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Coyote Buttes North

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.

Touch of Color

Following the sandstone expanse deeper into Coyote Buttes North in the early dawn.

Dawn Sandstone Hiking

The first light of the day strikes the sandstone mountains to the west and I decided to hike over that direction next.

Sandstone Sunrise

I know I’ve said this before, but I just love warm morning light on sandstone!

Coyote Buttes North Sunrise

A morning sunstar as I hiked up the steep slickrock to the top.

Morning Sun

On top I found some great and unusual lace rock formations.

Lace Rock

This one seems to be pointing over to The Dive.

Lace View

Land of Stripes

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.

Entrance To The Wave


Melting Stone

Melting Stone

Once I climbed up above The Wave, I was treated to The Magic Light that I was looking for…

Below The Black Crack

Painting In Stone

Painting In Stone

I made my way over to the Second Wave taking plenty of photos along the way.

Pastel Swirls

Magic Light

Soft Second Wave

Back of the Second Wave

On my way back to The Wave, this raven joined me and followed me around for a bit.

Raven & Lines



The Passage was looking pretty nice as direct light started to reach the area and bounce around.

The Passage II

Love Of Lines

Love Of Lines

I returned to The Wave just in time to watch it emerge from the shadows.

Out From The Shadows

The raven following me around seemed to enjoy the show, too.

The Raven

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.

Another Photo of The Wave

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.

Big Mac Rock

Then it was off to The Grotto to photograph a few of my favorite arches.

Window Sunburst

Melody Arch

The Grotto

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.

The Alcove

Alcove Floor



Abstract Painting

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.

The Racetrack

I followed Sand Cove Wash back to the spot where the main trail to The Wave crosses and then I started following it back.

Sand Cove Wash

The Fins

The Fins

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.

High Heel Arch Sunburst

Dick’s Arch

Dick's Arch

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.

>> Coyote Buttes North Photo Gallery


  1. Randy Brown
    Randy Brown February 12, 2018

    Great photos, the only blog I subscribe to. Inspirational. Hope to get a permit some day, hope I can walk that distance.

  2. d1shoe
    d1shoe February 12, 2018

    Absolutely incredible, no matter how many times you adventure to these spots you always pull the most beautiful shots, with the most incredible detail.

  3. Aditee Mane
    Aditee Mane April 18, 2020

    Hi there! Amazing photos. I was lucky to win a single permit last July (thankfully I’m from Arizona and no stranger to heat…) and I was desperate to get to the Big Mac (I carried a Big Mac with me for the photo opp – see the URL in the website field if you want to see that silly picture!). I really wanted to go to the Alcove and Melody Arch but didn’t have time. In a stroke of luck I won permits again for July this year. I’ll take my mom. We’re both fit and are experienced hikers but this time, I don’t want to miss out on the Alcove and MA – as I also missed the Second Wave last time, I’m inclined to go to the Alcove the steep way starting near the Second Wave. However, I can’t really find clear instructions on the best route to climb up, and what starting point exactly from the Second Wave. I’d also love to know your opinion on how difficult you think the steep way up is – I’m not too worried about myself but and my mom is reasonably fit but I don’t want her to slip or anything. If you have any guidance on the best way up, please let me know. Thank you

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