Vermillion Cliffs, Coyote Buttes
Key information: Vermillion Cliffs, Coyote Buttes
- Explore the dramatic red Vermilion Cliffs.
- Wander in the weird slickrock Coyote Buttes, the star of which is the Wave.
- Be amazed by the world-famous Buckskin Gulch and Paria Canyon slot canyons.
- Walkopedia rating93
- Natural interest19
- Human interest2
- Negative points0
- Total rating93
- Length: Your choice
- Maximum Altitude: Around 2,000m
- Level of Difficulty: Variable
This walk description page is at an early stage of development, and will be expanded over time. Your comments on this walk, your experiences and tips, and your photos are very welcome.
The Vermilion Cliffs are a long escarpment, in places approaching 1,000m high, of endless layers of often bright red sandstone formed from ancient silt and desert sand dunes. They are the second "step" up in the Grand Staircase. They extend from Utah into Arizona.
The Vermilion Cliffs National Monument sits in the extreme north of Arizona (it is also part of the larger Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, which extends into Utah). It includes the Paria Plateau and the Coyote Buttes; it’s stars are the unmissable Wave and the amazing Buckskin Gulch and Paria Canyon slot canyons.
While this is tough desert, there are areas of vegetation in the canyon bottoms, and raptors, bighorn sheep, mountain lions to be found. There are hundreds of remains of Native American pueblos in the area. Old settler routes run below the cliffs.
There is fine walking to be had along the tops of the cliffs.
The Coyote Buttes are an area of exposed Navajo sandstone slickrock which are eroded into some fantastical shapes - spires known as hoodoos, cones, arches and steeps slots - and include the famous Wave formation.
There is some stunning walking to be had in the Buttes, although they are quite hard of access: the Wire Pass trailhead (through extraordinary Wire Pass to the even weirder Buckskin Gulch) and the nearby Notch are the best accesses.
Both the northern section (which contains The Wave and the other best-known formations) and southern section of the Buttes require access permits, with (as at 2019) a limit of 20 people a day, 10 way in advance and 10 the day before.
See here and here for more information and ideas.
This can be tough walking in dry, remote desert and canyons with uncertain weather. Come fully prepared, and carry enough water. Flash floods in narrow canyons are a particular, deadly risk.
There are excellent books on these areas. Find relevant books on Amazon.
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Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.
Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.
Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.
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