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Coyote Buttes North - Wire Pass TH, UT

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Guide 34 Triplogs  9 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List UT > Southwest > Jacob Lake N
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Multi-Loop 6 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,914 feet
Elevation Gain 401 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,136 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 11.68
Backpack No
Dogs not allowed
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33  2019-07-06 adilling
52  2018-05-18 trekkintoo
50  2017-05-06 cw50must
22  2016-11-11 Timknorr
25  2015-09-25 Uncharted
33  2014-12-01 Lost
21  2014-10-28 AZWanderingBear
14  2014-06-14 Lucyan
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Author HAZ_Hikebot
author avatar Guides 16,882
Routes 16,052
Photos 24
Trips 1 map ( 6 miles )
Age 22 Male Gender
Location TrailDEX, HAZ
Co-Author Randal_Schulhauser
co-author avatarGuides 71
Routes 98
Photos 9,967
Trips 1,009 map (9,248 Miles)
Age 59 Male Gender
Location Ahwatukee, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Apr, May, Sep, Oct
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  6:11am - 6:34pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Geology Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Wavelicious UT-AZ
by HAZ_Hikebot & Randal_Schulhauser

Likely In-Season!
This is the popular access to "The Wave".

From the Wire Pass TH, walk 0.5 miles downstream along the wash until you get to a sign indicating "Buckskin Gulch/Coyote Buttes". The trail to the Wave will veer of to the right out of the wash and up a steady incline. At the top of the ridge, the path turns South and levels off heading towards a butte. You will pass a trail register box indicating "Special Permit Required". Link to permit info is in the driving section.

At about mile 1.0, the trail ends after crossing a wash. Head East over a low divide on a slick rock ridge. Note that there is no Cairns. I'm told that Rangers remove any they find. About 150 ft after you cross through a small pass, head South along the East side of Coyote Butte. At about mile 2.0 you will encounter the famous Wave.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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BLM Division Details
Reservations, permits, and advance payment of fees are required for Coyote Buttes. A separate reservation and fee payment must be made for each day requested. Visitors must display the permit receipt on outside of packs while hiking.

A link to permit details is found further down the page near directions.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

Most recent of 12 deeper Triplog Reviews
Coyote Buttes North - Wire Pass TH
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after 2 years of getting denied online including several days camping out in Kanab to do the walk up lottery i finally got selected to hike to the Wave! The weather was perfect, a lil warm at 84 but i was stoked to finally go. we got a late start around noon but got to the wave in time with the sun directly overhead to get some photos in. I had my 10 year old daughter with us, so we went at her pace. the hike itself was moderate with lots of sand to slow the pace but the views were amazing!! we had lunch overlooking the wave and did a side trip to check out the dinosaur tracks. it was a bucket list hike worth waiting for!
Coyote Buttes North - Wire Pass TH
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Been trying to get that permit for several years. Was pretty excited a few months ago when getting the email that I had finally "won" a permit. I like to start earlier and we got to wire pass trailhead about 8:15am There was 10 or less cars there, most were overnighters it appeared. headed out, I've been to wire pass before so I was familiar with the route up until the turn that goes up the hill. headed up the hill on the "wave" trail. the trail is pretty obvious in the sand, once you get up on the small saddle its a bit trickier. There are a few signs out there, not sure if these were recently added or not, but a couple up until about the 2 mile mark. After the twin buttes, went right a bit, found some cool formations and lots of foot prints so I thought oh this must go back around. It didn't. We back tracked and got back on course. The map with photos that you get with your permit is really helpful. We also found another couple that was on their way out too at this point. Once crossing the big sandy wash, its a steep sandy climb up to the wave. You can see the opening to the Wave from here.
There was another couple at the wave, they were already headed back, early risers... It was us and the other couple that we ran into on the hike out, for quite a while. We ate our lunch, relaxed, climbed up above the wave, looked at the arch from below. It was pretty cool out there. Just as we were leaving, a few more people were just arriving, and we passed a few more groups on the way out. I counted 18 including us, so the last 2 people for the day must have wanted and evening hike.
The hike it self is nice, the sand makes things interesting, but its nice. I had studied lots of map, and the photo one they give you is pretty helpful. We did have a detour on the way out so I logged 4.4 miles out, but the way back was right at 2.98. I can understand how people can get turned around out there if not paying attention, or just unprepared for the route. We lucked out on the weather, it was cloudy and for the most part, the sun was behind the clouds, the times when it peeked out, it was intense. I think May is the latest I would want to do this hike, june-aug has to be insane out there. 2 thumbs up for this one, can't wait to go back!

[ youtube video ]

video is about half the hike, and half the wave itself.
Coyote Buttes North - Wire Pass TH
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So back in September I get an e-mail on my phone. I see it's from the BLM. I open it and expect to see the ever familiar "Sorry, your application was not chosen". This time it looks a little different. It starts off with "Congratulations!" I read it several times just to make sure I wasn't seeing things. OMG! It's finally happening! I get to hike THE WAVE!!!

The timing worked out perfectly as I was able to make a long Thanksgiving holiday with the family, then finish it off with this hike. The hike itself is quite easy. Just two things: There are some places with deep, dry sand that is a ---- to hike through. Think beach sand, but the grains are smaller. Second: It can be easy to get lost. The directions the BLM sent me with the permit are quite easy to follow, and were excellent in aiding navigation. Of course on the way back I just shoved those directions in my bag thinking I knew the way out. North of the twin buttes I got slightly off track and ended up on a cliff overlooking the dry wash, instead of going down the hill to cross the wash :roll:

As for the Wave itself... :o I don't have to do any explaining. It's one of the must do's for any hiker. It's absolutely beautiful. Going in, I thought it would be just one big bowl. It's actually a few smaller "channels" that you hike through. It's also very easy to climb up above and around it. I spent well over an hour just wandering around taking pictures.

On the way out I took a right at the wash and headed over to the Wire Pass slot canyon. Since I've never been to a slot canyon I decided to combine the two trips since they're so close. The slot starts about 3/4 mile down the wash beyond the cutoff for the Wave trail. Even though it was getting late I'm glad I took the detour. I thought the slot canyon was just as amazing as the Wave! I went as far as the first drop, which is maybe 1/4-1/3 mile into the canyon. It's about 8-10 feet straight down. I didn't want to risk going down and not being able to get back up since sunset was starting to get close. Turned around and made it back to the truck about 3:15pm, then drove home with the biggest grin on my face :)
Coyote Buttes North - Wire Pass TH
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The day began with a coyote howling near camp. He woke me, but it was fitting since we were there to hike Coyote Buttes to The Wave. In reality, this day began years ago when I first heard of The Wave. After just a bit of research, the destination found a home on my bucket list. Took some time to finally get a permit via the online lottery, but here we were. It was cold and not yet light out, so I pulled my sleeping bag tighter and hoped the coyote would hush. The sandstone have been there for millions of years. It would be there later today.

The Beav and I were camping at Stateline just south of the Wirepass trail head. The parking lot at Wirepass was pretty full when we arrived, even a couple of huge EarthRoamers from Germany. Germans like The Wave for some reason. We set out up the wash in high spirits. The scenery on the hike in is inspiring.

Having seen literally thousands of photos of The Wave, we knew exactly what to expect but still it took our breath away when we first entered. Both of us had cameras and we were snapping everything we saw for a while, like it might disappear on us any second and we needed to record it for posterity, as if that hadn't already been done to death. Other devotees (only 20 a day are allowed) were scattered around. We all tried to stay out of each other's photos while posing for our own. Every angle gave a new perspective. Thoreau never saw The Wave, but it certainly proves his observation that "the finest workers in stone are not copper or steel tools, but the gentle touches of air and water working at their leisure with a liberal allowance of time."

After a bit I set out to climb to the arch above. There is a way, but it isn't all that easy or obvious. The Beav followed for a while and then turned back at a technical place in the climb intent on enjoying more of the Wave and less of the exposure of the climb.

After several hours we bid adieu and crossed off The Wave from the bucket list. Driving back to camp a very healthy looking coyote ran across the road in front of us. I stopped the truck. He climbed a sandstone outcropping and stood there in silhouette for a few moments measuring us before giving a brief nod of his head and trotting off.
Coyote Buttes North - Wire Pass TH
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Words cannot describe this hike.....I think I ended up having an out of body experience. I am ashamed to admit that I was expecting this hike to be slightly anti-climactic. So much hype from everyone kind of builds up your expectations and then usually it doesn't end well. This area went WAY beyond anything I expected.

We started out mid-morning since we really wanted the sun overhead to get the best photos. We ended up heading in on the north side of the wash. We looped around to the south side of the wash for the way out and saved the best part of the wave for the end. It was such a cool place.

I can't wait to get lucky enough to get another permit and go back!!
Coyote Buttes North - Wire Pass TH
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Wendy "the permit whisperer" was able to secure a highly desirable February 17th permit for four to The Wave in the Coyote Buttes North Wilderness, on the Utah/Arizona border. As the date neared, we watched the forecast intently, which was not at all encouraging, calling for cold, snow and rain. We had reservations at the Paria Canyon Guest Ranch bunkhouse, which is located right by the Paria river crossing on Milepost 21, Highway 89 between Kanab,UT and Page, AZ.

Wendy, Sarah, and I left Tucson and picked up Angela in Phoenix on our way to Utah. We stopped for dinner in Cameron, and since it was my birthday, Angela had come prepared with some electric tea candles for ambiance at dinner. The restaurant brought me a very nice sundae decorated with carnations for dessert. At the guest ranch, it was cold and rainy and we were happy to have the whole, warm 16-bed bunkhouse to ourselves. It had a nice kitchen area and a large sectional couch near a gas-burning stove. Angela once again came through with the ambiance- she brought these great wine glasses for everyone that had LED lights that made the stem and base change colors. Very fun!

The next day, we were hoping that the forecasters were mistaken, and sure enough, we ended up with the most gorgeous blue skies for the main event: our hike to The Wave. We reached the Wire Pass trailhead at 10am, signed the register, and hiked down the sandy trail. Patches of snow remained in shady areas. When you get a permit to The Wave, they send you a very nice map with pictures of landmarks to navigate by. The Kaibab Plateau could be seen diving down toward the Coyote Valley. The Arizona Trail's northern terminus at the Stateline Trailhead is just a mile and a half south from Wire Pass Trailhead. I had seen this area from above when I hiked this passage of the Arizona Trail in June 2008 and I remember being awed by the rock formations and colors of Utah from the Kaibab Plateau. Today I was finally getting to explore it.

After the turnoff to The Wave, the terrain goes from sandy to sandstone staircases and angled slabs. There were fantastic views of hoodoos and the white mass of the West Clark Bench provided a stunning backdrop. There was so much to see- at every turn a new begging-to-be-explored side canyon or formation would catch our eye and we'd go play for a bit, then get back on track toward our destination.

We reached The Wave at about 12:30 pm and it was just as incredible as I'd imagined. It's a small area, but the striations in the formations create a multicolored wavy bowl that surrounds you. Here's a video:

Ours was a well-matched group, all of us into photography, and we shot away. Sarah pulled out a surprise- a box of chocolates that she'd carried in her pack. When someone would come in, she would approach them and say, "Welcome to The Wave, would you like a chocolate?"
There were a bunch of areas to explore around The Wave, and I had a great time climbing around and looking at the different views. There was one area above The Wave that I dubbed the Brain Domes and another that we called the Goblin Houses. The textures and colors changed at every turn. Video of the Brain Domes:

Video taken from the cleft in the cliff looking at the area around The Wave:

We spent a couple of hours in and around The Wave, then left to seek out dinosaur tracks that were across the drainage from The Wave. It took a little time to find, but there were a number of very well-defined three-toed prints in the sandstone. Then we went in search of The Wave 2, but we got off track and instead followed the sandy, windblown wash for a ways before turning around. My camera did not like the sandy conditions and began to have problems with the lens opening all the way. The sand eventually led to the camera's demise.

On our hike back we enjoyed the changing light on the formations we'd passed earlier. We had a little bit of daylight left, so I suggested that we visit the Arizona Trail. There is a new sign proclaiming the National Scenic Trail status. I took us on some of the fanciest, log lined, handicap-accessible trail on the whole AZT toward one of my favorite rocks. When I hiked this part of the Arizona Trail, my dad came along as my support crew for parts that were far away from Tucson. I remember coming down the switchbacks on the Kaibab Plateau and seeing my dad waiting for me- a small dot in the valley. When I got to him, he was all excited about finding this rock with a perfect hole in it.

We took some pictures and were heading back toward the car when we saw a naked guy jump out of a van, get his picture taken with the Arizona Trail sign, jump in the van, then do it again! Mind you by this time we were all wearing down jackets- it couldn't have been too flattering a picture, if you know what I mean... As we were driving back to the bunkhouse, we saw a group of bucks running in the hills right by the road. Then, we turned the corner to one of the most incredible moonrises over the white rocks of the West Clark Bench. Wendy stopped the car and we all jumped out, taking pictures and oohing and aahing at the fantastic sight. A perfect day was topped off by a gourmet meal with each of us contributing a course.
Coyote Buttes North - Wire Pass TH
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At last, the long awaited and anticipated Paria adventure that Wendy planned got rolling. We drove up Wednesday afternoon, had our split 1/2 Navajo tacos (still almost too much) with a birthday ice-cream celebration for Sirena's birthday at Cameron, and finally arriving at Paria Guest Ranch Bunkhouse. I think there are about 12 bunkbeds available including a couple triple deckers so we each had our own area as there were no other guests. We considered our quarters to be the Ritz Carlton of camping.

The next morning we headed to the WirePass TH which was just a hop, skip and jump from the Ranch. We started our hike to THE Wave with a somewhat chilly temperature and under crisp blue skies. Wendy had been here before so she knew the way. We encountered a small layer of ground snow in a very shaded area but for the rest of the hike, the route was clear... and what an incredible and beautiful and breathtaking route it was. When you read and see photos it is about THE Wave but there's SO MUCH MORE :y: . The great thing is that we got to enjoy it all at a very leisurely pace.

We got to wander off in different directions and explore various areas along the way. Wendy even climbed to the top of a small hill, we hiked up a grand staircase and around and thru various hills and rock formations. There was also scattered shallow water pools here and there. This was the type of hike where you would turn complete circles several times trying to take it all in. Toward the open space in the landscape you could almost always see Steamboat Rock along with a scattering of teepee-shaped hills (sometimes referred to as "hooters" :lol: by Sirena). Little did we know the fantastic scenery would continue to get even better throughout our most fabulous day.

After crossing the dry and sandy drainage, we had to climb a slightly steep but short sandy hill to finally arrive at THE Wave at 12:35 (started at 10). It's so surreal to be there. We had a quick lunch that included chocolates Sarah brought. There were a few hikers who were around and she would say, "Welcome to THE Wave, would you like a chocolate." :lol: (She didn't want to carry the chocolates back). In spite of the extreme gusts of wind we would experience from time to time we continued winding through this area as well as climbing to the next level to what Sirena dubbed "the brains" (correction, "Brain Domes". I consider ourselves fortunate that we got to spend as much time (two hours) as we did leaving at 2:30.

Our next goal, after we literally bid adieu :worthy: to THE Wave with a stadium wave of four people, was the Dinosaur tracks. Sirena had the location on her GPS so we crossed the wash and headed west. We read the description a couple times along the way to better decipher where the tracks might be and since they weren't big, it wasn't going to be easy. We persisted and kept moving our way west and up the side to where the mountainside shoots straight up. Sarah found them : app : at 3:05PM. There were quite a few I thought and we got a couple photos.

The last foray of the day would be in pursuit of The Wave2. We started heading southwest but were cliffed out so we had to make our way back a bit to an area we could climb down from safely. Once we were there we headed west on these awesome sand dunes where once again, the wind gusts were pretty ferocious. We felt like Laurence of Arabians while we progressed on the sand to a very narrow slot only to be turned around by a pourover. We climbed as far as we could go but the angle to get up and over was just a bit much for us. Alas we turned around :( and headed back on the sand around 3:50PM.

We decided to stay in the wash for awhile rather than take the main route back. It was beautiful through here as well. Based on Sirena's GPS reading, she would have us come up and out of the wash (around 4:30) to head to the main route at a certain point. She nailed it too : app : as we didn't have to do any backtracking to get us back to that route in about 15 minutes. I was duly impressed.

After we came down the tallest hill into the wash, we hiked it all the way back to the TH. I wasn't paying attention and remarked to Sarah that I couldn't remember hiking in the wash that long and not more than 5 minutes later we were coming out of the wash toward the TH with the regular trail at the other side of it. We started at 10 and were done at 5:30; what should we do now as there was still daylight? So Sirena suggested we head down to the Stateline TH and hike a tad of the AZTrail from UT to AZ. After all, we'd been crisscrossing these borders several times already today.

We hiked up the most beautifully constructed pathway to the AZ border and then over the hill a bit to where Sirena wanted to show us this totally cool rock with a framed window. On the way back down on the Utah side we were startled to see in the distance what we thot was a naked person running over to the State sign and a flash from a camera. This person did this 2 times and it was cold. :o Some people....

And if you thot our day was through, you would be wrong. On our drive back we saw 5 stag deer climb up the side of a hill. I was having trouble with my camera but did manage to get a picture. It was such a sight to see these stag deer out on the night. And to finish off this magnificent day, we rounded a corner only to see the full moon rising above a mountain. :DANCE: I am hoping Wendy got some decent photos as my camera was tired after taking 8 gigs of pics and movies and wasn't cooperating. However, I did get a bit of a movie of it.

All I can say is, if someone says they have a permit during the week for this place and you have to work, take the days off. It is so worth it. We did see probably 10-12 other hikers here and there but that's it. The combo of us four girls worked great for this hike as Wendy knew the way, Sirena had great GPS skills, Sarah was always willing to do a little scouting for us and me, well, you know what I did :D .

Here are your videos:
To THE Wave -
THE Wave, Dinosaur tracks and pursuit of Wave2 -
Final pursuit of Wave2, back thru the wash, the main trail, Stateside TH walk and the bad moon rising, well for us the good moon rising -
Coyote Buttes North - Wire Pass TH
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South Canyon Route - no truck, scratch
Rider Canyon - no truck and the road sand duned over a fence gate, scratch
Buckskin - Paria upper Paria river 100 ft wide, 10-20 ft deep and moving fast, scratch

Day 2 - My life in Utah
As far away from home (driving anyhow) as I've been in well over ten years we decided on the Wave on route to Plan C Soap Creek Canyon since Steve's Corolla could get to that canyon :) In all honesty I was getting a wee bit bummed at this point. (in case you haven't heard I run a little website with 30,000 members called HikeARIZONA, how in gods name I ended up at some wind sculptured sandlot in Utah... err)

Well I have to admit the place is incredible. Perhaps even more incredible was the route Kurt led. Skirting sandstone ledges at heights and speeds I'd never do alone. It was quite the journey getting photos and keeping up.

Onwards to Arizona the beautiful (aka HOME! :) :) :) )
Coyote Buttes North - Wire Pass TH
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The Wave is an absolute must see, easily worth all the BLM permit silliness you have to go through. This place has to be on the same list as Havasu Falls, Antelope Canyon, West Fork of Oak Creek, the Inner Basin - all magical AZ places where you can just be still and wonder. Easy hike with tons of cairns, late in the day with a gentle breeze and the sun dipping behind the ridge was unbelievable. Don't miss this one!
Coyote Buttes North - Wire Pass TH
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This was my first trip to Coyote Buttes North and "The Wave" due to meeting up with Paul and Irma. Paul had permits and graciously shared them with us. Mary and I had driven to Page Friday night and spent Saturday in Lower Antelope Canyon and did a road trip to Lee's Ferry and Cliff Dwellers. Met up with Paul and Irma Sunday morning at the ranger station 30 miles west of Page. Drove to House Rock Valley Road to Wire Pass TH which was passable and covered in a dusting of snow. It was gorgeous to see the contrast of desert brush, red rocks, white snow and blue sky with puffy clouds but it also meant cold temperatures and it was about 30 degrees when we finally arrived and got settled for out hike at Wirepass. I'm a desert rat at heart so this was darned cold for me but I layered up and off we set. As we set off on the trail it became apparent to me that it would be very easy to get lost out in these parts although the trail is very well well worn for the first mile. After that it becomes a cross country trek over rock and through sand but thankfully there are cairns placed sporadically across the slickrock. Paul had been out here before and had a great map provided by the BLM that showed landmarks to watch for. The twin buttes and the notch and FINALLY the Wave itself. I was totally BLOWN AWAY once we arrived there and I had a chance to see it in person and no pictures can capture the WOW factor. We explored all over that area, found a hamburger rock, an arch and froze our butts off in the cold with the wind. The colors were outstanding.....deep sepia, a lighter rose, white and an olive green. It was amazing. It seemed much longer than 3 miles on the way in but we made it out in about an hour trudging through my favorite thing.....sand. It was well worth it. So this particular weekend I got to hike a slot and ride a wave. Life is GOOD!

Permit $$

Map Drive
Strictly 4x4

To hike
From Page, go North and West on Hwy 89 about 30 miles. Just as Hwy 89 cuts through the Cockscomb between mile marker 25 and 26, turn South on House Rock Valley Road. Travel about 8.5 miles South until you reach the Wire Pass Trail Head for Coyote Buttes North and the Wave. Note that you are in Utah, near the Arizona border. The Wave is located in Arizona.

For Coyote Buttes South and the Teepee's, travel 16.1 miles South from Hwy 89 until you reach the Lone Tree Reservoir/Lower Paw Hole Junction. There are no signs, but half a dozen culverts are piled on the East side of the intersection. It is HIGHLY ADVISED to park your vehicle here and hike Lower Paw Hole Road to Paw Hole. Lower Paw Hole Road is EXTREMELY SANDY. Note that you are in Arizona, near the Utah border.

Just before Hwy 89 mile marker 21, on the South side, you can find the Paria Ranger Station & Visitor Center. The Visitor Center has made a Coyote Buttes map available to hikers.

Coyote Buttes North - Wire Pass to the Wave
TH elevation = 1490 ft
TH elevation gain = 340 ft
Distance = 2.85 miles (one-way)

Coyote Buttes South - Lone Tree Reservoir to Paw Hole Trail Head and Loop of Teepee's
TH elevation = 1635 ft
TH elevation gain = 160 ft
Distance = 4.06 miles (one-way)
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