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South Coyote Buttes Tour

Fully Guided Tour

Photography Paradise!

Interesting Geology!

Single Travelers & Private Tours

We can always accommodate single travelers via private tours ($799).  Often times, we are also able to combine a single traveler with other scheduled parties; please give us a call at 435-644-5506 to discuss the latter option.

Private Tours are available to be booked online.

We go out of our way to open the wonders of the West to EVERYONE.

We are permitted, licensed, and insured.

Dreamland Safari Tours holds Special Use Permits from the Grand Staircase Escalante National MonumentGrand Canyon National Park, the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument/Paria WildernessKanab Bureau of Land Management and Arizona Strip Bureau of Land Management.

Don’t see your preferred departure date or time available via online booking? Give us a call. 

For sunset or sunrise at our more remote locations, we recommend a scheduled or custom overnight or multi-day tour – and we are happy to work with you to develop an itinerary that meets your needs.

All listed tour durations and pickup times are approximate. Please allow 10-20 minutes of pickup time flexibility for unforeseen circumstances and varying pickup logistics. Water and snacks are provided on all tours. A lunch meal is included on all tours of 6+ hours. Vegetarian option available.

We reserve the right to fill all empty seats on non-private tours. Cancellation / Reschedule / Weather policy applies.

Please familiarize yourself with our FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS  before contacting us.

Contact us

To contact us with other specific questions or begin Making Reservations click the “Book Now” Button on each tour page or click Contact Us for info on how to give us a call or shoot us an email.

See all tours at a glance with our

Like its counterpart to the North, which contains the Wave, South Coyote Buttes Tour in the Paria Canyon Wilderness is a vast expanse of colorful slickrock sandstone with lots of sand in between.

Price

Adult $205.00

Private Tour Upgrade Available?

Yes

Tour Length

10 Hours

Departure Times

8am, 9am, 10am

Difficulty (1-10)

7

Recommended abilities

Not recommended for small children. Elevation change, uneven footing, and sand make this terrain more difficult. The distances are substantial at about 6 miles.
SCB permit is required for this tour.

Location

Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness

Attractions

Cottonwood Cove, Paria Canyon Wilderness, South Coyote Buttes, Vermillion Cliffs National Monument

Special Interests

Geology, Photography, Wildlife, Flowers

These FAQs are specific to this tour. If you would like to view our general FAQs CLICK HERE.

1. How much hiking is required on this trip?
We usually hike about 3-4 miles at Cottonwood Cove and 1-2 miles at Paw Hole. These distances vary as we can customize each trip to match the group’s physical abilities. There is a ½-mile trek through soft sand just to get to the rock formation at Cottonwood Cove. From there, we will be walking on uneven sandstone. The hike is slow paced so it is not strenuous, but there are some steep sections of stone that must be navigated. Paw Hole is easily visible from the car, and the hike is fairly level over sandy terrain, with some scrambling over rocks if desired. There are no actual trails at Cottonwood Cove or at Paw Hole.

2. What’s the difference between the South Coyote Buttes tour and the South Coyote Buttes / White Pocket “combo” tour?
Our South Coyote Buttes tour visits two locations within South Coyote Buttes: Cottonwood Cove and Paw Hole. Both are incredibly beautiful, though Cottonwood Cove is generally considered the more spectacular of the two sites. Paw Hole is marked by deep red sandstone teepees that rise out of the earth, while Cottonwood Cove is known for more variety in color, intricate, striped patterns in the rock and delicate sandstone ledges that break easily. Our South Coyote Buttes tour spends about 3.5 hours at Cottonwood Cove and 2 hours at Paw Hole, while our White Pocket / South Coyote Buttes “combo” tour spends about 2 hours at White Pocket and 3 hours at Cottonwood Cove. The “combo” tour is far more popular than the South Coyote Buttes tour because many guests want to see as much variety as they can during their trip. But, White Pocket and South Coyote Buttes are both incredible, it’s easy to spend an entire day at each if you can.

3. Do I need permits to see South Coyote Buttes?
Yes, permits are required. Ten permits are issued 3-4 months in advance and 10 more permits are issued in Kanab by a lottery system at 10 a.m one day before you wish to hike. Learn how to get permits HERE. If you have missed the deadline for online permits, you may book a South Coyote Buttes / White Pocket combo tour with us without permits. We will try to obtain the permits for you in person one day before your tour. If we do not win the lottery, your tour will simply go to White Pocket.

4. I am staying in Page. Where can we meet?
We offer pick-up service to any hotel or vacation rental in Kanab, Utah, but we do not pick up in Page, Arizona. If you are staying in Page, we can arrange a meeting point halfway between Page and Kanab. Normally, this meeting point is at the intersection of Highway 89 and House Rock Valley Road, which is about 45 minutes west of Page, and is right on the way to South Coyote Buttes. Occasionally, we have to change this meeting point when the north end of House Rock Valley is muddy because that road can be a real disaster, even for our 4X4s.

If you book a 9 a.m. tour, that is the time the tour departs Kanab, Utah. We would leave at 9 a.m. and meet you at 9:45 a.m. at House Rock Valley. Keep in mind that Page is in Arizona, which does not observe daylight savings time. So from spring through fall, the time in Arizona is one hour earlier than in Utah, where our company operates. So if our tour left Kanab at 9 a.m. (Utah time) and met you at 9:45 a.m. (Utah time), this would be 8:45 a.m. Arizona time during daylight savings time, which starts sometime in early March and usually runs to the end of October.

5. Is there a bathroom at South Coyote Buttes?
There are no facilities of any kind at South Coyote Buttes. Depending on the route we take, we may stop at a flushable toilet or a pit toilet on our way there and on the way back to Kanab. Once at South Coyote Buttes, you may duck behind a tree or bush for privacy whenever necessary. Bury all solid waste. Guides carry toilet paper, hand wipes and plastic bags in each truck. Do not leave any trash on the ground. This is a wilderness area and must be kept pristine. Paper must be bagged up and can be discreetly discarded into the trash bag at the truck.

6. Are drones allowed at South Coyote Buttes?
No. South Coyote Buttes is a designated wilderness area and drones are illegal.

To read more FAQs that are common to all of our tours, visit our FAQs page.

Guest Experiences on the South Coyote Buttes Tour

South Coyote Buttes (SCB) with Caitlin and Dreamland was absolutely amazing! It is seriously 2 hours of very, very bumpy off-roading to get to SCB from the Hwy 89 turn off, but it is SO worth it. From the SCB parking area, it is just a 15-20 minute walk (through sand) to get into the formations, and then it is like being in a Dr. Seuss book. You can’t even believe how amazing it is. I’ve never been to the Wave, so I can’t compare it to that, but even if the Wave is better, SCB is still mind-blowing. Even though we did this after hiking 2 days in Zion and 3 days in Bryce, it was nothing like either of those places and not in the least bit redundant. And even though there was one other guide company car in the parking lot, we didn’t see another soul while we were walking around…

Sherri M – July 8, 2018
TripAdvisor

My wife and I took a day long tour with Bailey. We can’t say enough good things about our experience. We felt secure in both her driving abilities and knowledge of both White Pockets and South Coyote Buttes. Also enjoyed the stop for cookies.

Rickv225 – May 21, 2019
TripAdvisor

Our tour guide, Orion, is an enthusiastic 30 something transplant from North Carolina with the nickname “Grizzly” assigned by his colleagues. His enjoyment at work and high energy spill over to his guests (on our trip two 30 something women from Italy and two 70 something college buddies (Alaska and Vermont) renewing a friendship). He is responsible and very safety minded. His goal is to be sure his guests have the best possible day in this area he loves.

Stewart K – April 29, 2019
TripAdvisor

We did the White Pocket / South Coyote Buttes tour, and the Peek-a-Boo / White Wave tour. Our guides on both these tours were excellent, they were knowledgeable, helpful, friendly and very personable. The lunch, drinks and snacks provided were very good. I don’t think we could have had any better tours.

Dreamer54252255082 – April 14, 2019
TripAdvisor

Great tour! We got the permit for South Coyote Butte and called Dreamland immediately to get a guided tour. Caitlyn picked us up at the hotel in Kanab and we had a great day of adventure! We enjoyed both areas – they were very different from each other–and are still talking about how much fun we had. Caitlyn had plenty of water for us because it was hot one that day. She was a lot of fun and made it a fun day, full of adventure!

Margaret V – August 10, 2018
TripAdvisor

Single Travelers & Private Tours

We can always accommodate single travelers via private tours ($799).  Often times, we are also able to combine a single traveler with other scheduled parties; please give us a call at 435-644-5506 to discuss the latter option.

Private Tours are available to be booked online.

To call the South Coyote Buttes Tour a consolation prize for Paria Canyon runners-up is a discredit to this photographer’s playground. It pulls you in with tantalizing possibilities around every rock.

South Coyote Buttes Photo

The stone has been eroded by wind and water over Eons into a myriad of forms. The minerals seeping and collecting along concentration gradients give the rock its sharply defined colored layers often packed within millimeters of each other. Wander and scramble in search of the best angles amongst the vibrant striations, weird hoodoos and buttes, balancing rocks, Moqui marbles, beehives, swirls, teepees, delicate and elaborate fins, mini arches, and more. South Coyote Buttes Tour is broken into two main sections Paw Hole and Cottonwood Cove, accessed through deep sand roads in the Remote Paria Plateau which rests above the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument. Both are remarkable for photography with never-ending compositions. Both are visited on the South Coyote Buttes Tour.

SPECIAL PERMITS ARE REQUIRED FOR THE SOUTH COYOTE BUTTES PORTION OF THIS TOUR. DREAMLAND DOES NOT PROVIDE ADVANCE PERMITS OR HAVE AN UMBRELLA PERMIT. ONLY OUR GUIDES ARE COVERED BY OUR PERMIT. WHEN OBTAINING PERMITS ONE DOES NOT HAVE TO ADD OUR GUIDES TO THE TOTAL NUMBER. IN CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES, UPON REQUEST, AND WITH AN ALTERNATE TOUR PLANNED, DREAMLAND MAY ATTEND THE LOTTERY IN YOUR STEAD.

South Coyote Buttes Permits are relatively easy to get. To find about more about how to get these or any permits in the Paria check out our Permits page.

Fully Guided Tour

Photography Paradise!

Interesting Geology!

We go out of our way to open the wonders of the West to EVERYONE.

We are permitted, licensed, and insured.

Dreamland Safari Tours holds Special Use Permits from the Grand Staircase Escalante National MonumentGrand Canyon National Park, the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument/Paria WildernessKanab Bureau of Land Management and Arizona Strip Bureau of Land Management.

Don’t see your preferred departure date or time available via online booking? Give us a call. 

For sunset or sunrise at our more remote locations, we recommend a scheduled or custom overnight or multi-day tour – and we are happy to work with you to develop an itinerary that meets your needs.

All listed tour durations and pickup times are approximate. Please allow 10-20 minutes of pickup time flexibility for unforeseen circumstances and varying pickup logistics. Water and snacks are provided on all tours. A lunch meal is included on all tours of 6+ hours. Vegetarian option available.

We reserve the right to fill all empty seats on non-private tours. Cancellation / Reschedule / Weather policy applies.

Please familiarize yourself with our FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS  before contacting us.

Contact us

To contact us with other specific questions or begin Making Reservations click the “Book Now” Button on each tour page or click Contact Us for info on how to give us a call or shoot us an email.

See all tours at a glance with our

About South Coyote Buttes

Stunning, colorful and delicate sandstone formations define South Coyote Buttes, an area open only to 20 permit holders daily in the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness. There are two main trailheads here: Paw Hole and Cottonwood Cove. Both are incredibly beautiful, though Cottonwood Cove is generally considered the more spectacular of the two sites. Paw Hole is marked by deep red sandstone teepees that rise out of the earth, while Cottonwood Cove is known for more variety in color, intricate, striped patterns in the rock and delicate sandstone ledges the break easily. Our South Coyote Buttes tour spends about 3 hours at each location, while our White Pocket / South Coyote Buttes “combo” tour spends about 2.5 hours at White Pocket and 3 hours at Cottonwood Cove.

There are no actual trails at Cottonwood Cove or at Paw Hole. Our tours typically cover about 4 miles of terrain at Cottonwood Cove and 2 miles at Paw Hole, but trips can be tailored to each group. The entire South Coyote Buttes area is about 3 miles across from the north end to the south. We never cover the entire length on a tour. There is a lot to see out there.

Because there isn’t just one main feature everyone visits (like the Wave in North Coyote Buttes) South Coyote Buttes disperses other hikers. On most trips, we don’t see another person there.

South Coyote Buttes lies just south of the famous Wave, where permits are notoriously difficult to obtain. Its similarly styled sandstone buttes are just as incredible as North Coyote Buttes, but it’s lesser-known and harder to get to. You’ll see more variety here in a shorter hiking distance. The colorful stripes and otherworldly rock shapes provide infinite opportunity for photography. The view changes constantly. It’s really addicting to see what’s around the next corner. You will not want to leave.

Getting to South Coyote Buttes

South Coyote Buttes lies on the remote and rugged Paria Plateau in the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument in Arizona, with the Cottonwood Cove trailhead just 2.5 miles from the Utah border.

Roads on the Paria Plateau are unmaintained and are comprised of deep sand with rocky sections scattered throughout. A four-wheel drive vehicle with good ground clearance and off road tires is a must. Some experience driving in deep sand can really come in handy, especially in the summer when the sand is dry, soft and deep. We lower our tire pressure to power through the sections of deep sand. It takes almost 2.5 hours from Kanab to get to Cottonwood Cove and the road to get here is a bit rougher than the road to White Pocket.

For folks who don’t have a capable four-wheel drive truck and don’t want to hire a tour company, the Paw Hole trail is accessible by foot, via a difficult, 2.5-mile (each way) hike to the trailhead. Some folks park off House Rock Valley Road at the Lone Tree Access Point and walk up to the top of the plateau. House Rock Valley Road is usually accessible with a two-wheel drive car as long as it has a decent amount of ground clearance and the road is dry.

We don’t really recommend hiking to Paw Hole because the hike is steep and very sandy. It’s an exhausting 2.5 miles just to get to the starting point of your South Coyote Buttes adventure. It really makes sense to maximize your time by hiring a guide who can drive you there and show you the best this area has to offer. And we’re not just saying that because we sell tours.

South Coyote Buttes Geology

Back 190 million years ago, this area was much closer to the equator than it is today. The land was a hot, dry, windy desert. South Coyote Buttes is comprised of Navajo sandstone that got its start as towering dunes back in the early Jurassic Period. As the dunes were buried under more and more sand, they became saturated with groundwater. Slowly, groundwater minerals cemented the sand grains together, turning the dunes to stone. The thin slanting lines in the rock, called cross-beds, represent the steep faces of dunes as they advanced downwind.

There are many shades of red, pink and yellow that are caused by the oxidation of iron-bearing minerals. Colorful stripes appear in the rock throughout Cottonwood Cove, as if someone dipped a brush into rainbow paint and graced the sides of the buttes with color. Pink hues in the rock often indicate the presence of hematite, while limonite appears yellow or brown.

There are several theories about how the polygonal cracks in the “brain rock” came to be, including thermal contraction, moisture cycles and drying processes of the sandy sediments and tensile forces. Similar cracks have been observed elsewhere on the Colorado Plateau, especially at nearby White Pocket.

Also scattered throughout South Coyote Buttes are Moqui marbles. The marble-like concretion has a sandstone center encased in an iron oxide shell. Scientists say iron was dissolved into ground water 50 million years ago and collected to form sphere shaped iron concretions. In 2004, two Mars rovers landed on the Red Planet and sent back images of BB sized formations similar to Moqui marbles. NASA scientists call them Martian blueberries. NASA studied Moqui marbles on the Colorado Plateau to learn how they form, wondering if this could provide evidence of water on Mars. Results are inconclusive. The Martian blueberries may have been caused by meteorites. But it’s fun to imagine a far out connection between the Arizona desert and Mars. Rock gathering here is prohibited.

Fossilized dinosaur footprints can also be found at Cottonwood Cove for those willing to venture down into a steep canyon. Toenail imprints are actually visible in the Otozoum tracks that were made by heavy, bipedal prosauropod dinosaurs that roamed this area in the early Jurassic, long before raptors, T-rex or Stegosaurus came on the scene.

Human History

Humans have probably been passing through South Coyote Buttes since the ice age when nomadic hunters wandered the expansive landscape in search of large game. The Paria Plateau is also home to Native American ruins dating back to the Pueblo Periods from about 750 A.D to 1250 A.D. Pottery fragments and arrowhead flakes can be found scattered throughout Cottonwood Cove. There is an incredible concentration of arrowhead flakes in the “museum” area of Cottonwood Cove where Native Americans may have sheltered in the canyon out of the wind and used the hard sandstone to shape chert into arrowheads.

 More recently, ranchers settled and grazing began somewhere around 1840. On the dry Colorado Plateau, ranchers often drew water from underground springs using pumps powered by windmills. One such windmill, now out of commission, can be seen at Poverty Flat between Cottonwood Cove and White Pocket. The windmill is out of commission, but ranchers still pump water from a well into a water tank on the hilltop.

An old corral still stands near a water pocket at Paw Hole. Ranchers named the area Paw Hole when they discovered horses had dug a shallow hole with their hooves where a water pocket lies just below the surface of the sand.

Grazing is still practiced on the plateau but it is not allowed in wilderness areas such as South Coyote Buttes. Congress designated the 112,500-acre Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness in 1984 to remain undeveloped and in its natural condition. When you get there we encourage you to find a quiet place. Sit down. Put away your camera. Look out across the incredible landscape and just take it in. Listen to the breeze rushing through the sagebrush. There is nothing you can see or hear that is manmade. Find peace in knowing untouched places such as South Coyote Buttes still exist. We sure do!

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