Paria Wilderness Area
10 Jan 2011
When they looked for places to re-introduce Condors into the wild, they needed somewhere remote. These birds have the largest windspan of any bird in North America and almost went extinct. They do not mix well with human activity and needed a desolate place.
Down along the border between Utah and Arizona spread out a large plateau that looked good. The land is guarded on two sides by incomprehensible shear walls of soft rock cut by a massive flood that made the Grand Canyon look small. On the North side deep slot canyons prevent people from crossing over. Finally on the West side is a large desolate desert area. Seemed like a good spot for Condors. To top it off, the plateau has sugar sand that even four wheel drive vehicles can have difficulty with on a dry day.
This wilderness packaged in a 455 square kilometer area of low human activity. In it is more than Condors,but strange sandstone formations with colors and twirls that can make believers out of atheists, and make proud men realize mortality. One section of Paria has this power and is not as popular as the "Wave" or "White Pocket" sites. Its delicate formations remain relatively undisturbed by human activity. It can still requires a permit to access, but not due to overcrowding.
Coming up to this area from the West you ascend slick rock until you crest the ridge and behold the valley across to the Cockscomb flow marking the end of the wilderness area. Crossing the gates (main photo) you are greeted by various formations some of which have been named, others which are more recently discovered. Dome, finrock, waves, and slickrock abound here. Arrowheads are still on the ground from previous occupants (note they need to remain behind). Dinosaurs left their mark on the place as well. And the light on this place is fantastic.
Punch in "Paria Wilderness" on your search engine under images and you can see the popular spots on buckskin gulch, Paria River, and of course, the Wave. But for my spirit, the quieter, less explored area holds the wild in wilderness. Here photography is only a small taste to what one can actually experience.