Sandstone Monster: Freaky Beaked Creature

Coyote Buttes South strange sandstone figure
Stone Monster watches over the Desert
When stone imitate other things we call that a sculpture.  Some sculptures are natural and coincidental creature of nature while others are manmade.  These sculptures resembling reality are what gives the land our manmade names:  Rainbow Bridge, the Wave, Teepees.  Coyote Buttes South has a few sculpted sandstone figures that are named such as the "Control Tower".  I've heard of the "Witch's Hat" for the structure pictured above but from the side this looked like a creature with a long beak surveying all the desert for prey.  It's like an eagle or hawk but with a nightmarish lower body and bulk.
Gordon Smith's photo of the Control Tower in the desert
Control Tower at Coyote Buttes South
coyote buttes south wide vista
The wild sculpted desert

Cottonwood Cove: the Far Side of Coyote Buttes South



Yellow stripe through Coyote Buttes South
Color Streaks Through Stone
Coyote Buttes South is an immense landscape with no trails.  There are few landmarks and only limited information.  I used Photographing the Southwest:  Arizona to pick a sunrise location.  Beyond that I found information scarce.  Some online guide information and plenty of time looking at satellite images helped me decide where I wanted to go.  The problem is that something like this on satellite:
Coyote Buttes South satellite Images with some GPS locations I programmed before my trip.
Ends up looking like this in reality:

Coyote Buttes Cottonwood Cove terrain exploration.
Coyote Buttes images from the ground:  terrain looks much rougher in reality!
As usual, I wanted to explore further afield in this awesome locale, searching for something novel and exciting.  I like that feeling of discovery so I left the tall teepees of Coyote Buttes South and crossed that sandy 1 mile to reach the far side of Cottonwood Cove.  Here I discovered more teepees and some very colorful sections.  One teepee I've named the "Rainbow Teepee" because of the wonderful colors.  I also discovered a "Barrel Wave" formation that is all white with a few lines of color streaking through it.

Sand is a four-letter word.  I found plenty of it all over and it slows progress a lot.  Over on the far side, I saw nobody else but did see a couple footprints in the sand.  Somebody had come this way before.

Rainbow teepee of Cottonwood Cove in the foreground
West Side Cottonwood Cove Teepees
Red-brown chocolate teepees also infest this area.

My favorite discovery on this side was the White Barrel Wave, which feels like it's going to roll over me and all around me.  It's a long formation, probably 150 feet, and beautifully colorful!
Coyote Buttes South Wave Formation
White Barrel Wave:  A Stunning Discovery!
Smooth curved white sandstone
White Barrel Wave Detail
Another discovery was this stack of circular layers of sandstone.
Thin sandstone circular layers
Circles and circles in hundreds of layers.
Gordon's hike rating:
Hike Difficulty:                   ★★★ Moderate with Class 2 Scrambling
Trail Condition:                   ★★ Fair:  Good route-finding and common sense is necessary
Trail Hazards:                      ★★ Fair:  Sand and Sandstone
Trailhead:                              Coyote Buttes South parking lot
Time Required:                     Half day hike, (minimum 4 hours)
Distance round trip:              2 miles
Off the Beaten Path:             ★★★★ Yes, 4 Stars
Scenery:                                ★★★★ Excellent, 4 Stars
Photographic Potential:        ★★★★ Excellent, 4 Stars

Hell Hole Waterfall

Ivins Utah waterfall during amazing flash flood
Hell Hole Waterfall Drops 600 feet!
Trying to capture Hell Hole waterfall has been a quest for several years.  I've driven out to Ivins, Utah during many a rainstorm to gaze at the cliffs, searching for a waterfall that magically appears in the right conditions.  I've been disappointed time and again.  Finally this year I went during a heavy storm and did the hike (even when there was no falling water) because more rain was predicted in the next few hours.  I figured that if there was no waterfall, then I'd just shoot the vegetation and rocks.  I've done that before as a consolation prize.  I found a wonderful redbud in bloom that way. 

As I was deep in the canyon, focusing on a small pool of water while trying to photograph a reflection in it, I heard rushing water . . . like a shower.  I stopped, looked around and then looked UP to see this waterfall beginning to drop.  It grew heavier and heavier as I changed lenses and began to shoot this ephemeral phenomenon.  I shot several photos, trying to somehow fit the whole height of the waterfall into one frame.  The cliffs here are 600 feet high and I was just a few feet away.  I climbed the opposite canyon scree and found a higher viewpoint where I successfully took this photograph. 

The waterfall lasted about 10 minutes, maybe 15 at most.  Then the show was over.  Mother Nature put on the whole display just for me, all alone in the canyon.  

Colorful Candy Rocks of Coyote Buttes South

colorful rocks at the Cottonwood Teepees of Arizona, dawn
Candy Rocks of Coyote Buttes South
Real yet unbelievable is what I experienced while exploring Coyote Buttes South.  The lines and colors swirl in ways I could never imagine to be natural.  Yet this was truly the handiwork of Mother Nature, that creative maven I've come to admire.  This photo was taken at the same sunrise location as my previous post and this high outlook truly is the place for sunrise in all this land.  I backed away from these rocks a bit, went with a wide 17mm tilt shift lens and shot several frames.  This lens allows me to stitch the frames together later and create a larger, wider vast landscape.  Just as I was doing this the sky brightened and changed from purple to blue, making this a most-colorful photo.  Enjoy the pastels of this incredible landscape!