Photo Essay

Paria Wilderness Area

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.

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7 responses

  • Terry Everson

    Terry Everson said (11 Jan 2011):

    An excellent article and superb images.

  • Isabelle Dethier

    Isabelle Dethier gave props (11 Jan 2011):

    How extraordinary- wonderful !! just my thing !!

  • Robin Perkins

    Robin Perkins gave props (11 Jan 2011):

    Great work, incredible photo's!

  • Marco Martinez

    Marco Martinez gave props (14 Jan 2011):

    Excellent perspectives, excellent series of landscapes

  • Judy and Wayne Wanamaker

    Judy and Wayne Wanamaker gave props (24 Jan 2011):

    Breathtaking shots and a fabulous story! Bruce you have such a wonderful talent for finding the most gorgeous natural and unspoiled places in our country! This is one of your best! voted.

  • Merike Mäll

    Merike Mäll gave props (11 Apr 2011):

    hea essee

  • Katherine Nak

    Katherine Nak   said (3 Jul 2013):

    Fabulous story and photos, you have inspired a fun adventure, I live in Utah! Thank you!

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