The Wave – Coyote Buttes North - New Last Minute Permit System

The Wave – Coyote Buttes North - New Last Minute Permit System

United States
United States

When Is the Best Time

One of the most fascinating natural wonders in our world. For a good reason, the access is restricted. This sandstone rock formation is extremely delicate and fragile. All details for the new last-minute lottery system, how and where to apply can be found here!

The colourful Wave at its best.

Wandering here in this pristine landscape is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. There is no guarantee that you ever get the chance to hike to this unique place, estimated 190 million years old from Jurassic Time.

sandstone formation in red and orange
Breathtaking contortions, twisting and turning at the Wave.

To protect what was carved from wind and rain, a permit system was introduced already before 2000. Read my new guide from September 2021 and learn everything you need to know to increase your chance for a permit.

The Permit System - Update March 14, 2022

A new lottery permit system will be introduced from March 15 onwards. What does it mean? There are changes in the permitting process and you can apply two days in advance via your mobile instead of the walk-in system. The interested hikers have to be in the area in Kanab or Page. It is a mobile-based geofence system that gives you access when nearby. Scroll down for more information!

The Wave - Top Rock
Top Rock at the Wave by Ray
  1. Permit
    A permit is mandatory for Coyote Buttes North and South. Daily, park rangers patrol the area and control if you have a valid permit. If you don’t, you risk a high fine. I visited South Coyote Buttes, and IMO it can’t compete with the Wave, but the White Pocket does!
  2. Limited Access
    To protect the fragile landscape and preserve this unique rock formation for future generations, only 20 people were allowed daily. At the moment, a maximum of 64 people can obtain a permit. The permit gives you a 24 hours access, but camping is prohibited. Soak in this exceptional landscape. Spend the entire day here. Carry plenty of water and food.
  3. Increasing number of visitors permitted since 2021
    48 permits are available online
    16 last-minute permits are available 
     

4 Tips to Win a Permit

A colourful narrow slot in the Wave rock formation
An excellent play of colours by nature, and Ray
  1. Apply for the winter from mid-January to February online - lowest application rate.
  2. Go in winter for the walk-in lottery from November to March
  3. Go in winter on a Friday, when three days of permits are available for Saturday, Sunday, Monday.
  4. For the main season, try to apply on weekends.

 

How to Get the Permit

The Wave from another perspective.
Online Lottery

48 hikers or 12 groups are available online – Not a high chance, but you never know. Link online lottery

  • You can choose 3 days for your whished month - 4 months ahead. For example, for February, you already apply in October. One application per month only!
  • You get the notification whether you won or not on the first day of the next month.
  • Some still mention you should watch the application number for each day to apply on the last day of a month to pick the days with the fewest applications. But this is wrong! It is not shown any longer for a good reason! 
  • To give you an idea of the application numbers: February with the lowest number, roughly 250 hikers/82 requests and June 2.300 hikers/680 requests.
     
The Wave in portrait format
By Ray

Walk-in Lottery - Will Change From March 15, 2022 - Here Are the Most Important Questions and Answers

  • How many permits are available? 16 last-minute permits or 4 groups – Slightly higher chance.
  • How to apply? 2 days before the wished hiking day within the geofence perimeter
  • Which locations belong to the geofence area? 
    North: Orderville and Glendale
    West: West of Kanab until Zion and Coral Pink Sand Dunes
    South: Jakob Lake
    East: Page
    Geofence Map
  • When to apply? Between 6 am and 6 pm; after applying you can leave the geofence area
  • When do I get the confirmation? The same day around 7.15 pm
  • What happens if I win the permit? You must accept and pay for the permit until the next day 8 am Utah time. Pick up your permit at 8.30 am
  • Pick up location: Kanab Center, 20 N 100 E, UT 84741 or Page 48 S Lake Powell Blvd, AZ 86040  
  • Where can I get the app to apply? Follow this link and download the app then create an account.
  • How often is the lottery held? It is held daily.
  • Do I have to pay anything for the application? Yes, $9 application fee for each request. This is pretty expensive if you try it more often. If you are successful another $7 recreational fee have to be paid. 

Don't Hike Without a Permit

The other part in the Paria Plateau
Our Parking Tag for Coyote Buttes South from May 2000

Don't even think about it! People get caught every year. The fine is substantial for getting caught and there are rangers there - incognito. They look just like a regular tourist in jeans, but they are not.

The fine is $1,000 to $10,000 plus up to 1 year in jail. If you don't win accept the fact, but please don't risk such fines! I never won the lottery. for Coyote Buttes North.

Two hikers at Coyote Buttes South
These are my friends. I told them about the walk-in lottery and they won.

I hiked in the south area and Buckskin Gulch, but I never hiked to the Wave. Instead, check out the White Pocket, still permit free. 

What to Do in the Meantime

The White Pocket in proximity
The White Pocket is just a 3.5-mile direct distance away, also on the Paria Plateau.
 

Where to Stay

Hotel Terrace in Page
Hotels in Kanab via booking.com

Stay in Kanab close to the BLM. It is almost 1.5 hours drive from Page to Kanab. 

Permit Fee

The online administration fee is $9 per application. Just a $7 fee per person if you win the lottery. Your dog can join you but needs a permit, too.

The wave and its orange colour

COVID 19 Updates

  • Only one person of a group is allowed to access the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
  • A face mask and distance are mandatory.

Weather Coyote Buttes

The breathtaking buttes in Paria
The 60 foot high buttes at the Wave

Honestly, if you win the lottery, you don’t care about the weather. The Wave located on the Paria Plateau experiences a high desert climate and a little precipitation only. Snow can occur in the winter. It is frequently sunny in the summer but boiling during midday.

The awesome colours of the sandstone formations of the Wave
Thanks, Ray, for such beautiful masterpieces!

Start early or late in the summer. Keep in mind there were already several heat-related fatalities. It is more difficult to get to the trailhead after heavy rainfall. However, the gravel Rock House Valley Road is in good condition. 

Photographer Tips for the Best Time

A professional photographer with tripod in the Wave.

Spring

Frequent blue sky, especially in April and May. Often very windy with its peak in the afternoon. 

June

June is the best month of the entire year. Precipitation and cloud cover is low. Exceptional for night photography.

Summer

Not bad to take good shots, but be aware of the midday heat. 

Autumn

Not as good as April and May more cloud cover. The pro; Kanab and Page are quieter after the crazy summer season.

Winter

Hiking in snow is challenging. Due to the high elevation, snow occurs. It is also tricky to take good pictures of the Wave, especially when snow-covered. It is frequently overcast.

The Wave and two of the high buttes in the back

I got most of the pictures provided by Ray Downs Photography and some from my friend Chris.

Check out the website from Ray. He is offering exceptional pictures from The Wave - Antelope and other breathtaking places in the southwest. You also can follow Ray on Facebook.

Best Months to Visit

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Location and Tips

Page, Arizona / Kanab, Utah
United States
United States

The daily visitor number for the Wave has increased from 20 to 64 or 16 groups per day. Your chance to win the lottery is more than three times higher at the moment. I cross my fingers for you! 

Wave Location – How to Get There

Road Sign on Rock House Valley Road
The trailhead for the Wave is already well marked on the gravel road.

The Wave is situated on the Paria Plateau, Coyote Buttes North in Arizona, close to the Utah border. Getting there is easy on the gravel Rock House Valley Road. You pass by the Buckskin Gulch Trailhead, one of the best hikes on earth, and continue until you reach Wire Pass.

The Wire Pass parking for different hikes in Paria.
The parking and pit toilets at Wire Pass.

I recommend a 4WD, and it’s a stress-free drive to Wire Pass Trailhead. We did it once in a 2WD but at the second time in a Jeep Cherokee, which was more convenient and less bumpy. After heavy rainfall, the Rock House Valley Road may be impassable. Important: Display your parking permit on the windshield! 

The most famous part of the Wave
 

Google Maps direction from Kanab to the Wire Pass Trailhead
Google Maps direction from Page to the Wire Pass Trailhead

Trail Description 

Already the hike is outstanding.
Sandstone from the Jurassic Period - created by mother nature 190 million years ago.

This return hike is 5.6 miles/ 9 km long. The track is not marked. I highly recommend a mapping app like GAIA for the outstanding hike. Ascent 211 m and descent 105 m to the Wave and vice versa on the hike back.

The spectacular sandstone formations in the Wave

Link for the exact track to the Wave from Wire Pass Trailhead. Don’t trust all the different descriptions you can read somewhere. 

People in the Wave massif.
Hikers in the Wave massif.

You get a map handed with some landmarks to find the wave, but IMO none of this is safe. Hike with a mapping app, and you never get lost. The last restroom is at Wire Pass Trailhead.

Packing-List - 7 Essentials

The different Buttes around the Wave
In the winter, day temps are below 50°F; a jacket is needed.

If you win a permit, spend as much time as possible at Coyote Buttes North. There is more to discover than just the Wave. Therefore, good prep is essential. 

  • Most important, plenty of water, food, and snacks.
  • Sun precaution, hat, and sunscreen, sunglasses for the walk only
  • Clothes; depending on the season, at least a fleece or icebreaker.
  • Always a headlamp - This place is otherworldly, and you may forget to return in time.
  • Always carry a multi-tool knife in your backpack.
  • Never walk without a First-Aid Kit, especially not in remote areas where a cell phone connection is almost none existent.
  • Survival rescue blanket, very lightweight, less than 3 oz.
     
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