After 14 months of applying, I finally got lucky and won a permit to visit The Wave. To give you a quick background, “the wave” is officially known as North Coyote Buttes and is part of Paria Canyon/ Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness. It’s one of the most coveted permits and hardest to get because they only have 20 permits available per day, 10 online and 10 in person. Many people have asked me why you need a permit to go here and according to the Bureau of Land Management, permits are required here to regulate and protect the remaining land to put it simply, but you can google that more. If you’re not so lucky to win permits, check for amazing alternative hikes similar to the wave at the end of this post.
You have to apply 3 months out for the 4th month and your chances are obviously higher on the weekdays but not much in my opinion. For example, I applied in March, got notified in April, and my permit was for July. You can see the calendar and number of applicants when submitting your own permit application to help you better pick your date. It’s $9 per application and if you’re one of the lucky 10 to win that online permit, you’ll be notified by email and have to pay an additional $7 per person for your permit which will be mailed to you.
Quick overview of my trip: To be honest, my permit date was an inconvenience as I just came back from a trip and was heading out to another right after, but I waited so long for this, spent money on it every month for over a year, and although it was the hottest time of summer (permit was for July 31), I was invested and determined to make the trip out there, even for just a couple hours… which is exactly what I did.
I left LA at 11:46 am on Monday 7/30, got to camp at 10:40 pm, woke up and started hiking at 7:35 am Tues 7/31, finished at 11 am, and drove back to LA by 9 pm.
I don’t recall the weather besides it being hot on the hike back, but my Garmin Fenix 5S Plus recorded the morning starting off at 79°, was 88° when I left the wave and 97° when I got back to the car.
Details, details, details…
Is The Wave in Utah or Arizona?
Well, when you enter down the House Rock Valley Road from Utah, the Wire Pass trailhead (where you start) is in Utah and most of the trail is in Utah, but you’ll hike into Arizona by foot which is where the actual ‘Wave’ is.
Most of the state of AZ does not use Daylight Savings time so their clocks don’t fast forward one hour in the Spring/Summer. Since I went in July, my clock started out in Utah time (+1 hr from LA) but as soon as I was at The Wave, my clock jumped back an hour which confused me at first. This really won’t make much difference since you’re hiking back out to the same time zone you started, but just something to keep in mind if you’re tracking your time and wondered what happened to the extra hour.
1.7 miles past the trailhead is a BLM campground, Stateline Campground. The campground road starts right after you pass into Arizona but the campground is actually in Utah… so this whole area is on the border of AZ/UT. There are 7 sites, pit toilets, shaded structures with picnic tables and no water.
Hiking Distance/ Miles
The trail is only 2.6 miles one way with little elevation gain. It’s actually easy to navigate if you pay attention to the trail and your surroundings, but download the offline area on Google Maps because the trail is clearly marked or make sure you have another GPS device to help you stay on track!
Best Time of Day to Visit the Wave
Supposedly noon because that is when there are no shadows, but I would not recommend that in the summer for obvious reasons.
I started at 7:34 am, got to the wave at 8:54
No water source, very exposed and sandy. The trail starts off going through a wash and be sure to look out for the trail to the right that leads out of it going uphill.
The night we arrived on 7/30/18, there were two ranger cars parked in the lot and turns out a European tourist was found dead that evening due to heat-related issues. This was the first death at the wave since the trio of deaths in July 2013 (which I hear is when they put up the one trail sign and started to provide detailed, photographic maps with the permits), so please be extra cautious if you head out in the summer. Be aware of the temps, start early, bring more water than you think you’ll need, and don’t expect any shade! Better safe than sorry.
Other Permit Info:
There was a ranger checking off a list of permit-holders when we got back to the parking lot, so don’t chance it. He asked us how many hikers were still out there, on their way out there, their conditions and if anyone seemed lost and had water, to make sure hikers were all safe.
Tips to get permits: none, sorry… after all, I tried 14 times… I’ve heard people apply for just 1 spot because your odds are higher, and some say to get a big group and have everyone submit an application.
Click here for more info about
Click here to apply for permits.
Other Rules You Need to Know When Visiting The Wave:
- No campfires
- No overnight camping/day use only
- No drones
- Max group size is 6. permits are non-refundable and can’t be transferred but why would you want to give it up anyways…
- Dogs are allowed on leash
- Pack it in, pack it out!
- You can get a guide for this hike who will take you on a less common route from what I’ve been told, but you will need to secure your own permit first
Alternative Hike Similar to The Wave
- Yant Flat in St. George Utah – free
- Fire Wave in Valley of the Fire State Park in Nevada – entrance fee required
If you have any questions, feel free to ask me in the comments section below!
Things to Do Near Kanab, Utah
Booking travel soon?
Please consider using my affiliate links below. It costs nothing additional for you but helps me maintain the ever-increasing costs of running a travel blog:
Book your flights here.
Book your accommodations here on Expedia, Booking.com, Hotels.com, and VRBO.
Book your car rentals here.
Book your tours here.
Book your travel insurance here.