The Wave - and SO MUCH MORE! (Coyote Buttes North, South, White Pocket, Buckskin, Condors, Bighorns...) - Part 1

Janice

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Joined
Dec 5, 2017
Messages
778
We were thrilled to get a permit for Coyote Buttes North in the online lottery 4 months in advance. I immediately went online and got a permit for Coyote Buttes South, which we went to the day after CBN. I got to work planning! With tons of help (thank you, @Titans, as well as @chandlerwest and whoever is very generous with their time and info on https://www.thewave.info/), we had an amazing 3-day trip that was perfect in every way imaginable.

Our trip was fabulous even before we got to CBN. We had decided to camp at Stateline and would drive in from the south after flying into Phoenix. I had known about the condor viewing site on House Rock Valley Road but figured we wouldn't be lucky enough to see any. Well, when we drove by Marble Canyon, we decided to stop at Navajo Bridge and check out the Colorado. Lo and behold, there were bird watchers on the bridge excited to show us the California condor sitting on the rock. Apparently there had been lots of condors there in recent days, but there hadn't been much action that day. Until we arrived! The one we saw started flying, and then another one joined it. Then they landed on the bridge right below us. My pictures aren't great, but here are a few:

Colorado River - looking upstream from Navajo Bridge at Marble Canyon
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California Condor perched on rock behind bridge
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One of the two condors in flight
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Landed on the bridge support below us
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We hoped they might fly some more, but they just hung out. The bird watchers said this one was doing some thermal regulation.
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They nest far back in the rock where the white droppings are.
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Our trip was off to a great start! We arrived at Stateline campground pretty close to sunset and most of the sites were full, but we lucked out with a great spot at the end - private and a little walk up the hill where a bench overlooked the cliff. Stars were gorgeous that night.

The next morning we were full of excitement for what lay ahead. Weather was perfect. We spent 11 glorious hours exploring all over the place - Top Rock, Sand Cove, and two passes at the Wave, including late in the day when we had the place to ourselves and it was so peaceful. We used GaiaGPS (thank you again, @Titans for helping me learn) and couldn't have done what we did without it. I took hundreds of photos (well, maybe more than that) and am probably posting too many. Here goes:

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After awhile at the Wave, Second Wave, Boneyard, etc., we went up Top Rock the back way - longer but easier than going up the front for us wimps.
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I called this Table Rock.
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The Alcove was a wonderful spot for a midday break - cool, shady, comfortable. Perfect.
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We loved seeing the Wave from up above.
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Coming back down after Top Rock
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We and this herd watched each other for awhile. I got some nice videos. This photo has weird lighting, but I like the way it shows the sheep so well.
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Late afternoon - fun colors!
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Late in the day - had the place to ourselves and it was so shady, cool, and peaceful.
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This place truly is incredible. The close-up and far-away scenery is so gorgeous. I know this is debatable, but to me it was worth the effort to get this permit.
 

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Reef&Ruins

Colorado Plateau is calling...
Joined
Feb 3, 2017
Messages
905
That's a pretty sweet spot. How many visitors are permitted for out there these days?
 

CodyL

Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2018
Messages
59

How Does the Quota Work for this Permit?​

The quota for this permit is measured in persons and/or groups visiting the area per day. A daily maximum of 64 people are permitted to visit Coyote Buttes North.
• 48 people and/or 12 groups (whichever comes first) are awarded through the online lottery system.
• The other 16 people and/or 4 groups (whichever comes first) are awarded through the Daily Lottery, a separate process than this online lottery.
• The maximum group size is 6 people.
• Everyone, regardless of age, must be included in the permit. This includes infants that are not walking.
• Dogs do not count against the quota, but must be included on the permit and also require a fee. This process occurs during the confirmation of a successful lottery application.
 

CodyL

Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2018
Messages
59
Thanks for the inspiration to keep entering the lottery @Janice. I'm 0 for 4 over the last 2 years! I thought the hot summer heat would be a deterrent and not have as many applicants! Guess I was wrong. Did you have a lot of people there? Did it feel crowded right at the wave? Thanks for the great pics!! Love the condor with its wings extended.
 

Janice

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Dec 5, 2017
Messages
778
That's a pretty sweet spot. How many visitors are permitted for out there these days?
I'm sure some people would feel like 64 is too many, but for us it was no problem. In the early part of the day, we saw 2 other groups while hiking in, and there were other people at the Wave. It was interesting to chat with them a bit. Then we saw some other groups as we explored that area and the Boneyard, Sand Cove, etc. But then we headed up to Top Rock and saw no one else the whole rest of the day, including once we got back down and returned to the Wave and other parts and eventually headed out. I'd say we saw no one for probably 5 hours. It was magical!
 
Last edited:

Janice

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Joined
Dec 5, 2017
Messages
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Thanks for the inspiration to keep entering the lottery @Janice. I'm 0 for 4 over the last 2 years! I thought the hot summer heat would be a deterrent and not have as many applicants! Guess I was wrong. Did you have a lot of people there? Did it feel crowded right at the wave? Thanks for the great pics!! Love the condor with its wings extended.
We lucked out with perfect weather that day. Cool (cold) at the start but then quickly warmed up - but then it only got into the high 60s or maybe 70. Even so, it felt hot in the afternoon sun (we're coming from Michigan after all, and it's been cold here). The shady Alcove felt great, and we found a few other shady spots here and there to cool off. I'm sure that later in the spring and summer it would be much, much hotter and less pleasant.

In the morning when we were at the Wave, there were maybe 15 people. Later in the afternoon when we went back again, we had it to ourselves! There were lots of shadows, so it looked different from when we were there midday. So lovely anytime!
 
Last edited:

SteveR

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Sep 22, 2016
Messages
678
Transitioning into early spring here in Alberta, and this isn't helping! Especially since our usual fall trip is a long ways off. We were lucky to have visited Coyote North twice in the early years of the new millennium. What amazed me, was that so many others had the wave as their only goal, and that was it. We started early both times and visited the wave first by ourselves, and then explored the greater area without seeing anyone else other than in the distance during the whole day. Back through the wave in late afternoon, it was amusing (and sad, in a way) to find that several "serious photographers with tripods" had settled themselves in the centre and were monopolizing the prime real estate. Talking to them, we found that they had been in that one spot for hours, waiting for the "best light". Their loss.
 

CodyL

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Joined
Jan 23, 2018
Messages
59
Wow what a great day for you! To only see 10 people and have the place to yourself in the afternoon is awesome! Did you go in March?

@SteveR experience with the tripods nestled in for the day is more of what I was anticipating, so I hope I have your luck! I guess its luck of the draw on who's out there with you that day too lol.
 

Janice

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Joined
Dec 5, 2017
Messages
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Wow what a great day for you! To only see 10 people and have the place to yourself in the afternoon is awesome! Did you go in March?

@SteveR experience with the tripods nestled in for the day is more of what I was anticipating, so I hope I have your luck! I guess its luck of the draw on who's out there with you that day too lol.
Don't want to misrepresent and edited what I originally wrote. My husband thinks there were more like 15 people at the Wave, and then we saw a couple of groups while we were looping around to see the Boneyard and Sand Cove etc. Plus there were a couple volunteers checking permits. So if I think back over the whole day, maybe we saw 35 people max? For us that was fine!
 

Titans

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Joined
Aug 18, 2018
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1,480
Great photos! Very cool you also got to see the condors and so many Bighorn. Thrilled that everything worked out so well! Happy to help @Janice , over the years I have also gotten a lot of help on BCP.

Fun lottery story: after the beginner's luck 5-6 years ago I finally ventured in for the lottery for 3 days straight late last fall (to expand more into Bighorn territory). Last try was a Friday, with a 3 day "winter drawing": One group of 4 right in front of me won the Sunday Wave permit,- but they quickly replied: "no, no, no.... sorry, but we can't do Sunday!". Everyone watched this almost speechless. Then they gave up the Sunday permit, so they could again try, but now for the Monday permit. Yah, what are the odds of that happening? Of course their number was drawn for a Monday permit with about 150-200 people present in the gymnasium. It was hilarious.... and the reaction from everyone was priceless!

The limitation on the number of groups is still substantial: I noticed 7-8 "daily lottery people" going per day: like 1pp / 2pp / 2pp / 2 pp (total of 7, not 16, because of the 4 group limit) and the final day it was 4pp / 1pp/ 1pp/ 2 pp (total of 8, not 16). Obviously something similar happens in the on-line lottery, unless bigger groups get lucky. Therefore it's likely less busy than just adding 16 + 48 = 64 people per day....
 

Reef&Ruins

Colorado Plateau is calling...
Joined
Feb 3, 2017
Messages
905

How Does the Quota Work for this Permit?​

The quota for this permit is measured in persons and/or groups visiting the area per day. A daily maximum of 64 people are permitted to visit Coyote Buttes North.
• 48 people and/or 12 groups (whichever comes first) are awarded through the online lottery system.
• The other 16 people and/or 4 groups (whichever comes first) are awarded through the Daily Lottery, a separate process than this online lottery.
• The maximum group size is 6 people.
• Everyone, regardless of age, must be included in the permit. This includes infants that are not walking.
• Dogs do not count against the quota, but must be included on the permit and also require a fee. This process occurs during the confirmation of a successful lottery application.
Thanks. I used to do safety patrol (5x per year for two years) with 20 people and it was nuts finding them all to make sure they were OK. With 64 people, well.....
 
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