Friday – Monday, November 8-11, 2013
Last November I said that I was going to be taking a little break from visiting the Paria Plateau, and I have. However, almost exactly a year later I was ready to go back for another visit and managed to get another permit for Coyote Buttes North. I was only able to get one permit this time around, so it was a good weekend for me to take a solo trip. If I had to choose a month, I think November is probably my favorite time of the year to visit this area. This is the third year in a row that I have visited Coyote Buttes North in November and it seems like I usually have good conditions this time of the year. Even though this was the first year that I had clear blue skies all day with no dynamic weather, I still managed to come back home with many new images. Feel free to check out my previous November trip reports from 2011 and 2012.
I left work on Friday afternoon to begin my three day weekend and started my drive through Utah. I stopped for a delicious burger at Milt’s in Moab for dinner, fueled up my Jeep, then drove a little further south to find a campsite on Hart’s Point in the dark. After quickly setting up camp, I spent a little time photographing the night sky before getting to bed.
My simple campsite under the Big Dipper.
On Saturday morning I had a quick breakfast and then set out to find and photograph some new ruins and rock art before continuing my drive south to Arizona.
This is a very nice panel of petroglyphs. It was in the shade when when I first arrived, but I took this photo just as the sun came up over the cliffs and lit it up.
Here’s a different view of the same panel so you can get a sense of where it’s located.
I’ve been looking for this site for a while and was glad to finally visit it on this trip. The petroglyphs below this small granary are pretty amazing.
There were even a couple of pictographs nearby, too.
After driving through Blanding, Bluff and Kayenta, I eventually reached Page a few hours later. I needed to get out of the Jeep and stretch my legs after the drive, so I hiked the short Hanging Gardens Trail in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. It’s a short interpretive trail that leads to a lush riparian oasis under the shoulder of a row of buttes overlooking Lake Powell.
The well-defined trail to the Hanging Garden.
The hanging garden growing the the back of this shallow alcove.
There were a few yellow leaves still hanging on around here.
While I was in town I also stopped at the Glen Canyon Dam Overlook since I’d never been there before.
Looking down at the Colorado River from the overlook.
After a quick dinner in Page I continued my journey to the Stateline Campground where I setup my camp for the next two nights and then got to bed early. I woke up well before sunrise on Sunday, drove over to the Wire Pass trailhead and started my hike in the dark.
Just as I was hiking over the pass the pre-dawn glow lit up the sandstone all around me. It was a beautiful sight.
Then the first light of the day struck the top of the Coyote Buttes in the distance.
Is there anything nicer than warm sunlight on colorful sandstone first thing in the morning?
Soon I made it to the entrance of The Wave.
The early morning light bouncing off of the Coyote Buttes really added some amazing color to this section below the Black Crack of Top Rock.
Interesting geology in black and white.
I climbed up to a higher vantage point to take in the views on this beautiful morning.
There was even a little standing water to be found above The Wave.
Sunburst through Top Rock Arch.
I spent a little time photographing The Passage.
An obligatory Wave photo, but I didn’t stick around here very long.
When other hikers started to show up at The Wave it was time for me to go. I made my way up to the top of Top Rock where I could find a little more solitude.
I made sure to visit the Sand Dune Alcove.
The reflected light in The Alcove was nice as usual.
Here’s the previous image in black and white. Which do you like better?
I already have plenty of color photos from this location, so I tried this one in black and white.
After relaxing in The Alcove for a while I climbed up above for an expansive view of the area.
I had never visited Top Rock Arch before, so I made sure to stop by.
I caught this sunburst through Top Rock Window, too.
When I was done exploring Top Rock I descended down near the Second Wave and then to the Sand Cove area.
For some reason I had never made it to The Boneyard on my previous trips to Coyote Buttes North, so I made sure to stop by this time…even if the light wasn’t great at this time of the day. The rocks around here are very unique.
Interesting striations can be found just about anywhere around here.
Just a small hoodoo that I hiked by.
Another pool of water…another reflection.
I caught the sun through Top Rock Arch in the morning and then managed to catch the moon through it in the afternoon.
Last light on the Second Wave.
The last of the days light on the sandstone above me as I hiked back to my Jeep at the trailhead. I started my day in the dark and would be ending it the same way.
I returned back to my site at the Stateline Campground well after dark. I had some dinner, read a book and turned in early since I was pretty tired from getting up early and hiking about 14 miles today.
Monday morning arrived and it was time for me to start my journey back home. I slept in just a little bit later than the previous day and then had to decided where to go? I had thought about hiking up to Yellow Rock this morning, but with the clear skies above I thought a slot canyon might be a better place to take some photos today. Bull Valley Gorge and Willis Creek were my planned destinations when I left Arizona behind. Since I was heading that direction anyway, I figured it might be nice to stop for breakfast at Nedra’s Too in Kanab. The food was great as always and I soon found myself heading north through Johnson Canyon to Skutumpah Road. I parked next to Bull Valley Gorge and started my hike along the rim of the canyon to an access point into the canyon. Unfortunately, what I ended up finding was a very slick down-climb into the gorge that I was not prepared to try by myself. I’m sure I could have made it down OK, but I’m not so sure I would have been able to get back out by myself. Better safe than sorry. Another time.
I hiked back to my Jeep and made my way a little further up the road to the Willis Creek trailhead. I grabbed my camera, backpack and tripod and started hiking down the canyon. It was a beautiful hike and I had a lot of fun photographing the amazing colors created by the reflected light in the sections of narrow canyon. I hiked all the way down to Sheep Creek and then returned to my vehicle. I seemed to have better light on my way down the canyon the first time than on the return hike. I didn’t run into anyone else until I was almost back to the trailhead. I’m glad I had got an earlier start to the hike since I had the canyon to myself and there were a lot of people starting the hike when I returned.
The light bouncing off the canyon wall here was just stunning.
From Willis Creek I made my way further east and north on scenic Highway 12. I turned off onto the Burr Trail when I reached Boulder and made my way to Capitol Reef National Park. I was hoping to find a new petroglyph panel along the way.
Peek-a-boo Arch came into view as I reached the Waterpocket Fold and Upper Muley Twist Canyon.
I managed to find the petroglyphs I was looking for.
Sure looks like a moose to me?
View towards the Henry Mountains as I descended the switchbacks of the Burr Trail.
My Jeep parked in one of the switchbacks.
One last photo towards the Henry Mountains taken near Notom.
When I reached the bottom of the switchbacks I took the Notom Road back to Highway 12 and then finished my drive home on pavement. It was an incredible long weekend that I won’t soon forget!