Vermilion Cliffs in Utah

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Vermilion Cliffs

This remote wilderness contains three separate, yet equally incredible sights: the Vermilion Cliffs; the Buckskin Gulch and Paria Slot Canyons; and the Coyote Buttes, featuring the photogenic wonder known as "The Wave."

  • The most popular hike is through the Paria Slot Canyon, ending at the Colorado River.
  • Day hikes are available for those who only have time for a short stop.
  • The Wave is an area of swirling layers of sandstone in unique, rolling formations.
  • Apply for a permit early to visit Coyote Buttes or the Paria Canyon.

Overview

The Vermilion Cliffs tower over 3,000 feet high, part of the Grand Staircase that creates the Colorado Plateau. The reddish hues, glowing in the morning and evening light, make for incredible photographs.

Paria Canyon is similar to Zion Narrows in the experience of hiking down a narrow slot canyon, far below the rim, with sandstone walls winding through the erosion-cut path.

At 15 miles long, Buckskin Gulch is the longest and deepest slot canyon in the world, eventually meeting the Paria Canyon on it way to the Colorado River. The hike is more technical and difficult than Paria, but well worth the effort.

The Coyote Buttes are simply indescribable. The reds, yellows, and oranges of the Navajo Sandstone seem like they were placed in a layer-cake, then swirled about in beautiful formations. The most famous area is called "The Wave," though there is also "The Second Wave," "Melody Arch" and others to explore.

Location & Information

Straddling the Utah-Arizona border, the Vermilion Cliffs border the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument to the north. On the northwest corner is Lake Powell and the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

Permits are tightly controlled, with an excess of applicants. Apply for permits to the area 4 months ahead of time online at the BLM Calendar or by contacting the BLM office.

Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
345 E. Riverside Dr.
St. George, UT 84790
Phone: (435) 688-3246

Activities

Hiking
Hiking is the name of the game out in Vermilion Cliffs, Utah. The options are fantastic, particularly for overnight or multi-day trips.

  • Coyote Buttes North - An incredible day hike out-and-back from Wire Pass Trailhead, The Wave is the cover of many coffee table books. 8 miles total, including The Wave, Top Rock Arch, Melody Arch, dinosaur tracks and more. Don't miss this.
  • Paria Canyon - There are a number of options, but the most popular route is from White House to Lee's Ferry, for a total of 38 miles. Most parties take 3-5 days to complete this trek, which is touted as one of the best canyon hikes in the country.
  • Buckskin Gulch - Starting at Buckskin Gulch or the easier Wire Pass Trailhead, most people connect this to White House Campground for an overnight trip. Endurance cowboys connect it to Lee's Ferry for the 3-5 day trek.
  • Day Hikes - From any of the western trailheads, hike down into the canyons, explore for a bit, then head back to the trailhead. Another option is to enter at Buckskin Gulch or Wire Pass and exit at the Middle Trail.
  • Coyote Buttes South - This is wild, remote country, with rugged 4x4 access-only. Lone Tree Access Point and Cottonwood Teepees are the popular day hikes. The White Pocket is a newly-popular area as well. All are remote, and other hikers are as scarce as water.

Trailheads
Directions to each of the trailheads:

  • White House Trailhead - Halfway between Page and Kanab, turn south at the sign for the BLM Contact Station. The trailhead is 2 miles down the dirt road.
  • Wire Pass Trailhead - About 5 miles to the west of the BLM Contact Station, turn onto House Rock Valley Rd. The trailhead is 8.9 miles down the dirt road.
  • Buckskin Gulch Trailhead - About 5 miles to the west of the BLM Contact Station, turn onto House Rock Valley Rd. The trailhead is 4.5 miles down the dirt road.
  • Middle Trailhead - This trailhead is off House Rock Valley Rd. After turning from US-89, take the first left, then the next right, then the next left. Keep an eye out for a small trail on the right-hand side of the road. Not well marked and difficult to find.
  • Lee's Ferry Trailhead - From Page, head south on US-89 for 25 miles, turning right onto US-89A. Head north for 14 miles, cross the Colorado River, then turn right into Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

Fun Facts

Unlike many trails, dogs are allowed to come along on treks at the Vermillion Cliffs, so bring along the furry friends for a trip they'll enjoy as much as you!

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