October 05, 2015

Hiking the Wave: The surreal Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness (Utah & Arizona)

West of Lake Powell and the city of Page on the state border of Arizona and Utah lies the Vermilion Cliffs Winderness Area. It encompasses the Paria Canyon - Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness Area. This rugged area is a geologic wonderland with breathtaking sandstone formations, deep slot canyons and high cliffs, towering up to 120m (400 ft) from the ground to the plateau.

The unquestioned highlights of Vermilion Cliffs are Buckskin Gulch (a side canyon of Paria Canyon and the world's longest slot canyon), Coyote Buttes and The Wave. The latter is America's best hiking secret, a famous, red-coloured geological formation resembling a gigantic wave (hence the name) with very thin white stripes. Due to its narrow and deep corridors, canyoneering is also extremely popular in the Paria Canyon and Buckskin Gulch. Visit Climb Utah to read all the details about canyoning in the Buckskin Gulch.

Trails: The whole wilderness area is a (backcountry) hiker's paradise and offers three of the most pristine and remote trails in the United States:
  • White House Trail, or Paria Canyon Trail, the central trail through the Paria Canyon
  • Buckskin Gulch Trail
  • Wire Pass Trail, the trailhead to the Wave

Opening Hours and Permits:
There are no opening hours as such but hiking in Coyote Buttes North requires a permit for day use. The fee is $7.00 per person per day (or $5.00 if you try it through lottery application). It can only be obtained online on the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). This website is also your best choice for all the nitty-gritty about the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, from history to geology to driving directions.

Gear Rental: This may sound like a no-brainer but make sure you wear proper hiking outfit and are appropriately equipped - especially if you plan to go canyoneering in Buckskin Gulch. If you consider buying new gear online, we recommend the following retailers as they have a vast selection of hiking and canyoneering equipment:
Free 2-Day Shipping at Backcountry.com

Lodging: Try this search for accommodation options in nearby Page. If you prefer it a little more remote, check out Dreamkatchers Lake Powell Bed and Breakfast.
Dreamkatchers Lake Powell Bed & Breakfast

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