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)
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 almost always 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 9, Internet Explorer 9, Safari, the Ipad browser, or the Android browser. My site is best viewed using these browsers. Some of the galleries on my site only display if Flash is enabled. I am gradually adding additional code so this is not a requirement.
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.
December 21, 2011 - Blue Canyon quick update
The January 2012 issue of Arizona Highways pages 26 and 27 has some more information on Blue Canyon. The best contact information for a guided tour is Micah Loma'omvaya 1 800-774-0830, or visit www.hopitours.com. The article also indicates there are petroglyphs everywhere - though somehow I missed them. While there you should also visit the Blue Canyon Trading Post ruins. I've added a 24K USGS topo map (Begashibito Canyon.) which shows the location of the Trading Post ruins.
December 10, 2011 - Arches and Canyonlands National Parks
I've updated these galleries with new images from recent trips. Some of the new images include:
I've also provided high resolution USGS 24K topo maps for Arches and Canyonlands - you can download them freely from this site. I've updated the Coyote Buttes map page as well to include higher resolution topo maps.
November 21, 2011 - Blue Canyon
Blue Canyon is a superb location in the Hopi Nation, about 2 hours from Page. As of this writing a permit from the Hopi Office of Cultural Preservation is required to visit the area, and permits are not being issued! That said, you can probably visit the area with an authorized Hopi guide. See here for contact information, or see the official Hopi website. Blue Canyon's location is not widely available on the web. Please respect the wishes of the Hopi people and do not visit without a permit or guide. Blue Canyon is known as Red and White Canyon on various German websites. Blue Canyon requires 4WD and is best visited at dusk. Blue Canyon is spectacular foreground for the full moon, see here for some tips. Fatali has an excellent photo including the full moon.
October 10, 2011 - The Nautilus Revisited
I added a few pictures of the Nautilus taken less than one hour before sunset. Just before sunset the Nautilus gets excellent reflected light. If you need to know the location just email me.
October 9, 2011 - Paria Overlook
I added a route and a few photos to a nice overlook of the Paria River. The route starts at the BLM Big Water Visitor Center. It takes at least at hour to drive to the overlook via a 4WD road. I suggest you download my route to your GPS as I found the map/directions provided at the Big Water visitor center to be hard to follow. I was at the overlook mid-late afternoon. This was too late in the day for best light. Grand overlooks are not my favorite type of photography but there may be some good pictures to be had in better light. If you continue on the road past the overlook you will find many good areas to car camp.
October 7, 2011 - Additional weather information added, Sunrise Sunset times added
I moved information about Coyote Buttes climate to the information tab and added information about wind speed and direction, and cloud cover. I also added sunrise/sunset, moonrise/moonset, and moon phase to the information tab. The site that I use to display sunrise/sunset times has some limited advertising - my apologies, I've tried to keep the site ad free.
October 6, 2011 - The White Rocks revisited, and a road closure
I've added some new pictures of Colorful Canyon taken at sunset under very good light, and some pictures of Sidestep Canyon, taken midday in poor light. Sidestep Canyon is very difficult to photograph successfully. Important note - BLM 431, the road that gets you closest to the White Rocks, is an "administrative" road, using it could result in a fine. I have therefore added an "off trail" route to the Upper White Rocks that begins on BLM 435 and ends at Colorful Canyon. Sidestep Canyon and the "Twisted Hoodoo" are only a short distance away from Colorful Canyon. Finally - BLM 435 is currently washed out where it crosses Coyote Creek, this will add about a mile RT to the above hike or to the hike to the Lower White Rocks. BLM 431 looks like it has been washed out for a while.
September 25, 2011 - New walk-in permit process confirmed
I have confirmed that effective November 16, 2011 the walk in lottery will be held at the GSENM Visitor Center in Kanab year round. During the winter months the lottery will be held Monday-Friday with permits for Saturday through Monday available on Friday. During the other months the lottery will be held seven days a week. I have updated my permit information pages to reflect this change. The official Coyote Buttes website has not yet been updated but I am confident that the above information is correct. I have also added a section containing emergency phone numbers to the information page.
August 15, 2011 - Change to walk-in permit process
Effective November 15, 2011 the walk-in lottery for next day permits will be held year round in Kanab. The walk-in lottery will no longer be held during the non-winter months at the Paria contact station. The lottery will be held at the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument (GSE-NM) visitor center on Highway 89 on the eastern edge of Kanab. The address is 745 E. Highway 89, the phone number is (435) 644-4680. The visitor center is open from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM seven days a week. I assume the lottery will be still be held at 9:00 AM Mountain time. The visitor center is open seven days a week so it is likely that the practice of holding the lottery for Saturday, Sunday, and Monday permits on Friday morning during the winter months will be abandoned. I expect the lottery will be held every day year round except for national holidays. If you plan to enter the walk-in lottery after November 15, 2011 you should call the GSE-NM visitor center to confirm the above.
August 14, 2011 - Studhorse Point
I've added a small gallery of photos taken at Studhorse Point. Studhorse Point is close to Page and is a good sunrise location if you are going to be in the area all day. No hiking involved. The drive is only a few miles but the myriad of unmarked small roads in the area can make Studhorse Point difficult to find. You should print out a map and follow the directions closely. A 4WD vehicle is needed.
August 7, 2011 - Hiker dies on way back from The Wave
A California hiker apparently lost his way coming back from the Wave in the dark and fell 100 feet into Buckskin Gulch. Bo Tian, 36, of San Jose, California had a permit to hike The Wave. He was last seen at The Wave near dusk on the night of July 23. It is unknown whether he was doing some additional exploration of the area after visiting the Wave or was lost. It was reported that the flashlight he had with him did not work. Sunset was around 7:45 PM on the 23rd, and moonrise (waning quarter) was around midnight. It would have been too dark to hike without a flashlight after 9 PM on the evening of the 23rd.
Despite the fact that Buckskin Gulch is considered one of the most dangerous places to hike in the US this was the first fatality there.
Reminder - Safety first:
July 23, 2011 - The Palouse
If you like photographing farm land, you'll love the Palouse. The Palouse is the most productive wheat growing area in the USA. It is full of rolling hills, old barns and grain elevators, rusting cars and farm equipment, crop dusters, and animals. Within an hour of arriving we saw mule and whitetail deer, porcupines, marmots, and a yellow crop duster. Rarely moose are seen! The Palouse is best visited during the months of June to August. In June you'll get rolling hills of green and Palouse Falls is near its best. In July the wheat is turning amber, and August is harvest time. We went in early July, however because of a cold wet spring, everything was about a month behind. The wheat was still green, the canola fields a spectacular yellow, and Palouse Falls still had very good flow. This trip was one of my most productive trips ever.
If you go to the Palouse I strongly recommend going with a local guide as the Palouse is over 3,000 square miles in size. While you can get many good images from the top of Steptoe Butte, from Palouse Falls, or just from driving the back roads, you'll do much better with someone local who knows where the old cars and barns are, and whether the barns are still standing, who knows the farmers and can get access to some of the properties, and who knows what farms look good at this time of this year. And remember, every year is different as farmers vary their planting and harvesting patterns. We went with photographer Jack Lien who, with his wife Barbara, has a beautifully set home in Colfax, the town closest to Steptoe Butte. Jack really knows and loves the area, and got us to the right locations at the right time. He works for reasonable rates and put in 10-12 hours each day with us. Jack is also a good teacher should need you need advice on composition or just how to work your camera. I highly recommend him!
We stayed in Colfax at the Best Western Wheatland Inn which we recommend. If you book a tour with Jack Lien you might be lucky enough to stay at his home, which he sometimes uses as a bed and breakfast for his students.
Other recommendations - Most of the land is private; please respect it. Do not walk in the wheat or other fields, or on fields freshly planted. Do not drive down private roads without permission. When you park on the side roads pull way over as farm equipment can be wide. Normally you do not need a 4x4 in the Palouse; most roads are paved or graveled and are well graded. Bring some long telephoto lenses. I found 300-500 mm got a lot of use on a full frame body. We photographed crop dusters, deer, owls, and eagles from a long distance, and 300mm works well from the top of Steptoe Butte. 150 -300 mms is needed to photograph some of the barns from the road. There can be a lot of haze, especially in the evening so bring a polarizer and/or a haze filter. Views from Steptoe Butte photograph better in the morning when there is less haze. Palouse Falls should be shot early to mid afternoon before a harsh shadow starts to creep across it. Finally, bring boots or non-mesh sneakers to walk in. I brought mesh sneakers with me and am still picking out the burrs.
June 5, 2011 - Photographing Bodie
I've added a gallery of images taken in Bodie, California and some recommendations on how to handle the unique shooting circumstances you'll find there. The best time of year to visit Bodie is in late September - mid October as the aspen in the Eastern Sierra's will be changing color then. Should you go to Bodie I highly recommend going on "Photographers Day" so that you can be there at sunrise and sunset. Bodie is a great place to visit if your visiting the Yosemite high country, the Eastern Sierra's, Mono Lake, the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, Death Valley, or the Alabama Hills.
May 25, 2011 - The Lexar USB 3.0 Dual-Slot Reader
I just purchased this reader as a backup to my Pretec P240 USB 3.0 reader. The Lexar reader sells for about twice the price of the P240 ($50 on Amazon for the Lexar, $23 for the P240 from mydigitaldiscount). I tested read speeds for both readers by transferring 9.35 gigabytes of data from a Transcend 64GB CF card to an SSD on my laptop (113 seconds or 82.7 MB/second for the Lexar versus 112 seconds for the Pretec) and to a Raid 6 array on my desktop (111 seconds for the Lexar versus 110 seconds for the P240). So what do you get from the Lexar for double the price? - a well known reliable brand, a better insertion mechanism with CF cards inserting about half way versus maybe 30% for the P240, and an included USB 3.0 cable on the Lexar versus a short dongle on the Pretec. The p240 supports several additional card formats and is cheaper.
March 23, 2011 - Reviews section added
I have added a Reviews section to the links at the top of the page. The first review is for a USB 3.0 card reader, the Pretec P240. The conclusion of the review - If you've got a fast CF card, and a fast hard drive or SSD, you can cut transfer times by as much as 70% using the P240. With a slower card or hard drive you should also see some gains, but not nearly as much. Over time I will add additional reviews of software and gear of value to photographers.
March 7, 2011 - Bryce Canyon in the winter
I've added a gallery of images taken at Bryce Canyon, mostly shot in the winter. On February 26 it snowed about 18 inches at Bryce and I had the good fortune to be in the area so off I went. I couldn't reach the NPS at Bryce by phone so I called Ruby's Inn and they indicated that the park road was open. I made a reservation at Ruby's for the night of the 27th. It is easy to get reservations at Ruby's in the winter. Highway's 9, 89, and 12 were clear of snow less than 12 hours after the snow stopped. Bryce Canyon road was open up to Sunrise/Sunset points. Inspiration point opened up later on the 28th but I didn't have time to visit it. The hiking trail from sunset point was open but had heavy snow on it. It you plan to hike the trails you may want to bring (or rent) crampons, the trails can get very icy. Make sure to bring warm clothing, it was 15º F at dawn on the 28, I have been there when it was -25º. Also be sure to arrive shortly after the snow stops, you want to catch snow on the hoodoos and trees before it melts. Sunset point is probably the best point from which to shoot Bryce, both at sunrise and sunset. Highways 89/12 from Kanab to Bryce are also beautiful in the winter, and there is a ranch with llamas and bison on 89 about four miles South of the intersection with 12. Steam coming off the Sevier River also makes a good photo this time of year.
February 9, 2011 - The Maze Petroglyph
This petroglyph is outside the permit area. It is one of the finest I have seen, and is in excellent condition. The BLM is considering a sign at the trailhead asking that you treat the petroglyph with respect and do not touch it. I will not provide GPS coordinates on my site pending this decision. In the interim if you ask at the Paria Ranger station they should provide directions, they have in the past. Or you can email me, just indicate in your email that you will not post coordinates on the web.
The Petroglyph is best photographed from midday to sunset. Shooting later in the day will give the best color, or use an Enhancing filter to bring out the red.
February 6, 2011 - GPS Coordinates
Although I had been given "permission" to post GPS coordinates for the Nautilus I recently received an email from the BLM asking nicely that I remove them from this site. The primary reason given was that the Nautilus is made of "Page" sandstone and would not survive extensive visitation. After some soul searching I have decided to follow the following policy -
1. I generally believe in the free distribution of location information.
2. I will comply with government requests to withhold coordinates from my site.
3. If someone gives me location information and explicitly asks that I withhold it I will do so.
4. I will include GPS coordinates in the exif of my photos whenever I have them, subject to the above.
I have therefore removed the coordinates/directions for the Nautilus from my site. If you need them email me and I will supply them provided you agree not to publish the coordinates on the web.
I have seen some posts recently where GPS coordinates were withheld even though the author had them. Two arguments were given for this - first, GPS coordinates are not needed since the route to the location is obvious. Second - the author believes that providing them is "dangerous", i.e. if you don't have good navigation skills you should not be relying on a GPS. I disagree. Even when a route is obvious in the daytime photographers often return to their car or go to the location well before sunrise or after sunset. A GPS can help here. Conditions also change - in Alaska I hiked over three miles in heavy fog navigating totally by GPS. The trail was obvious in good light but not in heavy fog. In emergency situations coordinates also allow one to reliably give rescuers good location information, and can help you take the shortest path to get help. GPS coordinates allow you to locate a destination on Google Earth, words do not if the trail is too small to be seen on the map. With GPS coordinates and tools like "The Photographer's Ephemeris" one can easily check whether the sun will hit a given location at sunrise or an hour later. A Google Earth map and location information also helps one search for alternate routes. GPS coordinates are also a "universal" language. For example, I don't read German. Even simple directions given on a German web site are, sometimes, just incomprehensible to me, even with Google translate.
Finally, some good news - I have added a few more images of the Nautilus taken under better conditions, the Black and White image below is an example. I will be adding some pictures of the "Maze" petroglyph in Coyote Buttes North to the site shortly as well.
January 17, 2011 - If you have one day at the Wave
Permits for the Wave are increasingly difficult to come by so if you get one you should plan your day carefully. Here is my recommendation for a relatively fit photographer who wants to hit most of the key areas in the best light. This advice is based on over 20 trips to Coyote Buttes North starting in 1998. 8 - 9 miles of relatively flat hiking are involved. There is some slight exposure during the scramble from Sand Cove up to the Second Wave. To shoot everything in best light will require getting back to your car after sunset so you'll need a headlamp.
January 11, 2011 - Kenya
Many new bird and animal photos added from a trip to Kenya in early October 2010. Photos were taken in the Maasai Mara and on Mfangano Island in Lake Victoria. Lake Victoria is the source of the Nile.
December 30, 2010 - Rhyolite Nevada Ghost Town
Rhyolite began in 1905 as a mining camp and grew to about 5,000 people by 1908. By 1911 the mines were closed and by 1920 the population was zero. It is about 120 miles from Las Vegas and less than an hour from Death Valley. If you are staying in Death Valley you should make plans to stop by it late afternoon when the light is excellent. Especially photogenic are the remains of Cook Bank, the Bottle House, and the car shell near the Bottle House. At least four movies have been filmed in Rhyolite - The Reward, The Island, Cherry 2000, and Six-String Samurai.
November 5, 2010 - Capitol Reef National Park
Added many new photos of Capitol Reef National Park and included the surrounding area. Boulder Mountain and Capitol Reef are superb in late September (when the Aspen are changing color) to late October (when the Cottonwood change). New locations include Factory Butte, Goblin Valley, Little Egypt (best shot at dawn), and the rarely visited Colonnade Arch. An excellent area to explore on foot or via 4WD - I've only touched the surface!
September 26, 2010 - Upper White Rocks
September 19, 2010 - The Nautilus
This is a little known formation near the White House Campground. I've posted directions to and the GPS coordinates of "The Nautilus" (with permission - first time on web?). The photos in the gallery were taken midday and there were very harsh shadows, a very late day (reflected light) or cloudy day exposure should work much better.
I've also added some new photos of Toadstool Hoodoo taken late day in good light. By shooting very late in the day the white background goes into shadow and improves the images considerably. A red enhancing filter (either glass or digital) also helps.
September 16, 2010 - Lower Antelope Canyon
September 11, 2010 - More White Pocket
Added some new photos of the White Pocket from a recent trip. If you are in the mood for an adventure here is one: While in the area I visited Hole in the Rock Arch . The arch is about two miles west of the White Pocket. It is rarely visited since the road to the arch is indistinct, sandy, and infrequently traveled. If you go to this arch make sure someone knows where you are going. If you get stuck or break down it could be days before you see another car. I would not go to the arch in the winter if there is snow. The arch was in poor light when I got there and wasn't very photogenic despite being made of Navajo sandstone. Visit the arch for the experience and not for the photos. It may be possible to ascend to the arch by going up the sand dune on its left; perhaps one can then find some good foreground closer to the arch. When I visited in August there were many wildflowers in the area..
I also added a nice image of Fatali's Boneyard to this page. Photographer Michael Fatali shot a superb image of the "Boneyard" at dawn. My picture to the right was shot late afternoon just before the area went into shadow. By shooting late afternoon the cliff in the back of the Boneyard is dark and provides good contrast to the boneyard itself.
Coming soon to this log - many more images of Coyote Buttes North taken during my last trip.
August 7, 2010 - The White Pocket
Added a gallery of 20 photos from the White Pocket taken in the last three years, and added White Pocket travel directions from Coyote Buttes South and from House Rock Road. Added a link to the Natural Arch and Bridge Societies List of US arches. The list includes Google maps of the arches in Utah and Arizona. In the Arizona section Top Rock Arch (NABSQNO 12S-410195-4094000) is misplaced. Melody Arch (NABSQNO 12S-410520-4094320) is called Joanne's arch and is a buttress natural arch eroded through Navajo sandstone. Vreeland listed Joanne's Arch as number 12-2 in his catalog and reported a span of 10 feet. The outer arch there is described as Danny's Arch and is a fin natural arch eroded through Navajo sandstone. Vreeland listed Danny's Arch as number 12-1 in his catalog and reported a span of 12 feet. The Utah map is missing what I call "Overlooked Arch", the 5238AT arch on the 24K topo map.
July 2, 2010 - Many Coyote Buttes North locations added
Added 90 new photos taken in North Coyote Buttes over 15 trips between 2004 and 2010. New locations added include unique views of Melody Arch, Fatali's Boneyard, Sand Cove, Top Rock Arch, the arch near 5238AT on the topo map, and the dinosaur tracks on the West side of the Buttes. The map section has been expanded to include directions to each of these areas.
June 23, 2010 - Bisti Badlands
Added a gallery and map of the Bisti Badlands. About 50 images added, most are geocoded. The photos were largely taken in two trips - late May of 2009 and late May of 2010. The Bisti is one of my top ten sites in the US West. While the area generally lacks color the fantastic shapes and great light at dusk and dawn more than make up for it. The Bisti photographs well during the "Blue Hour" and even works well for nighttime shoots. The Bisti has no formal trails so if you go I recommend you bring a GPS and map and know how to use them.
May 15, 2010 - Revised home page, Coyote Buttes South
This page was totally reworked, primarily to add this section on site news. Clicking on any heading in this section will bring up details for that section. I've also added a section on Coyote Buttes South with about 40 photos and maps to the trailheads. All trailheads are only accessible with a high clearance 4WD vehicle. Most added photos have GPS coordinates, and all have exif information.
May 10, 2010 - Horseshoe Bend
Added a section on Horseshoe Bend. You need a 24mm lens or wider to shoot this effectively. I've also included the location of a dinosaur track that is right on the trail. I found out about the track from a volunteer at the Bigwater BLM visitor center. If you're interested in dinosaur tracks you should definitely stop there.
April 15, 2010 - Edmaier's Secret
The story behind Edmaier's Secret- The story behind the pictures is perhaps more interesting than the photos. For some time I've been looking for areas to go to in the Arizona Strip (area of Arizona between the North rim of the Grand Canyon and Southern Utah) when I can't get a permit for the Wave. Wave permits are increasingly difficult to get. Thanks to Laurent Martres' books I've been to many of the (already obscure) areas in the strip such as the White Pocket, the Upper and Lower White Rocks, Yellow Rock, and Wahweap Wash. I wanted to see if I could find something on my own. So I started looking at Google Earth aerial maps for terrain which looks similar to that found in North and South Coyote Buttes. I found an area about five miles North of the Wave and East of Buckskin Gulch that looked interesting, the aerial photos showed that it had lots of "Brain" rocks. When I looked last December on the web in preparation for a January trip I couldn't get any info on the area, or find any photos. I never got there in January because the weather didn't cooperate on the day I planned to go. In March I decided to look at Google Earth again (for an April trip) and to my surprise I found a new "Panoramio" photo labeled "Edmaier's Secret". So I googled "Edmaier's Secret" and found that the area is just starting to become known (about 3 years now). As is so true of the Southwest, it was first photographed by a German photographer Bernhard Edmaier from a plane. A photo can be found in the book GeoArt authored by him, I haven't seen it. Another photographer named the area "Edmaier's Secret" because even having seen Edmaier's photo it is very difficult to find out where it was taken. Even Edmaier didn't know exactly!
Getting There - The normal route into "Edmaier's Secret" is from the Buckskin Gulch trailhead (four miles down House Rock Valley Rd.). You'll need to pay the BLM a fee of $6 to day hike in Buckskin Gulch, you can pay where you park. You then hike about 2.5 miles down Buckskin Gulch before you exit to the east to arrive in the general area of Edmaier's Secret. I have not been in from this direction because it looked like there was a much shorter way (described next), but I can see that this way would be a little tricky, there is a barbed wire fence that needs to be crossed, and a way needs to be found to climb up to the area. I devised an alternate route coming in from Long Canyon Rd., take Long Canyon Rd. about 4.5 miles to the Road labeled "Jeep Trail' on the topo map and bear right. In .6 miles you hit "Dry Flat" on the topo map "West Clark Bench", bear left and continue on "Jeep Trail" for about 1 mile and park anywhere. From your car its about .7 miles to the edge of the escarpment versus 2.5 miles via Buckskin Gulch. You will have to descend 200 feet from the top of the escarpment and do a bit more hiking to get to the best area for photos. You will need a 4x4 for Long Canyon Rd. and especially the "Jeep Trail" , and the road is totally impassable with substantial drop-offs when wet. Only a fool would drive this when wet! Long Canyon Road also goes to "Cobra Arch".
Photography - The area has many good photo ops, but of course none nearly as good as "The Wave". Definitely a late afternoon location, in fact you get good light almost till dusk. At dawn the escarpment will block off the best light for 2 hours or so. Overall - I'd rate the area as Good-Very Good, not quite as photogenic as the White Pocket, but a lot easier to get to!
Shooting the Moon, Night Photography