Backpacking through Paria Canyon

Howells Outdoors

Adventure is my middle name...actually it's Keith.
Sep 26, 2012
I need to play catch up on my Backcountry Posts!
This was originally posted on the Deuter Blog, because I’m an ambassador (their backpacks are AMAZING).


There is nothing better than heading out into new backcountry. Actually there is something better: when the location exceeds all your expectations.
That was the case on the four-day hike down Paria Canyon. This canyon blew me away. Had I known what this place was like, I would’ve explored there a long time ago.
The trail starts in Utah and ends 38 miles later at Lee’s Ferry in Arizona. It follows the Paria River from the trailhead through the geologic history — 85 million years worth — of the Colorado Plateau.
I loaded up my Deuter ACT lite 40+10 and took off for Whitehouse Trailhead, roughly halfway between Kanab, Utah, and Page, Arizona along Highway 89.
I was pretty proud of what I was able to squeeze into my backpack: four days worth of camping gear and my camera supplies. The backpacker-from-a-few-years-ago in myself said, “Wow! Nicely done.” With all my emergency gear and everything else I was barely over 25 lbs.
Just a few miles from the trailhead the river has cut deep into the Navajo sandstone, forming massive cliffs on either side. When I’m down in a canyon like that, with walls that are 10 feet apart and 400 feet tall, I get a good sense of just how small I and my problems are.
Each meander in the canyon brought a better view and then a better view.

Each step you take in this canyon could be a regular step or it could be a quicksand-up-to-your-thigh step. So fun and exciting to hiking like that. At one point I was walking on all these rocks and my left foot found a hole that dropped below my thigh. Every thing around my leg was solid ground, but I was stuck up to the my waist on one foot.
Pretty exciting!
About day two of the trip We were hanging out and it started to rain on us. We darted under an alcove to avoid getting soaked and figured it was a good time to eat lunch. While we were sitting there something came floating over the rim of the canyon a few hundred feet up there.

It was a pink star-shaped balloon from some party somewhere. This is why you don’t let those things go. Eventually they fall and become trash out in the middle of nowhere…places where people go to escape from the trash piles in the city.
Anyways it came down and turned into a companion of mine as it floated the rest of the canyon connected to my pack.

The whole canyon was awesome.

Featured image for home page:
Love love love it. I get so sick of seeing mylar balloons in the wilderness. People need to stop letting them go like that.
Nice report. My favorite day pack is my deuter, they make some good stuff. You didn't sound too worried when it rained, were you not in a dangerous spot?
Nice report. My favorite day pack is my deuter, they make some good stuff. You didn't sound too worried when it rained, were you not in a dangerous spot?
We weren't concerned where we were at. We were out of the narrowest sections of the Paria. The corners were all large flat camping areas at least 15 ft. above the river with large cottonwoods and plant life.
In June 2007 I did a day hike from White House down to the confluence of Buckskin then up Buckskin an hour, then back. It was my first adventure into slot country. I was hooked!!! Awe does not begin to express it. I will never forget the breaking of the absolute silence by the flapping of a ravens wings as it traveled down canyon. It was a 100 degree day and my boys will tell you "and his pee was an unnatural color by the time he got out." This trip has lead to numerous Buckskin Gulch, Coyote Buttes (North and South) and White Pockets treks.
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