Coyote Buttes - The Wave The Wave is located in the Coyote Buttes North area of the Arizona Strip. There are two great photographic locations in Coyote Buttes North (The Wave and The Second Wave) and numerous minor ones including Top Rock Arch, Melody Arch and the Grotto, the Hooters, The Alcove, Sand Cove, and Fatali's Boneyard. The Wave is best photographed midday so as to minimize the extensive shadows, the other areas listed above are best photographed mid-late afternoon.
The South Buttes also has many good features and is well worth visiting, as is the White Pocket and Edmaier's Secret. It can be difficult to get a permit to see the Wave. During the best months (April, May, September, October) there can be over 150 people applying for the ten daily permits. In the other months you usually have less than a 50% chance of getting one at the daily lottery. Your chances are better if you're going alone, or in December - February. If you do not win the lottery I suggest you get one for Coyote Buttes South, or go to the White Pocket which is east of Coyote Buttes South. I know of one person who was lost overnight in Coyote Buttes South, so use a GPS, mark the trailhead, and stay with your party. While a two wheel drive vehicle is adequate for the North Buttes, four wheel drive is required for the South due to deep sand. See the Information link above for more details about Coyote Buttes and the Wave.
What's New (click on any heading to expand/contract)
December 4, 2013 - The hoodoo in Boulder, Utah
If you've driven Highway 12 from Bryce or Escalante to Capitol Reef you may have noticed a small hoodoo about one mile west of the ranching town of Boulder. Or you may have seen it on page 121 of Laurent Martres excellent book "Photographing the Southwest Volume 1 - Utah". This hoodoo is named "Balancing Rock", and it appears on the Boulder Town USGS 24K topo map. I finally got a chance to visit the hoodoo recently. I have posted a few images and directions on this site. I visited "Balancing Rock" at noon, hardly the best time to photograph it. Photos would be much better at sunset, or even at night if you're willing to hike down the steep terrain in the dark. This hoodoo is spectacular and well worth a visit if you're in the Boulder area.
November 27, 2013 - Sharing Photos and Information about The Wave
I've created a community on Google+ called The Wave. This community is for sharing images and information about The Wave and surrounding area. Posts might include trip reports or information on road conditions, trail conditions, safety, whether water or snow was present, and how many people were at the walk-in lottery, for example. If you haven't already done so I suggest you join Google+. This can be done at http://www.plus.google.com. After you have done so please join the public community The Wave. Once you have a Google+ account you can join a community by following the instructions here. Before posting to The Wave please read the rules on the right side of the communities home page.
Please join the community and post your images. I'd love to see them.
You can also follow my personal posts by clicking on the button on the right side of the menu above.
November 25, 2013 - Coyote Buttes South Update
I recently visited this area and had breathtaking conditions right at sunset. I've never seen the Control Tower in better light. The Control Tower is also a good destination for star trails photography as the best view is towards the north, and the hoodoo is relatively close to the Cottonwood Cove parking area. I have added and reprocessed many of the images in the Coyote Buttes South Gallery. The Coyote Buttes South map has undergone a major revision and now supports layers. This new feature makes it easy to view only the areas and roads of interest on the map.
November 14, 2013 - Dance Hall Rock
Dance Hall Rock is a superb destination in the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. Little hiking is needed to get some great photos in the summer when dramatic skies are present, and in October when the cottonwoods change color. I've added a gallery here, and maps and some tips on photographing the area here.
November 11, 2013 - The Page Balloon Regatta
October 22, 2013 - Tukuhnikivatz Arch
October 20, 2013 - Collet Top Arch
October 16, 2013 - Twentymile Wash Dinosaur Tracksite
If you are in the Bryce area and looking for something a little different you might try the Twentymile Wash Tracksite. This site contains over 1,000 tracks in a beautiful environment of Entrada sandstone. I suggest you visit the tracksite in mid afternoon, and then go to nearby Devil's Garden to shoot sunset. I've added a small gallery of images from the tracksite here, and travel directions here.
October 9, 2013 - Wave fines
Apparently the Coyote Buttes law enforcement ranger has been very active in giving out fines. Here's some information posted on backcountrypost.com:
“I talked to someone at Paria Outfitters about how heavily patrolled House Rock Valley Road is. They said that the ranger who checks permits was not furloughed and that he is catching people poaching the Wave. One of them received a $1200 fine.”
Apparently $1,200 is the standard fine. Forewarned is forearmed.
Thanks Bill for the updated information.
October 6, 2013 - Shutdown Update
Here's a paraphrased update I received from Lance.
"We hiked The Wave on Oct. 4, 2013. We had four permits from the web lottery run four months prior to hike. We met a ranger when we arrived at the parking lot, who said because those permits were issued prior to shutdown, they are valid and hiking The Wave is allowed with them. He said self-service day use areas are officially closed as are all other hikes where permits are to be picked up at the office. He drove off as we were heading down the wash, and obviously wasn't there the rest of the day, as within a few hours we saw at least 30 people hiking the same trail, and the parking lot was overflowing when we returned. The ranger also mentioned the significant fines for hiking without a permit."
This confirms what I indicated earlier - Coyote Buttes North and South are open if you already have a permit. Note also that since day use of Wire Pass and Buckskin Gulch require a fee to be paid at the trailhead they are closed.
Thank you very much Lance.
October 4, 2013 - Sand Hills Revisited
I've updated the Sand Hill section of the site with two new locations. The first is an overlook of Wrather Arch, considered the least accessible of the major US arches. The second is Soap Creek Tanks. This is an area of multicolored brain rock near the SE corner of Vermillion Cliffs. Soap Creek Tanks is full of spotted rocks, I have never similar rocks elsewhere. I've also added topo maps covering Sand Hills and Vermillion Cliffs in Geotiff, KMZ overlay, and Oruxmap formats.
October 3, 2013 - The Government Shutdown
I have contacted several sources in Kanab and have received conflicting information about whether existing permits for Coyote Buttes are valid. My best information, coming from the Kane County Visitor Center, is that if you have a permit it is valid. Lottery permits and walk-in permits are not being issued at this time.
I have heard indirectly from a local guide that there were 50 people at The Wave yesterday. Going to The Wave without a permit is illegal. Law enforcement is one of the areas that the BLM and NPS have not completely shut down, and fines for entering Coyote Buttes without a permit are substantial.
If anyone has further information about whether the area is closed, or can provide information about visitation or conditions at The Wave, please email me and I will update this post. I would especially like to hear from someone in the BLM with definitive information.
September 9, 2013 - The Great Wall
August 31, 2013 - White Pocket Screensaver added
I've added a downloadable screensaver / desktop wallpaper to the site. The wallpaper consists of 18 of my favorite White Pocket images. The images were resized and cropped to fit most common screen sizes. The images and installation instructions can be found here. A screensaver for Coyote Buttes North images will be forthcoming shortly.
August 28, 2013 - US89T set to open tomorrow, with restrictions
Drivers headed to Page and the Lake Powell area this Labor Day weekend will have a shorter option when the Arizona Department of Transportation opens the newly paved Temporary US 89 route (US 89T) on Thursday, August 29, albeit with some restrictions. While the 27-mile paving operations have been completed, US 89T remains an active construction zone as crews continue to install right-of-way fencing along the corridor, which has a large amount of livestock. Until fencing is complete, US 89T will be open during daylight hours only (except for local residents) and there will be a 25 mph speed limit in place. When construction is complete, the speed limit will be raised and nighttime restrictions will be lifted. More information about this new route to Page can be found on the Arizona Dept. Of Transportation website.
August 26, 2013 - The Classic Wave
An estimated 50% of visitors to Coyote Buttes North never explore much beyond The Wave. This is especially true in the summer and winter when extreme temperatures, lightning, or snow cover tend to keep visits short. In view of this I've added some thoughts on how to shoot The Wave itself. A gallery showing what I believe to be the classic images of The Wave is here, and below is a map of The Wave showing where these were taken. Click on any image in the map to zoom in.
The Wave opens up in three directions, to the north (the direction you came in on), to the east, and to the southwest. Each of these openings has a good photo associated with it as can be seen on the map above.
All of the above photos can be shot at night as well. Shoot startrails following the blue and red arrows, or the Milky Way following the green arrow on a moonless night. I have not yet shot the slot canyon at night but believe it would work well also.
Permits to The Wave are so hard to get that I'd suggest you shoot all of the above on your first trip. They can all be shot early morning to noon. In addition to these images there are many other possibilities, see my main Wave gallery for some ideas.
August 3, 2013 - Poll on safety added
The BLM is currently considering additional measures to improve safety at The Wave. I've added a poll on the right showing some of the actions they might take. To vote in the poll please select one choice from the list of options. Each option has its pluses and minuses such as cost or difficulty to implement, effect on visitors or the environment, and whether the "wilderness experience" is preserved. If you "mouse-over" each option in the poll you'll get additional information about that option.
Please take the time to vote in the poll. If there are other options I have missed please add them in the comments section of the poll here.
The last poll is still available via the Polls tab above, or by clicking here. Based on that poll of 600 people who have been to The Wave about 40% visited The Second Wave, and about 20% visited other areas such as Top Rock, Melody Arch, Sand Cove, etc. Over 90% of the people who visited Top Rock found Melody Arch or The Alcove.
July 23, 2013 - Another fatality at The Wave
In yet another tragedy Elisabeth Ann Bervel died on her way back from the Wave on Monday July 22nd. She was hiking with her husband and collapsed shortly before 2 PM, probably due to heat exhaustion. Elisabeth is the mother of two and was 27 years old. The couple was hiking on their fifth wedding anniversary.
This is the third fatality this month at The Wave. As a result, the BLM is currently considering adding additional signs marking the way to The Wave, and making changes to the permit process so that people do not feel compelled to hike in on questionable days.
Our heartfelt condolences go out to Elisabeth's family for their sad loss.
July 14, 2013 - White Pocket redux
Once again it's the time of the year to visit the White Pocket. It rained heavily on July 2nd and there was water everywhere. This led to some great photo ops, and some loud toad croaking. I've updated my gallery with many new images and included a new area that I hadn't visited before. The far north end of the White Pocket has a great many moqui marbles resting on coral colored polygonal cracks. This area is the best I've seen for photographing moqui marbles. It is illegal to remove the marbles. I've also added some images of The Milky Way and of some nearby petroglyphs. Water dries quickly in 100°F plus weather but I would expect there to be water in the deeper pools throughout the summer.
July 7, 2013 - Two hikers succumb to heat at The Wave
In another terrible tragedy Ulrich and Patricia Wahli apparently succumbed to temperatures that reached 106 degrees on Wednesday July 3rd. They had walk-in permits for The Wave and were found by other hikers early on July 4th. Cause of death is not fully known but is believed to be heat related.
Safety - If you must go into The Wave at this time of year go in early. Leave your car no later than sunrise and preferably a bit earlier. You should be out of the area by 11 AM at the latest. On July 3rd it was still over 100 degrees at 7 PM. Going in late is not a good option. You'll also need more than the normal recommendation of four quarts of water, up to nine! may be needed. Electrolyte drinks are preferable to water. Avoid caffeine. There is no shelter on the way to/from The Wave, you may want to bring a Mylar space blanket to create a temporary one, reflective side up. A PLB or satellite phone may also help but remember, emergency help is at least 1-2 hours away and you can die of heat stroke very quickly after symptoms are recognized.
July 1, 2013 - Depth of Field
I've added a long article on Depth of Field together with some good techniques for controlling it to the Techniques Section of the site. I've also added a new Tools Section to the site. The first tools added are a standard DOF Calculator and a Blur Calculator. The Blur Calculator shows, in number of pixels, how blur increases as you move away from the plane of sharp focus. Both tools are web based but can be installed on a laptop, tablet, or smartphone for use in the field.
May 31, 2013 - Yant Flat / Candy Cliffs
Yant Flat is the new "hot" destination in the southwest. You should visit Yant Flat if you are in the Zion NP area and need a break from the crowds. Yant Flat is about an hour by car from St. George or Hurricane, and a bit further from Springdale. A gallery of images can be found here, and travel directions here.
April 27, 2013 - The King of Wings, Valley of Dreams (East)
Until recently the location of the "King of Wings" has been a closely guarded secret. In November of 2012 a good email friend Bernhard Scherer sent me an early Xmas present -a webpage with the location of the KOW. He even translated the webpage to English. The King of Wings was found using Google Earth maps only by Andreas Möller. Its location was publicized by both Andreas and Rainer Grosskopf. For the fascinating story of how it was found see Rainer's article here. Many thanks to Bernhard, Rainer, and Andreas for making the location known to me. I can now cross KOW off my "bucket" list. The King of Wings is on the north side of Ah-shi-sle-pah wash so I have included it in the Ah-shi-sle-pah section of this site. This section includes some older pictures taken in the Ah-shi-sle-pah Wilderness Study Area, and photos of a new area which I've called Valley of Dreams East. I have not seen photos of VOD East before. It is about one mile east of Valley Of Dreams. Valley of Dreams East has a great many hoodoos and mushroom rocks packed into a small area. No hike is required to visit it.
April 11, 2013 - Yellow Rock
April 3, 2013 - Highway 89 closure update
The AZ Dept. of Transportation (ADOT) has a dedicated webpage that can be used to track the status of the closure. Current plans are to pave Indian Route 20 between "The GAP" and Page and use this as a temporary alternate. It may take upwards of four months for paving to be completed. Paving is contingent on funding and Navajo Nation approval. Indian Route 20, also known as Coppermine Road, is a mostly dirt road and is currently unsuitable/closed to truck traffic. Private passenger cars - use at your own risk.
April 3, 2013 - Lower Sidestep Canyon
I've updated the White Rocks gallery to include images of some of the incredible hoodoos and formations in Lower Sidestep Canyon. This area reminds me of the Bisti Badlands, it is is very convoluted. I've also added travel directions. Lower Sidestep is difficult to get to, the easiest legal access is probably from the Wahweap Creek trailhead and involves a 10-11 mile RT hike, before any extra mileage for exploration.
March 31, 2013 - Paria Movie Set - Chinle
I've added a gallery of pictures from the Paria Movie Set, a very scenic location known for the movies that were shot there, and for the Chinle formation present throughout the area. To get to the movie set proceed to milepost 30.6 on highway 89, then turn north on the signed dirt road 4.6 miles. The road continues in one form or another all the way to the Paria river. It is illegal to drive across the river to get to the other side. There are a small number of ruins on the north side of the river, and some abandoned gold mines which were never productive. 4 wheel drive is suggested, and the road is impassable/dangerous when wet. The most famous movie shot there is the movie "The Outlaw Josey Wales" directed by and starring Clint Eastwood.
In the same gallery there are close-ups of Chinle formation shot on the east side of House Rock Road. Access is via short hike starting 12 miles from the intersection of House Rock Road and Highway 89, take the left immediately before the hill and park just before the wash.
March 4, 2013 - Double Barrel Arch
This double arch is easily seen from House Rock Road just south of BLM 1017. The arch gets a nice glow at sunrise and sunset and is worth visiting at these times. A wide angle lens is needed to fully capture the arch from close up. Some photos of the arch can be found here, and travel directions are here.
March 3, 2013- Waterholes Canyon/Bend
If you walk west along the south rim of Waterholes Canyon you arrive at a little visited overlook of the Colorado River. The view at the overlook is very similar to that at Horseshoe Bend. I've added a few images taken from the overlook and a map showing how to get there. A permit is required to visit Waterholes Bend.
February 28, 2013 - Highway 89 closed between Bitter Springs and Page
Highway 89 collapsed on the switchbacks between Bitter Springs and Page, AZ and is closed indefinitely. Highway 89 is the main route to Page from the South. Some people I talked to in Page feel the highway will be closed for 6 - 9 months. For those coming from Phoenix or Flagstaff the recommended detour is to take Highway 160 at Tuba City east to Highway 98. Then take Highway 98 west to Page. This detour adds about 42 miles to the trip to Page. Another possibility is to utilize Indian Route 21, a mostly good gravel road that cuts about 25 miles from this detour. This road should not be used by trucks. Here is a map showing the detours.
February 22, 2013 - The dinosaur tracks
If you're going to The Wave and have never seen a dinosaur track or footprint you should take a slight detour to see some. I've updated the GPS location of a good set of footprints, and have included detailed directions on how to find them here. The GPS coordinates are accurate to within ten feet. A gallery of images is here.
February 9, 2013 - Studhorse Point at sunset
I finally had a chance to visit Studhorse Point at sunset. Studhorse Point is just a few miles from Page. If you are staying in Page for the day, perhaps to visit Antelope Canyon or Rainbow Bridge, consider ending your day at the point. The hoodoos of Studhorse Point sit just below the rim of a cliff and start going into shadow a few hours before sunset, so don't visit there too late. Studhorse Point is also a good sunrise destination.
January 29, 2013 - USGS 24K Topo Maps
In the past I've distributed USGS 24K topo maps as PDF files. These could then be printed for use while hiking. With the increasing prevalence of mapping GPS devices and Apple and Android phones and tablets, this is no longer a good solution. I've started the process of converting the maps on the site to a Geo TIFF format. This format is understand by more mapping software than the GeoPDF format is. I have also started distributing map files in oruxmaps format. Oruxmaps is the best GPS/ mapping software available for android today. It is free and is being aggressively maintained by its developer. Since I do not own an iPad or iPhone I cannot provide a similar solution for these devices at this time. The maps in the Coyote Buttes North section of the site have been updated to the new formats, other sections will be updated over time.
January 15, 2013 - Alstrom Point
I've added some images and information on Alstrom Point. Alstrom Point is an overlook on the north side of Lake Powell. It is generally regarded as the best overlook of the lake, and is best at sunset. A high clearance vehicle is required to visit it. It is a great destination for sunset shots, in the winter, full moon shots, and for panoramas. It is about 90 minutes from Page. The last few miles of the road can be hard to follow, so I suggest you visit the maps page and download the route before visiting the point.
November 15, 2012 - How The Wave was formed
Jessica Fridrich, a professor at Binghamton University in New York, sent me this article which discusses how The Wave was formed. In short, The Wave and surrounding area was sculpted by wind, not water. Much of the article is beyond my abilities, but I did find the diagrams on p 174 of value. Diagram "A" shows the prevailing wind direction over Coyote Buttes North. It also shows the location of three "scour pits", all on Top Rock. The northern most scour pit is "The Alcove", the middle is the smaller depression just south of The Alcove at the same elevation, and the southern most one is at Melody Arch. Diagram B shows the flow of wind through The Wave. Diagram C shows the volume of sand moved by the winds in the area. Note that sand moving winds largely come form the SSW, and almost never from the East or North. Diagram D shows how the sand dunes in Sand Cove below "The Boneyard" were formed by an eddy. The eddy is created by the headwall on the east side of Sand Cove.
Jessica also passed along a superb photo
she took at "The Wave" in August. Double click the photo for a larger version. Conditions appear to be about as good as it gets at The Wave, good sky, lots of water (it looks as though you would get your feet wet walking into The Wave), and calm winds. The large amount of water and the calm winds allowed for a "double reflection" - beautifully done. I have only been to The Wave once when there was that much water present. On that occasion in late afternoon I could hear male toads croaking for females right at The Wave.
September 16, 2012 - August at The White Pocket
Hiking in the Southwest during July and August can be challenging. You need to carry lots of water, rest often, and be prepared to find shelter or retreat should a thunderstorm approach. But the rewards can be great: water filled potholes teem with tadpoles and fairy shrimp, skies are dramatic, and lightning and rainbows are frequent. Nights can be very pleasant so the summer is an excellent time to photograph startrails and starpoints. The Milky Way is at its peak in the northern hemisphere in July and August.
So what do I shoot in the summer? I shoot destinations which require little hiking. The White Pocket is my favorite August destination. This past August I was there for just one day, but, like last year, I got great images at both sunrise and sunset with minimal effort. This year there wasn't as much water as in 2011, but the potholes were still full enough to provide good reflections. It rained briefly when I was there producing some double rainbows, and a semicircular one. The rainbows were present for over an hour. Even faint rainbows can be easily enhanced using the saturation adjustment brush in Lightroom. Or you can use a digital rainbow filter, e.g. the one in Tiffen DFX, to produce your own rainbow when there were none. I also saw a beautiful rainbow at the Paria movie set just after sunrise.
I've added about 25 images to the White Pocket gallery. Two are of note: The first was shot about 20 minutes after sunset (the "blue hour"). Since is only a half mile back to your car it's easy to shoot this late at The White Pocket. The second is a sunrise reflection of the White Pocket Monolith in the stock pond on the western edge of the pocket. This pond usually has water in it.
July 19, 2012 - Road Conditions Link added
I've added a Road Conditions link to the information menu above. On the linked site you'll find House Rock Road near the bottom. Take the information about road conditions on the linked site with a large grain of salt:
July 18, 2012 - Reinstated Nautilus and Maze petroglyph coordinates
I took the locations of these down at the request of the BLM in February 2011. In the period since the Nautilus coordinates have been become readily available on the web (including Googlemaps), and the location of the Maze petroglyph has been published in Kelsey's excellent book "Hiking and Exploring the Paria River - 5th edition". The Nautilus is at 37.086329,-111.891643, and the Maze petroglyph at 36.985013, -112.026157. Directions to the Nautilus can be found here and directions to The Maze petroglyph can be found here. Please respect both - do not touch the petroglyph, and do not walk through the Nautilus. If you photograph the Nautilus from both the top and bottom please walk around it.
July 14, 2012 - Monument Valley
Monument Valley is a land of soaring red rock towers and spires, arches, sand dunes, and petroglyphs/ Indian ruins. The scenery is unsurpassed. However, MV can be difficult to photograph, and many people walk away disappointed with both the experience and their photos. MV is crowded, hard to get to, days are hot and hazy through much of the year, it's normally not open before sunrise or after sunset, and the travel restrictions imposed by the Navajo prevent exploration. Too often you ending up shooting the icons in flat light. Still, if you're in Page take a few days to visit MV, especially if there is any chance of dramatic weather. I've added many images taken over ten years to the site, and a good map showing the landmarks and where to shoot them from.
July 13, 2012 - Google and Bing Maps
I've added additional options to the Maps pages on this site so that you can view either the Google or Bing Map of the area. This was done since in several cases (Sand Hills and Monument Valley) the Google map was partially obscured by snow or cloud cover and unusable. For example - the best known formation in Monument Valley - the Mittens - is totally covered by clouds on the Google map of the area. So far I haven't found any Bing maps where substantial portions are covered by clouds. Bing Maps also seem to have a bit more resolution. Here is a sample Bing map of Coyote Buttes South and Sand Hills. For comparison here is the same map in Google Maps. Zooming in on the lower right section of the map will make the differences clear.
I've also added an option so that you can easily download a KML file which includes the waypoints, tracks, and routes that appear on the map. KML files can be converted to GPX (Garmin format) files using GPSBabel if needed. You can convert KML routes to GPX tracks or KML tracks to GPX routes using GPSBabel as well. This may be needed so that the GPX file can be viewed on your GPS, tablet, or phone.
June 27, 2012 - More Sand Hills
I revisited Sand Hills towards the end of May and added some images. There has been a drought in the Southwest for several months now so there was little water in the tanks and reservoirs - less than ideal conditions. Additional images of Joe's ranch were added. New areas explored include The Big Sink and the Middle Reservoir which had no water. Many images of Pinnacle Valley were added, this is a good destination at both sunrise and sunset and is relatively easy to get to - certainly easier than the White Pocket.
June 3, 2012 - White Mesa Arch
White Mesa Arch is a superb destination in the Navajo Nation. The arch is very large with a span of 53 feet and a height of 84 feet. It is easily seen from Highway 160. The arch is best photographed within ten minutes of sunrise all year round. There are wonderful leading lines on its eastern side. I've added a gallery of images taken at dawn and a much needed map with directions and GPS coordinates to help get you there. A permit is required to visit the arch.
May 9, 2012 - The eclipse is coming! (updated on May 15)
On May 20 a rare annular solar eclipse will occur at the Wave. These events are indeed very rare, the next annular eclipse at the Wave doesn't occur until 2238! I've included some suggested locations and shooting tips here.
Good luck and most of all enjoy this once in a lifetime experience.
May 2, 2012 - Sand Hills
Sand Hills is the area east of Poverty Flat. It is also known as the Paria Plateau. It is bounded by Buckskin Gulch and the Paria River to the north and east, and by the Vermillion Cliffs to the south. The White Pocket is part of Sand Hills. Sand Hills includes many other areas of interest including Hole in the Rock arch (already covered), the "Cowboy Hat", and "Joe's Ranch". I've updated the White Pocket gallery to include some pictures of Joe's ranch and the Cowboy Hat, and updated the White Pocket map to include the locations of these and many other points of interest. There is a great deal of "Brain Rock" throughout the area, as well as petroglyphs, hilltop ruins, pottery fragments, and even some Moqui marbles. It is illegal to remove pottery fragments and moqui marbles, please leave them in place for others to enjoy. Sand Hills is very isolated and only gets occasional access by other photographers, environmentalists, and cowboys. The roads are strictly 4x4. Make sure you have good tires, plenty of water, extra gas, and a shovel. Let someone know where you are going and when you'll be back. I've only begun to explore this area, much more to come.
March 4, 2012 - John Carter
I haven't seen this Disney movie so I have no idea if it is good. John Carter was shot in several Utah locations that I often visit. Between January and July of 2010 I ran into the shooting on three occasions - across Wahweap Creek opposite Big Water in January, near Factory Butte in April, and near Deadhorse Point State Park in July. Other filming locations include Lake Powell and Shiprock, NM. Locations consist predominately of Mancos Shale. Factory Butte shooting was appropriately done near the Mars Desert Research Station. Here is a trailer for the movie.
February 28, 2012 - a recent trip to The Wave
In mid January I had a walk-in one day permit for Coyote Buttes North. Walk-in permits are fairly easy to get in January. I went to the Kanab GSENM visitor center on a Friday so permits for Saturday, Sunday, and Monday were available for the lottery. There were only 15 people present at 9AM when the walk-in lottery is normally held. With 30 permits available no lottery was needed and many permits went unused. In addition there were same day permits available for Friday since the ten walk-in permits from Thursday had not been used. January is not the best time to visit the area since snow can make both road access and hiking difficult, but you can usually get permits. If you can go on short notice check the weather forecast and check if it has snowed recently, if conditions are good go! It had snowed about four inches in the area on Tuesday so House Rock Road was in poor condition. It was passable if you went in early in the day when the surface was frozen, and drove out well after sunset when it refroze. Hiking was easy as most of the snow had melted. North facing slopes were sometimes impassable.
Saturday was largely clear and I got some good photos. There was a little (less than one inch of) water at the Wave which surprisingly led to some nice reflections. I should have arrived at the Wave a bit earlier (9-10 AM) so that the South wall would be in Sun, another reason to go again!
I also visited Top Rock Arch at sunset. It had a nice glow and very good light even in January when the Sun is well to the south. The Sun set over "The Notch" and could be barely seen from the arch. I expect that sunset photos of the Top Rock Arch would be much better in March or April when the setting sun would be more centered in the arch and the arch more evenly lit. Do not shoot Top Rock Arch at sunset if you are not prepared to hike out in the dark, I only got back to my car 2-3 hours after the sun had set. There was a fatality last year when someone hiked out after sunset.
January 20, 2012 - More White Pocket
I had the good fortune to be at The White Pocket last August in great light so I'm posting some new images and shooting recommendations. I've added two new sections to the White Pocket section, one containing some panoramas of the area, and the second with some photography tips. To view the panoramas as "moving images" you should be running a browser supporting html5 such as Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer 9 or later, Safari, the Ipad browser, or the Android browser. My site is best viewed using these browsers.
January 16, 2012 - Tips and Techniques
January 2, 2012 - Polls
I've added a poll to the top right of the Home Page. I will update it with a new poll every few weeks. The purpose of the surveys is to provide information to site visitors and the Bureau of Land Management about usage of the permit area and to suggest when/where to go. Ultimately this should help in the design of an improved permit system. I'll hope you'll take the few seconds needed to respond to each poll. Past polls can be found/answered in the Poll tab above. The software I am using allows only one response per poll per visitor. If you have ideas for new polls please email them to me and I'll review/include them in the future.
Shooting the Moon, Night Photography