By Michael Lanza

Very small—that’s how walking down Paria Canyon makes you feel, in a way that evokes a powerful sense of awe. Sheer walls in a kaleidoscope of red and orange, streaked with coal-black water stains, rise hundreds of feet overhead and close it tightly to form a narrow corridor for several miles in the upper canyon. On the second afternoon of a five-day, two-family backpacking trip down Paria Canyon earlier this spring, I captured this image of three of the kids passing below one end of an arch-like formation eroded into one wall.

Paria held some surprises for us—including frequent encounters with quicksand, which lent a little excitement to this adventure. (We didn’t lose anyone.) Straddling the Utah-Arizona border in the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness (between Kanab, Utah, and Page, Arizona), and flowing into the Grand Canyon at Lees Ferry, it’s unquestionably one of the great, multi-day canyon hikes of the Southwest—so beautiful that one of our campsites made my list of 25 favorite backcountry campsites.

Later, I’ll post a story at The Big Outside, with many photos and a video, about our 38-mile hike from White House campground to Lees Ferry. Meanwhile, see all of my stories about hiking and backpacking in southern Utah, including another very pretty but shorter and more beginner-friendly trip, backpacking Coyote Gulch in Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

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