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Lower Buckskin Gulch, Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness Area, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, Utah. 22-5-1996.

Buckskin Gulch is reputed to be the deepest, darkest and narrowest slot canyon in North America, and possibly the longest in the world at close to 20-km length. Michael Kelsey, author of numerous definitive and controversial books on the desert southwest, says it is the best slot canyon hike there is. I have seen darker and narrower cracks but not canyons; so, I believe that the title "deepest, darkest, narrowest" would be well-deserved.

This photo is from the lower section of the Gulch. There is no chance of seeing the sun, for the canyon walls are over 100 m high. But the diffused light paints the walls to shades of yellow and orange around noon time. The slot canyon is basically sandstone cut by a tributary of the Paria River, which is also the sculptor of the hoodoos in Bryce Canyon. Buckskin Gulch is bone-dry for most of the year, and you have to carry in your own water. One can run into pools following rare rainstorms, which also trigger sudden flash-floods. The likelihood of surviving a flash-flood in Buckskin Gulch is extremely small.

Contax 167MT, Carl Zeiss Distagon 28/2.8 MM, 1/3 sec, f/5.6, Fujichrome Velvia, 81B