As the saying goes, “it wasn’t a matter of ‘if’ but a matter of ‘when.’” In this case, the “when” was the summer of 2009, when the powers-that-be at Microsoft thought it would be a fabulous idea to include a photo of The Wave in Paria Canyon, Arizona on the desktop wallpaper of Windows 7. From that moment on, what had until then been a relatively well-kept secret among hikers and backpackers was catapulted to “Arizona Bucket List” status, and suddenly everybody and his brother wanted to go there. Does that include you? Be ready to jump through some hoops, but be ready to experience a place like no other on Earth, and an adventure you’ll never forget!
The Wave is located in the Coyote Buttes North Special Management Area of the Paria Canyon/Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness Area in Northern Arizona. Areas with this designation are considered ecologically sensitive and vulnerable to irreparable damage if access to them is not strictly controlled. Managed by the Bureau of Land Management, for years, only 20 lucky people per day were allowed to visit Coyote Buttes North and The Wave in Arizona. In February 2021, the BLM approved an increase in the daily hiker quota to 64 people, or 16 groups, whichever comes first. In order to be included in that number, you must obtain a permit. This can be done one of two ways:
1. Apply in advance for the online Paria Canyon permit lottery through Recreation.gov website. Forty-eight (48) spots per day are given out in this manner. You can – and should – apply up to four (4) months in advance for your desired date. Applications are taken for the entire calendar month for the month four (4) months ahead. If, for example, you wish to hike to The Wave in October (the 10th month on the calendar), you would need to apply online anytime during the month of June (the 6th month on the calendar). The winners of the lottery would then be drawn on the 1st day of July, etc.
There is a $9.00 non-refundable fee to apply for the online lottery. You may choose three (3) different dates to hike The Wave and apply for up to six (6) people. Applicants are notified of their results in the lottery by e-mail on the first day of the month following the application period. If, for some reason, you are not notified by the second day of the month, please contact the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument Permit Desk. Be sure to check your spam/junk mail folder first, though. Only one application may be submitted per month. Please do not try to “game the system” by submitting more than one application per month. You will be found out and both applications will be forfeited.
2. Obtain an in-person permit through a daily virtual lottery. Read a first-hand account from someone who hiked The Wave on a walk-in permit.
64 people a day are allowed to hike to Coyote Buttes North and The Wave. 48 will have secured their permits ahead of time by online lottery; the remaining 16 hiking slots can be acquired by in-person/walk-in permit. **Effective March 2022, the lottery for last-minute hiking permits to the Wave will transition to an app-based system, administered by Recreation.gov, whereby visitors may apply for a permit to hike the Wave from their cell phone or other mobile device two days prior to when they wish to hike. Entries will be monitored through a geofence system which limits participation to those physically present within a designated radius around the communities of Page, AZ, and Kanab, UT. Geofence Perimeter Map Successful applicants would then be notified by text to pick up their permits and attend a mandatory safety briefing at the Page-Lake Powell Tourism Hub in Page, AZ, or the Kane County Visitor Center & Office of Tourism in Kanab, UT. Fact Sheet for New Mobile-Based Wave Permit Lottery