How To Get A Permit For The Wave Arizona

A once hidden gem is now found!

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.[1] 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:

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.

For more information regarding the Wave go to www.thewaveaz.com

The breakdown for the entire year would look like this:

While waiting for your permit, check out Antelpe Canyon!

Upper Antelope Canyon

So you’ve decided to tour both Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon on your upcoming vacation to Northern Arizona. Great!
Most Popular
Application PeriodMonth You Wish To HikeLottery Drawn at Noon MST or 1:00 PM MDT On
January 1 – 31MayFebruary 1
February 1 – 28JuneMarch 1
March 1 – 31JulyApril 1
April 1- 30AugustMay 1
May 1 – 31SeptemberJune 1
June 1 – 30OctoberJuly 1
July 1 – 31NovemberAugust 1
August 1 – 31DecemberSeptember 1
September 1 – 30JanuaryOctober 1
October 1 – 31FebruaryNovember 1
November 1 – 30MarchDecember 1
December 1 – 31AprilJanuary 1

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.

  1. Obtain a walk-in permit. 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 walk-in permit at the Kanab Center Gymnasium at 20 North 100 East,  Kanab, Utah  84741  For more information, phone (435) 688-3200, or email – blm_az_asdoweb@blm.gov

General Notes:

  • The hike from Wire Pass Trailhead to The Wave is approximately 6 miles round-trip. It is considered “moderate” in terms of degree of difficulty. Individuals should be in reasonably good health and have some desert hiking experience before attempting this trip. Those who wish to go further may opt to visit Top Rock Arch, Second Wave, Melody Arch and Dinosaur Tracks, which will extend your hike to 8 miles round-trip.
  • Remember this is a desert environment; water and shade are scarce to non-existent. You are responsible for providing your own food and water. 3 liters of water per person and high-energy snacks with moderate salt content are recommended. If you encounter a pool of water in this area, please avoid wading through it unless absolutely necessary. Do not drink from these pools or allow dogs to do so.
  • There is no “established” trail to The Wave. Many report getting lost on the way in and/or on the way out of the main scenic area. Markers such as cairns are not provided (please don’t make your own) and signs are kept to a bare minimum. Keep the maps you receive from the BLM handy throughout your hike and bring a portable GPS device if desired.
  • There is no cell phone service in the area. Please inform friends and family of your plans, and be sure to sign in at the register box at Wire Pass Trailhead.
  • The House Rock Valley Road, the only means of accessing the Wire Pass Trailhead, may be rendered impassable in wet weather. Even in favorable conditions, it can be bumpy and sandy. A vehicle with sufficiently high clearance to navigate these obstacles is recommended. If you are uncomfortable driving in these conditions, you may wish to hire a guide service. Using a guide does not exclude you from the permit requirement, nor does it increase your chances of getting one.  
  • You must pack out all trash, including your own waste. Burying or burning toilet paper is not allowed.
  • Dogs are allowed, but they must be kept leashed at all times. They are subject to a $7.00 per animal entrance fee (which doesn’t count against the ‘human’ quota), and you are required to pack out their waste as well.  
  • No overnight camping or fires are allowed in the Coyote Buttes area.
  • Again, The Wave is in high-demand year-round. Statistically speaking, your chances are slim that you will get a permit. You should have a “plan B” in mind if you are not selected for an online or walk-in permit. Areas you might consider exploring include but are not limited to: Coyote Buttes South (a permit is required, but these tend to be easier to get), White Pocket FoldSteamboat RockCobra ArchBuckskin Gulch or The “New” Wave near Page, AZ.

For more information regarding the Wave go to www.thewaveaz.com

Comments Section

145 Responses

    1. Hey Tammy,
      According to Recreation.gov, who administer issuance of Wave permits via the online lottery, “Violators of group size may be cited if limit is exceeded. Joining with those on a separate permit to exceed 6 is prohibited.” You might have to have half your group apply for permits on one day, then the other half the following or prior day.
      Since the likelihood is low anyway that any portion of your group will be successful in obtaining a Coyote Buttes North hiking permit, another way you might experience The Wave — which will be kind of pricey, but most find well worth the cost — would be to fly over it. Airplanes and helicopters can be chartered out of the Page Municipal Airport (PGA). Mornings are the best time to fly for lack of wind, optimal lighting, and to ensure natural quiet during peak hiking times. For more information on flying over the Wave, and alternate areas you might visit, please go to our companion site, http://www.TheWaveAZ.com: So You Didn’t Get A Wave Permit, Now What?
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

    1. Hi Stacy,
      Since your comment was posted on the “How To Get A Wave Permit” article, I assume you are referring to hiring a guide to The Wave.
      The answer to when, would be when you are notified of having successfully received a Coyote Buttes North hiking permit through the online lottery, which is held 4 months in advance. There are over a dozen authorized companies who can escort you to The Wave, or suggest alternate areas in the likely event you do not succeed at getting a hiking permit in the online lottery. For the complete list, visit our companion site, TheWaveAZ.com: Hire A Guide
      If you are not successful at obtaining a Wave permit in the online lottery, your other option would be to try for a walk-in permit through the in-person lottery, which is held the day prior to when you wish to hike at the Kanab Center Gymnasium. If you are successful at obtaining a North Coyote Buttes hiking permit in this manner, you may have a harder time hiring a guide on such short notice. The good news is, you don’t necessarily need a guide to get to The Wave. If you get a permit, either via the online or in-person lottery, you will be issued a detailed map with directions to the Wire Pass Trailhead, and Coyote Buttes North.
      Hope that helps. If you have further questions, please contact me directly at horseshoe.bend.az@gmail.com
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  1. Hi there
    I was wondering how busy and what are the chances of getting a ticket for 2 people to the wave for the walk in lottery on Thur 30th Sept and Fri 1st Oct are?
    Regards

    1. Hi Jane,
      Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but your chances of getting a Wave permit aren’t great at that time of year, primarily because late September/early October are prime times to hike The Wave. This is due to cooler, mostly stable weather that tends to predominate in autumn.
      Since the online lottery for September took place in May, your only chance at this point is to get a permit through the walk-in lottery, which takes place daily at the Kanab Center Gymnasium in Kanab, UT.
      In the likely event you are unable to secure a hiking permit for North Coyote Buttes, you might consider flying over the area in a fixed-wing airplane or helicopter. These can be chartered out of the Page Municipal Airport in Page, AZ. Touring aircraft would not land at The Wave, but you would get to see a ton of incredible scenery in addition to The Wave in a relatively short time in the air. For more information, visit our companion site, TheWaveAZ.com: So You Didn’t Get A Wave Permit, Now What?
      If the prospect and/or price tag of flying doesn’t appeal, you might consider hiking The New Wave and Radio Tower Rock Loop near Page, AZ. This small but interesting cluster of rock formations bears a slight resemblance to The Wave, is a relatively easy walk conveniently located near the Glen Canyon Dam, and best of all, doesn’t require a permit.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  2. if i submit an application for say 3 people and it ends up just being me that goes…. will that open up extra slots for other people? I’m not sure if all in my party can go but i dont want to take away from other peoples chances…

    1. Hey Simone,
      If you book 3 slots and end up cancelling two, that will open up the slots for other people. However, before booking (and paying for) any seats, you should be aware of your chosen tour company’s cancellation policy, specifically, whether you would be refunded for the seats you cancel, and how far in advance you would need to do so in order to avoid any penalties.
      Hope that helps. Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  3. Hello,

    Is it possible to make a reservation before November 4 for the waves? We’d love to hear from you!

    Kind regrets,

    Anouk de Jong

    1. Hi Anouk,
      It’s not so much a matter of making reservations, you must obtain a hiking permit for the Coyote Buttes North Area. A lottery is held on-line for the majority of permits 4 months in advance, so November’s permits were dispensed last month. An in-person lottery is held at the Kanab Center Gymnasium the day BEFORE one wishes to hike, every morning at 8:30 AM local time. So, you would want to be in Kanab, UT, the morning of November 3rd no later than 8:30 AM. For more information, visit our companion site, http://www.TheWaveAZ.com
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

    1. Hi Shilpa,
      I’m afraid the online lottery period for July Wave permits has already passed (it was held in March). Your only hope at this point is to take part in the walk-in lottery, which is held at the Kanab Center Gymnasium, the day prior to when you wish to hike. In the very likely event you are unable to secure Wave hiking permits in this manner, another option would be to charter an airplane or helicopter over Coyote Buttes. While neither aircraft would be able to land in the area, and this service would be pricey, you would get to see a ton of amazing scenery in addition to The Wave.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  4. Hey! I would like to know if can we get the permit to visit The wave between the dates July 05-10 2021. we are 4 persons. Thank you

    1. Hi Elisa,
      I’m afraid the online lottery period for July Wave permits has already passed (it was held in March). Your only hope at this point is to take part in the walk-in lottery, which is held at the Kanab Center Gymnasium, the day prior to when you wish to hike. In the very likely event you are unable to secure Wave hiking permits in this manner, another option would be to charter an airplane or helicopter over Coyote Buttes. While neither aircraft would be able to land in the area, and this service would be pricey, you would get to see a ton of amazing scenery in addition to Coyote Buttes. Chartering a flight over The Wave
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  5. Is it still the case that the walk-in lottery on Friday morning gives the permits for Sat., Sun., and Mon.? Or is it now daily (for the following day) on weekends as well? We planning to try for a walk-in permit in a few weeks. Thanks!

    1. Hi Peter,
      The walk-in lottery for the Wave is typically held 7 days a week over the summer months. If a weekend day falls on a holiday, such a July 4th being on a Sunday this year, they may hold the lottery on Friday for Saturday, Sunday, and Monday at the Kanab Center Gymnasium. If you have any questions about that call (435) 644-1300.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  6. If 4 of us want to go, can each person apply individually for a permit for a group of 4? Or do you need to list the other people in your group by name, with only 1 permit application allowed with the same name on it?

    1. Hi Karla,
      This is a really good question, unfortunately, the answer is “no.” Such actions are considered as attempts to “game the system,” which would result in the disqualification of all entries.
      The good news is that the permit quota has been increased, with applying for the online lottery giving you the best chance.
      Still, statistically, the odds are not in your favor for getting a permit for The Wave, so it’s best to start thinking of “Plan B’s,” the most popular being White Pocket. While this area doesn’t require a permit to visit, a guided tour is strongly recommended, since the access road is very sandy and quite hazardous to those inexperienced at 4×4/off-road driving. There are several companies offering tours to White Pocket, but the ones we’re most familiar with are Paria Outpost & Outfitters and Dreamland Safari Tours.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

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