Coyote Buttes North Maps and Directions

There are so many superb photographic opportunities in Coyote Buttes North it is hard to know where to begin. I'll start with The Wave, but many of the other locations are equally good.

Directions to the Wave

There are two entry points to Coyote Buttes North, Wirepass Trailhead (WP) and The Notch. The Notch is no longer actively publicized by the BLM. The trail from the Notch is poorly defined - I strongly recommend access from the Wirepass parking lot. To get to the Wirepass trailhead take Highway 89 to House Rock Road. The House Rock Road turnoff is between mile posts 25 and 26 on Highway 89 in Utah. House Rock Road is normally passable by passenger cars. Do not take this road if it is wet. It is clay based and impassable even to 4WD vehicles when wet. When the road is muddy it is like driving on ice and there are drop-offs. Take House Rock Road for 8.4 miles to the WP parking area on the right. You can dry camp at the Wirepass trailhead, and a toilet is present. Camping is also available at the Stateline Campground, one mile further south just off House Rock Road.

Begin your hike to the Wave by signing the trailhead register and crossing House Rock Road. Follow the signs for a hundred yards or so till you enter the wash. Wirepass wash feeds into Buckskin Gulch, the longest slot canyon in North America. Continue walking down the wash. About .55 miles from the trailhead you will see a sign marked Coyote Buttes on the right. Turn right and follow the good trail up the hill and across the sage field. At the end of the field you will cross a wash which dumps into Wirepass one quarter mile downstream. Total distance across the sage field is about .65 miles. Ascend the slickrock to a sometimes cairned saddle. If you have a GPS mark this location. You are now in the permit area. From here there may or may not be cairns and they may or may not be accurate. There are a small number of BLM sign posts in the area at critical locations, one can be seen about 50 yards east of the saddle. Note its location, on your return this marker will tell you where to turn to the west. From the saddle proceed south, after .35 miles or so you will see a twin butte with a downed barbed wire fence on its left (east) side, either go over the fence (a little exposed) or walk around the buttes via their the west side. Continue heading almost due south aiming for the crack in the cliffs to the south. After another .8 miles or so you will cross another small wash, continue heading towards the crack in the Wall and go up the sand dune. You will shortly arrive at The Wave. It is about 2.8 miles in total from the WP trailhead to The Wave.

The following video was created with Google Earth Pro and shows an aerial view of the hike to The Wave. The view is from 100 meters above ground level at a 45 degree angle. The blue line in the video is the actual route taken by me on a recent visit to The Wave.

 

Right Click here and choose Save Link As or Save Target As to download a high resolution 1080p video of the hike. The download is quite large and may take some time to complete.

Returning to the trailhead.

It is fairly easy to get back to your car, even at dusk. The small sign posts installed by the BLM will glow in the dark if a flashlight is shined on them. Just make sure that when you return you do not try to cross the ridge too early after heading north. Look for the sign post referenced above, it will tell you when to turn to cross the ridge. It should be easy to cross over the small ridge, if not you have turned west too early. Conversely if you go too far north you will end up in or overlooking the Wirepass slot canyon .If so turn around and try again. For an interesting story of someone who got lost on the return, see Trouble in Coyote Buttes. If you get lost or injured and need help try to gain elevation. You may be able to get a cell signal. I have gotten service via Verizon, and a friend via AT&T.

 


Directions to other locations

GPS Coordinates for other areas of interest are below. Keep in mind - one second is about 100 feet (latitude only) so the coordinates below should be good to 10-20 feet. The aerial map is from Google, I recommend that you select "View Larger Map" (option is below the Aerial Map on the left). You can save the map by going to the Google My Maps tab after choosing "View ... in a Larger Map". Another way to view the maps is to download the KML file and then open it in Google Earth. Google Earth displays coordinates and elevations in its lower right corner. It also has a measurement tool and can display shadows by time of day.

The Second Wave - About .3 miles South of the Wave. Definitely a late afternoon shot, you want to wait until the cliffs to the west are in shadow before shooting. I usually shoot here until the Sun disappears behind the western cliffs and then hurry back to the car.

Top Rock - This is the area a few hundred feet above the Wave. The area is largely Navajo sandstone has many good photo opportunities. It is best shot in the afternoon. The least risky way up is from the back (east) side. From The Wave head north and then east till you get behind Top Rock. Hike south about .5 miles and you will see a fairly easy way to ascend to the top. When you get to the top you will be in an area I call Pine Canyon. The first area you reach in Pine Canyon is the "Dinosaur Dance Floor (DDF)" where there are many small potholes. The DDF received national publicity in October of 2008, see this National Geographic article. Unfortunately it is now believed that the potholes are just that - they were not formed by dinosaurs. After briefly examining the potholes continue heading up the small canyon till you get to the top. Turn right to see the Alcove, Melody Arch, and Top Rock Arch.

Top Rock can also be climbed from the front (west) side. Start just to the left (north) of the Second Wave and make your way up wherever you can. There is one short steep and exposed section that is somewhat uncomfortable. Some people can scramble right up this section. If you can't there is a crack to the right which offers good handholds and is an easy scramble. When you hike up Top Rock from the front make sure to note the way down. The front route up Top Rock is only about .3 miles long, the back route from The Wave to the top is over a mile long. If you are afraid of heights I suggest you take the longer route around the back.

The Alcove - A beautiful alcove with a very small colorful area reminiscent of Antelope Canyon. The Alcove is difficult to photograph in its entirety. I suggest you concentrate on the smaller details rather than the big picture unless the light or weather is exceptional. You will need to use a Pano head to capture The Alcove in its entirety from the interior. You should also shoot it when it is mostly in shadow, near sunrise or sunset.

Melody Arch and the Grotto - Two arches within a grotto. The inner arch is called Melody Arch after photographer Melody Thomas who popularized it, a postcard of hers is available at the Paria Ranger Station. The outside arch/window I call Wall Arch, it frames the North Teepees and Navajo Mountain. Wall Arch can be easily seen if you ascend Top Rock from the back; it is high on the cliff right of Pine Canyon. Melody Arch is one hundred feet or so southeast and maybe 20 feet above the Alcove; it is not visible from below. To get to Melody Arch go about 100 feet south of The Alcove where you will see an area that looks like the beginning of another alcove. Climb up the right side to ascend to the top. Walk east and you should see the two arches in a grotto. You can drop down into the grotto from the north side. Melody Arch is best photographed in the afternoon. The usual shot frames Wall Arch with Melody Arch. Alternatively you can sit inside Wall Arch (don't lean back!) and shoot a wide angle panorama of the entire grotto. There are many excellent photos to be had here as the geometry is simply incredible. Both arches are in the Natural Arch and Bridge Societies List of US arches. 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. Wall arch 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.

Top Rock Arch - this is the arch you can see from The Wave. It is a good shot early in the day and gets a nice glow late afternoon. It is a few hundred feet north of the Alcove on Top Rock. Top Rock Arch (NABSQNO 12S-410195-4094000) is misplaced in the Natural Arch and Bridge Society map.

The Hooters - You'll pass by these on the Way to The Wave. They are not easy to photograph as the foreground runs into the background.

Dinosaur Tracks - While the "Dinosaur Dance Floor" was not walked on by dinosaurs there are true dinosaur tracks in the area. There are many (hundreds?) on the west side of the valley opposite The Wave. I've provided GPS coordinates for a pair of footprints below. The tracks can be hard to find unless you know exactly what you are looking for. See this page for more help on finding them. See also this research paper.

Maze Petroglyph - Please do not touch the petroglyph. The petroglyph is on the red wall to the right of the Access Canyon used to hike in to the Wave from the Notch trailhead. It is easily seen even from a distance. It is on a west facing wall so it is best shot in the afternoon. In the past I would not reveal the GPS coordinates of the petroglyph but its location is now printed in the latest version of Michael Kelsey’s book Hiking the Paria River 5th edition.

Fatali's Boneyard - This area was "discovered" by photographer Michael Fatali who has a magnificent image of it in his gallery in Springdale, Utah. . The Boneyard is on the west side of the valley, perhaps .5 miles south of the dinosaur tracks. It is best photographed shortly after dawn - this requires hiking in before sunrise. It can also be photographed mid - late afternoon. About fifty yards above The Boneyard is an area of lace rock. Most of the lace rock is on an east facing slope and photographs best in early morning.

Sand Cove - Sand Cove lies about half way between the Boneyard and The Second Wave in the middle of the wash running down the center of the valley. It is a very good late afternoon shot.

High Heel Arch - This is the arch clearly marked on the 24K topo map near 5238. It is outside the permit area. I've also seen it called "Flame Arch". It is a beautiful arch and should photograph well late in the day. Part of the arch recently collapsed and it is even more beautiful than it was before the collapse. To get to the arch turn south when you are about half way across the sage field at the beginning of your hike to The Wave. The arch is about .5 miles from the point where you turn off the trail.

Moby Dick Arch - More likely a natural bridge since a wash runs through it. With an estimated thirty foot span it is surprising it is not better known. Victor Cooper of the Rocking V in Kanab first told me about it. The arch is not particularly photogenic, except perhaps to capture a sunburst at sunrise in spring and summer. A panorama head is needed to capture the full span effectively, even 14mm wasn't enough for me. The arch is .25 miles south of High Heel Arch and should be visited in the same trip.

Dicks Arch - A newly reported spectacular arch only 2/3 of a mile from The Wave! It was first reported in 2016 by Dick Kent, of Centennial, Colorado. Dick first saw the arch in 1996, before the days of GPS, so the exact latitude and longitude were unknown. In late October 2016 I went looking for the arch based on the trip log from Dick's 1996 hike, and found it by pretty much following his directions. Here is a paraphrased version of Dick's discovery: "Leave Wire Pass TH camp at 6:43a. Pedometer 0. Altitude 4880'. Leave Wire Pass drainage and ascend the sand hill on 4WD track (now trail) at 6:55a. Descend the sand hill and turn right at the wash that is now the North Coyote Buttes permit boundary. I walked up the wash about a mile until further passage was blocked by rock. I had an exhausting climb up the sand dune to the right of the rock until it finally leveled somewhat. I had given up finding anything when I took a final look and there was an arch! I reached the arch at 8:09a. 2.6 miles from Wire Pass. Altitude 5400'. No doubt additional mileage and time because of the difficult dune ascent".

I estimate Dicks Arch has a span of 40 to 60 feet and is a "significant" arch, per the Natural Arch and Bridge Society definition. It is amazing that it was only recently reported, being so close to The Wave. I assigned the arch an identifcation number (NABSQNO) of 12S-409531-4095398 based on its UTM coordinates. The top of the arch can be seen in Google Earth. Despite being less than a mile from The Wave I believe the arch was unknown because access requires hiking up the apparently uninteresting wash you cross on the way to The Wave, and gaining 600 feet of elevation, all off-trail and mostly in sand. The arch can only be seen when you’ve hiked to within 200 feet of it. I saw several other small unknown arches in the area. While the official designation of Dicks Arch is 12S-409531-4095398, I refer to the arch as Dicks Arch for its discoverer. The area around the arch is quite photogenic and contains a great deal of "lace" rock. Unfortunately Dicks Arch only gets good light mid day. I am not sure if the arch is in the Coyote Buttes North Permit area. The arch can be accessed from the top of the "Sage field" that is crossed on the way to the Wave. Once on top of the sage field proceed due south for about 1.5 miles to the arch at 37.00038, -112.01676. A kml file can be downloaded here and a GPX file here. The hike to Dicks Arch is about 2.5 miles one way, and is largely off-trail over rough terrain. Elevation gain is 700 feet from the WP trailhead. The hike is significantly more difficult than the hike to The Wave, and should only be undertaken by experienced off-trail hikers. Strong hikers may wish to explore the area around the arch more thoroughly, and may be able to gain the ridge that overlooks The Wave from the west. The view to the east from this ridge should be spectacular. Because the area is so remote there is a good chance you will see wildlife, I briefly saw a herd of mule deer near the arch. I have never seen deer near The Wave before.

All three arches in the sage hill area can be visited in good light on a single day. Hit Moby Dick at sunrise and then proceed to Dicks Arch. Probably the easiest way to do this is to head down the gully that runs under Moby Dick for .1 miles and then turn south and follow the red line on the map below. This route is not the most direct and you'll have to regain some elevation but it is very straightforward and you wont be traversing a sand covered slope. Shoot Dick until it loses light and then head back to Moby Dick and shoot till mid-afternoon or so. Finally head to High Heel for sunset.

Hourglass Arch - This beautiful arch is on the west side of Top Rock and is on a cliff. It is rarely shot since it is difficult to find and once found it's hard to get a good composition. The best way to photograph the arch is to approach it from the northeast side. Scramble over the small buttes to the northeast and find a way down to the arch. There's a rough track shown in the Google map below. The arch is at its best mid to late afternoon. The arch is also visible from below using a binoculars or a long lens. From the Boneyard look towards the cliffs above the north edge of the butte in the middle of Sand Cove to see the arch. 

  Latitude Longitude 24K Topo Map Rating Comments
The Wave 36° 59' 45.5" -112° 00' 22.7" Coyote Buttes ***** Best morning - midday. Best when water is present and the wind is calm. Many different compositions available.
Water Hole 37° 00' 30.9" -112° 00' 34.4" Pine Hollow Canyon ** Only good when there is a lot of water present and little wind.
The Second Wave 36° 59' 35.6" -112° 00' 28.6" Coyote Buttes ***** Late day, keep shooting till the Sun goes behind the cliffs to the west. Not good in the winter when snow is present.
Hooters 37° 0'19.3" -112° 00'27.7" Pine Hollow Canyon *** Best early or late day.
The Alcove 36° 59' 32" -112° 00' 21.2" Coyote Buttes **** Interesting patterns inside, however trying to capture the whole Alcove with a wide-angle is very difficult as there are harsh shadows present except early morning or late day when it may be entirely in shadow or sun.
Melody Arch/The Grotto 36° 59' 27.8" -112° 00' 19.5" Coyote Buttes **** Best in the afternoon. Lots of room for creativity here with a fish-eye or ultra-wide, see some of the sample photos.
High Heel Arch (5238AT) 37° 00' 37.25" -112° 0' 59.35" Pine Hollow Canyon **** Also known as Flame Arch. Probably best late day in spring or summer, a nice arch rarely photographed. Part of it recently collapsed which improved its looks!
Moby Dick Arch 37° 00' 26.45" -112° 1' 2.27" Pine Hollow Canyon ** Surprisingly there are no references to this arch on the web even though it has an estimated thirty foot span. Probably best at dawn in spring or summer. A panorama head is needed to capture the full span from close-up.
Dicks Arch 37° 00' 1.38" -112° 1' 0.37" Pine Hollow Canyon *** Recently reported and quite beautiful though it only gets light in the hours around mid-day.
Top Rock Arch 36° 59' 40.5" -112° 00' 17.7" Coyote Buttes *** Has good light early morning and late day.
Fatali's Boneyard 36° 59' 44.1" -112° 00' 46.9" Coyote Buttes **** Best at dawn and mid-late afternoon. A good site in the winter as it has a southern exposure so snow melts quickly.
Sand Cove 36° 59' 33.0" -112° 00' 40.7" Coyote Buttes ***** Wow. Great in late afternoon.
Dinosaur Tracks 36° 59' 57.3" -112° 00' 35.6" Coyote Buttes *** GPS coordinates are believed to be accurate to within ten feet.
Maze Petroglyph 36° 59' 6.1" -112° 01' 34.2" Coyote Buttes *** Best in the afternoon, use a Red enhancing filter (glass or digital).
Hourglass Arch 36° 59' 26.7" -112° 00' 31.1" Coyote Buttes *** Best when the sun is in the southern sky. Be careful - the arch is on the edge of a cliff.
Wirepass Parking Area 37° 01' 08" -112° 01' 29" Pine Hollow Canyon   Pit toilets available. People occasionally car camp here. Be sure to leave your permit visible on the windshield and sign the trailhead register.

 


Google Map showing the hike to The Wave and some good photo sites

To view the map larger please click on the box in the upper right corner of the map.

Actual Tracks: Below are some of actual tracks I took on visits to The Wave. The tracks have been simplified to remove meanders and errors, and the tracks were compressed using GPS Prune. They are also subject to normal GPS inaccuracies. Errors in these tracks could be substantial and the tracks should not be followed blindly. Caution -If the track leads you to terrain that is difficult to climb or there is a steep drop-off do not follow the track. When in doubt use your own judgment as to the best route, do not follow the track.

As usual to download a file below either click on the file or right click and choose Save Link As or Save Target As:

Track KML File GPX File Description
To The Wave To The Wave To The Wave The hike from Wirepass trailhead to The Wave. Differs slightly from that recommended by the BLM in that it goes to the left of a butte about 1.5 miles into the hike. 
A Day at The Wave Loop Loop A roughly two mile loop around Sand Cove hitting most of the best photographic sites.
Top Rock ascent from its west (front) side Top Rock Top Rock Goes from The Second Wave to a point near The Alcove on Top Rock. About .3 miles long.
Top Rock ascent from its east {back) side Top Rock Back Route Top Rock Back Route Goes from The Wave to the head of Pine Tree Canyon on Top Rock. About 1.2 miles long.
Straight to the Boneyard The Boneyard The Boneyard A direct route from Wirepass trailhead to The Boneyard and Sand Cove.
Upper West Side / Lace Rock Lace Rock Lace Rock Takes you high on the west side starting near The Hooters and ending near The Boneyard. This area is rarely visited.

 


USGS 24K Topo Maps

USGS 24K topo maps are not copyrighted and can be freely distributed. There are three primary sources of free USGS topo maps, libremap.org, pickatrail.com, and the USGS itself. The maps from the USGS and pickatrail.com are more recent and are of a different format. Note - As of December, 2015 the pickatrail maps are offline and cannot be accessed. It is not known when they will become available again. Libremap maps are the historical 24K maps that most of us are familiar with. These maps generally show more roads and feature names than the newer maps from pickatrail. The newer maps show an image of the area, but far fewer roads and features. Pickatrail maps contain layers whose visibility can be turned on or off. USGS maps from the National Maps Database are in GeoPDF format.

I generally prefer the libremaps. These maps below are in GeoTiff format. This format can be read by a large variety of mapping programs. After downloading the GeoTiffs from libremap you need to unzip them before they can be used. In addition to the GeoTiff maps I've also included below KMZ files. KMZ files can be overlaid onto Google Earth. In this way you can easily see how the topo map relates to the Google Earth image. To do this download the KMZ file, and double click on it to view it in Google Earth. Here's a sample of what the result looks like in Google Earth:

Google Earth with KMZ overlay

If you want to see the underlying image without the overlay just uncheck the upper box circled in red on the left side of Google Earth. Alternatively you can drag the layer transparency slider (the lower box circled in red) to the left.

Also available below are "decollared" USGS 24K maps. USGS topo maps contain a white border (called the collar) which contains information such as the map name, names of neighboring maps, date the map was created, latitude and longitude reference lines, ... While collars are very useful on printed maps, the information on the collar is much less useful for computer use. Maps with the collar removed can also be downloaded from the table below.

In addition to the KMZ files I have included maps which can be read by two different mobile mapping programs. The first program is Oruxmaps, Oruxmaps is a free android application. It can display maps, waypoints, routes, and tracks on an android phone or tablet. The second program is PDF Maps by Avenza. PDF Maps is available for both Apple and Android phones and tablets. PDF Maps is not as full featured as Oruxmaps but it runs on both Apple devices and Android. It has a wide variety of available maps, either free, or for purchase. Free USGS 24K topo maps can be downloaded in PDF Maps by clicking on the Cart button and searching for the map. The resulting map will have a collar and will be stored in the devices internal storage. Note that the Geo TIFF files on libremap.org can be loaded into PDF Maps directly, no conversion is needed. They can also be loaded into the phone or tablets external storage whereas maps downloaded by PDF Maps directly can only reside in internal storage.

To use the maps below in either Oruxmaps or PDF Maps download the map to your PC. Then copy the map into the oruxmaps/map directory on your android phone or tablet, or the Avenza/files directory. You'll then be able to navigate using the downloaded topo map and your GPS. The maps below were created using two PC programs. The first is G-Raster available here. A free feature limited demo version is available, or you can access all features for a one-time charge of $5 US. G-Raster is used to create the KMZ files below and to remove the collars on USGS topo maps. The second program is MAPC2MAPC which costs roughly $24. MAPC2MAPC can convert many GPS formats into formats usable on mobile devices. It can also be used to merge several maps together into one map, and has a batch file creation feature. We use it to create Oruxmap and PDF Maps formatted files, and to create merged maps. Both programs can also be used to create Garmin formatted files viewable on Garmin mapping GPS devices. If you create your own mobile maps from USGS 24K downloads I highly recommend both G-Raster and MAPC2MAPC.

Conversion to Oruxmaps and PDF Maps formats was done as follows:

Conversion Details

24K Topo Maps covering Coyote Buttes North and South

Four Topo Maps include cover both the north and south permit areas and The White Pocket. The two topo maps Coyote Buttes and Pine Hollow Canyon contain most of the locations in Coyote Buttes North and the Coyote Buttes South Pawhole trailhead. Edmaier's Secret, Coyote Buttes South Cottonwood trailhead, and the White Pocket are covered by West Clark Bench and Poverty Flat. The individual topo maps that follow in the table below are high resolution and can be quite large (typically 5-10 megabytes). The zip files and merged maps are much larger.

24K Map (GeoTiff/Avenza) KMZ Oruxmaps KMZ Decollared Oruxmap Decollared Avenza Decollared Locations included
Coyote Buttes KMZ Oruxmap KMZ Decollared Oruxmap Decollared Avenza Decollared The Wave, The Second Wave, Sand Cove, Fatali's Boneyard, The Alcove, Melody Arch, The Grotto, Top Rock Arch, Pawhole Trailhead, Dinosaur Tracks
Pine Hollow Canyon KMZ Oruxmap KMZ Decollared Oruxmap Decollared Avenza Decollared Wirepass trailhead, The Hooters, 24K Arch
West Clark Bench KMZ Oruxmap KMZ Decollared Oruxmap Decollared Avenza Decollared Edmaier's Secret, Cobra Arch
Poverty Flat KMZ Oruxmap KMZ Decollared Oruxmap Decollared Avenza Decollared Cottonwood Cove trailhead, the White Pocket, North and South Teepees
All 4 Maps (zip file) KMZ Oruxmap KMZ Decollared Oruxmap Decollared Avenza Decollared All
All 4 Maps Merged NA NA KMZ Decollared Oruxmap Decollared Avenza Decollared All
All of Vermilion Cliffs NM Merged NA NA KMZ Decollared Oruxmap Decollared Avenza Decollared All

 


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