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Look for the sign post referenced above, it will tell you when to turn to cross the ridge. It should be easy to cross over the small ridge; if not you have turned west too early. Conversely if you go too far north you will end up in or overlooking Wirepass slot canyon.
If so turn around and try again. For an interesting story of someone who got lost on the return, see Trouble in Coyote Buttes. If you get lost or injured and need help try to gain elevation. You may be able to get a cell signal. So you've finally gotten a permit and want to make the best use of it. There is a nice loop hike starting and ending at The Wave.
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It covers most of the best photo sites in Coyote Buttes North and, if you are willing to be out most of the day, you can hit all of them in good light. Being out all day is dangerous in the summer months, so only do the loop from September through May. The loop does not include Top Rock, unless you are a very strong hiker save this for a second trip. The first stop on the loop hike is The Wave. The Wave gets good light about an hour after sunrise, before then parts of it are in shadow.
It takes about 90 minutes to hike from the Wirepass trailhead to The Wave.
Most people start their hike very early in the day and end up leaving when they run out of energy, usually before best light. If you have the stamina to stay out hours begin hiking at dawn; otherwise I suggest you start your hike later. Do not start hiking too late as shadows start to hit the south wall of The Wave before mid-day.
After shooting The Wave explore the area around it for an hour or two.
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There are usually some nice water pools yards southeast of The Wave. Ginger Rock is a good subject mid-day. It can be found about yards north of The Wave.
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Leave The Wave by retracing your steps back down the sand dune to the wash below. At the foot of the dune turn west, cross the wash, and ascend to the area with the dinosaur tracks. The tracks are located in red stone very close to the wall. If you are not experienced in finding tracks they can be hard to locate even with GPS coordinates. The tracks are three toed and hand sized.
They usually come in a small cluster arranged in a line. I left a small circle of rocks around a pair of footprints about ten years ago, as of mid the circle was still there. After visiting the dinosaur tracks continue south about. Fifty yards or so to the west lies a small brown and yellow striped area with some rocks that look like a D tic-tac-toe board lying on the stripes. The area was named "The Boneyard" by photographer Michael Fatali. The loose rocks are called lace or box rocks. Please do not move them, they are fragile. Wait until the cliffs to the northwest of The Boneyard are in shadow before shooting; the dark background of the cliffs contrasts with The Boneyard nicely.
Stay until the sun goes behind the cliffs to the west and The Boneyard starts to fall into shadow. If you are feeling energetic you can Note that The Boneyard is also very good at dawn, light hits it just after sunrise with March and September being optimal times to shoot it at dawn. After leaving The Boneyard head down the sandy wash which runs south-east.
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Continue up Sand Cove Wash about yards and hike up to the teepees to your east left. This area contains beautiful sandstone curves and is called Sand Cove. It is best captured late afternoon just before it goes into shadow. A wide-angle lens is needed. Sand Cove is largely in shadow in the morning. Stay at Sand Cove until it starts going into shadow. From Sand Cove hike east north-east and scramble up the cliff until you reach a flat area just before a much steeper cliff. The Second Wave is at the foot of this steep cliff.
It is a great late afternoon location, but only fair the rest of the day. Shoot it from the small sand dune a few yards south, or from the rocks to the south east about ten feet above it. Make sure the cliffs to the west are in shadow. Shoot until the Second Wave goes into shadow. Leave a bit earlier if you are concerned about hiking back to your car after sunset. To return to the Wirepass parking lot head north passing back through The Wave.
After leaving The Wave head down the sand dune, cross the wash, and head north to retrace your steps back to your car. You will need a long lens to shoot them.
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If you hurry you should be able to get back to your car minutes after sunset. Warning - if you do not have good navigation skills or have a GPS and know how to use it, you should leave The Second Wave well before sunset. This is especially true in the summer and winter when extreme temperatures, lightning, or snow cover tend to keep visits short. In view of this I've added some thoughts on how to photograph just The Wave. A gallery showing what I believe to be the classic images of The Wave is here. The Wave opens up in three directions, to the north the direction you came in on , to the east, and to the southwest.
Each of these openings has a good photo associated with it. Below is a map showing the topography of The Wave. Permits to The Wave are so hard to get that I'd suggest you shoot from all three directions on your first trip. All can be shot in the morning in good light.
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In addition to these images there are many other possibilities, see the main Wave gallery for some ideas. This image is best mid-morning.
By late morning the wall on the left the south wall is starting to go into shadow, especially in the winter. You'll need a wide or ultra-wide for best results.
The image shown was shot at 14mm. The "Eye of The Wave" is shown on the right. It is a great example of soft-sediment deformation.