If you’re looking for the ultimate slot canyon experience in Utah, then Wire Pass to Buckskin Gulch Trail is the trail for you.

While places like Antelope Canyon and the Narrows receive all of the attention, Wire Pass to Buckskin Gulch Trail offers a similar spellbinding experience, without the hassle and crowds. Hiking the Wire Pass to Buckskin Gulch route allows hikers to wind through a narrow slot canyon, as well as navigate a wider canyon with towering walls up to 500 feet.

We somehow overlooked Buckskin Gulch on our first Arizona-Utah road trip but now both agree it’s one of the best things to do when adventuring around the southwest. Don’t sleep on hiking Wire Pass to Buckskin Gulch and the chance to explore one of the longest slot canyons in the world.

In this guide, I highlight what to expect hiking Wire Pass to Buckskin Gulch, securing a day permit, getting to the trailhead, epic things to do nearby, and what to pack.

Complete Guide to Hiking Wire Pass to Buckskin Gulch in Southern Utah

Red and orange walls of a slot canyon on Wire Pass to Buckskin Gulch

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Wire Pass to Buckskin Gulch Trail Stats

Distance: 5.6 miles

Level: Easy

Type: Out-and-Back

Elevation Gain: 616 feet

Time: 2-3 hours

Traffic: Moderate

Dogs: Yes

Know Before You Go

Yellow wildflowers growing on a orange rock on Wire Pass to Buckskin Gulch

How to Obtain a Permit

Day Permits

You do need a permit to day hike Wire Pass to Buckskin Gulch. Permits are $6/person and need to be purchased online, in advance. Cell service is not reliable at the trailhead so make sure to purchase your day permit before arriving.

Secure your day permit here.

Pro Tip: Download the Recreation.gov app before your trip. The app allows you to make mobile payments for permits, campgrounds, and more, without service.

Don’t forget to sign into the log book before beginning your hike.

Overnight Permits

There are spots to camp in Paria Canyon near the Wire Pass Trailhead but you need to apply and secure a permit in advance. Reservation permits are $9 with an additional $5 per person/per day recreation fee.

Permits must be picked up in person within 10 days of your trip.

Apply for your overnight permit here.

How to Get to the Wire Pass Trailhead

Wire Pass Trailhead is located just over an hour from Kanab. From Highway 89, take a right onto the gravel road, The Cockscomb. While the road is gravel and minimally maintained, it is doable in a 2WD, high-clearance vehicle.

For roughly 8 miles you continue on The Cockscomb which eventually turns into House Rock Valley Road. From here, you will see the Wire Pass Trailhead parking lot on your right.

What to Expect Hiking Wire Pass Trail to Buckskin Gulch

After filling out the log book and using the vault toilets if needed, cross the road from the parking lot to begin the trail.

Coyote Wash

Dried up wash surrounded by green foliage and red rocks on Wire Pass to Buckskin Gulch

Wire Pass to Buckskin Trail begins in a rocky and sandy wash. You will see a smaller dirt trail up on the bank to the right; however, posted signs ask hikers to remain in the wash to protect the vegetation.

The wash is long and difficult to walk in at times due to the rocks and sand, but we still really enjoyed this section of the trail. We were lucky enough to be visiting in early May while the flowers were in full bloom. The entire wash was lined with red, yellow, white, purple, and pink wildflowers.

Keep in mind that there is no shade coverage in the wash. Expect the trail to be very hot by packing and dressing appropriately.

Wire Pass Slot Canyon

About 1.5 miles into Wire Pass to Buckskin Gulch you reach the slot canyon. The Wire Pass slot canyon is absolutely mesmerizing. You wind your way through the smoothly carved rocks and towering canyon walls.

Red and orange canyon walls of a slot canyon on Wire Pass to Buckskin Gulch

There is also a fun wooded ladder in the canyon to help you navigate the drop. The Wire Pass Slot Canyon was my favorite part of the whole trail, giving off major Antelope Canyon vibes.

Buckskin Gulch

After you exit the slot canyon you come to a large opening where Wire Pass Trail meets Buckskin Gulch. Having spent the last several minutes in tight quarters, the wide-open merge of the two trails feels grand.

Large rock wall at the merge between Wire Pass Trail and Buckskin Gulch

Along the rock wall to the right of the trail, you can find petroglyphs. These petroglyphs are almost surreal to witness and be so close to. Unfortunately, people have defaced the wall over the years and even “mimicked” petroglyphs in places.

Past the giant rock wall, you have a couple of options. You can turn around and go back the way you come, or you can go right or left and continue into Buckskin Gulch.

If Wire Pass Trail has Antelope Canyon vibes, Buckskin Gulch has the Narrows vibe — without the water. Buckskin Gulch is large and wide and equally spellbinding.

Large canyon wash carved through Buckskin Gulch

At this point in the trail, you can continue exploring Buckskin Gulch for as little or as long as you want, as the Gulch continues on well past the “end” mark on AllTrails.

Leave No Trace Reminder

Incredible petroglyphs can be found on a giant rock wall at the meeting of Wire Pass Trail and Buckskin Gulch. Unfortunately, over the years this petroglyph panel has been vandalized by visitors.

When hiking any trail, please uphold the Leave No Trace Principles and do your part in preserving the incredible spaces we have the privilege of exploring.

Camping Near Buckskin Gulch

Dispersed Camping in Paria Canyon

Distance from Buckskin Gulch: Minutes — depending on the dispersed location

There are many dispersed camping spots along House Rock Valley Road but they do require an overnight permit. As I mentioned earlier, overnight permits must be purchased and picked up in person ahead of time.

Stateline Campground

Distance from Buckskin Gulch: 6 min.

Stateline Campground is a free, first come, first served campground located just down the road from the Wire Pass Trailhead. There are 7 sites and each comes with a pavilion, picnic table, and fire ring. There are also vault toilets available for use.

Catstair Canyon BLM Camping

Distance from Buckskin Gulch: 28 min.

Catstair Canyon is one of our favorite dispersed camping spots in southern Utah. The spot is located right off Highway 89, though feels secluded thanks to the stunning nearby rock walls. Camping here is free and first come, first served.

White House Campground

Distance from Buckskin Gulch: 38 min.

Tent in front of a pink and white canyon rock

White House Campground is a beautiful campground located next to the Paria River. Sites here are first come, first served with a mix of pull-up sites and walk-in sites. Each site has a picnic table and fire ring, and there are vault toilets on sight. The Whitehouse Trailhead is located nearby and another option for reaching Buckskin Gulch.

Things to Do Near Buckskin Gulch

While Wire Pass Trailhead is a bit off-the-beaten-path, it’s still relatively close to some incredible can’t-miss spots in Utah and Arizona. Consider checking out these adventures before or after hiking Wire Pass to Buckskin Gulch.

Toadstool Hoodoos Trail

Distance from Buckskin Gulch: 33 min.

Toadstool Hoodoos Trail at Sunrise

Toadstool Hoodoos Trail is extraordinary. The trail is short and sweet but brimming with canyon views and gravity-defying geology. The trail culminates in a toadstool hoodoo forest — a sight described by hikers on AllTrails as a “playground on Mars” and exploring a “life-size sandcastle.” I couldn’t agree more.

Toadstool Hoodoos Trail is quick, easily accessible, and sure to be one of the most unique trails you explore in Southern Utah.

Horseshoe Bend

Distance from Buckskin Gulch: 1 hr 6 min.

Woman with her hand extended facing Horseshoe Bend overlook at sunrise

Stopping at Horseshoe Bend is a must despite how many photos you’ve already seen of it, or horror stories you may have heard of crowds. Despite its popularity, the view 100% deserves the hype and attention it has received. The hike to the overlook is short, straightforward, and absolutely exceeded my expectations.

If you’re looking for an experience you’ll remember forever, plan to hit Horseshoe Bend for sunrise.

Lake Powell

Distance from Buckskin Gulch: 1 hr 6 min.

A girl lounging on the bow of a boat on Lake Powell

There are so many different ways to enjoy Lake Powell. Lake Powell truly has something for everyone, whether you’re looking to experience the lake’s grandeur from the water or from atop Wahweap Lookout. Visitors have the option to boat, jet ski, kayak, swim, or simply play along the shores.

Unfortunately, the water level at Lake Powell is continuing to decline. If seeing Lake Powell is on your bucket list, consider making the trip sooner than later.

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park

Distance from Buckskin Gulch: 1 hr 27 min.

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park is a fun and unique spot worth visiting. Visitors can hike and explore the dunes by foot, ATV off-road, or rent sandboards and sand sleds. We laughed, fell, raced, made friends, and had a blast boarding at the Dunes.

Zion National Park

Distance from Buckskin Gulch: 2 hr 8 min.

Zion National Park is an iconic park and part of the Utah Might 5. While it’s two hours from Buckskin Gulch, it’s worth the extra trip if you have the time. Experience incredible trails such as Angels Landing and The Narrows, or spend a night away from the crowds Backpacking to Kolob Arch via La Verkin Creek Trail.

If hiking isn’t your thing, check out these other epic things to do in Zion National Park.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Distance from Buckskin Gulch: 2 hr 26 min.

Another park worth driving to is Bryce Canyon National Park. Bryce Canyon is also a part of the iconic Utah Mighty 5 and one of our favorites. While you don’t need a ton of time to explore the park, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot to see and do. We spent two days in Bryce Canyon with some of our most memorable hikes being Navajo Loop and Queens Garden, and Fairyland Loop Trail.

What to Pack

When preparing to hike Wire Pass to Buckskin Gulch, it’s important to be well-prepared for the dry desert environment and warm climate. Even though the trail is rated as an “easy” route, you do not want to underestimate it. Here’s a list of essential items to consider:


Breathable Layers

It’s wise to dress in layers to accommodate temperature changes along the trail. The temperature inside the slot canyon can be considerably cooler than the temperature on the exposed trail. Consider wearing lightweight, moisture-wicking, and breathable materials when hiking Wire Pass to Buckskin Gulch.

Anytime we’re hiking in the southwest, I opt to wear items from the REI Swiftland line, as well as the REI Trailmade line for affordable and breathable tops, bottoms, and layers.

Hiking Shoes

Wire Pass to Buckskin Gulch is not a difficult or technical trail but it is still always beneficial to wear a good pair of hiking shoes. Proper shoes can help with navigating the rocky terrain in the slot canyon, as well as help keep out the sand in the more washed-out areas of the trail.

I prefer trail runners over hiking boots, and I highly recommend the Merrell Antoras or Saucony Peregrines for lightweight support and traction.

Sun Protection

Don’t forget to pack a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and/or long-sleeved shirts and pants to protect yourself from the sun. Don’t underestimate the dry and hot climate and keep yourself safe from symptoms of heat exhaustion or sun poisoning.

Some of my go-to sun protection items are my Kavu Trail Hat and REI Shade Hoody.


Day Pack

Bring a small day pack to house your layers, sun protection, water, and snacks for the trail. Wire Pass Trail to Buckskin Gulch isn’t a technical trail but there are a couple of spots where you will need your hands free to navigate ladder sections and large rocks.

Two of my favorite day packs are the REI Flash Pack 18L and Gregory Nano 16L.


A standard rule of thumb when hiking in Utah is to pack 1 liter of water for every 2 miles. With that being said, prepare to carry at least 2 liters of water Wire Pass to Buckskin Gulch. Depending on your preference, I recommend packing either a Reservoir or two Nalgene bottles.

Hiking Wire Pass to Buckskin Gulch is one of my favorite Southern Utah adventures to date. For any further questions about hiking the slot canyon or things to do nearby, leave me a comment in the section below.

If you’re visiting the Buckskin Gulch during a southwest road trip, make sure to check out my Ultimate Arizona-Utah Road Trip Itinerary guide for more epic stops to include along the way.

Happy adventuring!

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