After The Storm

So last Thursday I made a mad-dash drive down to Kanab to try and get a walk-in permit for Coyote Buttes North in Northern Arizona. After leaving Durango around 8pm I finally arrived at the ranger station in Kanab at 7am on Friday morning, just in time for the permit drawing. If you aren’t familiar with the permit system for Coyote Buttes North, a.k.a. The Wave, click here for more information from the BLM website.

I spent about an hour and a half total at the ranger station filling out paperwork and then going through the drawing process. Luckily my number was the second one drawn so I won a permit to hike in on Saturday to The Wave. I was there once last year and I knew it was an amazing place so I was stoked to get another chance to go in and shoot some more images. My trip report from last March can be found here.

I was pretty nervous about this trip due to the big rain/snow storm that came through at the beginning of the week having heard over and over again how bad House Rock Valley Road, the access road to The Wave trailhead, gets if it’s wet. So after obtaining my permit I decided to drive House Rock Valley Road and see what the conditions were like.

The north part of the road started out pretty dry since the storm had ended about three days prior. However it wasn’t too long before I came to a section where there were fairly good packed tracks through the middle of a very muddy road. The tracks seemed good so I kept going and made it through alright. Soon after that I came to the section that winds around the cliffs to the left of the road. This part wasn’t extremely muddy since I believe that it was still partially frozen from the night before, but none the less the top inch of the road was red mud. This mud quickly coated my tires and turned them into racing slicks. I was pretty lucky to make it up the mud covered hill and even luckier yet that the road soon dried out again after that.

I was trucking along again on dry roads until the crossing of Buckskin Gulch, here the road was somewhat washed out and the drop into the wash was about a foot and a half deep and the other side was the same, both pretty muddy. The Tacoma seemed to handle it with no problem though. Soon enough I was at the Wire Pass trailhead, the jumping off point for The Wave. I kept going stopping at Stateline Campground, where the road into the park looked good but actually ended up to be pretty muddy, still no problem for the Tacoma.

After that I decided to drive the rest of House Rock Valley Road out to Hwy 89A since I had never driven down that part before. After another two miles or so of intermittent red mud the road turned more into a graveled track and it was smooth sailing all the way to 89A.

I spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the White Rocks area north of Church Wells. The area was nice with a lot of intimate white patterns however due to the time of day and the brightness of the white rock it didn’t really cooperate for photography. I’ll probably return to this area again for some more exploration at some point.

I spent the night at Stateline Campground, which I have to say is one of the nicest campgrounds I’ve stayed at, let alone the fact that it’s free to stay there as far as I can tell.

The next morning dawned clear and cold and I was hiking into The Wave around first light. I was the first one in which was nice since I had about an hour of shooting all to my self before other hikers and photographers started to arrive.

One of my favorite features to shoot other than the main wave itself is a small side canyon just to the right of the main site, the wall of this canyon appears as if it is melting making for some very interesting shots.

This wall on the side of this small side canyon appears like it is melting. A truly fascinating work of art, compliments of Mother Nature.

This wall on the side of this small side canyon appears like it is melting. A truly fascinating work of art, compliments of Mother Nature.


From this small side canyon I walked up to the main part of The Wave to shoot spend some time making some images. After a few minutes of shooting the first of several fellow Wave enthusiasts started to arrive. The first two to arrive, named Greg and I believe it was Patrick, were very friendly nice guys. Patrick stayed and shot some images next to me while Greg headed out to explore the area.

I shot for a while while waiting for the sun to peak over the Top Rock ridge to see what might happen to the scene while illuminated by full sun. The sky had a moderate layer of overcast so even when the sun peeked over the ridge it was still a fairly diffuse light.

I will say that although The Wave is a truly amazing and beautiful rock feature, it’s really easy to get more or less the same shot every time you shoot it. So after shooting a few of the same image I captured on my last trip I decided to start experimenting with some different compositions. This one seems to be one of my favorites from this trip.

These patterns in the sandstone appear as though they were frozen in time.

These patterns in the sandstone appear as though they were frozen in time.


After doing a lot of research on the Coyote Buttes area I have become intrigued about an area above the main wave. This area is known as Top Rock and apparently it contains quite a few features to explore. So I decided that on this trip I wanted to to do some exploring up top.

I took the short hike around the backside of Top Rock to try and find the best way to access the ridge and I did find a relatively accessible route to the top. The problem is that it is still pretty steep. That coupled with the fact that there was a lot of loose sand and some snow on the slickrock made me turn around about half way up.

I was pretty disappointed that I didn’t make it up but I figured I would make the best of it so I headed out for more exploring, making my way first across the area directly past the main part of the wave, an area filled with brain rocks and pot holes. I originally was thinking that since there was a recent storm maybe the potholes would hold water. Unfortunately only a couple of the larger one still had water. I did however find this beautiful pattern tucked underneath one of the colorful texture-filled boulders.

The amazing colors, tones, and patterns of this sandstone detail are enhanced by the soft reflected light of morning.

The amazing colors, tones, and patterns of this sandstone detail are enhanced by the soft reflected light of morning.


From here I made my way exploring around the Second Wave and down into Sand Cove. I made a side trip to find a petroglyph panel I had read about but was unsuccessful in finding it. From there I headed down Sand Cove and made my way back out to the trailhead.

All in all it was another great and beautiful trip to The Wave. Next time I think I’m gonna bring a pair of Tennis Shoes and some some more gall in hopes that I’ll make it to the top of the ridge.


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