House Rock Valley Road (HRVR) is your gateway to many spectacular destinations within the Grand Staircase-Escalante NM and Vermillion Cliffs NM. The most accessible is Wire Pass and Buckskin Gulch. Ignore the first trailhead you see after crossing Buckskin Wash in your car, head south to the Wire Pass trailhead (same one used by the lucky few with Wave permits).
Wire Pass meanders along a dusty wash before the surrounding slick rock tightens it’s grip and creates a narrow passage to Buckskin Gulch. There is a spillover once you hit the first deep narrows. It can climbed down, or you can back track and bypass it by climbing up and over on a trail on the south side of Wire Pass to reenter the slot canyon below the spillover. Another narrow passage will deliver you to the confluence with Buckskin Gulch.
Once in Buckskin Gulch, you can go right (downstream) towards the Paria River, but you will find cold, muddy pools immediately. These pools tend to dissipate in the late spring, early summer months before the monsoons hit. In the fall, you can count on water, and you can expect many pools of water to negotiate as you head downstream in Buckskin Gulch.
Not up for a muddy slog? No problem, go left (upstream). We’ve found this section of Buckskin to be reasonably dry in the Fall, and certainly dry in the months leading up to monsoon season. You can hike as far as you want, eventually the slot canyon turns into a rocky wash and progressively gets wider as you get closer to House Rock Valley Road. We do not recommend making this a loop hike by exiting Buckskin Wash at HRVR and walking back down the road to the trailhead. There are far more entertaining ways to return to your car.
Backtrack to Wire Pass, get through the narrow passages to where the rocky/dusty wash starts to form. Look for trails heading up the left bank (south side). Some are dead ends, but a couple of them will snake their way up the sand between the Teepees. Once on top, you’ll find a slick rock playground with formation after formation in the distance, with sand and more sand in between.
We’ve played around on the Teepees and even into Teepee Valley without crossing into the Wave permit zone. The Wave is still well to the south of you, but technically speaking, the permit zone extends to the edge of the Teepees. Once your exploration is done, its a simple walk back across the slight hill to the west. We believe the sandy slog on the north side of this hill is clear of the permit zone, while the trail further south lies within the permit zone. You will rejoin Wire Pass wash about a half mile from the trailhead.