Buckskin Gulch from Wire Pass is a true bucket list hike. Thought to be the longest slot canyon in the world, its beauty will take your breath away.
Chris & Mac
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Length: 1.7 Miles to Junction of Wire Pass & Buckskin Gulch; Buckskin Gulch 16 Miles from End to End
Trailhead(s): Wire Pass Trailhead
Elevation Gain: Negligible
Trail Type: Out & Back
Dogs: Yes, $6 per Dog
Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous
Permit Required? Yes, $6 per Person Self-Issue at Trailhead
Considerations: Flash Flood Danger, May Require Wading or Swimming in Water, Rough Road to Trailhead, 8′ Ladder at Entry, Desert Hiking, Potable Water Not Available
Season: Year Round: Spring, Winter, Fall Preferred
Buckskin Gulch from Wire Pass is a true bucket list hike. Thought to be the longest slot canyon in the world, its beauty will take your breath away. And the adventure? Well, imagine hiking for miles with walls 100′ to 200′ high in a slot canyon that varies from under 10′ wide to large open areas with trees. The experience is like no other.
We don’t normally like to begin an article with dire warnings, but here they are warranted. Hiking Buckskin Gulch from Wire Pass is no joke. In fact, it has been called the most dangerous hike in the world. Why? Flood risk.
You will be hiking in a slot canyon with virtually no means of escaping a flash flood. Just looking at the terrain, you can see that the surrounding area all drains into the Gulch. As such, do not even think of doing this hike if there is a chance of rain. The hike is phenomenal, but not worth your life.
Be aware also that because this is a Gulch, it can be very wet. Depending on the season, you may encounter high water in the Gulch and you may need to wade or swim through water to do this hike, whereas other times of year the Gulch may be bone dry. Make sure to verify current conditions with the BLM field office (1-435-644-1300) before doing this hike.
The hike from Wire Pass to Buckskin Gulch begins by obtaining self-issue permits at the trailhead. Take heed of the warning signs at the trailhead and read the cautions below before beginning the hike. Then get ready to be blown away.
Leaving the trailhead, you will hike down a wash area until you begin to enter the first slot canyon on the way to the Gulch. The environs are very sensitive, so hikers are asked to stay in the wash. This is no hardship, however, because the scenery is gorgeous.
After about a mile you will begin entering a slot canyon, where the fun truly begins. The narrows of this relatively short canyon are just a taste of what is to come. Traveling a little further, you will come to an 8′ ladder which is where you begin entering the gulch. The ladder does intimidate some, but it is pretty easy to navigate. As of October 2019, the ladder is also in very good shape and has replaced the damaged ladder that previously resided here.
After the ladder, you will travel a little further and reach a wide open area with massive walls all around. This is Buckskin Gulch. Here you will be about 1.7 miles from the Wire Pass Trailhead. Make sure to look at the right wall just before it turns to follow the Gulch. Here you will see some pretty cool petroglyphs.
At this point you can turn right or left in the Gulch to continue your hike. You will enjoy the slot canyon just as much in either direction. Many folks turn left because it is wider and only about 4 miles to the end of the Gulch. We prefer turning right where you can gain more mileage, the canyon walls are narrower, and the scenery is even more interesting.
At this point, you can travel as far as you think is appropriate given your hiking abilities and the amount of daylight remaining. As you do, make sure to soak in the unique scenery of this slot canyon and take lots of pictures. This will be an experience you will want to capture and look back on for years. Enjoy!
Scroll down to learn about the GEAR WE USE and OTHER OUTVENTURES in this area.
- Bureau of Land Management Buckskin Gulch Information:
- Bureau of Land Management Wire Pass Information:
Wire Pass to Buckskin Gulch Slideshow
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