Coyote Buttes South was made for experiencing nature in its most pristine form for taking pictures. As compared to the North Coyote Buttes, home of the world-famous Wave, the South has much fewer hikers seeking a permit. Yet the land in the South, with its rock piles (also known as teepees), arches, and fins, is visually stunning and completely enthralling. The chance of receiving a permit is drastically increased here, potentially ensuring a brilliant visit to the Paria Canyon-Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness from your basecamp in Kanab.
Coyote Buttes South is divided into two areas, Cottonwood Cove and Paw Hole; you must drive to two separate entry points or hike cross-country to see both. If you can squeeze in the time to visit both while you are in the area, then you absolutely should, for they each offer unique experiences and terrain. If you must choose one, go to Paw Hole and time your hike at sunset.
What Makes it Great
Let’s face it, it’s very challenging to obtain a permit to The Wave in North Coyote Bluffs. By some estimates, it’s as low as a 2% chance during a popular month such as May or September. But fret not, you can still go to Coyote Buttes South.
Coyote Buttes South is remote and offers access to delicate features. Striped slickrock, painted over time by iron oxide, offers a fantastic array of reds, oranges, and yellows to feast your eyes upon. Walk among thin fins and arches, as well as the area’s iconic teepees. Note that there are no established trails. Some well-worn paths have been made by hikers choosing the same route over time, but you are free to roam as you please—and it is encouraged to do so.
A Coyote Buttes South permit provides access to exploration in two areas. The first is the scenic Cottonwood Cove that brings you to the Cottonwood Teepees and other attractions just .5-mile to the west. This area also has a number of free standing wind sculpted erosional statues, including “Turtle Rock,” “The Frog,” and “Dali Rock.”
The second area, Paw Hole, is, as mentioned, the spot to go if you only have time for one of the two areas. The colorful formations here sit on a ridge to the west of House Rock Valley. Because of the ridgeline that runs north-south, you can capture amazing light in your photographs at sunrise or sunset. Upon entering at the trailhead, you’ll see the large red rock piles and teepees. You can go through the large corral directly through the teepees, but you will eventually have to cross through barb wire to get to the west side (if you are trying to get pictures at sunset, you will want to be to the west of the formations with the sun at your back). Keep hiking anywhere you please, both around and on top of the rocks. You will see some of the best views and features no more than two miles in, but, really, it’s all good.
What You’ll Remember
The glowing piles of red rock teepees at sunset; the lack of human noise or humans, in general; wandering about freely wherever you’d like and letting the time just fly on by.
Who is Going to Love It
Anyone who has ever read an Edward Abbey book and pined to experience nature in its most pure, unadulterated form. Also, anyone who doesn’t mind hiking without a proper hiking trail and letting their sense of exploration guide them.
GPS Coordinates, Parking and Regulations
GPS Coordinates: (36.967824, -112.011060)
A permit is required for hiking in Coyote Buttes South; fees are $5.00 per person per day, with an additional fee for dogs at $5 per dog, per day.
A 4WD vehicle with high clearance is a necessity for access. If you are traveling in a passenger vehicle, after turning off the House Rock Rd., drive to the apparent wash and park there. You will be able to hike to the trailhead from here, but it is uphill and through sand.
From the BLM:
Permits for day hiking in Coyote Buttes can be obtained online here. For Coyote Buttes South, online permits can be obtained using the calendar option only. You can obtain a permit up to four months in advance. If you are planning a trip less than four months in advance, you have two options: you can check the calendar on the permit page to see if any slots are available, or you can try to obtain a walk-in permit the day before you wish to hike. Permits for new hikes are made available at 12 p.m. depending on the time of year.
Difficulty: 2 - 3 stars