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USA Wire Pass

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When locals and tourists hear “Wire Pass”, they usually think about the Wire Pass Trailhead which serves as the beginning of two world-class hikes. The 15-mile-long Buckskin Gulch slot canyon is usually accessed from there as is The Wave. Permits for The Wave are extremely difficult to acquire. At the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) visitor center in Kanab, Utah, 200-300 people routinely gather every day to sign up for the lottery that awards 10 lucky people a permit. Another 10 people are awarded a permit via an online lottery. It’s a tough ticket. Likewise, only 20 permits are distributed for overnight hikes through Buckskin Gulch which are awarded via an online lottery. The good news is an unlimited number of visitors can purchase a Day Use permit for Wire Pass and Buckskin Gulch for $6 US (per person) online via the recreation.gov website. It’s an otherworldly experience even if you just hike a few miles down Buckskin and turn around. What many people don’t realize is that the relatively short 3-mile (4.8 km) round trip hike through Wire Pass to the confluence with Buckskin Gulch is a really fun outing and is a wonderful introduction to a very pretty slot canyon with many opportunities for photography. There’s one obstacle that varies in difficulty after each flash flood. The last time I was there (May 2023) the drop over a choke stone was about 8 feet but had some rocks piled at the base to assist the climb down/up. Since then, a heavy wooden ladder was placed there but was washed away in a flash flood. Subsequently, another ladder has been placed and is still there (as of May 5, 2024) so we’ll see if it lasts through this year’s monsoon season. In any case,
there’s a relatively easy bypass located about 30 yards before the obstacle on the right. The bypass takes you up and over a small hill and drops you down a somewhat steep slickrock shelf about 30 feet beyond the obstacle.

Photography Tips

For beginner photographers, I recommend shooting auto ISO in Aperture Priority mode. A lightweight tripod would be useful in a few dark sections of the slot.

Travel Information

From Kanab, Utah drive 40 miles (64 km) east on US-89. Turn right onto House Rock Valley Road, located between mile markers 25 and 26 just before a guardrail and a sweeping left-hand curve in the road. The Wire Pass trailhead parking area (which is also parking for the Wave) is 8.3 miles (13.36 km) down the road. The trail to “The Wave” veers off to the right about 1/2 mile down the wash. Resist the temptation to wander up that trail without a Wave permit. BLM rangers and park volunteers now patrol the area to ensure hikers have the required permit which must be pinned to your shirt or backpack.
Spot Type Outdoor
Crowd Factor Just a few people
Best Timing Sunrise during spring
Sunrise & Sunset 06:20 - 20:47 | current local time: 14:34
Photo Themes Slot Canyon

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Thank you Gary Leverett for creating this photo spot in USA and Mia Pflieger for improving it with additional photos or content.
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