Paria is a Pauite word that means muddy water. Paria Road runs nearly six miles from Highway 89 to the Paria River. The road is packed with history. Two settlements in the 1800s sprung up and failed along the river. A Hollywood western movie town set once sat roadside, but it burned years ago. The informational signage at the trailhead goes into great detail on the area's history.
The road is graded dirt and usually easy, with only one steep wash crossing and a stretch of narrow shelf road. However, the road surface becomes very soft and slippery when wet. If the road is wet at the trailhead, consider it impassable.
One mile in a sizeable flat campsite sits roadside. The flat site can easily handle three rigs or a large motorhome. There is no shade, but it does have a fire ring. Only three other campsites are further along the road. All are small, exposed, and very close to the trail.
The first several miles of the trail pass through a sagebrush prairie with red and white sandstone bluffs defining the horizon. The trail begins a descent into the Paria River's valley, and the scenery changes into a kaleidoscope of colors. Bentonite hills of gray, purple, pink, buff, and tan but up against towering walls of burgundy sandstone, often topped with harder white or gray sandstone. Generally speaking, the lighter the color of sandstone, the harder it is.
A day-use area sits where the movie set once stood. There's a vault toilet, informational signage, and a picnic table. A bit further along the trail sits the Paria Cemetary, a monument to the hardy people who tried to make a life in this rugged landscape.
The trail ends at a sandy lollipop turnaround at the river. Walking along the Paia River is easy. If you hike south, downriver, look for bentonite bluffs on the east side of the river. The remnants of two stone cabins are at the south end of the bentonite hills. The larger one had a sunken root cellar. The lintels of the doors and windows are long sandstone slabs formed millions of years ago at the bottom of a sea or river. The cabin builder kept the side with the water ripple marks exposed.
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