The Upper Paria River, while not as famous as its lower sibling, is just as fantastic and magical. It is an important source of sediment for the Colorado River. This canyon is only one of many that produce tributaries to the muddy waters of the Paria.

Setting out

The journey to this waterfall was one full of questions, minor missteps, and most of all – miles. I had read about these falls on a blog post, with only vague information about where to start and where to head. “Soon you will come to a junction. At this spot you will likely hear the falls to your right…” Sounds straightforward, right? While I had planned on a nine mile day, my starting at the wrong trailhead turned the day into a 16 mile one. For the majority of the hike I trod through exposed and messy terrain, with numerous river crossings and soaking cold boots.

 

Chinle Formation Sandstone and the Paria River

Getting close… right?

Once I reached the confluence about seven miles in, I knew I was getting close. All I had to do was follow this small tributary into the canyon that birthed it, and I would find my destination. When I made it to the aforementioned junction, all I found was a trickle dripping within a small alcove. “Surely this can’t be it?” I asked myself. “If it is, was this trek worth it?” I was utterly confused, yet decided to venture just a bit further into the canyon, as a quick sanity check. I quickly came to a second junction, and although I didn’t hear a waterfall, I could see that a lot of water was originating in this section. A few steps toward this direction and I finally heard it – water crashing onto sandstone, echoing about this large and intimate cove. Needless to say, my earlier question was answered. I took my boots off, found a rock in the sun, and marveled at this waterfall whose name I do not know, soaking up the feeling of pure adventure – and the water flowing between my toes.

Long exposure of the waterfall, showing its dynamics. The water was surprisingly loud, given how limited it was (compared to other falls high up in the alpine).

 

2 thoughts on “Hidden Falls, Upper Paria

    • Wow, I am glad you made it! Hopefully you started closer than I did. If I were to repeat, I would start at the Paria townsite. I missed some petroglyphs back there, so that is a good enough reason to return one day!

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