Hike Wire Pass to Buckskin Gulch To See The Golden Glow Of Utah Slot Canyons

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One of the things that has been on my Utah bucket list for years is the Buckskin Gulch hike: the longest slot canyon in the world at 21 miles long. Or at least that we know about. Well, I still haven’t done it.

But I did get to see part of it so that’s something. The last weekend before we left for the season we ended up heading out here with two of our friends to hike Wire Pass to Buckskin Gulch.

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It was mid-September and still pretty hot (under 100 but probably close to 90) and I almost didn’t go but figured I might as well. I’ve been wanting to see it so why not?

We went pretty much in the middle of the day and were a little worried it would be packed when we saw all the cars at the parking lot but it really wasn’t bad.

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The first section of the trail (and majority) is just wide open through a wash so there is almost no shade here. Wear a hat and bring lots of water.

After what felt like forever we made it to the slot canyon entrance. And the tricky downclimb. This is the kind of thing that I know I can do but i’m not good at it and the whole time I’m doing it I’m saying I can’t do this! How am I supposed to get down that!? I’ll just go back!

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And then I’m down it and it’s actually fine. But I always have to have a lot of help to do this kind of thing the first time and usually do better if I go back again later.

Once I finally made it down the scramble we were in the good part of the slot canyon and I loved it! While it’s not quite Antelope Canyon, it’s an amazing alternative and so impressive in it’s own way. I do think it’s higher than Antelope but not as glow-y.

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Eventually this narrow slot section opens up to the confluence with Buckskin Gulch. It’s open but you’re still in the canyon. At the confluence you can find petroglyphs on the right hand side on that little grassy/sandy hill.

From here you can either turn around or venture into Buckskin Gulch to the right or left. We went to the left a bit (I’m not sure what the right is like) and it was cool but not as impressive as Wire Pass. I’m sure other sections of Buckskin are way more impressive though!

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Wire Pass Petroglyphs
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We spent some time just hanging out in the canyon before heading back out. It was much easier getting back up and over the boulder obstruction (thankfully!) but just as hot on the exposed part of the trail.

This was such a great hike and I’m so glad we did it! It’s one I always saw pictures of and was like I need to do that! One thing I know I need to work on (and did today!) is just doing things even if I don’t totally feel like it.

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Like, yes, I want to hike Wire Pass, but I usually have to mentally prepare for activities so if I’m invited to something at the last minute, I’m not likely to say yes. So I might not be excited about it but then I agree to go anyway and it’s super fun and totally worth it and I’m glad I went! That’s what this was.

If you’re passing through the area and want a great non-technical slot canyon hike, Wire Pass is the perfect option. It’s even dog friendly as long as they’re on a leash, which is always great. I would highly recommend the Wire Pass trail on any Utah road trip.

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Where is the Wire Pass Trailhead?

From Kanab to Wire Pass Trailhead is 59 minutes and Page to the Wire Pass Trailhead is exactly one hour so whichever you’re staying in won’t really matter for which is closer. If you’re visit both, you can always just head to Wire Pass on your way from one to the other.

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Can any car get to the Wire Pass trailhead?

In good weather, yes. House Rock Valley Road is dirt but it wasn’t super rough. It was washboardy and maybe a little potholey but not terrible. If its wet though, it may be a lot more difficult to traverse.

How long do you need for the Wire Pass hike?

2-3 hours depending on how much you stop, how fast you walk, and if you go into Buckskin Gulch at all. You could spend all day in here if you go far enough into Buckskin Gulch.

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Is the Wire Pass hike hard?

I would say it’s easy-moderate. It’s pretty flat (unless you go over/around the obstruction) but is a lot of sand which can be tiring to walk in. It’s pretty much all through a wash so it’s sandy.

There is also an 8-10 foot obstruction in the slot canyon that can be a little difficult to get over, especially if you’re alone. If you are alone, I’d just go around/over then walk back into this part so you can see what you bypassed.

Sometimes there is a ladder here but I wouldn’t count on it. When we went there were two logs kind of shoved up between the boulder you’re trying to get over and the canyon walls.

It’s easiest to get down this if someone already at the bottom is willing to put your foot onto the horizontal log for you then you can usually feel your way down.

It’s a very awkward maneuver and if you’re not used to this kind of scramble just go over/around. SAR is called here for a lot of injuries at this part and you don’t want to be one of those calls.

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How long is the Wire Pass hike?

3.5ish miles round-trip but more if you hike in either direction in Buckskin Gulch (which I would recommend). We went to the left a bit and hiked about six miles total.

How far is it from Wire Pass to Buckskin Gulch?

It’s about 1.7 miles from the Wire Pass trailhead to the confluence with Buckskin Gulch.

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What to bring on the Wire Pass hike

Hiking poles – These will be helpful on longer hikes that are on the steeper side.  They’ll be good if you have bad knees for when you’re going downhill and will give you something to lean on going up the hills.

Snacks – These are more important for long hikes, but you never know when you’ll get hungry!  I like EPIC bars (kind of like beef jerky but different), Sahale nut mix things, and Moon Cheese.  There’s always the good old Clif Bars and trail mix, too.

Water bottle – It’ll be hot and humid and you’ll need to stay hydrated.  A Hydro Flask will keep your water ice cold all day long. You’ll want to bring lots of water here, especially if you go in the summer or fall.

Sunscreen – If you plan on being outside, you’ll want sunscreen.  I like the Neutrogena a lot, but if you’ll be visiting a beach soon, you’ll want a reef-safe sunscreen.

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Hat – You’ll want some kind of hat to keep the sun out of your eyes.  A baseball hat should be fine but a bucket hat or sun hat could help keep the sun off your neck.

Sunglasses – This is a must, especially with the strong desert sun.  Sunglasses are best paired with a hat on those really bright days.

Light Jacket – Because you just never know.  Weather can change quickly depending on where you are and if you’ll be in any slot canyons, they can get cool depending on the time of day and season.  I usually use my rain jacket for this.

Headlamp – I tend to carry my headlamp around all the time when we’re hiking.  This isn’t the exact one I have, but it’s similar and if I needed to replace mine, I’d probably get this one.

Have you hiked Wire Pass to Buckskin Gulch? What did you think of it? What is your favorite slot canyon in Utah?

2 thoughts on “Hike Wire Pass to Buckskin Gulch To See The Golden Glow Of Utah Slot Canyons

  1. I love your comment on pushing yourself to go out even if you don’t really feel like it. Sometimes this can result in the BEST days out! Question: do slot canyons get boring, when all you have to look at is rock walls the whole hike? 🙂

    1. Thank you! I totally agree that they can end up the best!

      Parts of them can be less impressive, for sure, but I don’t think they get boring. They’re usually not super long (buckskin gulch is out of the norm) so you’re not in them long enough to get bored I don’t think. But I also just really love them, they’re all so different and you never know what the next curve will look like!

      I’ve only done non-technical ones, so no climbing gear, so I’m not sure about those but I imagine them as being even cooler haha

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