Backpacking Buckskin Gulch

In southern Utah lies Buckskin Gulch, reportedly the deepest and longest slot canyon in the world and arguably the most beautiful as well.  If you’re a backpacker or a hiker, this should be on your bucket list.  The canyon rarely expands more than 20-30 feet wide along its serpentine 13-mile course and its walls average about 60-90 feet in height. Near the eastern end of the canyon, the walls reach heights of over 300 feet!  In some areas, one has to squeeze through slots less than 3 feet wide.  With each turn, sunlight plays a different game with the naturally-sculpted sandstone. Sometimes, light barely makes it in at all.

Along with the two-days supplies I brought on my back, I also packed a tripod and my Canon EOS 40D digital SLR camera.  I plan on posting more details about this hike and how to hike it, but first, a few photos:


The sunlight bounced around the canyon bringing out amazing colors in the sandstone.




Group shot, taken after about 6 miles of hiking. (i.e. before The Cesspools!)



Alyse & Remi entering The Cesspools, an area of the canyon that stays dark and wet year round.


Although labeled as "The Cesspools" on most guidebooks, this area was recently nicknamed "The Pudding Pools." It really felt like you were sloshing through pudding!


Almost out of one of 7-8 pools of mud.


We tried to stay out of the mud as much as possible. Luckily for us, some areas that would have been muddy a week ago had dried and hardened.


When I started this hike, my pants were forest green.


One of the openings in the canyon. The temperature change in the canyon was incredible, sometimes dropping ten degrees in just a few steps.


Notice the dry muddy waterline on the wall behind Alyse & Remi, a sign that flash floods do happen. In fact, flash flooding is what makes Buckskin Gulch one of the ten most dangerous hikes in the US, according to Backpack Magazine. Flash floods can bring a wall of water over 100 feet tall through the canyon.


Nearing the Paria River, the eastern end of the slot canyon.


Our campsite near the confluence with the Paria River. The walls of the canyon stood over 300 feet in this area. The two walls of the canyon meet about 150 yards behind my tent, where the dark stone meets the lighter stone.

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