Paria Canyon is one of the most beautiful and remote hiking spots in the United States. The Paria River has carved out a rich canyon full of twists, turns, narrow spaces, and cavernous walls. The rocks that surround you are so brightly orange and so stratified that you might swear they have been painted. 

A hike through Paria Canyon can take your breath away with its beauty, but it’s also full of hardships. It is most certainly a trek that requires thought, preparation, and careful planning.

Nine Things to Know Before Setting Out on Your Paria Canyon Hike

The pay-off is worth all your hard work as you stand beneath canyon walls that tower hundreds of feet above you. You’ll feel the immensity of nature, the vastness of time, and you won’t care at all that your feet are cold and wet. To make all these things possible though, you need to know what you’re in for. Here are nine things you need to know before your Paria Canyon hike.

1. You Need a Permit

To protect the delicate ecosystem of the Paria Canyon Trail, only twenty hikers are permitted to enter for an overnight hike per day. That means that you must reserve a permit in advance in order to gain entrance.

2. There is No Trail

Though it’s called the Paria Canyon Trail, there is no actual trail. You simply follow the thirty-eight miles of river from the entrance point at White House Trailhead to the end at Lee’s Ferry. It also means that the only way out of the canyon is the beginning or the end. There’s no hopping off at a checkpoint should trouble arise.

3. You Will Feel Completely Alone

Remember that small number of people admitted to the canyon on any given day? That means that aside from your hiking companions, you aren’t likely to encounter anyone else.

This kind of seclusion is often what hikers are after. After all, it’s nice to unplug from the world. It’s nice to immerse yourself in the vast empty space of nature without bumping elbows with a bunch of tourists.

You can clear your mind. You can listen to the sounds of the canyon, and keep your eyes peeled for wildlife that may run across your path. Of course, if all this alone time doesn’t sound so appealing, consider hiking with a group. 

4. Paying Attention to the Weather is Important

Anytime you are planning a trip out in the elements, you want to make sure that you keep an eye on the weather, but in Paria Canyon anticipating the weather is imperative. That’s because the narrow canyon is prone to flash flooding. Keep an eye on weather reports in the days leading up to your trip, and in general, avoid planning a visit to the canyon from June to September when rains are heaviest.

5. Rain or No Rain, You Will Get Wet

Since there is no trail, and you are merely following the river, there is virtually no point during your trip that your feet will not be wet. You’ll want to pack plenty of neoprene socks and wear comfortable, waterproof boots, but you should still anticipate wet feet.

6. The Desert is Cold

No matter how many times people tell you, it’s still hard to grasp that a desert can be cold. This is especially true in Paria Canyon, as it is with other trail experiences like nearby Bryce Canyon backpacking, because the high canyon walls block out the sunlight. It turns out sunlight does a lot to keep you warm, so without it pack layers. 

7. You Can Hire a Guide

Paria Canyon is a good place for an experienced hiker, but it’s also possible to make the trek if you enlist the help of the right people. In fact, even if you are fairly experienced, it’s not a bad idea to have an expert guide on-hand in the event of an emergency. 

8. Getting Clean Water is Difficult

Yes, you are hiking on the path of a river, and yet getting clean water, even with a purifier is hard. That’s because the water is so full of silt that it’s hard for even the best filters to get it out. That’s why carrying extra water is extremely important as well as knowing how to remove as much silt as possible. 

9. It’s Hard to Capture the Scope of the Canyon

You will surely try, and your camera is one of the most important items you will bring along, and yet, your photos still somehow won’t do the glory of the canyon justice. They will come close, but its beauty is too powerful, its scope too big, and its spirit too elusive. Don’t worry though, your photos are sure to impress just about anyone who hasn’t seen the real thing first hand.

Hike Paria Canyon with Confidence 

By now you are practically a Paria Canyon expert. You could hike the whole thing blindfolded with your toes dry. Well, maybe not exactly, but at least you’ll know what to expect, and you can start your quest confident and informed.


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