the blog of Seldom Seen Photography

Paria!

Night on the Paria

Moonlit scene in the Paria Canyon below the narrows

I’ve been back several days now from my backpacking trip down the Paria River canyon (Paria is pronounced like Maria). We hiked out of the canyon on Thursday. I had hoped to post about the trip earlier, but after driving 900 miles on Friday, going to by sister’s surprise 50th birthday party on Saturday, Easter on Sunday, and with Monday being opening day for the Seattle Mariners (I’m a baseball nut and went to watch the game at Safeco Field on the big screen even though the game was in Oakland), I haven’t had a chance until now.

When people ask about where I went, I say the Paria River – which usually brings a confused look as they have never heard of it. They ask where it is, and I say mostly in the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument – which continues the confused look because they have never heard of it. So then I say, the 38-mile hike ends at where rafting trips through the Grand Canyon start (at Lee’s Ferry, Arizona) and most people then have a general idea.

The Paria River hike is one of the classic hikes in the American Southwest, and I have wanted to do it for over 30 years. Let me tell you, the hike did not disappoint. Much of the hike is through narrows, where the canyon walls are only 5 to 30 meters wide. The hike is considered as a rival to the much more famous Virgin River Narrows hike in Zion National Park.

The first day we got a late start (after having to drive the shuttle, placing a car at Lee’s Ferry to drive back at the end of the hike) only hiked about 3.5 miles, camping before the narrows begins. The narrows begin at about mile 4 and were spectacular. At mile 7, still in the narrows, we turned and went up Buckskin Gulch (a tributary to the Paria). We dropped our packs at one of the only campsites in Buckskin, about 1/4 mile from the confluence with the Paria, and day hiked several miles up Buckskin. That night, we camped where we had left the packs. The following day, we hiked 10 miles down the Paria, leaving the narrows. Though not in the narrows, this section of the canyon was still not wide and still very beautiful. Much of the hiking these three days was in the river itself. The following three days, more and more of the hiking was out of the river, as the canyon widened up. Besides the day hike up Buckskin, we also made the day hike to Wrather Arch – reportedly the largest natural arch in the world outside the state of Utah.

Here’s a few images from the trip. I’ll try to do a more complete blog post on the hike, with more photos, as time allows.

Hiking the Paria

Hiking in the Paria Canyon narrows

Entering Buckskin Gulch

Hiking in Buckskin Gulch near the confluence with the Paria

Buckskin Gulch

Scene from inside Buckskin Gulch

Wrather Arch

My brother Rob sitting below Wrather Arch

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6 responses

  1. Beautiful images Joe. I can’t wait to see and hear more of your trip.

    April 2, 2013 at 1:20 pm

  2. Wow! Beautiful area, beautiful photographs!

    April 3, 2013 at 8:11 pm

    • Thanks Denise. It is truly a wonderful area to visit – just not during flash floods! Luckily, spring time is the low precipitation season there.

      April 4, 2013 at 9:15 am

  3. Linda Tuell

    Absolutely wonderful, Joe! You have an amazing eye; an amazing talent! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    April 4, 2013 at 7:51 am

  4. Pingback: On the Road – East Mitten | joebeckerphoto

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