Hwy 89 North
Bucktank Draw and Birthday Arch
Hike time: About 3 hours
Easy to Moderate
Trailhead: Located off Highway 89 at mile marker 9 3/4, about 17 miles northwest of Carl Hayden Visitor Center, this pleasantly simple, easy to moderate hike in a sandy and partial bedrock sandstone draw leads you south to a box canyon, a large arch and a small slot canyon. Park your car on the south side of Highway 89, just at the west end of the metal railing, and head down the sandy slope through the gate into the draw.
Description: The arch is located about 1.5 miles from the road, snuggled in along the western cliffs. When you spot the arch, you will need to traverse 1/2 to 3/4 mile west over sandy uphill slopes. To get directly under the arch requires caution as you scramble up and over loose rocky ledges. Getting to the top requires some work and backtracking to find your way up. The slot canyon is on the opposite side of the box canyon and is fairly easy to spot from the arch. It is worth the cross-country trek to see this very narrow, short slot canyon.
Driving time from Carl Hayden Visitor Center: 20 minutes.
6 miles (9.7 km) round-trip
Trailhead: From Page, drive north on Highway 89 about 12 miles (19 km) to Big Water, Utah. Between mile posts 7 and 8, turn right, in the opposite direction of the Big Water Visitor Center. Turn right again in 0.3 mile (0.5 km), at a sign reading, “Glen Canyon Nation Recreation Area – State Highway 12.” Drive 4.6 miles (7.5 km) to the Wiregrass Canyon Back Country Use Area and park in the pullout.
Description: This sandy wash takes you through a small canyon and requires some scrambling and detours. Look for cairns (small stacks of rocks that act as trail markers) to lead you out.
Many established trails of varying distances
Easy to Moderate to Difficult
Trailhead(s): 27 miles north of the Carl Hayden Visitor Center, near milepost 18 on Highway 89, the Cottonwood Road winds 46 miles north through the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument to Cannonville, Utah, where it connects with Highway 12. Traveling north, the road crosses through diverse scenery: badlands that look like a moonscape, the Paria River with its cottonwood trees, up and over the Cockscomb, and the stone monuments of Grosvenor Arch and Kodachrome Basin State Park. Hiking opportunities are numerous and include Hackberry Canyon, Yellow Mountain, Cottonwood Canyon Narrows, the Cockscomb, and Grosvenor Arch. Hike for an hour or take a longer journey — the choice is yours. Books have been published about hiking along the Cottonwood Road. It may help to read ahead if you want to do some serious hiking. The Cottonwood Road is not passable when wet. Check road conditions before traveling.
Paria Rimrocks - Toadstool Trail
1.5 miles round-trip
Trailhead: Drive north on Highway 89 from Glen Canyon Dam. Turn into the dirt parking area on the right just past Mile Marker 19. Slip through the hikers gate, sign the register, and head up the wash. Maps are available at the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Visitor Center in Big Water.
Description: Dirt trail with minor scrambling required over trail obstacles. When you think you are at the end, guess again. Scramble up the trail obstacle and find your way to the hoodoo garden.
Hike time: 30-60 minutes
Paria Movie Set, Pahreah Cemetery, and Pahreah Town Site are located 5 miles off of Highway 89 near Mile Marker 30.5, about 39 miles from the Carl Hayden Visitor Center. A 5-mile dirt road leads to the structures and artifacts that tell the story of many former inhabitants who settled or visited the area — and of a once-ideal Hollywood movie set for some of our most memorable Western films. Both Paria and Pahreah are pronounced the same: They rhyme with Maria. The Paria River runs slow and muddy most of the time, but occasionally it will exceed its banks. Use caution, but feel free to go ahead, as this river will beckon you to cross it and walk upstream or in stream to get a stronger sense of the area’s rich history.
Driving time: 45 minutes.