Vermilion Cliffs National Monument | Outdoorsy

Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
Guide

Introduction

The Vermilion Cliffs National Monument is located in Arizona along the Arizona/Utah state line. The monument is 294,000 acres and includes the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness Area. It is a destination that is visited by those heading to the Grand Canyon or Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. For those with the right equipment, this remote monument is a destination for hiking, off-roading, and camping.

Vermilion Cliffs National Monument is a Bureau of Land Management property. The roads within the monument are dirt and a four-wheel-drive vehicle is recommended. A permit is required in some areas for both day-use and overnight backpacking trips. Hikers that explore the canyon trails will find themselves surrounded by colorful sandstone formations and in the narrow corridor of slot canyons. It’s important to keep an eye on weather conditions. Flash flooding occurs a few times each year. Some roads become impassable after heavy rainfall.

There are two developed BLM campgrounds that are just outside of the monument. These campgrounds are accessible by RVs though they are off of unpaved, dirt roads. The campsites at each are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Each campsite is equipped with a fire ring and picnic table. The campgrounds provide a great access point to many of the trails within the monument. Many privately-owned campgrounds are in the area for RVers who wish to avoid the dirt roads.

RV Rentals in Vermilion Cliffs National Monument

Transportation

Driving

Vermilion Cliffs National Monument is in northern Arizona, along the edge of Utah. To access the monument, take US 89 or 89A north if from Flagstaff, Arizona or south if coming from Kanab, Utah. The monument is remote and several miles away from fuel, food, and other services. Come well-equipped with plenty of food, water, and fuel. Due to rough road conditions, it’s recommended that visitors bring a spare tire in the event they get a flat.

The roads within the monument are unpaved. Many are rocky and rough and the road is deep sand in some sections. A high-clearance, four wheel drive vehicle is highly recommended. Many of the dirt roads are unmarked. Some roads can become muddy, slippery, and even impassable after rainfall. Visitors can check with the BLM office for road and weather conditions. The two developed campgrounds are located off of dirt roads just outside of the monument and are accessible to those without four wheel drive.

Parking

Public Transportation

Campgrounds and parking in Vermilion Cliffs National Monument

Campsites in Vermilion Cliffs National Monument

First-come first-served

White House Campground

White House Campground is one of two developed BLM campgrounds at Vermilion Cliffs National Monument. It is located just outside of the monument and is about 43 miles east of Kanab, UT. It can be found at the end of Monument Road #751, two miles south of Highway 89. It’s an ideal location for those planning to hike in the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness Area. The Paria River runs next to the campground and is a great spot to cool off if visiting during the hot summer.

There are five campsites that are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The campsites are surrounded by many colorful cliffs and formations that make for great short hikes and stunning scenery to campers. While some sites are more suitable for tents, small RVs and trailers may fit into others. Each campsite has basic amenities such as a picnic table, fire pit, and tent pad. The campsites are not shaded.

Stateline Campground

Stateline is a BLM Campground located along the border of Utah and Arizona, right outside of the monument. It can be accessed from House Rock Valley Road. It makes for a great campground for hikers planning to venture into Buckskin Gulch or Wire Pass. Visitors can expect to be surrounded by colorful rock scenery. There is an overlook with a covered bench on a ridge over the campground where campers can rest and enjoy the views.

The seven campsites at the campground are all available on a first-come, first-served basis. The campsites have space in between them as well as juniper and pinon trees. While there is some shade at Stateline Campground, it is limited. Each campsite has a covered picnic table and a fire ring. This campground is primitive without other amenities but does have pit toilets on-site. RVs and trailers should be able to access this campground as road and weather conditions permit.

Seasonal activities in Vermilion Cliffs National Monument

In-Season

Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness

The Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness Area is popular with visitors that come to this BLM property. Paria Canyon consists of 112,500 acres and is home to many popular hikes on the land including Buckskin Gulch and Coyote Buttes.

Slot canyons, arches, and towering walls of red rock greet visitors that pass into Paria Canyon. For those wanting to stay overnight, a permit is required. Make sure to make arrangements well in advance of your trip.

Buckskin Gulch

Buckskin Gulch is within the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness and is one of the more popular hikes. It’s a deep canyon that becomes very narrow at times, running continuously for 15 miles. The hike is considered to be strenuous due to the length, though there are some rocks and other obstacles.

There are four trailheads that can be used to access Buckskin. Each is passable in both directions, so those not wanting to complete the full hike can turn back at any time. Those wanting to hike the full length of Buckskin Gulch may want to pick up a permit to make it an overnight trip.

White Pocket

White Pocket is in a very remote location on the BLM land. The remote location makes for fewer crowds than many of the other trails. White Pocket Trail is located about an hour and a half from House Rock Valley Road. A high clearance four-wheel-drive vehicle is highly recommended to travel the deep sandy roads to the trailhead.

Visitors will see many colorful rock formations along the two-mile trail. The Wave and Buckskin Gulch can easily be accessed from White Pocket. Many visitors opt to do one of these two trails after White Pocket.

Off-Season

Coyote Buttes

Coyote Buttes is a day-use area only and requires a permit. Due to high demand, permits are awarded using a lottery system the day before your hike. Once a permit is obtained, head into the wilderness of Coyote Buttes where you will find stunning domes, corridors, and many other unique rock formations. Many of these colorful formations are fragile. The northern section of Coyote Buttes is also known as “The Wave.”

Wire Pass

Wire Pass Trail is a great option for those looking to take an easy to moderate hike. Wire Pass Trail is an out-and-back trail that is about 3.5 miles roundtrip. Wire Pass has an elevation gain of about 200 feet. The trail leads down into a narrow slot canyon. Though the canyon becomes narrow in some sections, the canyon walls are shorter than those in Buckskin Gulch. This trail can be used as an access point for Buckskin Gulch.

Wildlife

Vermilion Cliffs National Monument provides visitors with many opportunities for birdwatching and to view other wildlife. The monument has a renewed population of California condors after the species was reintroduced beginning in 1996. Visitors are likely to see condors at the west end of the monument in the condor viewing area.
White-throated swift and violet-green swallow are two other types of birds that may be seen around the cliffs and rock outcrops. Many other types of animals, both large and small, roam in the area, including bighorn sheep, deer, lizards, various reptiles, and many amphibians.

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