In this section we will have both. For the next four days we will be hiking through the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument. The Vermilion Cliffs National Monument includes the Paria Narrows and Buckskin Gulch. These canyons are narrow and beautiful; sculpted by water, The BLM requires a backcountry permit for these canyons and only allows 20 people per day to overnight camp in the wilderness area that includes 38 miles of Paria Canyon and 13 miles of Buckskin Gulch. Day hikers are not limited but do have to pay a fee of $6 per person. I tried to get a overnight permit online several months ago but they were all booked up for the days we would be in this area. So we had to come up with Plan B.
After doing some research and talking with BLM staff, we have decided to hike down Paria River from the Whitehouse Trailhead and go 5 miles the first day to the boundary of the Paria Buckskin Wire Pass Special Management Area that requires overnight permits.
We can legally camp before this boundary without a Paria permit. The second day we will hike 22.5 miles during the day in Paria Canyon (note: this turns out to be much longer….) and exit the permit area and out to the top of the Plateau through the Bush Head Route and camp there. The third day we hike across the Paria Plateau and camp overlooking the Vermilion Cliffs. The last day we will hike down the cliffs to our vehicle parked in Highway 89A between Kanab, Utah and Page, Az.
We reminisce and laugh about our first backpack trip together which was here in Paria Canyon 32 years ago. We both thought the other person had brought the pot and had to cook our food over the camp stove using Ray’s tin plate. I think about the fact that our pot and cup are now the same utensil. We have either gotten more efficient or simpler over time. Either way, it is good to share memories and make new ones, in Paria Canyon, where our journey began and continues.