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Coyote Buttes North - Wire Pass TH
31 Photosets

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mini location map2020-05-30
29 by photographer avatarJohn10s
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Coyote Buttes North - Wire Pass THSouthwest, UT
Southwest, UT
Hiking avatar May 30 2020
Hiking9.00 Miles
Hiking9.00 Miles
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Linked none no linked trail guides
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Like so many of the other trip logs for The Wave, mine also starts with a story of countless permit lottery entries and the word "finally." Various friends and family members had been applying for permits for years, and finally, in February 2020, I got a call from my friend and heard her screaming on the other end of the line. When she calmed down and I could finally understand what she was saying, the reason for her excitement was clear: she'd won a pair of permits to The Wave for Sunday, May 31.

We turned it into a three-day trip and did some other great hiking around Page and Kanab the Friday and Saturday before the big day. I wondered going in if The Wave would live up to the hype--I'd seen pictures but hadn't researched the area much, and I wasn't sure if the area around the famous wave formation was anywhere near as beautiful...did The Wave owe some of its popularity to the difficulty of winning permits, or was it truly a once-in-a-lifetime place to visit?

A family member had mentioned that there was a lot to see around Coyote Buttes North and encouraged me to do my homework so I wouldn't miss anything interesting while I was there, and that turned out to be excellent advice. The night before the hike, my friend and I spent several hours researching, and it was time well spent. I hadn't realized how many points of interest are near The Wave, and we loaded GPS coordinates in our phones and downloaded pictures, maps, and the GPS route.

We set the alarm for 3:30AM the next morning and packed everything we'd need to make sure we could spend the whole day exploring the area--extra food and water, backup chargers for our phones, and ice packs in case our phones overheated, which we'd had issues with earlier on the trip because of the heat. Once we branched off the main trail toward Coyote Buttes North, there were a few small signs marking the route early on, but those stopped and there really wasn't a defined trail to follow. My friend had heard of someone who won permits and then got lost and never found The Wave...seeing how vast and open the area was, it was easier to understand how someone unprepared could make that mistake.

We headed straight for The Wave, hiking through sand, and we ended up stopping at Mini Wave first, recognizing it from our research. From there, it was a short distance to The Wave, and we had it to ourselves. It was incredible even in the shadows of early morning, and we took a bunch of pictures and explored for a while. We decided to check out Sand Coves next, but the route we chose took us past Second Wave. The lighting wasn't ideal, so we decided we'd come back later, and we backtracked around a steep canyon and made our way over to Sand Coves, then the Boneyard.

I wasn't sure what to expect from the Boneyard but was pleasantly surprised. That area is littered with unique lace rock formations unlike anything I'd seen. Some looked like hardened spider webs, others reminded me of thin sheets of ice. We continued north from the Boneyard toward Dino Tracks and found the distinct set of prints from a Grallator, three-toed prints made my a bi-pedal dinosaur ~200 million years ago. We looked for a second set of prints that we'd read about and thought we found them, but they weren't as distinct as the first set and were hard to identify with certainty.

We hiked back to The Wave to take advantage of the late morning/early afternoon sun angle. We'd read that was the ideal time for pictures, and the overhead sun angle was perfect, with some nice clouds in the background. We explored a little around The Wave and checked out the white rocks directly above it, then stopped for lunch. We moved south past Second Wave again and started hiking toward The Alcove and Top of the Rock Arch, but we ended up exploring for a while before deciding to finish the afternoon back at The Wave for a third time. As much as we wanted to stay for sunset, we needed to leave by mid-afternoon to drive back to Phoenix.

We'd seen very few people all day, and while we sat at the top of The Wave, three hikers showed up. Much to our surprise, an old guy stripped naked and positioned himself in various yoga poses while another member of his group snapped pictures. He didn't seem at all concerned that we were sitting there with a full view of...everything. It was sad to see a great day come to an end, but the unexpected exhibitionism gave us a good laugh before we started the hike out.

The experience managed to exceed my very high expectations--all the hype surrounding The Wave is absolutely justified, and there's so much more to see in that area besides just The Wave. There's still plenty out there we didn't have time to explore--I wanted to see Maze Petroglyphs and a few of the other sites, so I guess there's reason to keep applying for permits :). Overall, it was one of the most unique and memorable spots I've ever visited. I feel very fortunate that we won permits and that we had perfect weather that day.

I spent years cursing the lottery system, but having such a beautiful area almost entirely to ourselves for a whole day made it that much more special. I can only imagine how obnoxiously crowded The Wave would be if it were completely open to the public. The walk-in lottery was temporarily shut down because of the pandemic during our visit, so the number of permits was even more restricted than usual, and for that I'm very grateful :).
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