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Coyote Buttes via Cottonwood Cove
7 Photosets

mini location map2019-02-09
39 by photographer avataradilling
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Coyote Buttes via Cottonwood CoveNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Hiking avatar Feb 09 2019
Hiking   3 Hrs   57 Mns   0.00 mph
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
We scored some permits for Coyote Buttes South and it did not disappoint. I was checking the weather all last week and it looked like it might snow a little while we were there. It did snow about 4 days earlier, so the drive in on House Rock Valley Road was messy. The Ranger we spoke to at the Kanab Visitor Center recommended we come up from the south, but we opted to drive in from the north off 89. It was still below freezing when we started down and that was a good thing. I am guessing it was a real mud bog affair once the temps got over 32.

Even with freezing temps, the road was heavily rutted, muddy and icy. We made it past the Wire Pass Trailhead about 9am and there was not a single truck or car in the lot. I wonder how many Coyote Buttes North permits went to waste this day?? We pushed on to the turn off to the Paw Hole. Making our final "pit stop" at the State Line Campground - the last toilet for the next 10-12 hours.

The road in to the Paw Hole was sandy as advertised, but the cold temps and snow made for a surprisingly smooth ride. We did not do much exploring at Paw Hole as our plan was to hit everything we could at Cottonwood Cove and then make a run for White Pocket to finish up the day.

I had researched about the road between Paw Hole and Cottonwood Cove and it was not recommended to take the road to the east, but we did anyway. The drive in to the Paw Hole was not bad at all, so we figured it would be the same for this route. The below freezing temps and the damp sand kept it pretty firm. There were a few spots that might have presented a problem in warmer and drier conditions, but we made good time over to the Cottonwood Cove Trailhead.

I had marked a waypoint at all of the things I wanted to see so we started out searching for them as soon as we got loaded up and set. We hit the formation to the north and east of the trailhead first. That’s not in the permit area.

After that, we hiked to the southern edge of the cove and then worked our way up north from there.

I have been lucky enough to visit Coyote Buttes North 2x. This area compares very favorably to its more famous brother to the north. The sheer number of formations from the Paw Hole north to Cottonwood Cove is staggering. I will try to get another permit for this area and try to see more of this magical place in the future.

With limited time, we kept on course and saw all of the “famous” formations – Half and Half, the Control Tower, the Witches Hat. I think the most amazing place we saw was the area in the southern half below the Half and Half rock. The layers and fins in that area were truly remarkable. It looked like the entire cliff was stack up like a deck of cards and the ones on the bottom were sliding outwards. Amazing for sure.

The cloudy and freezing temps slowly gave way to the sun and it “warmed up” to a blistering 30 degrees as we progressed along the path. We had a couple of youngsters that were running out of gas and my wife, who is not a hiker, also started feeling the climbing, sandy path and constant up and down path. We skipped the “Southern Wave” area as that would have required a hike down (and then back up) from the main formations. Still, we got in all of the waypoints I had marked.

The drive out and over to the White Pocket was a little rougher than the other roads we had been on, but we made it over there without any issues.

All in all, Coyote Butte South is a special place and I highly recommend paying this place a visit! We had an unforgettable day for sure. Just be sure to bring a capable high clearance 4x4 or you will get stuck in that deep sand.
"Hiking is just walking where it’s okay to pee." –Demetri Martin

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