The Wave is a popular destination located in the Coyote Buttes North area on the Utah Arizona border. The area is so popular that a permit issued by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is required. To help preserve the delicate rock formations, 64 people or 16 groups (whichever comes first) are allowed to hike the area daily. The area is monitored by BLM rangers.
Daily permits and advanced permits are available online at www.recreation.gov. The probability of winning a daily permit is higher than an advanced permit due to the high numbers of applicants. Each time an individual applies it costs $9, whether the lottery is won or not. December, January, and February are the least busy months, though there are still many applying. April, May, September, and October tend to be the busiest. Winning the lottery requires patience and money, though The Wave should be on everyone’s list to do at least once.
The hike to The Wave begins at the Wirepass Trailhead off House Rock Valley Road. House Rock Valley is a dirt road in between Page, Arizona and Kanab, Utah. Four wheel drive is not required, but the road can be rough in some spots so should be taken slowly. Conditions will be worse if wet and sometimes impossible, making it important to check the weather beforehand. A toilet is available at the trailhead, a rare amenity in the middle of the desert.
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The Wave is about 6.4 miles round trip. The Wave has no defined trail, so it is vital to take navigation seriously. Detailed maps with photos and instructions are given by the BLM upon winning the lottery. The map is very important in helping hikers get to and from The Wave safely. A GPS is helpful to mark the trailhead and important turns along the way. Look out for several small cairns as well. It is crucial to bring plenty of water and sturdy shoes. The trail has no shade and takes hikers through deep sand and over slickrock hills.
Rich red and white rock layers make up the stunning phenomenon that is The Wave. It is nearly impossible to take a bad photo here, though certain portions photograph better at certain times of day. If hikers have time, there are other rock formations around The Wave that are worth exploring. These include The Second Wave, The Alcove, Top Rock Arch, Melody Arch and the Grotto, Sand Cove, and Fatali’s Boneyard. More information on these locations is available on the BLM map. The more time hikers can allocate to the hike, the more they are able to explore these sometimes once in a lifetime locations. The Wave is a spectacular spot that won’t be forgotten.
Written by: Lauren Kehoe