Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
Sunday, January 28, 2018
After spending an amazing day in Coyote Buttes South on Saturday, I slept well overnight in the Stateline Campground along House Rock Valley Road and woke up early to start hiking into Coyote Buttes North on Sunday morning. I didn’t have any specific location planned to photograph at sunrise, so I just started hiking about an hour before sunrise and figured that I would just take photos wherever I was when the sun finally came over the distant horizon. Nautical dawn was just beginning as I left the Wire Pass Trailhead and I wouldn’t need to use my headlamp for very long.
After I crossed over the Sandstone Pass, the soft subtle light was just starting to look nice.
Following the sandstone expanse deeper into Coyote Buttes North in the early dawn.
The first light of the day strikes the sandstone mountains to the west and I decided to hike over that direction next.
I know I’ve said this before, but I just love warm morning light on sandstone!
A morning sunstar as I hiked up the steep slickrock to the top.
On top I found some great and unusual lace rock formations.
This one seems to be pointing over to The Dive.
Land of Stripes
After finding a way back down from the top, I headed over to The Wave so I could photograph the area above it and below The Black Crack.
Entering The Wave while it was still completely in the shadows.
Once I climbed up above The Wave, I was treated to The Magic Light that I was looking for…
Painting In Stone
I made my way over to the Second Wave taking plenty of photos along the way.
On my way back to The Wave, this raven joined me and followed me around for a bit.
The Passage was looking pretty nice as direct light started to reach the area and bounce around.
Love Of Lines
I returned to The Wave just in time to watch it emerge from the shadows.
The raven following me around seemed to enjoy the show, too.
Finally, The Wave is all in direct light which doesn’t last very long this time of the year. I didn’t stick around long since I’ve been here many times before and my best photos of The Wave are still from my very first visit. But still, it’s hard not to stop and take a few photos of The Wave when you are in the area. It’s an iconic location for a reason.
After leaving The Wave I headed up onto Top Rock to spend a little time. I made a quick stop at Big Mac Rock (aka Hamburger Rock) on the way.
Then it was off to The Grotto to photograph a few of my favorite arches.
The Alcove has long been one of my favorite locations on Top Rock, so I returned to have some lunch and take a few photos.
When I was done visiting The Alcove, it was time to start making my way back towards the trailhead since I had a couple of other detours I wanted to make along the way. I took the steep way down from Top Rock back to the Second Wave and then continued all the way down into Sand Cove.
A quick stop at The Racetrack in Sand Cove.
I followed Sand Cove Wash back to the spot where the main trail to The Wave crosses and then I started following it back.
Once I reached the other side of the Sandstone Pass I decided to hike up to High Heel Arch again and then try to find Dick’s Arch. At this point I had already hiked about 13 miles for the day and hiking up to Dick’s Arch was certainly not the greatest idea for my already tired legs! Even though the arch was only 3/4 mile from High Heel Arch, it required climbing up a very steep sand hill (basically a sand dune) for about 300-400 feet. That climb sucked and would have sucked even if my legs were fresh. It’s no surprise that this arch was only recently discovered and reported! It was a very cool arch but I’m not sure it was worth the climb up to it!
High Heel Arch and a sunburst.
Going back down the sand hill was much easier and quicker and I was back to my Jeep at the trailhead in no time. I ended up hiking about 15 miles for the day, which seems to be pretty standard for me when I visit this amazing area.