Experience the Adventure of a Lifetime in Buckskin Gulch

When you park at the Wire Pass trailhead, eight miles down a dirt road off SR-89, you wouldn’t know that beautiful slot canyons are hidden right around the bend. Starting at Wire Pass, hike 1.7 miles east through a wash toward Buckskin Gulch.

Once there, you can wander for as long as you want through the twisting canyon, which will continue to amaze every step you take.

I’d visited a nearby slot canyon before, but the Buckskin Gulch hike blew that one away. All I could say, as I stared at the canyon walls, were, “Oh my god,” “Holy shit,” and “This is amazing.” I’m sure you’ll do the same.

Everything you need to know about hiking Buckskin Gulch

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Buckskin Gulch Hike Arizona Utah

Quick Buckskin Gulch Hike Details

  • Starting Point: Wire Pass Trailhead (not Buckskin Gulch Trailhead)
  • Length: 1.7 miles to Buckskin Gulch, then the distance is up to you
  • Difficulty: Easy. It’s flat. Seasonally there could be water which increases the difficulty
  • Beauty: Holy moly!
  • Estimated Time: Plan 3-6 hours
  • Weather: Keep an eye out for the weather. Flash floods are deadly in slot canyons. Also, slot canyons can be much cooler than the daytime temps. Keep that in mind.

Looking for hikes in the Page, AZ, area? Check more out here. 

Buckskin Gulch Hike Arizona Utah
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Planning your trip to Buckskin Gulch

When should I visit Buckskin Gulch?

While the Vermillion Cliffs region’s weather conditions will allow you to do this year-round, it’s not that easy. Late summer monsoons can make this a deadly place due to flash floods. Additionally, this area of northern Arizona or southern Utah can see freezing temperatures in winter, which could make those unprepared not have a great time.

I would recommend fall or spring for the most optimal times, though if winter highs are in the 60s, you’ll have a wonderful time!

Looking for other Tours?
Book your Upper Antelope Canyon Slot Tour
Book Your Lower Antelope Canyon Tour
Less Visited Canyon X Tour
Visit Antelope Canyon via a boat

Do you need a reservation for Buckskin Gulch?

This is what makes Buckskin Gulch so amazing. You do not need a permit, as it is available to everyone on public land. You do have to pay a small permit fee on-site to access it, though.

However, in the grand scheme of things, no reservation is needed, and you can visit whenever you like and for as long as you like.

Buckskin Gulch Hike Arizona Utah

Where do I enter Buckskin Gulch?

There are a couple of different entrances to the Buckskin Gulch hike. After doing the specific Buckskin Gulch Trailhead the first time and failing to find it, I highly recommend Wire Pass Trailhead.

This is the most direct path for the best views of the slot canyons.

Getting to the Trailhead: Wire Pass to Buckskin Gulch

Take House Rock Valley Road 8 miles south of the 89 to Wire Pass Trailhead. There’s a large parking area, and you surely can’t miss it. Buckskin Gulch is a permitted area that requires a payment of $6 per person. It’s based on the honor system, but c’mon, $6 is hardly anything. They only take cash/check, so come prepared.

Trail Report: Hiking Buckskin Gulch

Once you arrive at the Buckskin Gulch trailhead, the hike begins across the road, and you’ll walk in the wash for the 1.3 miles to the first slot canyon. You’ll have another 0.3 miles to go before you hit Buckskin Gulch.

A hiker walks towards a rock arch near buckskin gulch.

Be aware there is a ladder you have to use. It’s sturdy enough, so don’t fret. It’s about 8 feet high, maybe, so take it slowly, but you’ll do fine!

Right before you enter the slot canyon, you’ll see a big arch. It’s pretty cool and offers a great place for photography!

Once you get to Buckskin Gulch, you’ll choose to go left or right. Go right.

From here, you’ll wander for as long as you want. Its predominately flat and in sand. If it recently rained, you might have some puddles (or worse), but for our trip, it was bone dry. Inside, it’s absolutely stunning, and you won’t be disappointed. The slot canyon opens up at various times, providing some spectacular views.

I was enamored by the views and how massive the walls were. I’ve seen a lot in my day and this was one of the most impressive views of my life.

Buckskin Gulch Hike Arizona Utah
@alecoutside Just wow. How is mother nature this amazing?!? #traveltiktok #adventure #hiking ♬ Solitude ( Felsmann + Tiley Reinterpretation) – Slowed Down – M83 & Felsmann + Tiley

Is Buckskin Gulch a hard hike?

I wouldn’t say so. If you’re doing a day hike, odds are you’ll only go a handful of miles, and in all, it will be less than an 8-mile trip. The portion that we did was nearly all flat. You are walking in sand, though, so that could wear some people down/slow you down.

How long of a hike is Buckskin Gulch?

At 14 miles long, Buckskin Gulch is one of the longest slot canyons in the world. However, only those backpacking will experience all of it. Most people hike in the 4-8 mile range.

I’m trying to remember how far we walked, but I don’t have the exact numbers. We did spend three or more hours inside, which seemed plenty. Though, I could have kept walking and exploring as it was gorgeous!

Our turnaround point was when the Buckskin Gulch slot canyon opened up into a much larger opening. We figured this was a good spot to eat some food and head back.

Can kids hike Buckskin Gulch?

Yes, yes! This would be perfect for kids. They will love being in the sand and seeing the cool textures of the slot canyons. Just remember to preach, leave no trace, and please do not let them carve anything into the rock.

Will I have cell service?

Cell service is not guaranteed and is unlikely in this remote part of the Arizona/Utah desert. Plan to download the maps or bring a satellite communication device in case of an emergency.

Are there bathrooms at the trailhead?

Yes, there are bathrooms at the Buckskin Gulch hike trailhead. This is also where you pay your small permit fee.

What Gear to Bring?

Just bring your standard hiking gear and attire. I will note it can be colder inside the slot canyons because there’s less sunlight. So if you plan to hike earlier or later in the day, bring an extra jacket just in case.

Additionally, make sure you have plenty of water and snacks. Even though this area can be cooler, you’re still in the desert, and being hydrated is crucial.

Where to Stay near Buckskin Gulch?

It’s about halfway between Page and Kanab, so you can choose where you want to stay depending on your travel plans.

Places to Stay in Kanab
Budget Lodging
Mid-Tier Lodging
Higher End Lodging

Places to Stay in Page
Budget Lodging
Mid-Tier Lodging
Luxury Lodging

FAQ: Buckskin Gulch Hike

Is Buckskin Gulch Dangerous?

It can be in the instance of flash floods. That’s why it is so important to keep an eye on the weather in the area to protect yourself and your group. But if there’s no rain in the forecast for where you are AND upstream, you’ll be fine.

Can you hike Buckskin Gulch without a tour?

Correct. No tours or guides are needed to explore the Buckskin Gulch slot canyons. It’s an affordable option for families and other visitors.

Any other cool places nearby to explore?

Oh yes, there is! You can check out Coyote Buttes South (permit required), The Wave (permit required), White Pocket, and Grand Staircase Escalante. These are some of the most beautiful and rugged areas in the entire country. But you’ll love it!

Buckskin Gulch Hike Arizona Utah
Buckskin Gulch Hike Arizona Utah

Overall Thoughts on the Buckskin Gulch Hike

This is phenomenal. I was 100% blown away by the wire pass to Buckskin Gulch adventure. It’s straightforward, and unless you’re backpacking, you really don’t need to bring much. Make sure to have water, some food/snacks, a camera, and a ready spirit.

The parking lot will probably be crowded, especially on the weekend. However, once you get into the slot canyons, people spread out, and you shouldn’t have too much of an issue with groups of people.

For those interested in taking photos, we got into the canyon around 2 pm, and the lighting was really lovely. It will change depending on where you are, but we had plenty of time when the tops of the canyon were lit up like gold.

Until next time adventurers, take care and be safe.

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Author: Alec Sills-Trausch

Title: Founder of Explore with Alec

Expertise: Hiking, Backpacking, Photography, and Road Trips

Alec Sills-Trausch is a hiker, backpacker, landscape photographer, and syndicated travel writer. He enjoys showing off the beauty of the world through his photos, videos, and written work on ExploreWithAlec.com. Alec is also a 2x cancer survivor and bone marrow transplant recipient, showing the world that there is a future from this terrible disease.

He lives in Washington, where he gets to enjoy the stunning PNW mountains in addition to all the other places he attempts to visit each year! You can see more work on IG at @AlecOutside