A Day at the Wave

This is a nice loop hike starting and ending at the Wave. It covers most of the best photo sites near the Wave. It does not include TopRock. I suggest you bring a headlamp or flashlight if you follow the itinerary below (leaving the Second Wave 45-60 minutes before sunset) as you will get back to your car 30-45 minutes after sunset.

  1. 1. The Wave - Coyote Buttes North has the best light mid-day to near sunset. Most people start hiking in very early in the day and end up leaving when they run out of energy, usually before best light. If you have the stamina to stay out 10-15 hours feel free to begin your day at dawn or before, otherwise I suggest you start hiking into the Wave at around 10 AM. This should get you to the Wave at 11:30 AM or so when most of it will be lit without harsh shadows. At the Wave explore the immediate area for an hour or two, or even more if there are very good conditions (especially if there is water present and no wind - this picture by Laurent Martres is my favorite of the Wave).
  2. 2. Dinosaur Tracks - Leave the Wave by retracing your steps (i.e. go NNW) down the sand dune to the wash below. Turn West in the wash and ascend to the area with the dinosaur tracks. The tracks are located in red stone very close to the wall. If you are not experienced in finding tracks they can be hard to locate even with GPS coordinates. The tracks are three toed and hand sized. They usually come in a small cluster arranged in a line.
  3. 3. Fatali's Boneyard - after visiting the dinosaur tracks continue South about .3 miles till you reach an open area. Fatali's boneyard is on the right (West). The loose rocks are called Box Rocks. Please do not move them, they are fragile. The rock in Fatali's picture has already been damaged. Wait until the cliffs to the West are in shadow before beginning to shoot, the dark background will offset the boneyard nicely. Stay until the sun goes behind the cliffs to the west and the boneyard starts to fall into shadow. Note - the boneyard is also very good at dawn, light hits it very early. Shooting in the "blue hour" also may work well?
  4. 4. Sand Cove - This is my favorite location in Coyote Buttes North. It is a great late afternoon shot. Sand Cove is largely in shadow in the morning. To get there leave the Boneyard and drop down into the wash heading SE. When you reach the main wash (Sand Cove Wash) go South 100 yards or so and ascend the area to the left (East). Stay at Sand Cove until it goes into shadow.
  5. 5. Go ENE from Sand Cove and ascend the cliff till you reach a flat area. The Second Wave is to the North. It is a great late afternoon location, but only so-so the rest of the day. Shoot from the small sand dune or from the rocks just above it to the SE. Make sure the cliffs to the West are in shadow. Shoot until the Second Wave goes into shadow, or leave a bit earlier if you are concerned about hiking back to your car after sunset.
  6. 6. Go North passing back through the Wave. There should be many good photo-ops along the way back so don't put your tripod away too soon. When you pass through the Wave if you go through the small slot to the South you reach a very nice area for a last minute shot (it may be in shadow though - depending on season and the exact time you left the Second Wave). After leaving the Wave head North and retrace your steps back to you car. "The Dive" and the North and South "Teepees" will be in good light on the way back. If you hurry you should be able to get back to your car 30-45 minutes after sunset.

The Hike

The loop hike is shown in red below. With some minor detours it adds about 2 miles to your day at the Wave.


This page last updated 8/3/2015