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buckskin gulch flash flood

Bridget recently posted…My Plans for 2021 – Will I return to the Appalachian Trail? Likewise, the White House Trailhead Road can also be impassable after inclement weather. The Lees’ Ferry Road is paved so there are no concerns getting to this trailhead if you opt for the longer multi-day backpacking journey. google_ad_height = 60; It is also possible to day hike from either trailhead, returning the way you went in. Wire Pass Trail follows a desert wash (AKA a dry creek bed) to a gorgeous slot canyon, called Buckskin Gulch. In the second part of this series, find out how Flat Stanley, and the rest of us, manage to escape the flash flood and learn Navajo. In Brown’s book, the newly-flat Stanley quickly learns how to sneak under doors into locked rooms and visit faraway places through the mail. Flat Stanley doesn’t seem hungry. “But I’ve only felt two rain drops, the sky looks mostly clear, and we can always hike out through Middle Route if we have to.”. This trail offers the fastest (and prettiest, in my opinion) access to the slot canyon areas of Buckskin Gulch. Rich arrives, takes one look at the steep ascent route leading to our possible campsites, and then looks at me and Wendy as though we’ve gone crazy. The recommended route requires a shuttle. This magical place that was carved by water has very little water in it for most of the year. Backpacker Magazine lists Buckskin as one of the 10 most dangerous hikes in America because of the flood potential. The only place to camp inside Buckskin Gulch is at the confluence with Paria Canyon (and by permit-only). Buckskin Gulch to Middle Route GPS track (download GPX or KML). Buckskin Gulch is a part of the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument and is open year-round. /* 468x60 Banner */ Buckskin Gulch can also be taken on as a long day hike or as an out-n-back though you will have to determine when is best to turn back. I have worked hard to live a life of travel in the fleeting moments between work. Before you leave, you’ll want to park two cars, one at Wire Pass and one at your endpoint (probably White House Trailhead). I’ve traveled to over 50 countries while writing this travelogue. This takes us longer than expected due to our last-minute decision to hike the entire distance of Buckskin Gulch and the Paria Canyon, from Wire Pass to Lee’s Ferry, a much longer trip than the typical two-day Buckskin Gulch-only hike. But after another half mile of hiking, between canyon walls reaching nearly 500 feet above us, everyone in the group feels a couple raindrops. You’ll need to drive 8.3 miles down a dirt road to get there, so you may prefer a high-clearance vehicle. There are 20 backpacking permits issued per day in the Paria Canyon Overnight Permit system for all the Paria Canyon Campsites and they are all issued in advance. It was just getting dark when the flash flood … I highly recommend this provider. Fortunately, for the most part, the risk of a flash flood is manageable. Bring plenty of water. Check with the Grand Staircase- Escalante National Monument Visitor Center in Kanab, UT for the most up-to-date conditions before heading to any of the trailheads. Flat Stanley is the title character in Jeff Brown’s 1964 children’s book, which tells the story of a child who is flattened when a falling bulletin board crushes him while he’s sleeping. I watch it as the displayed coordinates become closer to matching those of the emergency exit. Copyright © 2020 by Hank Leukart, All Rights Reserved. August and early September are especially dangerous due to the monsoon and risk of flash flooding in the canyon. (view all Buckskin Gulch, Utah photos). "One's destination is never a place, but always a new way of seeing things." As Jen tells it to me, the story strikes me as surprisingly scary and morbid, especially in a book meant for children, but then I remember enjoying as a kid the terrifying stories of genius children’s writer Roald Dahl. Hiking Buckskin Gulch is a truly amazing journey and one that I highly recommend to anyone prepared for the challenges and dangers of this epic adventure. “But no one has ever found the Middle Route,” Suzanne argues. Next to the water-susceptible Flat Stanley, she is the most risk-adverse hiker in our group. This means that the entire month of permits for April for instance becomes available on January 1st at noon (MDT). If you are headed to Page then we recommend checking out either Big John’s Texas BBQ or the Fiesta Mexicana Restaurant. Visit the Paria Ranger Station (62 miles east of Kanab, Utah) on the day before your hike to discuss the weather report, flash flood risks, and available water sources with the Ranger. West Clark Bench, Bridger Point and Pine Hollow Canyon are the USGS 7.5 minute topographical maps that show Buckskin Gulch. We begin looking obsessively for the enigmatic Middle Route. This is not for anyone with a strong fear of heights. Late February to Late May & Late September to Early December are the best times to explore the canyon with milder temperatures. But soon after we pass a panel of Native American petroglyphs depicting desert bighorn sheep on the canyon wall near the junction of Wire Pass and Buckskin Gulch, I hear the sound of a single thunder clap. It is jointly managed by the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument which is why backpackers pick up their permits at the Grand Staircase visitor center in Kanab, Utah. Kanab Field Office 669 S Highway 89A Kanab, UT 84741. There is also another decent campsite a short distance down the Paria on the left. Start hiking in the morning, leaving immediately at dawn. There is a downclimb of 15 feet close to the confluence. There are additional sites inside Paria Canyon but they require a few more miles of hiking on the first day. But she and I manage the ascent, and we name our secluded sleeping area, The Penthouse. Peekaboo Canyon Wood Fired Kitchen is also a tasty choice especially if you prefer an all-vegetarian menu. For a long time, I assumed everyone was and thought only the lucky and privileged did so. It is a part of the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument which spans Utah and Arizona. Sticky mud pools are a common hazard in Buckskin Gulch. Backpacker Magazine even ranked Buckskin Gulch as one of America’s ten most dangerous hikes due to floods. It can be done as a long day hike, if you are in good shape, but is best as an overnight backpack. There is a surreal irony to hiking Buckskin Gulch—the world’s longest slot canyon. We still don’t think we have seen the Middle Route, but we don’t know exactly what it looks like — everything we’ve read about it only describes a slight widening and lowering of the surrounding canyon walls. To protect Flat Stanley from certain death, I heroically carry him above the water and mud. It’s not “if” but “when” in this canyon. A log stuck in the narrow walls of Buckskin Gulch, about 40 feet (12 m) above the ground level, August 2009. Carrying Flat Stanley, I begin scrambling up the precipitous, rocky trail and discover two sandstone ledges (known as “benches” in canyoneering parlance) protruding from the side of the canyon walls, high above the canyon floor, which will be perfect sites to pitch our tents. Flat Stanley marvels at the scenery in Buckskin Gulch. Hikers climb up sandstone formations on the Middle Route near Buckskin Gulch. ARIA CANYON-VERMILLION CLIFFS WILDERNESS, Utah — “Meet Flat Stanley,” my sister Jen says to me as I’m about to leave her house. //-->. As you traverse through the slot, red sandstone rises 100-200 feet above above your head where it entirely blocks the sun to create an eery-majestic atmosphere. A journey into Buckskin Gulch in the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument isn’t for the faint of heart or claustrophobic. Remember to check the National Weather Service for flash flood reports before heading out. “I am not turning back now,” Wendy says firmly. Apparently, it’s notoriously difficult to find, partly because it’s camouflaged by the orange sandstone, and partly because GPS devices don’t function in the deep canyon. From the trailhead parking lot to the junction with Buckskin Gulch, it is 1.7 miles one-way if you follow the wash and not the side trails. It is recommended to have a high-clearance vehicle to reach either of the two trailheads but most of the time any vehicle can make the journey. If the sky above you is clear, this doesn’t mean that you’re necessarily safe. As we continue, the canyon narrows, the standing pools of water get colder, and the mud gets deeper. “Look, if it starts actually raining, I agree that we should turn back,” I say. You will need to drive back into Kanab, UT or Page, AZ to find good grub. Because of the nature of this canyon and Utah topography this canyon is subject to deadly flash flood if it rains anywhere along the headwaters. Buckskin Gulch is a natural wonder. (Note: When I talked to the Ranger, she told me that there was no predicted rain. But, finally, we spot a steep route up the walls, across jagged, sand-covered stone, on the canyon’s left side. Buckskin Gulch is the longest and narrowest slot canyon in the world - a serpintine hallway with walls of solid stone and a floor dotted with boulders where in some places it's so tight, even the sky is not visible. Despite the risk, this is known as one of the best canyon hikes anywhere. Yet a day hike option via Wire Pass Trail is moderately easy, and should be a must-do tour on any hiker's list. About 5 miles after the Wire Pass and Buckskin Gulch intersection there is a sand bar on the left side of the canyon with a rather intimidating 100’ accent up the slightly slanted wall. Buckskin Gulch (named on some maps as Kaibab Gulch, or The Dive) is a tributary of the Paria River that drains an area around the Vermilion Cliffs in far south Utah and joins the Paria exactly at the Utah/Arizona border, 20 miles from Lees Ferry next to the Colorado River. The Buckskin Gulch part of the hike is 13 miles long which makes for a lengthy first day. If we choose to continue, we must reach one of these two exits, because camping on the floor of the canyon is a recipe for certain death in the case of a flash flood. However, the summer months can be deadly hot and are not recommended. If you aren’t certain you are up to this challenge yet, I would recommend doing either a day hike or a backpack through The Narrows in Zion National Park first to determine your ability for such a journey. So, my friends and I agree to try to give Flat Stanley the adventure of his short, crayon-filled life. I filmed a flash flood in Buckskin Wash / Gulch on 7/29/17. If you can, apply for your start date up to four months in advance using the, The closest major airports are Las Vegas and Salt Lake City; the closest regional airports are St. George, Cedar City, and Flagstaff. The canyon is very deep and narrow so GPS devices are almost completely useless and actual distance can’t be measured reliably. Pinned it for later. Note: there are multiple trailheads that provide access to Buckskin Gulch. You don’t … “Take him with you wherever you go and take pictures,” Jen demands. The canyon is typically no wider than ten feet and gets as narrow as two feet. Buckskin Gulch has no toilets. There is a pit toilet at White House Campground as well as the Wire Pass Trailhead but the hiking trail has no facilities in it. According to the park’s service, this is 13.2 miles from Wire Pass so the first day is a long one. Buckskin Gulch . In the case of an unpredicted rainstorm, we have read about the existence of a single, treacherous escape route, halfway through the canyon, called Middle Route. Buckskin Gulch is a good p0lace to visit to have a fun time. Seven hikers from Boulder, Colorado, were caught napping in a flash flood in the Buckskin Gulch late Saturday evening. This is not a bad thing as it is so narrow that any water it does get quickly pools and can become very dangerous, very quickly. They selected the spot with a flash flood in mind. My nephew’s school project requires him to send his Flat Stanley, escorted by friends and relatives, to adventurous and exotic places. Flat Stanley appears unconcerned. A flash flood while in Buckskin Gulch is deadly. BLM-Buckskin Gulch Website - This website offers a good overview of information you’ll need to hike in the Buckskin Gulch area. A log sits, wedged between the walls of Buckskin Gulch, from a previous flash flood. My Plans for 2021 – Will I return to the Appalachian Trail. On a whole, this road is a less rough road but the washboarding can be rough. However, for those who take on the world’s longest slot canyon otherworldly beauty awaits around every turn and there are a lot of turns. Because of flash floods digging a cathole isn’t a viable solution and the canyon is a sensitive ecosystem so use the wag bag in your time of need. A wag bag is specifically designed for capturing and securely transporting human waste. While backpacking the canyon requires acquiring a permit well in advance of your trip, day hiking only requires filling out a day-use permit and a small cash fee ($6 as of 2020) at one of the two trailheads and placing it in your vehicle. WARNING: Flash Floods Occur Here – They Can Kill You! Paria Canyon and its tributaries average eight flash floods a year. Ominous clouds appear overhead while hiking near Wire Pass. Day-hikers can purchase a day-use permit at any of the trailheads for a small cash fee ($6 as of 2020). The driver was on time and very professional with loads of recommendations for exploring more of the area. !” Rich asks me, nervously. You will also receive special human waste bags, because you must pack and carry out human waste. A boy made of paper, and five other hikers, traverse Buckskin Gulch’s Middle Route. With 15 miles of undulating narrows between near-vertical walls, Buckskin Gulchis definitely the longest slot canyon in America, and likely the world. Still, flash floods can happen any time of year, and we will only enter the canyon if it’s safe. “Good night, Flat Stanley,” I say to him. A hiker gazes at the canyon walls of Buckskin Gulch. Don’t forget to pick up your backpacking permit at the Grand Staircase visitor center in Kanab, Utah before heading to any of the trailheads. Sadly, there is no food anywhere near the trailheads. However, taking that route makes the entire journey 47.5 miles in length. My friend Wendy and I have obsessively checked the weather report over the past week, and meteorologists predict no rain during our trip. Buckskin Gulch presents numerous hiking difficulties such as miles of streambed strewn with small cobble stones making footing difficult, threats of flash floods, large and deep stagnant pools of cold water that may require swimming, and log and rock jams, such as the one encountered at Mile 14.5. I’m a filmmaker, writer, and travel addict. It is fraught with potential deadly threats from dehydration, venomous snakes, challenging terrain, no GPS or cell service, rockslides, and the ever-present real danger of flash floods. With their steep, narrow passages, slot canyons are especially susceptible to flash flooding, so hikers should never venture into Buckskin Gulch while it is raining or when rain is in the forecast. Obtain an accurate weather forecast prior to entering the canyon. Flat Stanley, always mysteriously pensive, stays silent on the matter. If you can find it, you may choose to spend the night eight miles in, high above the canyon, at the Middle Route escape trail. But I imagine that the Bureau of Land Management won’t object to us taking a sixth hiker, one about the size of a Frisbee and weighing less than one ounce. Flash floods up to 100 feet high rip through Buckskin Gulch, as evidenced by full-sized logs wedged dozens of feet over your head. After reaching Paria Canyon (probably on the second day), you will have an 8-mile hike to the White House Trailhead. While the campsite known as the Confluence is actually in Buckskin Gulch it is only barely and is considered a part of the Paria Canyon permit system. There is a trickle of water from a natural spring near the Confluence Campsites (13.2 miles from the Wirepass Trailhead) but it can be hard to filter so little water. “I think we should turn back now,” says a worried Suzanne. Buckskin Gulch is best explored as a multi-day backpacking trip but a permit is needed and the process is very competitive. Although, most of the time it is traversable by a 2 wheel drive vehicle. I suppose that the scariest children’s stories are also usually the best. In case you need to go while inside the canyon the park’s service is kind enough to supply a wag bag to all backpackers when you arrive to pick up your permit. I like its natural beauty and rock formation. Every drop of water you drink in the canyon should be carried in. I believe traveling slowly across landscapes is important. We’re all relieved to be the only people in the history of time to have found the Middle Route, resting safely, high above the canyon floor. The extended exposure to flash flood danger makes Buckskin one of the country's most dangerous slots: Rarely more than 10 feet wide, the eerie corridor is 400 feet deep at … However, after inclement weather, the road can be impassable even to 4×4 vehicles. These services will ask you to drive your car to your endpoint, then they will drive you to Wire Pass. “Did you hear that? But what my sister doesn’t realize is that, unluckily for Stanley, flash floods pose a significant danger to hikers attempting Buckskin Gulch. google_ad_slot = "2575306589"; Luckily, we’ve spent ample time in both of these towns and have a few recommendations. Under an extraordinarily dark and starry sky, we make macaroni and cheese for dinner. In the canyon itself, the temperature was very pleasant: probably 70F. This isn’t to say there isn’t any water in Buckskin Gulch. This is a lot of water weight to start with and although it is the safest way to do the journey I might have banked more on the spring water if I had to do it again. Regardless of what list you place it on, Buckskin Gulch is a geologic wonder that is actually very accessible, doable, and immensely rewarding if you prepare properly. I even concede that Flat Stanley won’t require us to carry any extra supplies considering that he doesn’t eat much and, since he’s made of paper, water is his mortal enemy. On the contrary, even after months of drought muddy pools of water remain in some of the tightest sections of the traverse. If dry, the wash is very sandy to walk through with no shade. Due to the popularity of Buckskin Gulch, we reserved five of the required camping permits two months ago. Backpacking permits are required for overnighting at any of the campsites along the Paria Canyon corridor. Now, my wife and I travel as a way of life. Of course, I’m not sure how this will help us, assuming that my GPS device won’t work in the canyon. Buckskin Gulch is located along the Utah/Arizona border, near Kanab. Most hiking blogs we’ve read suggest that very few hikers have ever found the route, but I find one blog that provides the exit’s geographic coordinates. Soon, it becomes obvious that we won’t make it to the first safe campsite before dark. The springtime can also bring dangerous flooding based on winter snow. Post was not sent - check your email addresses! I was born to roam. Twelve hours later, while camped above the canyon, we still experienced a flash flood. Buckskin Gulch experiences several flash floods every year. We feel like we’re on a mission with Victorian explorer John Cabot, searching for a Northwest Passage that we’re sure exists but consistently eludes us. She hands me a mock child, made from white poster board and colored with crayons by my nephew, Luke. On the morning of our hike, we park two cars, one at each end of our planned route. - Henry Miller. Don’t get me wrong, … We hike slowly, giving us time to enjoy the fantastic, alien scenery fully and take photos. The endpoint for the Buckskin Gulch trail is typically the White House Trailhead & Campground. I haven’t felt any raindrops.”. You may also choose to hike all the way to the Lee’s Ferry Trailhead to complete the entire length of the Paria Canyon, but allow yourself four days to do this. Backpacker Magazine even ranked Buckskin Gulch as one of America’s ten most dangerous hikes due to floods. The canyon changes after every flash flood so go prepared. I think sightseeing is boring. At 15 miles long it is the longest slot canyon in the world. Buckskin Gulch is located in the southwestern part of Utah very close to the Arizona border. A tent sits high on a ledge near the Middle Route, in a place we named The Penthouse. A wall of raging water and debris can come rushing down the narrows of Buckskin Gulch when there’s heavy rain in southern Utah. The floodwaters originated in the headwaters of the Buckskin, far north of the slot canyon itself, from a monsoonal downpour not … It is the longest and deepest slot canyon in the Southwest and offers obstacles like rock jams, pools, quicksand, and the potential for flash floods.

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