Buckskin/Paria questions

RyanP

Formerly bob32
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Mar 1, 2015
Messages
312
I am considering Buckskin/Paria for sometime next year, and have several questions:
  1. When is the best time of year for this? I know that we’ll need a plan B in case there is flash flood danger, but I also plan on having a plan B in case there is too much water/mud/cesspools in Buckskin (I’ve heard a number of horror stories); what month will maximize my chances of success in Buckskin in that regards? I know it’s impossible to predict the weather; what I’m looking for here is general advice such as, “Apr/May tends to be drier in there than Oct” or whatever. I usually prefer cooler weather over the heat (mid-April tends to be my preferred time), but my top priority on this trip is minimizing the muck we have to wade through.
  2. Most people seem to go from Wire Pass to Lee’s Ferry, rather than from Lee’s Ferry to Wire Pass. Is there a particular reason for that? I don’t know much about the area (I haven’t researched it in depth yet), but it seems to me that there could be several advantages to starting at Lee’s Ferry and ending at Wire Pass: you would save the best (Buckskin) for last, you would save the longest/hardest day for last, and you would only have to carry your waste for that last day (correct me if I’m wrong about any of these). Also, from what I understand, there isn’t good water in Buckskin, so I’d rather carry that water on my last day when my pack is lighter. I’m guessing most people start with Buckskin because that direction is downhill? (there’s not much elevation gain so that doesn’t seem like much of an issue to me). I suppose most may prefer doing Buckskin on the first day, when the weather forecast is most reliable; is that the main reason people usually start with Buckskin? Are the views better one way than the other?
  3. I admit that pretty much all of the awesome pictures I’ve seen online for this trip are from the Buckskin Gulch section. Is it worth doing the entire trip to Lee’s Ferry, or should I just do a 2/3-day trip centered around the Buckskin section, and then go do a separate short trip somewhere else? If you loved the rest of Paria Canyon, please sell me on it! If I do this trip, I will do it with a group with multiple vehicles, so the car shuttle shouldn’t be an issue.
  4. If anyone has any recommended side trips or any general recommendations for an itinerary, please let me know. I’m looking for 6-13 miles per day or so, depending on the terrain difficulty. I’m tentatively thinking that four full days sounds about right, assuming the conditions in the canyon are reasonably dry (we’ll head somewhere else if current conditions/reports are bad); does four days sound about right?

Thanks in advance for any feedback!
 

LarryBoy

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1) total crapshoot, really just depends on recent weather. Dont stress about spring vs fall too much. If muckwalking isnt your thing, the Paria might not be the best choice.
2) it's more pleasant to walk with the direction of flowing water. Mich less splashy. Additionally, there is one obstacle in buckskin that is easier to go down as theres usually a handline in place. If the "rabbit hole" is open though, you can go either way. Rangers should know when you pick up your permit.
3) the last 10ish miles to Lee's ferry aren't that great. Everything else is cool.
4) if you do wire pass to Lee's ferry, be sure to head up the Paria for a few tenths when you get to the buckskin/Paria confluence to check out the cool arch rock thing. Also wrather arch.
 

powderglut

In search of Fresh
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Oct 17, 2012
Messages
367
The whole trip is definitely very worthy!! Spring tends to be more consistent as far as not flash flooding is concerned. I did it in Mid April a long, long, time ago. Weather was great. Water flow was pretty steady at that time of year (above the ankle to over knee deep) in the Paria. So.... you would not really want to be walking back upstream, since a big part of this hike is walking in the river. Although there is a first for everything if you want to try it Lee's Ferry up.
You never know with the Buckskin whether recent rains have left puddles and mud or.... if it's mostly dry. Again.... all my experience with Buckskin below Wire pass has been spiring, and it has never been too wet or muddy to deal with. My 2 cents
 

RyanP

Formerly bob32
Joined
Mar 1, 2015
Messages
312
Thanks for the replies! I think I've settled on going from Wire Pass to Lee's Ferry for the reasons you've mentioned, and I'll most likely do this in the Spring (Apr/May). Does anyone have any tips for must-see side trips? Is four days probably sufficient, or would that be rushing it?
 

LarryBoy

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I did it with a buddy in 3 days the two side trips mentioned above. But we also hiked fairly long days. It all depends on how much you like to sit around camp, cook breakfast, etc. Without knowing your style it's tough to say. For most people, either 4 or 5 days is probably the norm. You just need to decide how much non-hiking you want to do on the trip.
 

Kmatjhwy

Wilderness Wanderer
Joined
Sep 23, 2016
Messages
563
Now as for the Buckskin and the Paria. It is Great! I have been down it three times, one in early spring, once in mid spring, and once in late spring. The mid spring was the best. Like Larry Boy, I have done the whole hike in like 3 days. Fabulous! But I never have started from Wire Pass, it was from the main trailhead on the Paria and down. And when I arrived at the Buckskin, dayhiked up the Buckskin which was fabulous. There is not many side drainages to dayhike in when going down the Paria like there is in the Escalante. Wrather Gulch and the Arch is Great! You will love it!
 

RyanP

Formerly bob32
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Mar 1, 2015
Messages
312
Awesome, thanks again! Sounds like 4 days is probably good for us.
 

Jammer

❤2Hike
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Feb 23, 2012
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641
Not sure if this is still the case, but... it used to be that the BLM would only issue permits for hiking DOWN to Lee's Ferry. The reason was that if one sets out on a 3-5 day trip from the bottom, the weather could change and be dangerous (flooding) by the time one arrives at the narrowest part of the canyon.
 

RyanP

Formerly bob32
Joined
Mar 1, 2015
Messages
312
Thanks Jammer. I'll definitely hike DOWN to Lee's Ferry for that reason as well as the other reasons posted here.
 

RyanP

Formerly bob32
Joined
Mar 1, 2015
Messages
312
Does anyone know if there are good campsite options in Buckskin Gulch itself? I realize it would be a dry camp if we needed to camp in Buckskin, which means carrying more water, but it looks like a very long day on day 1 (when the packs are heaviest) to make it all the way through Buckskin to the first reliable springs in Paria. Plus, I don't want to rush the Buckskin stretch! If anyone has any recommendations for where to camp on night 1, I'm all ears!
 

LarryBoy

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Does anyone know if there are good campsite options in Buckskin Gulch itself? I realize it would be a dry camp if we needed to camp in Buckskin, which means carrying more water, but it looks like a very long day on day 1 (when the packs are heaviest) to make it all the way through Buckskin to the first reliable springs in Paria. Plus, I don't want to rush the Buckskin stretch! If anyone has any recommendations for where to camp on night 1, I'm all ears!
There's something called the "middle route" which you should be able to get deets on by googling. Frankly though, it's probably just better to bust your butt and get all the way through the Buckskin on Day 1 and camp at one of the established campsites near the confluence. Otherwise you 1) have to do the middle route out of the canyon and back in the next morning, which is supposed to be pretty scary for some, and 2) have to carry two days of water, because the water in Buckskin is absolutely not potable in any way whatsoever.
 

Janice

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Dec 5, 2017
Messages
475
My family and I did a FABULOUS backpack trip from Wire Pass to Lee's Ferry over 4 nights in mid-June 2014. We camped the first night at the confluence; unless you attempt the Middle Route (we did not) there is no safe place before the confluence. The first day is long and hard - train ahead of time so carrying all your water won't be too hard! Even though the temps in June were hot, the first day you have a lot of shade due to the tall slot canyon. After that you're walking along the water and can cool off whenever you want - we hiked and dipped on and off the whole time. We got drinking water from the river and filtered so didn't worry about finding the springs. (We brought a light-weight collapsible bucket to let the water stand and have silt settle to the bottom, then filtered from that.) I was concerned about whether there would be enough water in the river for our drinking needs, but the rangers on the phone were super helpful, and I enjoyed checking out water levels (discharge and gage height) using this site: https://waterdata.usgs.gov/usa/nwis/uv?site_no=09382000. We loved seeing the change from narrow slot to wide canyon valley, so I highly recommend going all the way to Lee's Ferry. Unless things have changed in the past few years, you have to carry waste out the whole way, not just in Buckskin. It was much less gross than we had anticipated. The yellow bags they gave us (I assume they're the same now) were not too bad, and we used carabiners to clip the bags to the outside of our packs. Be careful of quicksand - use poles to test as you're walking. This was one of our favorite trips ever - hope you have a fantastic time!
 
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