Another vintage silver palace

The Coyote Buttes Trip Day 1: Prescott to the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument

Richard Charpentier Arizona, hiking, Notes from Rich, Off Road Adventures, Photography, RLC Design 3 Comments

Rather than attempting to wrap a 4 day trip into 1 massive post I’ve decided to break the whole trip up.  There’s way too much to cover, I’m still recovering from the trip (in a good way), and the photo sorting is going to take forever.  On the initial pass through the images I found myself wondering if I’d even delete 50 shots.  Seriously, some great stuff came out of the trip.  So sorting and post processing is going to take some time.  Therefore I’m giving myself a break, and giving readers more to enjoy over time.  It’s nice to wait expectantly sometimes, really.

With all of that said, let’s get into day 1.

Tom flew in Thursday night in order to come along for this trip.  His bags were already prepacked, so the truck was readied well ahead of time.

Josh showed up well before 8 a.m. and we got his gear all loaded up.  With the Airstream zipped up tight, water off, gas off, and locked up, we were good to go.  Of course, we arrived at Ken’s early.  He was still getting ready.  While he prepared, I tossed his gas cans on the Yakima rack, and one 5 gallon water container as well.


The Titan and Jeep parked at an undisclosed location. Tom's standing there with his tripod at the ready

By 8:30 we were on the road.  Ken’s Jeep and my Titan were the vehicles for this off roading introduction.  While I’ve off roaded before, I was still a little hesitant about the Titan.  Reports I’d gotten were of deep sand, bogged down trucks, bogged down Jeeps, etc.  The Titan had never been tested under such conditions, nor had the driver.  Everything in that department was in the “unknown” category.

Before 1 p.m. we’d already rolled through Page.  My 4th trip through the area in a few short months.  The drive has become “old hat” for me.  Same stops for gas, same stops for rest rooms, and same amazing views.  Tom’s been through once before, and it was Josh’s first time.  I think Josh enjoyed the scenery, and I know Tom did once again.

We decided to stop into the Paria Ranger Station to get the latest road report, and to ask about interesting camping.  Initially the plan was to run up to Yellow Rock Friday night, but after a good bit of discussion we decided to get in near South Coyote Buttes so we could get an early start.  The woman behind the counter at the ranger station gave several recommendations, and advised us not to use State Line Campground as it wasn’t a very scenic spot.

Beyond her advice on camping she also offered some opinions on driving into the locations we were planning to visit.  Paw Hole, Cottonwood Teepees and Cove, and finally White Pocket.  She looked at Ken’s jacked up Jeep and told him no problem there.  She then turned to my Titan and told me I didn’t have the clearance for the roads and I would get bogged down, bottom out, or worse.  Wow!  I thought the Titan had pretty good clearance……bummer.  We also heard several stories about recent trucks going into Paw Hole, getting bogged down, and getting towed out at amazing expense.  Ah, oh so promising…….


Tom shooting next to our Nissan parking spot near Paw Hole.

Heading out of the ranger station we decided to drive down House Rock Valley Road and see what we liked.  We’d stop at State Line Campground first and make decisions from there.

After a 10 mile wash board drive the Titan and Jeep pulled into State Line Campground.  It’s a small first come, first serve spot.  Cost to stay?  $0.  Nice.  It also had a very clean privy located near the camp sites.  It didn’t take long for everyone to agree, State Line was a perfect launching point, nice location, and it got us out of the vehicles for a while!


A view from behind the Nissan Titan's parking spot.

Camp was set up quickly, Josh learned how to put up a North Face Canyonlands (my old solo tent), and we all settled in at a picnic table for lunch and some re-hydration.  After unwinding we set about to business.  The woman at the ranger station had warned that the road to Paw Hole was not passable for the Titan.  Stop at mile 1.2 from Lone Tree Reservoir and finish the ride in with the Jeep.  We decided to check it out……

The Titan easily made it to mile 1.2.  The Jeep followed up right behind with no issues.  We found a scenic spot to park, and we set about taking a few sunset photos.  With no passes for South Coyote Buttes that night we couldn’t race in to Paw Hole, so why not shoot nearby?


I really do dig "lone trees".

Ken decided he wanted to head up to the Paw Hole parking area, just to see what the road was like.  I asked Tom and Josh if they wanted to go, but they were pretty well into shooting the area we parked.  So I headed in with Ken.  In no time we were at the Paw Hole parking area.  The ride up was sandy, it was bouncy, but I didn’t see the “hole” where they dug a truck out recently.  I also thought the Titan could do the job, but decided to go with caution.  The plan was simple.  In the morning we’d park the Titan where it was currently parked, and we’d ride the rest of the way in with Ken.  His backseat was at home in order to make room for gear, but we’d work it out.

At Paw Hole we did get out and look toward the formations in the distance.  Amazing.  I popped off a few photos and Ken offered to take a photo of me.  It’s the cheesiest photo of me EVER.  I was going with the subdued look, but Ken said, “Look excited, put your hands up,” etc, etc, etc…….  So, I did it.  You’ll never see another photo of me like this one again, but thought I’d share it.


The absolute cheesiest photo of me ever.

Upon returning to the Titan we joined in with Josh and Tom on the sunset photo safari.  I’ll tell you what……You don’t have to be right in the Coyote Buttes permit area to find amazing photos.  Everything in the area is scenic, and geological wonders abound.

Wrapping up right at sunset we headed back to State Line campground.  Dinner, conversation, and Josh shooting light painted images with an LED wand were the orders of business for the night.  We hit the sack a little after 9 a.m. with a 4:30 a.m. wake up in mind.  Sunrise shooting you know!

The rock formations in the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument are amazing.

So, there’s the wrap on day one!  Be sure to stop by again to get the rest of the story.  The remainder of the trip involves amazing scenes, getting lost, getting left, epiphanies, chess pieces, deep sand driving, preparation to do a search and rescue operation, and much more……. seriously, all that stuff applies!

Note:  There’s only 1 HDR in this batch of shots.  The rest are unedited out of the camera.  Like I said, barely started looking at the shots, let alone sorting them, post processing, etc.  Let’s not even thing about the hour of video I shot while up there……..  This is going to take some time!  But the results will be amazing!  😉

Comments 3

  1. If you want my two cents worth (which you probably don’t) I like the unedited shots better than the HDR. Unedited shows your strength as a really good photographer; HDR shows you know how to use a computer. Just my humble opinion.

    P.S. This comment was meant to be a compliment but I can see how it could be misconstrued.
    .-= Betsy´s last blog ..A Big Little Life =-.

  2. Post

    Not misconstrued at all Betsy. Thanks. 🙂

    I do all sorts of things with my images, not just HDR. Just I get a kick out of HDR. And in the end, I’m looking to present the image I want to present. So, the stuff from Coyote Buttes will be getting many different treatments. Topaz, HDR, and straight shots. Just gotta get to sorting again! 🙂

  3. I’d like to see you pick one shot, then post it straight, HDR and some Topaz enhancement. Looking forward to upcoming installments on your trip!

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