ILX Trip to Utah: Buckskin Gulch Hike

Odometer (Legend):  522,393


Odometer (ILX):  41,757


Trip Distance:  1,101 Miles


Lace up your hiking boots for this one!

Here’s a 4-minute video of the action.  Watch for the dancing by my friend Rustin toward the middle of the sequence.

Kid’s got rhythm!  😉

From the hustle and bustle of the Las Vegas Strip to one of the most remote, rugged canyons in the southwestern United States, the Acura ILX saw it all this past weekend.  Since it’s just a 5-hour drive for me from the Phoenix area, Las Vegas is a frequent destination.  My friend Kevin and I headed out last Thursday afternoon and set our sights on Sin City.


The Las Vegas Strip is a 4.2 mile stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard.  A little known fact is this stretch of road is not in fact located within the City of Las Vegas, but rather in the unincorporated towns of Paradise and Winchester.  The allure of the city brings in nearly 40 million visitors per year, and it’s home to over 20,000 conferences per year.  Since all of those visitors need places to stay, 15 of the world’s 25 largest hotels are located in Las Vegas.


Kevin and I stayed at the castle-themed Excalibur Hotel that’s been around since 1990.

Gambling is big business here!  The gambling revenue of the Las Vegas Strip is $6.2 billion per year.  This city never sleeps.  I’ve been on the Strip at all hours of the night – there are perhaps even more pedestrians out at 3:00 in the morning than there are at 3:00 in the afternoon due to the brutal desert heat!


We met up with a couple of other friends who were visiting from Calgary, Alberta. Kevin and I are in the front seats; Jeff and Jason in the back.  The ILX was quite accommodating for the 4 of us and all of our gear.


Jason had never tried In-N-Out Burger before, so that was a must-see before we headed to Utah to do some hiking.  All these great dining opportunities in Las Vegas, yet our Canadian friends wanted to have burgers!


100 miles north of Vegas on Interstate 15, we arrived in my hometown of St. George, Utah and got settled in.


I showed my friends a few sights around town, including a great sunset viewpoint on the “Red Hill.”


St. George a community in the far southwest corner of Utah.  It’s home to 74,000 people.


My sister-in-law recommended a stop at a place on St. George Boulevard called Swig.  This place specializes in custom-flavored sodas.  The top-selling beverage is called a “Dirty Dr. Pepper,” which includes coconut syrup.


Saturday morning was hike day, starting bright and early at 6:30 a.m.  Another friend, Rob (back seat, red hat) joined the party and we headed out on the 2.5 hour drive from St. George to the hike trailhead of Buckskin Gulch.


My mom and step-dad, Todd, followed in the 2003 Lexus GS430 as we paralleled the Utah-Arizona state line on Highway 389 eastbound.


After a pit stop in Kanab, we continued 38 miles east on Highway 89 until we found a dirt road called House Rock Valley Road.  It was time to get the ILX dirty.  Aside from washboard ruts, the road conditions were pretty friendly for a passenger vehicle.  This type of road would definitely be impassible for a two-wheel-drive vehicle in inclement weather, though.


In just over 8 miles, we arrived at the trailhead for the Wire Pass hike and the Buckskin Gulch.


This same trailhead is used to access a geologic formation called “The Wave.”  However, hiking to The Wave requires a special permit, of which only 20 are issued per day.  We weren’t selected for that hike but decided to explore that same area in a different direction.


We parked our dirty cars and started gearing up for the hike ahead.  With temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, we knew we had to pack plenty of water.


Pit toilets are available but there are no other amenities at the trailhead.


Blue skies and warm temperatures made it a perfect day to explore the great outdoors.


From an informative sign at the Wire Pass trailhead:

You’ll find no designated trails, developed campsites, signs, or facilities inside the wilderness boundary.  The terrain is rugged and hiking conditions can change with the weather.  Hikers should be in good physical condition and know how to navigate in a primitive backcountry setting.


The following sign warns hikers about the importance of being prepared.


For the first 20 minutes or so of the hike, we walked along this dried up riverbed.


For the next 2.5 hours, we hiked deep into the wilderness through this awe-inspiring canyon.  Buckskin Gulch was dry on the day that we hiked it, but during rainy season carries a high volume of water.  It’s a tributary of the Paria River, which itself is a tributary of the Colorado River.  Below, Jeff and Kevin are first arriving at the area where the passageway starts to narrow.


The canyon’s length is 13 miles and there’s only one place where hikers can exit mid-way through (called, appropriately, Middle Trail).  That means once you’re in the slot canyon, there’s no way out for at least several miles.  Here, Cathy and Rustin are leading the way through one of the very narrow sections.  Can you imagine a wall of water coming at you if a flash flood happened here?


The width of the canyon varied anywhere from 2 feet to 40 feet, and the terrain of the canyon floor was diverse, too.  Sometimes we were trudging through very fine sand and other times we had to step across river rocks.


It’s impossible to capture the perspective of just how massive some of these rock formations towered over our heads.  Around each corner, there was a new surprise.


Hieroglyphics from native Indian tribes were found on some of the rock formations.  Natural arches are found in various places along the hike.


It’s incredible to see how nature has formed these sandstone passageways over hundreds of years.  Here I’m pictured with Kevin and Jeff.


There was only one area where we encountered water, and it was easily passed via some logs and rocks which we could hop across.


One account that I read online said that during rainy seasons, the water level in places could require swimming.


Enjoy the rest of these pictures that were captured on the hike, either by my camera or by others in our group.




Tyson, Jason, Rustin, Jeff, Cathy




Jeff, Rustin, Cathy, Jason, Kevin



This is the location where we stopped to have lunch and empty the sand from our shoes.  Most of us had packed peanut butter & jelly sandwiches.


Photo-op with my mom at our picnic spot.


The return to trailhead seemed to go a lot more quickly than our descent.  In all, we were hiking for nearly 7 hours and we only experienced a small section of what Buckskin Gulch has to offer.  It was a relief to get back to the cars and rest our legs.


Get me some water!


Heading back out on House Rock Road, the ILX kicked up a cloud of dust for the 8-mile drive until meeting up with Highway 89 again.


As a testament to Acura comfort, even on a road with conditions like these:


These two tired hikers in the backseat were STILL able to fall sound asleep.


Here, we were reunited with Highway 89 which would take us back to Kanab, then St. George for the evening.  It was good to be back on a smooth road.  As I got up to 65 mph, I left a cloud of dust behind me as the wind blew off the car.


That was our hike experience!  Glad I was able to spend some time with friends.  We loaded up the car at the close of the weekend and reminisced about the good times we had shared.  One day I hope to go back and hike Buckskin in its 13-mile entirety.


I had to top off with some 87 octane instead of Premium this trip, but didn’t notice any adverse performance.


Thanks for coming along!

The only use the Legend has had in the last few days was a drive last night to dinner, when ironically I was passed by a Bellanova White Pearl ILX Hybrid!


In closing, enjoy this ILX “A-Spec” rendering that was sent to me courtesy of digital artist (and Acura fanatic) “Hondatalover.”  I need those wheels!  Thanks, Dillon, for sending.


4 Responses to “ILX Trip to Utah: Buckskin Gulch Hike”

  1. Wow. Another 1000+ mile trip. You are just piling up the miles Tyson. 🙂

    I love how you say it is “just” a five hour trip from Phoenix to Vegas. That is a huge trip for the majority of people. But the more long trips you take, the less significant that driving distance becomes.

    • 1,000 miles in a weekend is nothing, my friend! Haha. Yeah it doesn’t really phase me anymore to sit in the car for 4-5 hours between stops. Guess I missed my calling in life – should’ve been a truck driver. I did have a great weekend and I was impressed with how the ILX performed. For being a small car, it was still able to comfortably haul around 5 people and a lot of luggage.

  2. some great looking places for photos! Too bad you couldn’t sneak the car in there for some really distinct backgrounds.

    I just might have stayed in Vegas! LOL

    • Dave, I was thinking the same thing. It would be incredible to transport an Acura to one of the wider parts of the canyon and have a nice backdrop. I suppose such a thing could be achieved with Photoshop! Vegas is fun, but I tend to get my fill of it in 24 hours or so. It’s sensory overload! The next time you’re there, you’ve got to try a restaurant called “Holsteins” at The Cosmopolitan. Absolutely amazing burgers.

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