The Longest and Deepest Slot Canyon in North America
I’m sure that you’ve heard of the world-renown hiking trails of the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, no? The area’s extreme plateaus, escarpments and slot canyons shapes this 112,000-acre the trails that we hike amongst! This canyon’s river, that leads to fill-up the Colorado River, has been explored by many since the John Lee days in 1872 and still are today! For different reason, of course! At one time, mineral such as gold and uranium were exploited in this area and now, this area is hiked for pure enjoyment. Are you all ready and prepared to see what this Arizona reserve has in store?
1. Know that if you would like to spend a night in this area, you need a permit!
Yes, this is true! Although the permits are not expensive at $5 per night per adventurer, the park only allows 20 visitors to stay overnight each night! For that reason alone, it is critical to book the permits out way in advance! As a matter of fact, we personally, as Arizona Hiking Adventures, tend to purchase our permits around 4 months in advance! Don’t procrastinate on this one folks! Where can you purchase and issue a permit? Here is the website to do so: https://www.blm.gov/az/paria/. I know that it sounds crazy that only 20 people, with a group limit size of 10, are allowed to sleep in the canyon each night, but this is for two simple reasons that will be explained further down below; control and safety. 2,000 food cliffs are nothing to mess around with!
2. On a scale of 1 to 10, this hike is rated on a 7 for danger!
How dangerous can walking through a recommended for experienced hikers slot canyon get?! Well, to answer your own question, very dangerous. The main reasoning for this danger rating is from the sudden flash floods that plummet through this area. The most severe season tends to be between July and September, but this is not the only time that these natural disasters can take place. Not only are overflowing, large amounts of water, beyond its normal confines, especially over what is normally dry land, disasters in nature, but they also emit danger for humans. This is because, at times, the slot canyons are so confined that they are nearly shoulder-width in their proximity, for miles on end. For this reason, and including the fact that the walls of the canyons go straight-up, climbing them in a flood-like situation would be near impossible. Unless you’re Spider Man of course… Just trying to lighten the mood a lithe bit! But really, taking precautions is a serious matter. What can you do to avoid disasters? It is strongly recommended to obtain up-to-date weather information through rangers and check-in and out at a station. Some, but not all stations, include, White House, Buckskin, Wire Pass and Lees Ferry. Also, one other tip, as well as a regulation by the park itself, dictates that overnight camping is not allowed in these confined areas. It is important to keep in mind that the rangers use their judgment and will actually close the canyon if the weather conditions are potentially too extreme. Thank goodness! Floods that can last up to 12 hours are nothing to mess with, wouldn’t you say?!
3. You should have at least 5 days to hike this Canyon!
Doesn’t trekking through that slot canyon look like a “blast”?! It is strongly suggested to have at least 5 days to hike the Paria Canyon for many reasons. Although the backpacking adventure can be obtained successfully in 4 subsequent days, most prefer to take longer on the moderately difficult 38-mile adventure hike. Why is this? This is because of the large amount of river crossings. Also, off the beaten path, there lye a large number of other canyons that are awesome to explore! Extra exploring obviously equals more time! Give yourself the time or you may be sorry that you didn’t!
4. On that note, you have to go check-out Wrather Canyon Arch!
You have to go check this 200-foot arch out! Did you know that this arch is one of Arizona’s largest?! At only one mile away from the normal path, we are confident that it is worth the venture and will take away your breath! Check out the picture below for a little, quick preview. Incredible, isn’t it? Hang onto your map, however, because we have heard a lot of rumble about this being not an easy place to find! Veering southwest at mile 20.6, on the Paria trail, will indeed lead you to the correct spot! We have never had a problem!
5. The biggest complaint on the trail is cold feet!
Oh no! No one wants cold feet! How to prevent this? It is in the Spring that waist-deep levels of water can inhibit this area. This is the main reason for cold feet; wet feet! Lighter-material boots are recommend here, as well as amphibious trail shoes, that help drain-out all of the water. For further information on these types of trail shoes and boots, check out our shoe blog! Have you ever heard of the term “jungle boots?” Well, this is what you will be needing here!
6. Just because there is an ample amount of flowing water available, this does not mean that it is safe to drink just as is!
Just think about it… What could potentially be flowing down the river stream? Uh… Oh man! Gross! All I can think of are the Kangaroo Rats and bald Eagles that inhibit this area… Flowing water would be great to drink if you were at the very beginning of the water source, but the chance of this is slim! Yes, flowing water has an ample amount of contamination. Although there are several rumors of flowing water being okay to drink, this is not true. The high silt content of this water source is also not a good thing. Treating this water with iodine should always be done, even if the water looks clean! Refer to our other, recent, blog about water drinking, while out on the trail, for more information. One idea and source of comfort to keep in mind is that as long as the iodine runs out, out here, as the river flows always, at least, ankle deep, you will never run out of water! Yay!
7. The best times to hike this area is from March to June and September to October, however, these are also the busiest times.
Temperatures are not too hot in the day and not too cold at night… Sounds like the perfect time to hike this area to me! Also, these are not in the dates of the most frequent flash flooding times! Bonus!
8. Carry a walking stick with you! Quicksand alert!
No, not that kind of walking stick!!! It is strongly encouraged to walk with a walking stick on this hike. Quicksand is definitely an issue here and problems can be avoided by probing a submerged area to check if it is a quicksand area or not. Thankfully, these areas usually do not make people sink more than to their waist, but who needs that set-back? See, it’s a good thing that you did not just take 4 days to complete this hike! See, the guy below has two sticks! Even better!
9. Arrange a shuttle or have a car parked at each end of this one-way hike!
Even though the shuttle is fairly expensive, if you do not have a car at each end of this one-way hike or another ride back, you better take it or else you may be S.O.L. Hahaha! You can arrange a shuttle ride through this website: http://www.blm.gov/az/st/en/arolrsmain/paria/shuttles.html. Cars can be parked in one area for a total of 14 days. One specific trailhead is, the exit trailhead at Lonely Dell Ranch near Lees Ferry, 44 miles southwest of Page via US 89 and 89A.
10. The great value of having a guide with you, versus, going alone!
No, we are not trying to toot our own horns, but really, you should come with us! The excelled safety precautions and ample knowledge that our guides have in this area are reason enough! Join us, this year on a custom trip in September and October!
We cannot wait to get out there either and now’s the optimal time to book your trek,
Arizona Hiking Adventure Guides.