Paria River picture
image © Robert Luis Chavez

Paria Plateau... 11" x 14" fine print $325.00
The Paria Plateau rises above the sand dunes near the Wilson Ranch.


The Paria River cuts through a vast and spectacular area of Utah and Arizona. Its headwaters start in famed Bryce Canyon, then it cuts through Zion National Park on It's way to the Colorado River. The Buckskin Gulch, a tributary to the Paria, is one of the most spectacular slot canyons in the world, according to Micheal R. Kelsey, author of an excellent guide called Hiking and Exploring the Paria River.

Eventually, in my first ever backpacking trip, I was fortunate enough to hike the 37 miles of the lower Paria River and a good portion of the Buckskin Gulch. My friend, Kent Bowser, first heard about the trip from our other friend, who we will call Xronda. The Hike was to be led by Bob McKee of Los Alamos, New Mexico. Xronda had talked to Bob on the phone, and it was all set for us to join the group. There was no way Kent and I could ditch Xronda this trip since she heard about it first and had already joined the party.We would meet the rest of the group in Santa Fe in a couple of weeks to start the 10 hour drive to Page, Arizona.

It was May of 1998 and we began what I thought was going to be an idyllic five day trip through a photographers paradise. It was a paradise and much more, along the way I witnessed mysterious phenomonen, I sufferrred physical pain on the level of torture, and endured stupidity and psychic insults from tentmates and other hikers while confined to the fifty-foot wide canyon.


We gave ourselves five days to complete the hike, that included one day for a side trip up the Buckskin Gulch. After leaving one of three vehicles at Lee's Ferry, we packed nine people, backbacks, plus photo gear for Kent, Xronda, and I, into two cars then drove the hour or so to our starting point. Reaching the White House Ranger Station around nine thirty in the morning we checked in and let the rangers know our intentions. We found out that most of the springs along the river had plenty of water even though the entire southwest was experiencing a prolonged drought.

After 20 minutes everyone was ready: Packs were checked and rechecked, cars were secured, and last minute adjustments were made. I had already checked my gear and pack days ago against my list, there was nothing for me to do, besides lift my pack and start the walk. Just from the parking lot to the wash we saw a huge king snake and a lizard with a very long tail. I knew this was going to be very differrent than Santa Fe where I live. Almost like she read my mind, I heard Xronda say to herself, "Dorfy - we're not in Kansas anymore", to which Kent answered "Oh no we're not, Toad-o"... (continued)


Email: email me

Phone: (505) 982-4457

Robert L. Chavez
2 Torreon Place
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87508