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Coyote Buttes North
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, in my opinion, some of the other locations are even better.
Directions to the Wave
There are two entry points to Coyote Buttes North, Wirepass Trailhead (WP) and The Notch. The Notch is no longer 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 dropoffs. Take House Rock Road for 8.4 miles to the WP parking area on the right. You can dry camp at the WP trailhead, and a restroom is present.
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 .5 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. Ascend the slickrock to a 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. From the saddle proceed South, after .5 miles or so you will see a downed barbed wire fence, either go over it (a little exposed) or bypass it on the West side. Continue heading South aiming for the crack in the cliffs on the East side. After another .6 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 2.5 miles in total from the WP trailhead to the Wave.
A quick note on returning to the trailhead. It is fairly easy to get back to your car, even at dusk. Just make sure that when you return you do not try to cross the ridge too early after heading North. 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 the Wirepass slot, 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
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 50-100 feet if tenths or hundreds are not displayed. 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". In Googlemaps if you choose Browse the Directory you can also add the Elevation Contours Tool which will
give you the latitude and longitude and the elevation of any point on
the aerial map.
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 late day or early morning. 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 as there are many Pinyon Pines here. 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 of the Second Wave and make you way up wherever you can. There is one steep and exposed section that will make some people uncomfortable, and the way down will be worse. 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 very difficult to photograph. I suggest you concentrate on the smaller details rather than the big picture unless the light or weather is exceptional.
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 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 should be a good shot early in the day. 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 on the West side of the valley opposite The Wave, I've provided GPS coordinates below. 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. You can see a small version of it here. 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.
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.
5238AT Arch - This is the arch clearly marked on the 24K topo map. It is outside the permit area. You might also call it "Overlooked Arch" as no one stops to see it in their hurry to get to The Wave. It is a beautiful arch and should photograph well late in the day, and perhaps early morning as well. 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.
|Latitude||Longitude||24K Topo Map||Rating||Comments|
|The Wave||36° 59' 47"||112° 00' 21"||Coyote Buttes||****||Best midday, five stars when water is present and the wind is calm.|
|Water Hole||37° 00' 31"||112° 00' 33"||Pine Hollow Canyon||**||Only good when there is a lot of water present and little wind.|
|The Second Wave||36° 59' 37"||112° 00' 30"||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"||Coyote Buttes||****||Interesting patterns inside, however trying to capture the whole Alcove with a wideangle 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' 28"||112° 00' 20"||Coyote Buttes||****||Best in the afternoon. Lots of room for creativity here with a fisheye or ultra wide, see some of the sample photos.|
|Arch (5238AT)||37° 00' 37.2"||112° 01' 00.3"||Pine Hollow Canyon||***||Probably best late day, a very nice arch rarely photographed.|
|Top Rock Arch||36° 59' 40.5"||112° 00' 17.7"||Coyote Buttes||***||Has good light early morning.|
|Fatali's Boneyard||36° 59' 44.1"||112° 00' 46.9"||Coyote Buttes||****||Great light at dawn, good mid-late afternoon. A good site in 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' 57.6"||112° 00' 34.5"||Coyote Buttes||GPS coordinates may be slightly off (50 feet or so).|
|Maze Petroglyph||36° 59' 6.05"||112° 01' 34.17"||Coyote Buttes||***||Best in the afternoon, use a Red enhancing filter (glass or digital).|
|Wirepass Parking Area||37° 01' 08"||112° 01' 29"||Pine Hollow Canyon|
View Coyote Buttes North in a larger map.
View Coyote Buttes North in a Bing Map.
Click to download a KML file (Note - in Firefox Right Click and choose Save Link as)
Topo Maps: USGS 24K topo maps are not copyrighted and can be freely distributed. 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 topo maps that follow in the table below are high resolution and can be quite large (10 megabytes). Maps in the table below can be downloaded as PDF files - just click on them . The last map is a lower resolution merge of the West Clark Bench, Pine Hollow Canyon, Coyote Buttes, and Poverty Flat 24K maps.
|24K Topo Map||Locations included|
|Coyote Buttes||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||Wirepass trailhead, The Hooters, 24K Arch|
|West Clark Bench||Edmaier's Secret, Cobra Arch|
|Poverty Flat||Cottonwood Cove trailhead, the White Pocket, North and South Teepees|
|Wrather Arch||Hole in the Rock Arch|
Route to the Wave from the Wirepass Trailhead:
Map of all of the North and South Buttes: