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Coyote Buttes - Paria Canyon / Vermillian Cliffs Wilderness

Summary: A cross country trek to some spectacular photo ops including the Teepees (multicolored, conical sandstone buttes) and The Wave (a swirling, cross bedded sandstone formation that looks like a petrified wave).
Oh, did I mention the rules? There are lots of them. This area is managed as a partnership by the Arizona Strip Field Office, Kanab Field Office, BLM, Arizona Strip Interpretive Association (ASIA) and Northern Arizona University (maybe a strong case that too many cooks spoil the broth?). First off you'll need a permit (separate application for each day of use), they cost $5 per person per day and are available in one of three ways:
On line at: https://paria.az.blm.gov/
By mail at: Paria Permits, ASIA, 345 E. Riverside Dr., St. George, UT 84790
By fax at: 435-688-3246
Your dog also has to pay the $5 entry fee, but he doesn't require a permit (ha! they actually list that in the written material). Use is limited to 10 people per day in each of the north and south sections of Coyote Buttes, with a single group size limited to 6.
Sort of a heavy handed approach, and I have no doubt it's only a matter of time before all public lands (emphasis on the word 'public') are managed in this same bureaucratic fashion. Note: the Teepees mentioned in this report lie outside of Coyote Buttes. As long as you can skirt the management area you are free to visit them without a permit.
Directions: There are several access points to Coyote Buttes, I have used two. From Highway 89 between Kanab and Page, head south on House Valley Rock Road which lies between mile markers 25-26 (closer to 26) just west of the curve in the road and guard rail. Drive south on this well graded dirt road to the Wire Pass Trailhead (it's about 8 miles from Highway 89, you can't miss the big trail sign). A few years ago I also hiked in from The Notch Trailhead which is located another 2 miles or so past the Wire Pass entry on the AZ side of the border. There is no sign marking The Notch, just a short spur road on the west which leads to a metal tank (I used the map in Michael Kelsey's book referenced below to find this spot, though I drove by it a few times before finally locating it).
Road Conditions: Passenger Car - take it slow
Navigation: Moderate - Difficult, there are no trails, but lots of footprints and visual clues
Length: ~5 miles round trip to The Wave and back, add several more miles to visit the Teepees
Date Hiked: November 2002
Weather Conditions: Sunny & nice
Required Skills:
Hike Description: From The Notch, look to the ridge to the east an locate the notch in the escarpment. Route find your way up and over this ridge into the valley below. Walk north through the sand if heading to The Wave or explore at will.
From the Wire Pass parking area, walk across the road and follow the prominent trail as it heads through a stile then into a wash. After 15 minutes, you will come to a sign pointing down the wash for Buckskin Gulch. There is a well established trail which leads to the right out of the wash and up the slope. This is the trail to The Wave and begins at GPS point: 12S 409464mE 4097518mN. Turn right and walk up the hill; a register is waiting for you at the top (you can pick up a paper with information, a lame map, and long list of rules at the register). There is no real trail from here on out, but The Wave sees a lot of traffic so foot prints should be present in abundance (at least on the sandy sections).
If your destination is The Wave, follow the main group of tracks as it heads through the sand and across the slick rock in a southeasterly direction. The Wave lies near the mouth of the two ridges formed by the taller red sandstone of the Coyote Buttes (which is on your right) and the shorter yellow sandstone ridge of Top Rock. As you enter the drainage between these two ridges look on the east (Top Rock side) for foot prints leading up a sandy slope. Follow the path up the slope to The Wave (GPS 12S 410462mE 4095114mN).
If you are bound for the Teepees, you will need to head cross country to the southeast, but more east than if going to The Wave. A map might be helpful, however, the Teepees sit up on a sandy ridge and are visible from a distance, so I didn't really need one (if you have a GPS head towards 12S 411586mE 4093509mN). As you slog along try to minimize creation of new trails (though your impact is probably minimal compared with that already inflicted by cattle). There are several groups of Teepees up on the ridge, the northern most group is the most photogenic. 
Rating (1-5 stars):
The hiking in this area is ok, lots of sand slogging. There are many great opportunities for photos though. On his first visit, the author and his wife hiked from the Notch Trailhead looking for The Wave. We missed it and wound up too far north looking into Wire Pass, before hiking back and finding it. On our second trip, we went in from Wire Pass, hiked cross country around the north and south Teepees then over to The Wave and out again in about 6 hours.
Maps: None used
Books: Canyon Hiking Guide to the Colorado Plateau - Michael Kelsey
Hiking and Exploring the Paria River - Michael Kelsey
Photos: Click picture for larger view, click your browser's 'Back' button to return to this page.

Headed cross country through
the Coyote Buttes.

The Teepees.

More Teepees

The Wave

More Wave

And Still More Wave

Melody Arch