Wire Pass Trail is located in the Kanab area of Southern Utah. Wire Pass Trail follows a desert wash (AKA a dry creek bed) to a gorgeous slot canyon, called Buckskin Gulch.
This trail offers the fastest (and prettiest, in my opinion) access to the slot canyon areas of Buckskin Gulch.
Buckskin Gulch is the longest and deepest slot canyon in the southwest United States (and possibly the longest in the world)!
While I’m sure that the nearby Antelope Canyon is incredible, the massive crowds aren’t my thang. (Ironically, there are NO crowds at Antelope Canyon currently, only because that life-ruining ‘Rona has shut it down.)
With only a few other hikers on the trail and this beautiful, ginormous slot canyon, Wire Pass is perfect for independent travelers that want to avoid the crowds.
This trail from Wire Pass Trail will take you through a breathtaking slot canyon that runs continuously for about 15 miles. You read that right.
Buckskin Gulch is a slot canyon that spans for FIFTEEN miles!
FLASH FLOOD WARNING:
As with ANY slot canyon adventure, a flash flood while in Buckskin Gulch can be deadly.
Flash floods up to 100 feet high rip through Buckskin Gulch, as evidenced by the full-sized logs you’ll see wedged dozens of feet over your head as you hike.
With the walls hundreds of feet above, there is little or no escape from a flash flood.
Make sure that there is NO rain in the forecast. Also, keep in mind that storms as far away as Bryce Canyon can bring a wall of water into Buckskin Gulch.
NEVER risk entering a slot canyon with ANY chance of rainfall whatsoever. It takes as little as 0.25 inches of rain or less to cause life-threatening situations. It’s not worth it.
Don’t believe me?
Click HERE to watch a video of how fast slot canyons can fill with water.
Directions to Wire Pass Trailhead
https://www.google.com/maps/place/Wire+Pass+To+Buckskin+Gulchfirstname.lastname@example.org,-112.0271383,17z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x8734f04486f82da9:0xb610540e3158463f!8m2!3d37.0226245!4d-112.0146172Follow U.S. 89 to an unsigned southbound dirt road (known as House Rock Valley Road) that branches off the highway at the west end of a 50 mph right-angle curve.
Find the turnoff 0.8 miles west of milepost 25 and 34 miles northwest of Page, Arizona, or 0.2 miles south of milepost 26 and 37.5 miles east of Kanab, Utah.
You’ll drive 8 miles on a scenic, but also very slow and bumpy dirt road. It takes a much longer amount of time than you may think to drive this road due to the various holes and rocks.
It’s not bad, just take it slower than a paved road (obviously).
Most cars should be able to navigate this dirt road just fine in dry conditions. I have an Eclipse Cross and it did great.
(Thanks, Stormy. I heart you.)
If it has rained or snowed recently, I would only drive this road with a four-wheel drive.
Click here for easy google maps turn-by-turn directions to the trailhead:
Sign in and pay the fee
As you park at the trailhead, you’ll log your name, number in party, date, and emergency contact. This is a safety precaution, please do it!
Please note: You need a permit for day hiking and overnight trips in Paria Canyon and Buckskin Gulch.
This is NOT a lottery system like The Wave. You simply pay $6 per person per day for day hiking and $5 per person per day for overnight trips. This fee is easily paid with cash at the self-pay station located at the trailhead.
Do not be Jessi, who had misread the fee online prior to arriving and thought it was $5 for a day pass.
I feel bad that I happened to be temporarily illiterate.
And since I also included an incriminating photo of me shorting you, if any BLM worker is reading this – please hit me up so I can give you your one-dolla-make-ya-holla.
Hike to Buckskin Gulch
From the Wire Pass Trailhead parking lot to the junction of Buckskin Gulch, it is an easy, 1.7- miles (if you follow the wash and not the side trails).
Note: the first half-mile of this hike is the same trail as The Wave.
The Wave is a hike that requires a permit via a lottery system. Getting caught hiking to The wave can cost up to $10,000 in fines, a month in jail, and potentially a permanent ban from the BLM and all of the National Parks.
Pardon my brutal honesty, but if you try to sneak in, you pretty much deserve it.
For more info on The Wave and how to legally get a permit, click here.
I highly recommend downloading the AllTrails App prior to heading out and losing service. AllTrails offers game-changing heat maps on all their listed trails, which you can download while you still have service and follow the map easily while you’re out hiking. No more guessing if you’re going the right way.
I recommend downloading this app to have for ANY hike you plan to do – now and in the future.
Click here for the AllTrails info on Wire Pass to Buckskin Gulch, including a downloadable heat map:
You pretty much follow the wash until you start seeing some neat rock formations.
As you continue on you’ll start to see the beginning of some smaller slot canyon walls.
Just wait, you have no idea how awesome it’s about to get.
As you continue the trail, the walls will get taller and the rock formations continually more breathtaking.
It really does just keep getting better and better.
Every single corner you turn is amazing, and if you can’t tell – SUPER Instagram-worthy.
I solo hiked this trail and took all these photos with my trusty tripod (whom I call Tom).
Tom is pretty cool, but he’s a little stiff.
…Ba dum dum tis 🥁
On a side note: I can’t even tell you how much I love hiking alone. There’s something about being in nature, the quiet, and being able to stop 5 million times to take as many vain photos of yourself as you want, without any judgement.
When heading toward Buckskin Gulch in the Wire Pass Slot Canyon, there is approximately a 10-foot drop over a large obstacle made of rocks and a drop in the canyon walls.
There is a ladder at this point that most anyone should be able to get up and down. It’s very stable and should be easy to assist children down as well.
As I said before, I hiked this alone, and I had no issues going up or down this, even carrying all my equipment.
However, if you don’t feel comfortable, your hike doesn’t have to end here. You can simply go back out the way you came and follow the cairns outside of the canyon to go around the obstacle.
Go Right At The Junction
As the canyon opens back up to a wide area – this is your arrival at the junction of Buckskin Gulch. You’ll only have the option to go left or right.
The recommended travel from this point to continue into Buckskin Gulch is to take a right, which takes you to the slot canyon areas. Taking a left takes you through mainly open areas.
(It’s not as neat. Go right, all the cool kids are doing it.)
From here, you’ll simply wind your way through the gorgeous Navajo sandstone and experience all that the Buckskin Gulch slot canyons have to offer.
I had plans to hike some other trails in the area that day, so I knew I wasn’t going to do a full 15+ miles.
You can really choose how far in you want to hike and turn around when you’re ready.
I kept telling myself I’d turn around, “after that corner” more times than I can count.
I ended up doing a total of 6.62 miles round-trip. And it was worth every single step.
If you do anything active at all, you’ll want an Apple Watch. You also won’t want to pay an insane amount for it. You can get all sorts of electronics, including the same series 5 Apple Watch I have, at up to 60% off, HERE.
(And no, I don’t make commissions off that link, I’m just simply sharing the love.)
Buckskin Gluch is a phenomenal experience.
If you’re coming to the Kanab area, I cannot recommend it enough. Even if you only go a few miles just to see the beginning of the slots, it’s more than worth it.