow you down for sure. It’s never a bad idea to bring an extra pair of socks. If you really want to go the extra mile you can even carry 2 pairs of shoes and change them between the water and the dry ground.
If you were to get to the trail head by 7am to 8am you could hike in pretty far and make a good day of it. Just make sure to pack plenty of water, especially in the summer. Remember, Buckskin Gulch Slot Canyon is in the desert so you will need to drink. If you do end up tackling the whole 21 mile hike don’t be fooled either. 21 miles may not sound like a lot, but when you have wet or rocky areas that slow you down, it takes more effort and time.
Beware! I have heard you may encounter rattlesnakes on this hike, unless you go during the coldest months of course. But during the summer definitely need to keep a watchful eye out. I’ve that they are usually not aggressive even in the summer, because of the cool dampness of the canyon, but still be on the watch. Better safe than sorry the old saying goes.
Getting To The Trailhead
Let’s start from Kanab, Utah. Once you get into Kanab you will head East on Hwy 89 toward Page, AZ. you will follow Hwy 89 for 38 miles before the turn off onto the road called, The Cockscomb, which will be to your right. Right pass the turn off there is a sign that says “ICY ROAD” and it is right before a cut out in the mountain that the road goes though. Don’t go through the cut out in the mountain or else you will have gone too far. There is not a sign for the road. It is paved for 50 yards and then turns into a dirt road.
The dirt road goes between two small mountain ranges and runs by a dried up riverbed. This place definitely has flash floods and would be unpassable in the rain. We were in luck with sunny blue skies. I drove a 2002 Lexus Sedan and made it just fine to the trailhead. Having an SUV would be nice but it was very doable in a car. You will head on this road for about 8 miles until you come to a parking lot on your right. This is called Wire Pass Trailhead. The parking lot is a good size, but more importantly, there are bathrooms here too. The trail is on the opposite side of the road from the parking lot. Head on down to the river bottom and get ready to be amazed. It will be about a mile before you get to the first slots. Continue and you will not be disappointed.
I really hope you get the chance to head to Southern Utah at least once in your life, if not more, because there are a lot of amazing hikes there, especially Buckskin Gulch Slot Canyon. If you like the outdoors this may become one of your favorite hikes. In fact, if you don’t like this hike there may just be something wrong with you, haha.
It’s a beautiful world, so get out there and see it!
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