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One Photo, One Story: Backpacking Paria Canyon

One Photo, One Story: Backpacking Paria Canyon

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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About The Author

Michael Lanza

A former field editor and primary gear reviewer for Backpacker Magazine, Michael Lanza created The Big Outside to share stories and images from his many backpacking, hiking, and other outdoor adventures, as well as expert tips and gear reviews to help readers plan and pull off their own great adventures.


  1. Avatar

    Beautiful photo. I live in Utah and am somewhat used to the tall walls of Southern Utah, but this photo really captures the towering walls thanks to the people in the photo. Thanks for sharing all your adventures and amazing photos.

    • michaellanza

      Thanks Angee

  2. Avatar

    Great photo – but your copyright is perhaps unfortunately placed, since it covers up the people that are supposed to be the focus 🙂

    • MichaelALanza

      Yes, partly, sorry about that! Art isn’t always easy, I guess.


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Hi, I’m Michael Lanza, creator of The Big Outside and former Northwest Editor at Backpacker magazine. Click my photo to learn more about me and my blog. Click here to sign up for my FREE email newsletter. Join The Big Outside now to get full access to all of my blog’s stories. And click here to learn how I can help you plan your next trip.

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