Posts tagged “Coyote Buttes

Vermilion Cliffs

For years I’ve wanted to get back in to an area called “White Pocket” in Vermilion Cliffs National Monument to explore and photograph. It’s a place with just surreal rock formations, but the sandy roads back to it are known to eat regular cars, and until I got the 4Runner I would not have been able to get there.

Fast forward to Presidents’ Day weekend 2020 and I threw my memory foam mattress in the back of the 4Runner and headed out to Vermilion Cliffs. The plan was a little vague, but definitely included White Pocket… and then maybe Page AZ or Goosenecks, but maybe staying more in Vermilion Cliffs if I was lucky enough to win permits in the walkup lottery for Coyote Buttes North (The Wave) or South. “The Wave” is a stunning rock formation that is very popular with hikers, travelers, and photographers. Access is limited to 20 people per day–10 through an online lottery three months in advance and 10 through a walkup lottery the day before in Kanab, Utah. Hundreds of thousands of people apply each year.

I drove straight through from San Diego to Kanah, Utah, arriving late Thursday night to sleep next to some reservoir outside of town, but up early in the frosty morning (19 degrees!) to head over to the BLM field office for the lottery. Parking was awful and people were everywhere… but not for the lottery, I had lucked into the annual hot air balloon festival which was launching from the field across from the field office.

Because it was a holiday weekend, the turnout for the permit lottery was massive–192 people in 73 groups. Lottery winners were drawn by the use of a spinning wire cage with numbered balls inside. On the third or fourth spin for Saturday, a ball came flying out of the cage, skittered across the floor, and came to rest under a desk. “This one must really want to go!,” the ranger said, climbing under the desk. It did! It was mine! And somehow I became known as “that guy who just showed up and won the lottery on his very first try”–as I heard from four or five people out in the wilderness over the next three days (“aren’t you that guy…??”).

I also managed to get a permit for Coyote Buttes South for Sunday–not nearly as popular as Coyote Buttes North, and requires a 4WD vehicle to get there, but still beautiful. Then White Pocket on Monday, and back home on Tuesday.

Here are some highlights from the trip:

At the annual Balloons & Tunes Roundup in Kanab, Utah, on February 14, 2020
At the annual Balloons & Tunes Roundup in Kanab, Utah, on February 14, 2020
At the annual Balloons & Tunes Roundup in Kanab, Utah, on February 14, 2020
At the annual Balloons & Tunes Roundup in Kanab, Utah, on February 14, 2020
The Wave at Coyote Buttes North in Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
The Wave at Coyote Buttes North in Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
The photographer at The Wave in Vermilion Cliffs National Monument.
Clouds above Coyote Buttes North, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
Rock formations in The Boneyard at Coyote Buttes North, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
Rock formations in The Boneyard at Coyote Buttes North, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
Rock formations in The Boneyard at Coyote Buttes North, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
Rock formations in The Boneyard at Coyote Buttes North, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
Rock formations at Coyote Buttes North, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
Cottonwood Cove, Coyote Buttes South, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
Hoodoos at Cottonwood Cove in Coyote Buttes South, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
Rock formation at Cottonwood Cove in Coyote Buttes South, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument.
Hoodoo overlooking the valley at Cottonwood Cove in Coyote Buttes South, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
Rock formation and tree at White Pocket in the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
Rock formation at White Pocket in the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
Rock formation at White Pocket, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
Cow path at White Pocket, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
Rocks and tree, White Pocket, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
Rocks and tree, White Pocket, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
Petroglyphs near White Pocket in Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
Wildflowers at the Imperial Sand Dunes, California
Wildflowers at the Imperial Sand Dunes, California
Wildflowers at the Imperial Sand Dunes, California
Wildflowers at the Imperial Sand Dunes, California