Canyons of the Paria | Southern Utah Wanderings
Wednesday – Thursday, October 7-8, 2020
After spending Wednesday afternoon going on a pair of short hikes along The Cockscomb and then grabbing a quick dinner in Kanab, Jared and I made our way back to the Paria River to find a place to camp just after dark past the Old Paria Townsite and Movie Set. We found a great spot at the very end of the road under a couple cottonwood trees and set up camp in the dark. Our plan for Thursday was to hike up the Paria River to Starlight Canyon and this time we wanted to get an earlier start since it was going to be a longer hike, so we made sure to get to bed early.
The colors of the badlands were looking really nice at dusk as we drove through them on our way to the Old Paria Townsite on Wednesday evening.
We woke up extra early on Thursday morning so we could get an early start and try to beat the heat of the afternoon. After packing up camp in the dark we started hiking up the Paria River as dawn was beginning to break and when there was just enough light out to see without needing to use our headlamps.
Since there were actually clouds in the sky this morning we were treated to an amazing sunrise as we hiked along the river. It was the first nice sunrise all week and a great way to start the day!
Calico Peak was looking very good this morning.
After hiking a few miles up the river we came to this old chimney which is all that is left of the old Kirby Ranch.
Just another beautiful morning along the Paria River.
On the other side of the river we found the old chimney from the Carlow Ranch.
Next we stopped at this large boulder to check out some small dinosaur tracks.
Here’s a closer look at the small tracks.
Then we continued up the Paria River on our way to Kitchen Canyon.
Jared searching for petroglyphs along the river…
Soon we found another interesting petroglyph panel that was hard to see and photograph. I can’t recall ever seeing a squared zig-zag line turning into the standard V-shape. I thought it was pretty cool.
This is the right side of the same panel.
Magic Mushroom Petroglyph
There was another Herman Pollock inscription carved into this panel.
After hiking up Kitchen Canyon a little ways, we were eventually stopped by this waterfall. Apparently there used to be a trail around the waterfall, but it washed out many years ago.
We backtracked a short distance from the waterfall and started hiking up Starlight Canyon.
Pretty soon we reached the Starlight Canyon Narrows which were very nice and colorful!
Just a rockfall in the narrows…
Beautiful colors and reflections in the Starlight Canyon Narrows.
At the upper end of the narrows was this steep chute with a pool of water at the bottom. Jared was able to climb along the rock on the right side to keep his feet dry, but I just walked through the knee-deep water and got wet. It was a fun scramble up the chute!
Looking down from the top of the cute before we continued up the canyon.
Upper Starlight Canyon
Soon we had a brief view of Mollies Nipple through the trees as the canyon started to open up.
We left the main canyon and went looking for Starlight Cave.
At the back of Starlight Cave are some interesting pictographs that are mostly painted in black.
Climbing back down through the chute on our way back down the canyon.
Looking down the steepest part of the chute into the narrows.
The light was still looking good as we hiked back through the Starlight Narrows.
Since we were going to be hiking near Kitchen Canyon Falls on our way back, we decided to stop again to catch it in the shade.
Even though we had left early in the morning, the hike turned out to be a bit longer than I had anticipated, so we ended up hiking back along the river without shade during the hottest part of the day. Oh well, it was a nice hike and worth it! Once we returned to our vehicles at the trailhead it was time to drive back around to the other side of The Cockscomb again to find a spot to camp along Cottonwood Creek.
This was our view as we left Old Paria behind to drive around to the other side of The Cockscomb.