White House Trailhead provides the northern access to Paria Canyon and Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness. The undeveloped route into Paria Canyon from White House follows the riverbed, with no developed trail or facilities outside the trailhead. From the trailhead, hikers can enjoy out-and-back dayhikes or embark on multi-day backpacking trips to Lees Ferry or Buckskin Gulch.
Traveling downstream from White House Trailhead, the first few miles of the riverbed are relatively exposed. After about one mile, interesting erosional pockets can be observed in the sandstone walls of the canyon. A little more than two and a half miles from the trailhead, powerlines across the canyon mark the boundary of the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness. From here, the rest of the canyon system is within the wilderness. Approximately four miles from White House trailhead, the riverbed enters the narrows, where rippling, pastel-colored walls enclose the canyon on two sides. About three miles into the narrows, or seven miles from White House trailhead, Buckskin Gulch merges with the Paria on canyon right. The Paria narrows continue downstream for an additional ten miles before the canyon begins to grow increasingly wider and rougher as the river cuts through geological layers. The final several miles of the route alternate between relatively flat floodplains and short river crossings before terminating at Lonely Dell Ranch in Lees Ferry, Arizona, approximately 38 miles from White House.
Obstacles and weather conditions can make portions of the route difficult and dangerous. The Paria River’s large watershed and miles of narrow walls make it extremely prone to flash flooding; hiking in the area should not be attempted if flooding is a possibility. After a flood, quicksand lingers in the riverbed, posing a challenge for hikers, especially those with heavier, overnight packs. Although the route follows a riverbed, finding water can be a challenge. Most years, the river is dry from roughly mid-May through the beginning of monsoon season in July, as its water is used for irrigation upstream. Even when the river is flowing, filtering directly from it is discouraged; the Paria’s fine silt is notorious for its ability to clog and destroy filters. Before beginning a long hike, learn where reliable springs can be found and bring enough water bottles to be able to get through dry stretches.
Permits are required. Day use permits are available at the trailhead. The fee is $6.00 per person and $6.00 per dog. Fees must be paid in cash or by check, and passes (including Interagency and Senior) are not accepted.
Overnight use is limited and requires an advance permit only available online. For more information, visit https://www.blm.gov/programs/recreation/permits-and-passes/lotteries-and-permit-systems/arizona/paria-canyon.
Commercial groups and some organized groups require an additional special recreation permit.
Group size is limited to 10 people sharing any affiliation (friends, family, club, tour, etc.). Groups of more than 10 people are not allowed to enter the permit area in the same day.
For more information, detailed maps, and current conditions contact the Kanab Visitor Center (BLM) in Kanab, UT or visit the Paria Contact Station.
White House Trailhead is generally accessible to 2-wheel-drive vehicles, but after heavy rain and flooding, the road can become impassable. Exercise caution if considering a visit when heavy rain has been forecast; if the road washes out, it may not be possible to leave for some time. The BLM does not close the trailhead or the canyon due to weather concerns.