Unlucky in The Wave lottery. The consolation was South Coyote Buttes (SCB), equally requiring a day permit to visit. Bonus? It was breathtaking. Unearthly. Surreal. Deep into the Paria wilderness, SCB stands on its own in beauty for its colorful display of sandstone swirls from millions of years of layered sediment and erosion from fierce rainstorms and relentless winds. Permitted, like its cousin The Wave, it seeks to preserve and control the amount human visitors – we were the only humans there during our 3 hour walkabout, not to mention the roughed 4×4 journey here.
Upon our egress from the parking lot, it’s about a 1/2 mile trek through a winding sandy trail. You’re first greeted with a ginormous teepee shaped or inverted ice cream cone that screams rainbow sherbet. The swirling and striated lines criss-cross each other in opposite and curious ways that makes one wonder how something like this can be formed. Traversing along side of the colorful sandstone walls in a bowl-like fashion, you finally make your way to the top only to be greeted with yet another gorgeous view of more swirling bowls that resemble caramelized bacon. Yum … a feast for eyes and all of your senses.
Pinks turn to orange and orange back to pink and just about every color in the spectrum. Curious boulders sticking up out of nowhere in the flat surrounded by strange looking hoodoos, balancing rocks, beehives and more striated beauty. Recent rainstorms during this monsoon season have treated us to settled water in low points along the rocks amidst the usually arid terrain.
As you walk along the marbleized sandstone, the further you venture into different sections of SCB, the terrain changes again, then back again. From smoothly shaped bowls sporting hues to calm the senses, you quietly step into the ruggedness of Cottonwood Cove area where brightly colored orange and rust predominate the rockscape against the wildly sea blue sky. Delicate sandstone fins scale from their walls jetting out in louvered fashion that defy gravity.
Photographically speaking, it’s easy … go wide. Wide angle lenses afford you to get up close and personal as their focal distances are macro-like, they accentuate leading lines while capturing the expanse of the scene. And, with this, find the sweet spot in your aperture (usually b/n f8-f16), just set it and forget and shoot away like there’s no tomorrow! For us on this day, another bonus was we were the only humans around. We had the entire place all to ourselves = peace and serenity. All you hear is the whirling winds and your own panting from the next summiting rock formation that takes your breath away. A colorful feast for the eyes, mind and spirit. South Coyote Buttes. Onward to White Pocket …