Paria Canyon


By: Gene Olsen


Met part of the group at the White House road head after a 10 hour drive from LA. We stopped at the ranger station and checked on the upcoming weather conditions. Everything was supposed to be for the near future. Next AM no one showed up at the appointed time so Ted and I left for Lees ferry to set up the shuttle. This ended up being a 152 mile round trip and about 4 hours to accomplish. On our return we found the other 5 members of the party waiting for us. Just prior to our return 2 groups of hikers from LA totaling 30 people had started off. We never did see them but saw lots of tracks. When starting into the canyon do not take the route to the plateau. The trail here is good but getting back down into the canyon presents a problem later on. The river route goes good and the crossings are shallow. Our first day was short. We should have gone closer to the narrows. We camped near the center of section 25. Friday we started out at 0800 and proceeded thru the narrows. The scenery thru this area is spectacular. 3 people went up Buckskin Gultch to the rock fall. A variety of things were used to try and keep the feet somewhat dry but nothing really worked. You're in the water most of the time during the narrows trip. It appeared the best idea was to wear wet suit socks with tennis shoes. One thing that is a definite need is a sturdy walking stick of some sort. About 3 pm it clouded up and started to rain. So much for the weather man. We kept going until about 4:30 at which time we reached a sandy bench that appeared high enough to be safe. The rain eased up and we got the tents set up Some of our members had decided not to bring tents. We managed to get most of them inside. At about 11 pm the storm struck in great shape. Thunder-lightning-it poured for about 3 hours. I worried. Couldn't really see what was happening during the night. Saturday we were up at 6:30 looking at the river. It was up somewhat over a foot and now looked like and was near the consistency of a reddish chocolate malt. We picked a point to check and found that the water was already dropping. A strong volunteer was sent across with no pack and it was then decided to wait for a further drop in water level. At 11 we started out. The water remained much deeper for the remainder of the day. The color did not change. The deepest we hit, near the rock fall, was about waist deep. 3 people went up Wrather canyon to see the arch. We stayed in a pleasant area at the last water seep. Sunday we headed out early. 2 of the group went up Bush Head canyon. From this point on out take all the trails you can find. These will keep you drier and are generally faster. The canyon widens and a visible trail begins to appear. Follow this to the cemetery and take the dirt road out to the parking lot. We reached the lot at about 1600. Loaded 9 people plus packs into the van and headed back to White House--after a stop in Page for some liquids and munchies. In looking back we were lucky- the increase in stream flow was probably 2 to 3 times the volume that is considered a flash flood. The BLM considers an increase of 50 CFS to be a flash flood condition in the Paria Canyon. This trip should be planned for 5 days. This will allow time to take all the short side trips that one should do while coming down this wonderful canyon. One of the best trips I've taken.

DPS Archives Index | Desert Peaks Section