Regional discussion and conditions reports for the great state of Utah, from the alpine peaks to the desert slots. Please post partners requests and trip plans here or in the Utah Climbing Partners section.
I am trying to decide which one-day hike is best (based on uniquesness and nice pics) for my visit to the Zion area (yup, I am doing the other cool stuff like the Narrows, etc, etc):
(1) Buckskin Gulch. I would hike it from the Wire Pass trailhead and probably make it up to the Middle trail and back (not sure I can do it all the way to the Confluence and back in one day, I would have to be there to see how fast I can hike safely, i.e., thunderstorms in the PM).
(2) Bull Valley Gorge, Sheep Creek and Willis Creek Loop. I may decide just to hike Bull Valley Gorge 1/2 day, drive to WIllis Creek the other 1/2 day since I do not see any nice descriptions of Sheep Creek, plus the hike on the road from Willis to Bull Valley will be no fun at all.
Couple more questions:
Both roads to these places are dirt roads so definitely I need to check the weather (beside the flood threat in those canyons). Is the BLM office in Kanab the best place to check for road conditions on both?
What about if the roads are dry ? Can I make it in a regular car or do I need an SUV even if the road is dry ?
Both are really good hikes, but are quite different.
Bull Valley Gorge and Willis Creek both have good narrows, but they are much shorter than those in Buckskin Gulch. On the other hand, the pine trees is parts of Bull Valley Gorge are impressive.
Buckskin requires a permit, but no limits on day use.
The road to Wire Pass is usually good for all cars and is more or less and all season road. The road to Bull Valley Gorge is usually good for cars, but is much higher than the one to Wire Pass and is covered in snow and ice for much of the year.
Also, what time of year are you going? Both hikes would be dangerous during a flash flood, but the Buckskin has more risk of flash floods since the narrows are much longer.
I am going to be there the first week of July, hoping my odds of good weather are best. I traveled to Zion last August in the middle of the monsoon season and I was luck I was able to hike the Zion Narrows the first day of my stay (the rest of the time there were thunderstorms left and right).
I will be keeping a veeeeery close look at the weather (I have a few websites to monitor to the Paria river and the area in general, plus the BLM office in Kanab) and if it looks remotely ify I have other hikes planned in 'safer' places.
June and early July is the driest time period in that region (mid-July through mid-September has the highest flash flood potential).
Either choice should OK that time of year, but of course weather forecast is important. Both areas are hot, but in the Buckskin there is shade for most of the time. Lower Bull Valley Gorge and Sheep Creek are more open, but the elevation is a bit higher.
Personally, I'd say that either is a fine choice, but base the destination on whether or not you are going to Bryce Canyon as well. If no, go to the Buckskin; if yes, go to Bull Valley Gorge. This has to do with drive time rather than which hike is best (the Buckskin might be a bit better since the slot is longer, but this is only personal choice and both are great).