The Wave, a wonder of nature and one of the 10 best trails in the world

The Wave is a place of rare beauty, one of the most incredible landscapes you can see on your journey along the west coast of the United States.

The Wave is a geological wonder found on the slopes of Coyote Buttes, on the border of Arizona and Utah. It is located on the slopes of Coyote Buttes, in the Paria Canyon-Vermilion and is included in the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument.

It is believed to date from the Jurassic period, during which prevailing winds pushed the desert sand dunes through the sandstone, carving it, while the runoff of the water deposited chemicals such as manganese and iron. These substances, oxidizing, have created a splendid and spectacular rainbow of pastel colors. Rolling bands of color, ranging from red, pink, orange, yellow, white and green, crisscross the sandstone. It is a landscape of wavy shapes and with such a chromatic variety that it seems like a painting, almost not real.

Permits are required to travel the area of ​​Coyote Buttes North (The Wave), Coyote Buttes South and for night tours in Paria Canyon. The visit is currently limited to 20 people per day, chosen by drawing lots. With this move we try to favor the conservation of this spectacular and at the same time fragile place. The exclusivity of this site, given the difficulty of obtaining a permit, makes your visit unique and very pleasant. In silence you can marvel at the wonder of Mother Nature's creative processes.

To reach The Wave area you have to walk 6 miles, round trip, but you can also take an eight-mile hike a little longer to visit other interesting places in the Coyote Buttes area, such as the rock arches and areas with dinosaur footprints. Other formations and points of interest are Second Wave, Teepees, Big Mac / Burger Rock, Brain Rocks ...

Visits to the area require special planning and consideration of potential hazards such as steep and unmarked roads, poisonous reptiles and invertebrates, extreme heat, deep sands and flash floods.

How to get permission to visit The Wave?

The overwhelming popularity of the Wave has caused the Bureau of Land Management to limit entry to 20 people per day, so while the hike itself is fairly straightforward, only 2,6 miles, obtaining the required permit can be tricky. .

There are two ways to obtain a permit for hiking on The Wave in Arizona. If you have the ability to plan your arrival in advance, you should definitely try your luck in the advanced online lottery. However, if you choose to visit at the last minute or if you have not been successful in the online lottery, you can also participate in the in-person lottery which takes place at the Visitor Center in Kanab, Utah.

Since the number of visitors per day is 20 people maximum, a lottery is organized to assign seats. Ten places are drawn online four months before the day in question, and another ten are drawn the day before (this second lottery is in front of those who are already on the spot).

For the online draw

It is necessary to ask for permission 4 months before the scheduled date of the visit, at this address:

An administration fee of $ 5 must be paid to apply online. Results are known on the 1st of the following month and you are notified via email if you get a seat or not. If you are one of the lucky ones, you have 14 days to pay for the permit, which can be paid by credit card online, via a link that will be sent in the notification email.

It is important to note that each individual is only allowed to submit one application per month. If you end up sending more than one, you will be disqualified.

For the draw on the spot

The draw will take place the day before the walk date for both The Wave and Coyote Buttes South. Introduce yourself to the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Visitor Center on Fairway Drive (745 E. Highway 89), Kanab, Utah. The center opens at 8.30 and the draw for The Wave it is at 9, but you must arrive at least a few minutes earlier to fill in the form.

For the lottery for Coyote Buttes South applications are delivered from 9.30 to 10, with the draw at this time. You fill in a sheet with some information about the group and the number of people participating. Each group is assigned a number. When the numbers come out, the seats are filled, depending on the members of each group. For example, if the first winning group is composed of 5 people, 5 places will occupy, only 5 places remain free.

From mid-March to mid-November, the draws are held 7 days a week. The rest of the year will be from Monday to Friday (except holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year etc.). During this period, permits from Saturday to Monday will be made on Friday.

Entrance prices

  • The online lottery costs $ 5 and is non-refundable, even if you are unsuccessful.
  • If you get a seat, the price for Coyote Buttes North (The Wave) is $ 7 per person per day. Coyote Buttes South's is $ 5.

Once you get the job

Keep in mind that this is a wild area, where there are no clear traces. Prior to the hike, rangers will provide a map of the area and route recommendations. It is an area where it is very hot, so precautions should be taken in the summer by bringing enough water. It would also be handy to bring a hat, sunscreen, compass, map, GPS and anything else you consider necessary for a walk like this, where there are no signs, roads, people. It is also important to take into account the time of sunrise and sunset for that time of year.

How to reach us

Coyote Buttes is located in the Utah-Arizona border area in Paria Canyon and is accessed from National Highway 89, in the section from Kanab to Page, between miles 21 and 22. Visitors can enter the area via 4 main access points, Trail Cottonwood Cove, Access Point Lone Tree, Trailhead Paw Hole and Trail Pass.  

To reach the area where the walk begins, you have to go by car, and it is convenient to take a 4 × 4 for the conditions of the terrain; especially when it has rained or there is a risk of rain.

When is the best time to visit it?

The best time of year to visit The Wave is during spring or autumn, as the weather is neither too hot nor too cold. Summer temperatures can exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius). Since reaching the Wave requires a 3-mile hike through the open desert (6-mile round trip), summer is not the ideal time to visit. During the winter, temperatures are cold at night, but mild during the day, making it possible to hike during the hottest times.

To get the best photographs, you can visit either during the middle of the day when there are no shadows to see, or during the morning / early evening when hard shadows on the ground provide dramatic views.

Where stay

The nearest towns are Canab in Utah (77 km / 48 mi) west and Page in Arizona (72 km / 45 mi) to the east. In both cities, you will be able to find a variety of hotels / guesthouses to suit your taste / budget. The ride to The Wave from Kanab and Page takes approximately 1h20m. Alternatively, there are two campgrounds nearby, the White House Campground and the Stateline Campground. More information on campsites can be found here.

The Wave – Arizona –

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