Buckskin Gulch is popular, potentially hazardous and part of the Paria Canyon - Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness
, so there are several rules regarding access. A fee is required for all visits (see https://www.blm.gov/
) for details. Day use is $6, camping $5, overnight trips must be booked in advance and are restricted to 20 people per day, though this limit is rarely reached.
MapTopoQuest topographic map of Buckskin Gulch
Photographs20 views of Buckskin Gulch
The Gulch has some open, shallower sections, but averages less than 10 feet wide for most of its length. There are always some residual pools of water and mud; the extent depends on how recently the canyon has flooded. Occasionally swimming will be necessary but normally the pools are just 2-3 feet deep and a few yards long.
The water is permanently cold and muddy, and the canyon is certainly not a place to take expensive footwear. The walking surface is roughly half sand - sometimes hard and damp but mostly soft and dry - and half stones or boulders, so progress is more difficult than might be expected as the terrain is largely flat. There are some places where the floor drops a few feet but none of the sheer dryfalls found in some other slot canyons.
The only possible problem is a pile of boulders, 1.5 miles from the end of the gulch, where the floor drops down by about 20 feet. A rope may be useful (and one is often left in place) but most people manage to climb down between the rocks. Each flood has the potential to make significant changes to the canyon, though, so these boulders may be more of an obstruction on some occasions. There is no drinkable water except for a clear, shallow stream that flows for the last half mile before the confluence with the Paria River.
The junction is a magical place, with a overpowering sense of isolation and adventure. The water of the Paria river is fast-flowing and light-brown colored, quite different to the clear lazy flow down the Gulch. There are some sandbanks but generally the river covers all of the canyon floor. The Paria is narrow for about 2 miles in each direction; downstream the gorge becomes wider
although still impressive, and eventually joins the Colorado at
. There are plenty of possible camp sites, and several fresh water sources on the way.
A detailed trip report