The Wire Pass to Buckskin Gulch Trail is a dream to hike! Towering slot canyons, beautiful red rocks, petroglyphs… it is no wonder that it is a popular trail for travelers and outdoor enthusiasts alike!
And the answer to this question is yes, permits are required to hike Wire Pass to Buckskin Gulch.
Keep reading to find out why permits are needed, how to obtain them, and what to expect from this epic hike.
Why is a Permit Required?
Permits are often required to maintain trails, bathrooms, parking lots, and more. It is also a way to see who accesses the trail and to track the number of people who use it.
How Do I Obtain a Permit?
Obtaining a permit is simple! You can:
- Pre-purchase your permits online at recreation.gov.
- Purchase them at the trailhead by accessing the same website or by scanning the QR code posted by the bathrooms, pictured above. It is good to note that service can be spotty so it may be best to purchase beforehand.
There are day-use permits and overnight permits available.
Day Use Permits
Day-use permits are ~$6.00 per person and ~$6.00 per dog. Make sure you add any dogs as “children” on the form on recreation.gov. These permits need to be displayed on your dash with the permit ID visible (either printed on your online receipt or on the envelope at the trailhead).
Rangers will ticket hikers who have not purchased permits.
You only need to purchase one permit per group and the group size needs to be 10 or fewer.
- There are no discounts or exemptions for permits. Everyone has to pay ~$6.00 to enter Wire Pass.
- This permit ONLY covers Wire Pass Trailhead and not other permitted trails nearby.
- These permits are non-transferable and non-refundable.
Overnight permits can also be purchased through recreation.gov. However, there are some differences in obtaining these overnight permits.
Permits are ~$9.00 per permit reservation and ~$5.00 per person (and dog) per day you will be in the canyon.
- These overnight permits have to be purchased in advance and picked up within 10 days of your trip in person at the Kanab Field Office.
- Reservations are accepted at noon on the first of each month, 3 months in advance! So if you want permits for May, grab them on the 1st of February!
- Only 20 permits are allowed for overnight use in the canyon per day (dogs do not count towards this total).
The opportunity to backpack and camp through Buckskin Gulch is an incredible experience. It is a bucket list item for many outdoor adventurers. Recreation.gov describes it as follows,
Where is the Wire Pass Trailhead?
Wire Pass Trailhead is located about an hour outside of Kanab, Utah, and Page, Arizona.
To find it:
- From Kanab, Utah drive 37 miles east on Highway 89.
- From Page, Arizona drive 36 miles west on Highway 89 then turn south on House Rock Valley Road and drive 8.3 miles to the trailhead.
Be aware that once you turn off Highway 89, you are driving on dirt roads that are not maintained. These roads are easily passable for most cars, but high clearance and 4WD tend to do better. The drive takes about an hour from both Kanab and Page.
Once at the trailhead, you will find a large parking area, pit toilets, and trailhead information signs.
How to Find the Trailhead
The trailhead can be found directly across the road from the parking lot area & bathrooms. Before heading off on the hike, be sure to take a minute to read through trail information on the signs, along with the warnings, and be sure to have your permit visible on your dashboard.
What Do I Need to Know about Hiking Wire Pass to Buckskin Gulch?
Now that you know how to get to the Wire Pass Trailhead, let’s discuss what you need to know about hiking Wire Pass to Buckskin Gulch.
Wire Pass trail to Buckskin Gulch is 3.5 miles out and back and takes 1.5-3 hours to complete for the average person.
The trail consists of sandy washes, two slots, and a large confluence with towering rock walls and petroglyphs.
The trail is relatively flat and easy, as it follows a sandy wash through the desert until you reach the slot canyons. This means the trail is sandy and hot for the majority of the hike!
There are some shady spots along the way but they are few and far between, so be prepared when you visit (keep reading for more on safety & preparation).
Once you reach the slot canyon you will need to climb over or around a couple of rocks or tree branches, and down a ladder (currently, this ladder is missing, but will more than likely be replaced).
If you do not want to climb down the ladder (or the ladder is missing) you can take a trail up and around the first slot. The trail will drop you down into a canyon after the slot, and you can walk through from that end!
This optional trail works well for those who have dogs.
The first slot is brighter and contains very picturesque walls, as pictured below.
After the first slot canyon, you will come out on a sunny trail. You may be tempted to turn back around and head back to the parking lot. However, you DON’T want to do that!
You HAVE to keep going! Walk down this short trail and pretty quickly you will be at the mouth of a second slot canyon.
This second slot canyon is much darker than the first and the rocks have a slightly different look to them.
Once you walk through this slot canyon you will find yourself in a massive confluence surrounded by towering rock walls.
It is truly breathtaking to view the confluence. Here you can soak it all in while taking a nice break in the shade, eating some snacks or lunch, and viewing the petroglyphs along the rocks next to the arch-like rock.
The confluence is where Wire Pass meets up with Buckskin Gulch. You can choose to keep hiking into Buckskin Gulch or you can choose to turn around and head back from here. You will hike back through both slots and follow the same direction you came from.
Weather & Safety
The safety signs at the entrance of Wire Pass are no joke, and you need to heed the advice carefully.
- You should NEVER enter a slot canyon when there is rain in the forecast. They are prone to flash flooding and it can be a deadly combination. Also, check the weather farther away. Flash floods can begin upstream of where you are hiking.
- Wire Pass can also be extremely hot. Make sure you are prepared with sunscreen and 4 liters of water per person.
- Always be sure to let someone know where you will be hiking and when you should be back.
- Always download a map beforehand. This area has no cell reception, so come prepared. Some people are able to get reception at the trailhead bathrooms so if you need anything last minute you can try this, but it’s always best to come prepared.
- Bring along good snacks. You will need to fuel your body along the way to keep your energy up!
- Check out our recommended gear page for our favorite hiking must-haves.
- You can also read our article to learn important tips for hiking in the desert.
Where Should I Stay if I Want to Hike Wire Pass?
Here are a few options you may consider during your trip to Wire Pass & Buckskin Gulch:
- Camping at Wire Pass Trailhead
For those who love camping in the great outdoors, the Wire Pass Trailhead offers the perfect location. The trailhead has a designated camping area that provides access to the Buckskin Gulch and Wire Pass hiking trails. Camping at the Wire Pass Trailhead is free, but there are no facilities available, so you will need to bring all of your camping gear, including water and food.
- Kanab, Utah
Although it is a small town, Kanab, Utah offers a wide range of accommodation options, including hotels, motels, and vacation rentals. Some popular hotels in the area include the Canyons Boutique Hotel (book here), Comfort Suites (book here), and Parry Lodge (book here). Vacation rentals are also available in Kanab, with options ranging from cozy cabins to luxurious villas. Check out my article The Best Unique Hotels & Resorts In Kanab, Utah for some great options.
- Page, Arizona
Another great place to stay is Page, Arizona. There are several accommodation options in Page, including hotels, motels, and vacation rentals. Some popular hotels in the area include the Hyatt Place (book here), Courtyard by Marriott (book here), and Lake Powell Resort (book here).
- Camping at Stateline Campground
The Stateline Campground is located about 40 minutes from Wire Pass and Buckskin Gulch and provides a great camping option for those looking to stay closer to the hiking trails. The campground has 28 campsites, each with picnic tables, fire rings, and tent pads. The campground also has restrooms and drinking water available for visitors.
What Else is Nearby Wire Pass?
Wire Pass is nearby so many great spots to adventure and explore!
Wire Pass is also close to:
Is There a National Park Nearby?
The national parks are crowded! If you’re visiting one of these locations and you need a game plan, we’ve got you covered. Download our itineraries, so you can visit the best sites efficiently and have a great trip!
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO ZION
ZION TRIP PLANNER: To read or watch all of our content about Zion National Park, check out our Zion Homepage
WHERE TO EAT: Check out the best places to eat in and near Zion National Park.
WATCH: Enjoy videos of gorgeous Zion National Park while learning our best tips for visiting by watching our Zion YouTube Playlist
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO THE GRAND CANYON
GRAND CANYON GUIDE: To read or watch all of our content about the Grand Canyon, check out our Grand Canyon Homepage
AREAS: The Grand Canyon is divided into 4 areas: The South Rim, North Rim, Grand Canyon West, and the East Side of the Grand Canyon (Page, AZ). Learn about the 4 areas of the Grand Canyon with our Free Printable
WHERE TO EAT: Check out the best places to eat and get groceries at the South Rim
WATCH: Enjoy videos of the beautiful Grand Canyon while learning our best tips for visiting by watching our Grand Canyon YouTube Playlist