Coyote Buttes North Maps and Directions

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. When dry 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. Better camping with fire pits, tables, and pit toilets is 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 well defined trail east for fifty yards until 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. This wash also flows into the Wirepass slot canyon one half mile downstream. Total distance across the sage field to the wash is about .65 miles. After crossing the wash hike up 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 (easy but 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. There should be a cleear trail up the sand dune unless it had been very windy overnight. You will shortly arrive at The Wave. It is about 2.8 miles in total from the WP trailhead to The Wave.

An aerial view of the hike

The above video was created with Google Earth Pro. It 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. The video can be viewed full screen by clicking on the [] icon in the lower right. A high resolution 1080p video of the hike is available, click here and choose Save Link As or Save Target As. The download is quite large and may take some time to complete.

A guide on how to create a video from a GPS track using Google Earth Pro is available on this site by clicking here.

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. 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 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.

Other Locations

Click on any image for a larger version.

The Second Wave

About 0.3 miles south of the Wave. Best late afternoon, 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. Most compositions are vertical. Shoot from either the small sand dune a few feet south, or from the rocks just above it to the southeast. Poor subject when snow is present.

GPS Coordinates: 36.99344, -112.00812

Rating: *****

24K Topo Map: Coyote Buttes

Coyote Buttes North, The Second Wave, The Wave, Arizona

The Second Wave

Top Rock and The Alcove

Top Rock 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 from mid-day on. The least risky way to the top 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 known as Pine Canyon. Pine Canyon is home to the "Dinosaur Dance Floor (DDF)" where there are many small potholes. The DDF received national publicity in October of 2008, see this NBC Science article. Unfortunately it is now believed that the potholes are just that - they were not formed by dinosaurs.

Top Rock can also be climbed from the front (west) side. Start just 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 or even run 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 not covered in wet sand. When you hike up Top Rock from the front make sure to note the way down. The front route up Top Rock involves 400 feet of elevation gain and 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 but a good image can be had around noon in the summer when its walls are in shadow. Sunrise and sunset are also good times to shoot. Try shooting the inside of The Alcove from the northwest side of the sand dune in its interior. The Alcove is easy to find if you climb Top Rock from the front side, when you get to the top The Alcove will be just a few hundred feet south and slightly east.

GPS Coordinates: 36.99201, -112.00577

Rating: *****

24K Topo Map: Coyote Buttes

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 100 feet south of The Alcove to an area that looks like the beginning of another alcove. Climb up the right side to ascend to the top. Walk east and you will 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 with an ultra-wide angle lens or panormama head, 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.

GPS Coordinates: 36.99103, -112.00555

Rating: ****

24K Topo Map: Coyote Buttes

Melody Arch, Top Rock, Coyote Buttes North, Arizona

Melody Arch, Top Rock, Coyote Buttes North, Arizona

Melody Arch

Top Rock Arch

This is the arch you can see above you from The Wave. It is also visible from Hamburger Rock. Top Rock Arch is good 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.

GPS Coordinates: 36.99366, -112.0051

Rating: ***

24K Topo Map: Coyote Buttes

Top Rock arch near The Wave

Top Rock Arch at Sunset

The Hooters

These are three photogenic teepees. You'll pass by them on the way to The Wave. They are not easy to photograph as they blend into the background.

GPS Coordinates: 37.00528, -112.00765

Rating: **

24K Topo Map: Pine Hollow Canyon

The Hooters on the way to The Wave

The Hooters

Ginger Rock

This is the brightly colored rock you see to the left just after climbing the sand dune. It is about 150 yards north of the entrance to The Wave. It has a nice vortex that gets good light mid day.

GPS Coordinates: 36.99745, -112.00548

Rating: ***

24K Topo Map: Coyote Buttes

Ginger Rock Vortex near The Wave

Ginger Rock

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 cove opposite The Wave. GPS coordinates for a pair of footprints can be found below. The GPS coordinates are believed to be accurate to within ten feet. The tracks can be hard to find unless you know exactly what you are looking for. I have places a circle of rocks around two of them to make them easier to find.

GPS Coordinates: 36.99925, -112.00988

Rating: ***

24K Topo Map: Coyote Buttes

Dinosaur Tracks near The Wave

Dinosaur Tracks

The 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. The panel is easily seen even from a distance. It is on a west facing wall so it is best shot in the afternoon. There is now a parking area and a trail to the petroglyphs starting on House Rock Road at 36.986, -112.0335. Use a polarizer to reduce any glare on the rock. A real or digital red enhancing filter also improves the image. The image to the right is a closeup. Shoot the petroglyphs in their setting also to add context.

GPS Coordinates: 36.98501, -112.02615

Rating: ***

24K Topo Map: Coyote Buttes

The Maze Petroglyph near the Notch trail

The Maze Petroglyph

The Boneyard

This area was "discovered" by photographer Michael Fatali who has a magnificent image of it. The Boneyard is on the west side of the cove, 0.5 miles south of the dinosaur tracks. It is best photographed either shortly after dawn or about two hours before sunset. Shooting at dawn requires hiking in before sunrise. About fifty yards above The Boneyard is an area of lace rock. Most of the lace rock is on an east facing slope and is best in early morning.

GPS Coordinates: 36.99552, -112.01308

Rating: ****

24K Topo Map: Coyote Buttes

Fatalis Boneyard in Coyote Buttes North

The Boneyard

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 cove. It is a very good late afternoon shot. A wide or ultra-wide is needed to emphasize the fine detail in the leading lines of sandstone

GPS Coordinates: 36.99249, -112.0113

Rating: ****

24K Topo Map: Coyote Buttes

Sand Cove in Coyote Buttes North

Sand Cove

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 is good 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 0.5 miles from the point where you turn off the trail.

GPS Coordinates: 37.01036, -112.01648

Rating: ****

24K Topo Map: Pine Hollow Canyon

High Heel Arch aka Flame Arch

High Heel Arch

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 from close-up, even 14mm wasn't enough for me. The arch is .25 miles south of High Heel Arch and could be visited in the same trip. The arch is outside the permit area.

GPS Coordinates: 37.00736, -112.01728

Rating: **

24K Topo Map: Pine Hollow Canyon

Moby Dick Arch

Moby Dick Arch

Dick's 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".

Tom Van Bebber, David Kennedy, and David Alexander of the Natural Arch and Bridge Society recently visited Dick's Arch and measured the span to be 54 feet, with a height of 18.2 feet. For comparison, Cobra Arch, which has a somewhat similar shape, has a span of 35 feet. Tom Van Bebber maintains the World Arch Database, a subscription based catalog of natural arches throughout the world. If you are interested in arches you should subscribe. Highly recommended. Tom also indicated they found two other new arches in the area. One of the arches is called Fox Arch since a fox when seen near it when "discovered". I do not have details on the other arch.

It is amazing Dicks Arch was only recently reported, being so close to The Wave. I assigned the arch an identification 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. 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, it seems to be righht on its boundary. 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 had 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 won't be traversing a sand covered slope. Shoot Dicks Arch 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.

GPS Coordinates: 37.00038, -112.01676

Rating: ****

24K Topo Map: Pine Hollow Canyon

Dicks Arch

Dicks Arch 2

Dicks Arch

Hour Glass Arch

A small but beautiful arch. It lies on the west side of Top Rock and is on a cliff. It is seldom 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.

GPS Coordinates: 36.99074, -112.00864

Rating: ****

24K Topo Map: Coyote Buttes

Hour Glass Arch

Hour Glass Arch

Hamburger Rock

Also known as The Big Mac. Best at dawn. The north side of the rock is its most photogenic. An easy detour if you are coming climbing Top Rock from the back.

GPS Coordinates: 36.98954, -112.00195

Rating: ***

24K Topo Map: Coyote Buttes

Hamburger Rock

Hamburger Rock

The North Teepees

These lie outside the permit area .6 miles east of Top Rock. The interior can be accessed via the "Secret Passage", a narrow slot on their south side, or via their east side. The Secret Passage and the vortex just above it are quite photogenic. If you have a Wave permit the best way to see them is to hike around Top Rock and head east, follow up the visit with Hamburger Rock and the rest of Top Rock. If you do not have a permit you can access the North Teepees from the Cottonwood trailhead of Coyote Buttes South, follow the old road until it turns west, then leave the road and head north to the Coyote Buttes Teepees. The hike is about seven miles round trip over sand which makes it feel much longer.

GPS Coordinates: 36.99036, -111.99147

Rating: ****

24K Topo Map: Poverty Flat

The North Teepees

The North Teepees

Wirepass Parking Area and Trailhead

Pit toilets available. People occasionally car camp here. Be sure to leave your permit visible on the windshield and sign the trailhead register. Sign out when you return to the trailhead.

GPS Coordinates: 37.01901, -112.0251

Rating: NA

24K Topo Map: Pine Hollow Canyon

 

Google Map and Directions

The map below shows The Wave and the locations of all of the landmarks above. The maps also shows routes and actual tracks in the area.

Note that the new Google maps engine does not show you the latitude/longitude of waypoints or points of interest, elevation, or the distance between two points on the map. The engine also does not show track or route elevation profiles. If you need these I suggest you download the KML or KMZ file for the map and load it into Google Earth or another mapping tool.

Actual GPS Tracks

Tot the right 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.

Photo Map

The following map shows the locations of all of the geocoded photos in my Coyote Buttes North Gallery. The map has a great many images and will take a few seconds to load. Click on any image to display a cropped thumbnail, the GPS coordinates, elevation, and focal length used when shooting the image. Click on the cropped thumbnail in the upper left corner to display a larger uncropped image.

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

The map can be downloaded by clicking here.

USGS 24K Topo Maps

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.

Topo maps covering Vermilion Cliffs National Monument

Vermilion Cliffs Index Map

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

Contact Us

Vermilion Cliffs Index Map

Vermilion Cliffs Index Map

The Second Wave

The Second Wave

The Alcove on Top Rock 1

The Alcove 1

The Alcove on Top Rock 2

The Alcove 2

The Alcove on Top Rock 3

The Alcove 3

Melody Arch and The Grotto

Melody Arch and The Grotto

Melody Arch and The Grotto 2

Melody Arch and The Grotto 2

Top Rock Arch

Top Rock Arch

The Hooters in Coyote Buttes North

The Hooters

Ginger Rock in Coyote Buttes North

Ginger Rock

Dinosaur Tracks in Coyote Buttes North

Dinosaur Tracks Size

The Maze Petroglyph near the Notch trail

The Maze Petroglyph

The Boneyard

The Boneyard

High Heel Arch

High Heel Arch

Sand Cove

Sand Cove

Moby Dick Arch

Moby Dick Arch

Dicks Arch 1

Dicks Arch 1

Dicks Arch 2

Dicks Arch 2

Hour Glass Arch on Top Rock

Hour Glass Arch

Hamburger Rock aka The Big Mac

Hamburger Rock

The North Teepees Vortex

The North Teepees

The Secret Passage

The Secret Passage