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Horseback Down Paria Canyon

30 miles on the back on a horse through the box of the Paria Canyon in Utah through red slot canyons and colorful cliffs full of history was my kind of ride. Riding though the areas that the Indians used, early Mormon settlers traveled, outlaws hung out, cattlemen drove their herd through and rustlers stole them was a special treat. I had no idea how many movies had been made in this area until I visited it.

Where: Paria Canyon-Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah

Distance: About 30 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Elevation: About 4,300′

Date: May 27, 2016

I had the amazing opportunity to pretend I was a cowgirl on the Red Rock Ride (link at the end) and I rode in Utah for a week that included, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, North Rim of the Grand Canyon and areas of Dixie National Forest where Butch Cassidy rode. The longest ride was this ride down the Paria Canyon. Our group of 20 were in our saddles heading down the trail by 0700, thanks to the highly organized outfit that put this ride on. We followed the muddy looking Paria River down through the red rock walls.


Also joining us was the wagon. Since this was such a long ride, the wagon carried cold water and could give some relief to riders who were saddle sore, while the kids in the wagon would ride the horse for a while. The wagon rattled and bumped its way over the riverbed as it wound its way down the canyon. No one in our group took them up on the offer of a ride but we were mighty appreciative of those cold drinks that they had in their ice chest.


We continued down the canyon which narrowed in some places. The wall colors varied from white to light pink.

P1000445r P1000450 (2)rAlong the way, we could see where cowboys and travelers from long ago had written their names and date. Sorry the picture is blurry, but it isn’t that easy to take a zoomed in picture from the back of a moving horse.

P1000457rWho was this Lional Hancock back in 1888? Well, I did a little bit of research and think this is Franklin Lional Hancock, born 1871 Payson, Utah. He is on the 1880 census living in Payson, Utah with his parents Elijah and Eliza, along with his siblings. In 1890, he married Elizabeth Rebecca Tryon in Eden, Arizona. The had 12 children together and on the 1900 census, he is shown with an occupation of farmer. Franklin Lional Hancock died 1909 at Graham, Arizona and is buried at the Eden Cemetery, Arizona. I can’t figure out who the other person, Yapaz is, but perhaps it is a nickname for his brother Erastus. That is my best guess anyway. I did find a wonderful story that mention Lional and his wife in it, describing how they joined several other people form Eden, Arizona on a wagon trip to the Temple in Salt Lake City. If you would like to read more about their life full of joys and hardships, please click no the link The Story of My Life by Annie May Oliver Fuller 1947. I also located a picture of Franklin Lional Hancock and wish I could give credit to whoever shared this but I could not find any information on where or who it came from. If I can locate that information I will immediate correct this.

Franklin Lional Hancock

Franklin Lional Hancock

We saw many writings of the Native Americans from long ago but do not know their meaning. Designs of animals, people and unknown designs were located all over this rock wall.

P1000464 (2)rWe rode though areas where the river spread out and the walls were far away.

P1000459 (2)rThe wagon kept ahead of us.

P1000467r P1000470 (2)r P1000471r P1000475rThe scenery was amazing and those colors began to change as white clouds formed and floated overhead. The red walls became deeper red with stripes of white and pink. Our wrangler pointed out places where Indians from long ago had old camps.

P1000476r P1000477 (2)r P1000478r P1000479r P1000481r P1000483 (2)r P1000485r P1000486rWe reached our lunch spot and I tied up my pony, loosening his girth to give him a break also.

P1000495rAfter lunch, we explored the rock walls behind us covered with ancient symbols.

P1000501rWe needed to keep moving if we were going to make those miles, so we headed out.

P1000503rAs we reached the lower part of the canyon, it really started widening up and the walls and hills became very colorful.

P1000506 (2)r P1000508r P1000511 (2)r P1000514 (2)r P1000517r P1000520rWe rode near the old town of Paria. The original spelling of the town is Pahreah and was settled in 1865 by a Mormon group led by Peter Skirts. In the 1870’s Paria was doing quite well with a general store, church, and 47 families. Unfortunately, the Paria River would flood and did so from 1883 to 1888, washing away fields and buildings. The town hung on til 1911 when it was wiped out by flooding.

But Paria wasn’t done yet. It became well known for a fantastic place to film, especially westerns. The Outlaw Josey Wales is one of the more famous ones filmed in this area.

P1000523rFlooding even wiped out the markers in the cemetery, which were reset with rocks by the BLM.

P1000524rWe all finished the log ride and were met by our vehicles and stock trailers. They also had ice cream and cold drinks for us. I picked the ice cream!

P1000525rWe were all pretty tired by the time we got to our hotel in Kanab, which has also been called Little Hollywood because of the over 100 movies that have been filmed in the area. After getting cleaned up we headed down the main street along the Walk of Fame that highlighted the movies and movie stars that had filmed in the area. It was a blast to relive some of the old TV programs and movies that included the 1956 The Lone Ranger film that was filmed there, Don Knotts in The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again, Charleton Heston in The Planet of the Apes, Clint Eastwood in The Outlaw Josey Wales, James Garner in Duel at Diablo and One Little Indian, Robert Taylor in Billy the Kid, Westward the Women and several of the TV series Death Valley Days. And of course John Wayne was here in the 1943 movie In Old Oklahoma with co stars Martha Scott. George “Gabby” Hayes, and Dale Evans. I have only scratched the surface of the movies and movie stars that are paid tribute with these markers.

We wandered into Houston’s Trail’s End for dinner for a wonderful cowboy dinner, then hit the sack to get ready for our next day’s adventure of riding the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.  Such a wonderful trip full of so many different types of country on our rides. Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, and areas of Dixie National Forest where Butch Cassidy rode were other areas that we rode on our adventure. Loved it!!


Red Rock Ride

BLM Vermilion Cliffs National Monument Paria Canyon/Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness

The Story of My Life by Annie May Oliver Fuller 1947

Wikpedia Paria

Houston’s Trail’s End Restaurant

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