In the western portion of GSENM and about 1 mile up from the Paria River is the seldom-visited Kitchen Canyon Falls and nearby Starlight Canyon Narrows. Getting to this location would be a moderately-long day hike from the Pahreah Townsite (and former Paria Movie Set) location. But, for those backpacking in the Upper Paria area or thru-hikers like those on the Hayduke Trail, it’s a fairly easy and worthwhile diversion.
Kitchen Canyon enters the upper Paria from the west about 4.5 miles up from the old townsite and “The Box” of the Paria (the spot where the river cuts through the Cockscomb formation.) Make sure to check out the petroglyphs and cowboy inscriptions on the rock wall on the N side just up from the confluence.
Walk in the shallow stream up the nice tree-lined canyon. In about a mile the canyon changes character and is strewn with rocks/boulders. Soon you will come to a junction where Starlight Canyon enters on the left (LUC). At this spot you will likely hear the waterfall ahead to the right. Continue in this direction, avoiding the mud if possible, and just around the corner you will see Kitchen Canyon Falls.
This waterfall can be just a trickle at times, or a real gusher if there’s been a recent storm. Note — this is not a good place to be if thunderstorms threaten as the area is prone to flash floods (especially Starlight Canyon which drains a large catch basin).
There used to be a cow trail that climbed the northern wall and provided access to the area above the falls. However, this route was wiped out by a landslide in the early 2000s. Now the most-direct way to get from here above the falls would be to go up Starlight Canyon for quite a ways and then exit and go cross-country to re-enter upper Kitchen Canyon in the Lower Swag/Nipple Lake area.
Back at the junction with Starlight Canyon, walk up canyon to see the narrows. There’s not as much water in Starlight Canyon and one can easily walk up for about 10 minutes before the walls really close in.
The narrows last for just a few bends before closing in even more and forming a ramp. This minor obstacle might be a little slippery, but otherwise isn’t too hard to climb. Once up the slot/ramp the canyon opens back up and there are no more obstacles (or narrows) from here on up. This is a good place to turn around and head back down canyon unless you are doing an extended hike up Starlight Canyon to the cave petroglyphs, Mollies Nipple or beyond.
Part of the Hayduke Trail Reference:
How long would u say this hike is? And how long if starlight canyon and cave were included as an out and back? Thanks!
Nice Jamal. We camped at the confluence with the Paria when on the Hayduke. Wish we had your notes then as this looks a great area to explore!
AWESOME! Thanks Jamal! Appreciate the Fantastic Information! AWESOME pics too!