The day hike from Wire Pass to Buckskin Gulch is one of Utah’s great trails, and the main highlight is the beautiful Wire Pass slot canyon, with its nice colorful rock walls.
Buckskin Gulch is known for being one of the longest slot canyons in the United States, but Wirepass Trail is a shorter, more direct way to reach it without as much walking in the hot sun.
Overall, it’s an easy family-friendly day hike where you get to see two spectacular slot canyons, along with some Native American petroglyphs and other photogenic sights along the way.
This guide will explain where to find the Wire Pass trailhead, what to expect on the hike, and everything else you need to know before you go!
UPDATE: As of October 2023, the ladder is gone from Wire Pass. Hopefully they replace it soon. In the meantime, you can still do the hike, but you may have to improvise by going up and around right outside the first section of the slot canyon. Be safe and have fun!
- Distance: 3.5 miles (5.5 km) round trip
- Elevation Gain: 150 feet (45 m)
- Duration: 2 hours round trip
- Difficulty: Easy
*These stats are for Wire Pass to Buckskin Gulch slot canyon
What To Expect: Wire Pass To Buckskin Gulch
• Hike To Wirepass Canyon
The initial hike to Wire Pass slot canyon is surprisingly easy, and that’s part of the reason we loved this hike. You basically get to skip to the best part!
From the trailhead just cross the road and drop down into Coyote Wash, then follow this wide, flat, sandy wash in a northeast direction until you reach the entrance to the slot.
Along the way, you can just stay in the wash. Don’t bother with the side trails you might see leading out of the wash.
This first part of the Wire Pass trail is all exposed to the sun, so you might want a hat/sunscreen for some protection.
However, the cool, shady slot starts after just 1.4 miles of hiking in the sun, and we reached it in less than 30 minutes!
• Wire Pass Slot Canyon
The Wire Pass slot canyon is narrow from the start, and the colors are terrific. I think it’s one of the most visually appealing slot canyons we’ve seen.
The floor of the slot is mostly flat sand and easy to navigate, with a few very minor obstacles along the way.
There’s one wooden ladder to climb down, and I wouldn’t even call it an obstacle for most people, although we did see an elderly hiker take a tumble on it (thankfully he was alright).
Just remember to keep three points of contact and the ladder is no problem at all. Turn around backwards and take deliberate steps.
Wirepass Trail is very family friendly, and the slot is still pretty quiet on weekdays. We didn’t see many other people.
We also didn’t see any snakes in this slot, and I haven’t heard of snake sightings here, but I’d still keep an eye out just in case.
The slot section only lasts for about 1/3rd of a mile and can be finished in about 15-30 minutes depending on your pace.
It’s a very nice slot and we took hundreds of photos in such a short amount of time!
• Buckskin Gulch Slot Canyon
When you reach the end of Wirepass trail, you’re dumped into a wide canyon area with steep orange walls.
This is the intersection with Buckskin Gulch Utah, which is the longest slot canyon in the United States, and it’s also believed to be the longest slot canyon in the world — 21 miles one way!
From here, you can either return to the Wire Pass trailhead, or continue the hike by exploring Buckskin Gulch up- or downcanyon as far as you like.
Most people turn around at this point, but the great thing about the Buckskin Gulch hike is the solitude and lack of people. The farther you go, the quieter it gets.
I would recommend spending at least a little bit of time exploring this new canyon before you go back.
If you go right, the slot seems a bit more narrow and interesting than if you go left. Both sides are worth seeing.
Continuing to the left will eventually take you to the Buckskin Gulch trailhead, while continuing to the right will take you down the canyon as far as you like.
We spent some time exploring the Buckskin slot canyon in both directions, but decided to turn back after we ran into a big puddle of water that wouldn’t be easy to pass.
At one point, we even saw a neat little hollow chimney-shaped space in the rock where a person could sit. It was a pretty unique looking formation.
Overall, Buckskin is a nice slot with some beautiful scenery, but based on the sections we saw, I’d say Wire Pass canyon is the best part of the trail.
The really great thing about this day hike is that you get to see two slot canyons for the price of one!
While you’re exploring Wire Pass and Buckskin Gulch, don’t miss the Native American petroglyphs near the end of Wirepass trail!
These are located on the canyon wall to your right, just as you reach the intersection with Buckskin Gulch (GPS here).
Pass the shallow cave that looks like an arch, and then you’ll notice the rock art on a smooth wall to your right.
There are drawings of animals and people. Enjoy looking at them, but please don’t touch.
Wire Pass Trailhead
The Wire Pass Trailhead is located in southern Utah, near the Arizona border.
Here are the GPS coordinates: 37.019527747181534, -112.02474550786049
You can also use the Google map below to navigate you directly to the parking area, which is a 1 hour drive from either Kanab, Utah, or Page, Arizona.
Kanab and Page are good towns to base yourself for this hike since they have plenty of camping and hotel options.
The last part of the drive to Wire Pass trailhead involves 8.4 miles (like 30 minutes) on a primitive dirt road (House Rock Valley Rd).
Even though it’s an all dirt road, I think you could do it in any vehicle as long as the road is dry and you take your time. It’s two lanes wide and we saw some low clearance vehicles at the trailhead.
With that said, I wouldn’t try to come here after rain unless you have a capable vehicle. Keep in mind there is no cell service on this road.
When you arrive at the trailhead, there are vault toilets, information signs, a trail map, and plenty of parking space.
As always, please remember to keep the trail clean, be considerate of other hikers, and leave no trace. Thanks and happy travels!
Wire Pass Day Use Permits
As of 2023, a day use permit is required for hiking the Wire Pass to Buckskin Gulch.
These permits cost $6 per person or dog, and you can buy them online, so it’s best to just get the permits in advance.
There’s also a QR scanner at the trailhead that you can try to use for payment, but it doesn’t seem to work very well.
You can buy your permits on the Recreation.gov website here, and it’s a pretty easy process.
Slot Canyon Utah Safety Tips
Flash Floods. Always be aware of the weather forecast. Do not enter any slot canyon if rain is in the forecast, even if it's outside of your immediate area. Flash flooding can be very dangerous in a slot canyon.
Sunscreen. Even on a slot canyon hike, there are still plenty of parts on the trail where you'll be exposed to direct sun, so you might want sunscreen. A hat helps too.
Water. Try to pack at least 3-4 liters per person. In Utah, you should always bring more water than you think you need.
Map. It's a good idea to download an offline map of your hiking area on an app like Google Maps, that way you can keep using it to navigate or find your position even when you're out of reception. Getting lost in the desert can be dangerous.
Best Utah Tours
More Things To See Nearby
The Wirepass trail is right by the Utah/Arizona state border, so there are lots of other good things to see nearby.
There’s also the Red Hollow Slot Canyon nearby, which is another neat family friendly hike without crowds.
More Utah Slot Canyon Guides
Thanks for looking! I hope you enjoyed this guide for the Wire Pass to Buckskin Gulch slot canyon trail in Utah.
Don’t forget to check out my complete Utah Slot Canyon Guide to see more of the best slot canyons in Utah!