Four Days Down the Paria Canyon

There is nothing better than heading out into new backcountry. Actually there is something better: when the location exceeds all your expectations.


Light reflects off Navajo Sandstone near the Buckskin and Paria confluence.


That was the case on the four-day hike down Paria Canyon. This canyon blew me away. Had I known what this place was like, I would’ve explored there a long time ago.


Looking into Paria Canyon narrows. Deuter ACT lite 40+10.


The trail starts in Utah and ends 38 miles later at Lee’s Ferry in Arizona. It follows the Paria River from the trailhead through the geologic history — 85 million years worth — of the Colorado Plateau.


A large alcove along the Paria River.


I loaded up my Deuter ACT lite 40+10 and took off for Whitehouse Trailhead, roughly halfway between Kanab, Utah, and Page, Arizone along Highway 89.

I was pretty proud of what I was able to squeeze into my backpack: four days worth of camping gear and my camera supplies. The backpacker-from-a-few-years-ago in myself said, “Wow! Nicely done.” With all my emergency gear and everything else I was barely over 25 lbs.


Slide Arch along the Paria River.


Just a few miles from the trailhead the river has cut deep into the Navajo sandstone, forming massive cliffs on either side. When I’m down in a canyon like that, with walls that are 10 feet apart and 400 feet tall, I get a good sense of just how small I and my problems are.


A goldern eagle soars along the towering cliffs of Paria Canyon.


Each meander in the canyon brought a better view and then a better view.


Datura grows along the banks of the Paria River.


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