Happy Canyon and Coyote Buttes South questions


Sep 22, 2016
In little more than a week we will be on our way to the Utah desert for 2 weeks of hiking and camping, our 10th trip down that way. Our first week is pretty much set- revisiting a few old favourites, and exploring some new spots, between the Swell, Capitol Reef and GSENM. After that- our route could go either of two ways.
One option is to head towards Cedar Mesa. We've been there several times, but there is always more to see. Along that way- Happy Canyon beckons. Any recent reports on the condition of the black jump road? A search of BCP found a report from April 2016 I think it was, from someone with a Subaru who had no issues, but others seem to have had differing experiences, and I'm fully aware that things can change from storm to storm. FWIW, our vehicle is a Tacoma TRD Off-Road with a FourWheel popup camper, that we have done a fair bit of off pavement Utah driving in.
The other option for week 2 is to make our way eventually to the Paria area. Again,we have been around there a couple of times-Yellow Rock, Toadstools, Wire Pass-Buckskin, White Pockets, and were lucky enough to snag 2 spots at the Wave, back when the daily draw was at the Paria station. As we will likely need a resupply in Kanab anyway, and have never been to Coyote Buttes South- trying to pick up a walk in permit comes to mind. Any one have any thoughts on the odds of getting a permit for the south Coyote Buttes in mid-October?
Not sure if you need to ford the Dirty Devil to approach Happy in a vehicle, or if you go out on the bench on the west side? Either way, that ford is difficult after floods and on Sept 23rd the Dirty Devil went from 10 cfs to almost 6000. It's now back down, but trenching and steep cut banks are usually left behind.
I've got the Subaru that was there in April. Lots of rain since then...hard to say what conditions are like.
Thanks for the replies. If the latter part of our trip swings that way, and the weather looks good, we will give Happy a look. And report back!
I ended up phoning the visitor centre in Kanab where permits are issued, and was told that it's hit and miss with the Coyote Buttes South walk in permits- some days the 10 allotted are enough for everybody who wants one, on others it is oversubscribed and there is a draw.
I'll answer part of my own question here. Our trip swung to the SW after Escalante, and we ended up applying for a Coyote Buttes South permit in Kanab on October 9, for October 10 Columbus Day. There were 5 groups with a total of 13 people vying for 10 permits, so the draw went like this- group of 3-group of 2 (us)-group of 2. As there were only 3 spots left at that point- one of the remaining groups which had 4 members dropped out, and the last group,which had 2, got in. This left one spot open which was picked up later in the day by a solo hiker, who we encountered out there. FWIW there were 38 groups totalling something like 90 people in the Coyote Buttes North (Wave) lottery that Sunday, which the BLM guy running things said was less than usual.
We spent the full day exploring the Cottonwood Cove area after camping nearby, and in our estimation it was equally as enjoyable as the Wave. With our very capable 4wd Tacoma- we were not much concerned about getting in via roads 1017, 1066, 1081 and 1084, and it proved to be easy going. In fact, another party seemed to have no trouble in a Ford Escape.
A couple of images to whet your appetite, with a full trip report to follow at some point.

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