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Coyote Buttes South

While Coyote Buttes South does not have the superb photographic opportunities of the North there are many good photos to be had, and you are far less likely to see other people. A $5 permit is necessary to day hike in the area. As of 2013 permits were readily obtainable online provided you apply within a day or so of availability. In December, January, and February Coyote Buttes South online permits rarely sell out. See the permit section of this site for information on how to obtain a permit. Walk in permits are also available the day before you wish to hike via lottery at the Grand Staircase Escalante NM visitor center in Kanab. Unsold same-day or next day permits are available either in Kanab or at the Paria contact station near milepost 20 on Highway 89.


There are two trailheads for Coyote Buttes South: Pawhole and Cottonwood Cove. It is about 11.5 miles on jeep roads to the Cottonwood Cove trailhead, versus 2.5 miles to Pawhole. 4WD is pretty much required for either trailhead. If you are going to the Pawhole area and do not have 4WD vehicle you can park at the Lone Tree reservoir. From the reservoir you would have to walk 2.3 miles to the Pawhole trailhead on a sandy mostly uphill road. The walk is uninteresting and would make for a very long day.

If you have Coyote Buttes South permits for two consecutive days you should camp at the Cottonwood trailhead the first day and drive directly to the Pawhole trailhead the next morning. The route is shown on the red line labelled "Shortcut from Pawhole" on the map below. This road has a steep sandy up hill from Pawhole to Cottonwood Cove. Many people (myself included, and a couple I "rescued") have been stuck going up the hill. Down hill is NOT a problem. Hence the recommendation - first day at Cottonwood, then drive down hill to get to Pawhole on the second day. This road is 2.9 miles long.

If you are only going to Cottonwood Cove I strongly suggest you take the longer green road below and not the road via Pawhole.


The route generally follows the blue line labelled "Road to Pawhole Trailhead" in the map below. The drive starts at the junction of House Rock Valley Road (HRVR) and Highway 89 in Utah. The HRVR turnoff is between mile posts 25 and 26 on Highway 89. House Rock Valley Road is normally okay for passenger cars. Do not take this road if it is wet. If your tires are kicking up a lot of mud / clay after the first mile or so on HRVR and/or you are having trouble keeping your car straight do not continue on the road. House Rock Valley Road runs north/south between Highway 89 in Utah and Highway 89A in Arizona. HRVR is renamed House Rock Road once you cross the Arizona state line so you'll see the road referred to with both names.

To get to Pawhole from the north take House Rock Valley Road 16.5 miles to the Lone Tree Reservoir - Pawhole junction and turn right. If you are coming from 89A in the south take House Rock Road 13.2 miles north to the intersection. From HRVR it is 0.2 miles to the Lone Tree Reservoir. Park here if you do not have 4WD. If you have 4WD vehicle continue 2.3 miles further to the trailhead.

Before starting your hike mark your location with a GPS. I know of one person who got separated from his group and spent the night there in the cold. Once at the trailhead walk due east down the faded two track to Pawhole. Late in the day the red rock in the area gets very good light and you can get good pictures right from Pawhole, including images of red rock reflected in Pawhole. Pawhole itself is outside the permit area. In addition to exploring the buttes to the east of Pawhole it is worth exploring the rocks further north in the "Yellow Stripe" area. Yellow Stripe itself is best photographed in the morning.

Drive to Pawhole


Waypoint #

Waypoint GPS Coordinates Distance from start Distance from last waypoint
1 House Rock Valley Road and Highway 89 - start, set odometer to zero 37.126319, -111.976857 0 0
2 Leave Utah/enter Arizona 37.001100, -112.032593 9.7 9.7
3 House Rock Road and Pawhole Road (BLM 1079) 36.914580, -112.05152 16.4 6.7
4 Lone tree reservoir - park here if you don’t have a 4x4 36.915680, -112.048343 16.6 0.2
5 Turn left here (stay on 1079) 36.910827, -112.030429 17.7 1.1
6 Pawhole Parking 36.923226, -112.018426 18.9 1.2


Cottonwood Cove

The are two route to Cottonwood Cove, one going past the Pawhole trailhead, and a longer preferable route. The route past Pawhole is shorter but there the road is more difficult.

Longer route: You'll be following the green line in the map below. Take House Rock Road south 20.2 miles to the intersection with "Pine Tree Pockets Road" (BLM 1017). If you're coming from the south take House Rock Road 9.4 miles north to the intersection. There is a corral at the turnoff. Take BLM 1017 3.1 miles and turn left on Red Pockets road. At 6.0 miles you will come to a cattle gate, leave it in the same condition as you found it (open or closed). Continue straight. At 8.3 miles bear right (the road on the left is now closed). At 8.7 miles turn left onto Upper Pawhole Road. This area is called Poverty Flat. There is a corral and some old buildings, there used to be a windmill here but it is gone. At 9.0 miles miles stay to the right. At 10.7 miles you will reach a closed gate with a Coyote Buttes Fee Area sign. At 11.4 miles you have arrived. Park on the left hand side of the road. Do not continue any further on the road (down the hill). If you do so you are very likely to get stuck on your return up the hill. There is a warning sign before the hill.

A good way to begin your hike is to head west to the teepees, about .6 miles away. "Half and Half" and the "Control Tower" are good destinations to start with.

Long Route to Cottonwood Cove Trailhead

Waypoint # Waypoint GPS Coordinates Distance from start Distance from last waypoint
1 House Rock Valley Road and Highway 89 - start 37.126319, -111.976857 0 0
2 Leave Utah/enter Arizona 37.001100, -112.032593 9.7 9.7
3 House Rock Road and BLM 1017 36.861699,-112.06295 20.2 10.5
4 Corral Valley - turn left on BLM 1081 36.859300, -112.01112 23.3 3.1
5 Red Pockets - cattle gate 36.890751, -111.984077 26.2 2.9
6 Poverty Flat - turn left on BLM 1082 36.92374, -111.96451 28.9 2.7
7 Bear right 36.926095, -111.966176 29.2 0.3
8 Continue straight at cattle gate 36.94807, -111.97472 30.9 1.7
9 Cottonwood parking 36.95663, -111.98003 31.6 0.7

Shorter route via Pawhole: our route starts at the Pawhole trailhead and follows the red line till it joins with the green route to Cottonwood.

Waypoint # Waypoint GPS Coordinates Distance from start Distance from last waypoint
1 Pawhole trailhead 36.923226, -112.018426 0 0
2 Poverty Flat - turn left 36.92718, -111.96963 2.8 2.8
3 Continue straight at cattle gate 36.94807, -111.97472 4.3 1.5
4 Cottonwood parking 36.95663, -111.98003 5 0.7

There are several good photographic sites in the Cottonwood Cove area. I especially like the Control Tower just before sunset in late Fall and early Winter. The best view of the Control Tower is from the south making it great foreground for star trails. The Control Tower is also the closest formation to the parking area. This makes it easy to shoot there late or into the night. Nearby formations "Half and Half" and "Hanging Head" are also worth shooting, both are very small.

There are a few dinosaur tracks to the west of the Control Tower. Near the dinosaur tracks is a small formation reminiscent of The Wave. The area on the west side of Cottonwood Cove is largely unexplored since it is quite far from both the Pawhole and Cottonwood trailheads. This area almost certainly has some good images. Another good formation is a hoodoo named "The Queen". The Queen is northwest of the Cottonwood Cove parking area on the right side of the road. It is outside the permit area and is best shot at sunset.

The Map

The map below only covers Coyote Buttes South. It has two layers. The layer showing the approximate boundaries of the permit area is turned off by default. Layers can be turned on or off via the check boxes next to the layers name. Bing Maps do not support layers so only the overview map is available.

Note that the new Google maps engine does not show you latitude/longitude of points, elevation, or the distance between two points on the map. If you need these I suggest you download the KML file for the map and load it into Google Earth or another mapping tool. Hopefully these significant limitations of the new Google Maps Engine will be alleviated shortly.

To view the above map full screen just click the [ ] box in the upper right corner of the map.

View Coyote Buttes South in a Bing Map.

Click to download a KML file (Note - in IE Right Click and choose Save Target as)

Click to download a GPX file (Note - in IE Right Click and choose Save Target as)

24K USGS topo maps are available at the bottom of the White Pocket map section of this site. You will want the Coyote Buttes, Poverty Flat, House Rock Spring, and One Toe Ridge maps for full coverage of the area including the roads in. The Coyote Buttes map contains the area around the Paw Hole trailhead, and Poverty Flat contains the area around the Cottonwood trailhead.

This page was last updated 3/2/2015