One of the best hikes in the world is
The Wave is just one of the spectacular features of Coyote Buttes North.
Other hikes in this region are called:
Note - on a busy day there can be 50 people in the daily lottery for 10 hiking permits!
Only 20 hikers allowed to start each day 10 in advance, 10 by lottery drawn 24-hrs prior. If possible get a permit in advance. You need apply on the 1st day of the month, 4-months before you want to hike.
The red dot is THE WAVE , Utah / Arizona border.
AT A GLANCE
- breathtaking sandstone sculptured slopes of the Coyote Buttes in the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness Area
- 6mi (9.7km) plus side-trips
- day hike only
- no overnight stays allowed
- 350ft (107m) elevation change
- best months Oct & late Apr-May but open year round
- worst month is Aug
- easy hiking in good weather
- no public transportation to trailheads
Shares a trailhead with the famous Buckskin Gulch slot canyon.
WHY WE LIKE THIS HIKE
You've certainly seen photos of the Wave. It's gorgeous. We've even heard it called "the most photographed natural formation in the world". (That's a huge exaggeration considering only 20 people a day are allowed access.)
- the quota is a good idea. If it was open to tourist bus tours, for example, the delicate stone would be worn away within a couple of years.
- every nature photographer in the world wants to shoot The Wave
- the Wave is great. But don't miss the "Second Wave" just a little further on. In fact, the rest of the Coyote Buttes is gorgeous too.
- Dogs are allowed. "They must be kept under control at all times."
- hiking permit is inexpensive ($5 / person or dog)
- day hiking the adjacent Wire Pass slot canyon
- visiting nearby Zion and Bryce, and other great SW Parks
- possible to hike year round (August is the worst, wettest month)
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photo - The Mountain Artist - Elizabeth Wiltzen
- it is easy to get lost! There are few signs or marked trails.
- GPS is a great safeguard. (You can find your way back to the trailhead.)
- the cairns are as confusing as they are helpful as some trails lead to other destinations
- don't get caught out after dark
- can be very hot in summer
- bring plenty of drinking water. Dehydration is a real risk. Hikers die in canyon country more often than you would guess.
- the soft sandstone is fragile, try not to damage the ridges
- some say the mid-day light is best for photographers. We thought sunset was wonderful.
- if it rains, your trip may be cancelled. Paria Information Station issues rain checks from March 15 to November 15th. This won't do you much good if your hiking timeline is tight.
- if you really look, you may be able to find: black widow spider, centipede, scorpion, rattlesnake, tarantula. We saw none.
- Page, Arizona and the trailhead are in two different time zones. Check if you are trying to get to the 8:30AM lottery that you are on Utah time.
- you must poop in a bag. (If you've never done it, you are in for an experience. Human/dog waste bags provided free of charge.)
- the mud literally sucks, especially after high water has receded
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The biggest hassle with The Wave is getting a permit. Here's the deal:.
NOON (Mountain Standard Time) on the first day of each month, permits may be obtained up to four months in advance.
At noon MST you should be at a computer making application and phoning at the same time. Double your chances.
If you do not have an advance permit, you may still be able to get on. Check at the Paria Information Station for one of the next day permits. Every day during the summer at 8:30AM Utah time hikers are lined-up at the door.
Off-season (mid-November to mid-March) the lottery runs only 5-days-a-week from . The Paria Information Station issues permits for Saturday, Sunday, and Monday on the previous Friday.
In Oct. 2006, high season, we got permits for both The Wave and Paria Canyon at the next day lottery. (Some hikers seemed to be scared off by poor weather that week. Only 9 people showed for the 10 available spots for The Wave.)
- everyone hikes the same day hiking route starting at Wire Pass trailhead in Utah off Highway 89
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The ultimate challenging 5-6 day itinerary (if you know what you are doing, have the right gear, & perfect weather) is The Wave, to Wire Pass or Buckskin Gulch, through Paria to Lee's Ferry.
If you sign on with a guided trip, logistics will be organized for you. This section is for independent hikers.
- the Wire Pass trailhead and Paria Information Station are both off Highway 89 about halfway between Kanab, Utah and Page, Arizona
- the closest Greyhound bus station is Flagstaff, AZ 143mi (230kms) away
- without your own vehicle, it is really hard to get to the Paria Information Station and the trailhead
- one option is to rent a car in Vegas or Phoenix
- closest hiking gear shop is Willow Canyon Outdoor in Kanab, Utah. There is a Wal-Mart in Page.
click to see a larger image - Google maps
- pick up your hiking permit at Paria Information Station (open Mar 15 to Nov 15, 8:30AM - 4:30PM) 30mi west of Page, Arizona & 44mi east of Kanab, Utah. There they will give you a lengthy, full-colour photo & map hand-out called "Finding the Wave" with GPS, Latitude-Longitude and UTM coordinates (Transverse Mercator projection ). We've never seen any directions this elaborate before. They must have a lot of hikers lost in the past.
- from Highway 89 find the House Rock Valley Road turn-off, south between highway mileage markers 25 and 26
- the Wire Pass trailhead for The Wave is 8.5mi (13.6km) south on House Rock Valley Road which can be in very rough conditions after a rain. After a storm the road is often inaccessible, even with a 4WD. You will likely be able to walk it, however.
- the trailhead is conspicuous, well-marked and has pit toilets but no water. Those hiking Buckskin Gulch also park here.
- use the "Finding the Wave" hand-out from here
- no trail is clearly marked. Don't follow footprints (as we did) as they are just as likely to lead you astray.
- if you get a little off-route, no worries the hand-out gives you photographic clues. There are many ways to get there. Keep your eyes on "the notch" it is directly above The Wave.
Almost everyone hikes The Wave independently. But you can try hiring a guide, if you prefer.
(250) 343-6433 March 1 through November 15, Paria Information Station, or ...
(250) 343-6433 the rest of the year, Kanab Resource Area Office
TRANSPORTATION TO TRAILHEAD
Try these good forks to hire transportation:
BEST HIKING GUIDEBOOKS
No guidebook is needed for The Wave, in reality. But consider adding on the nearby Paria Canyon, Wire Pass or Buckskin Gulch hikes.
OTHER RECOMMENDED BOOKS
- Between a Rock and a Hard Place - Aron Ralston, 2005
- Canyoneering Arizona - Tyler Williams, 2005
- Canyoneering: How to Explore the Canyons of the Great Southwest - John Annerin, 1999
- Land of the Canyons - Laurent Martres, 1999
- Hiking Grand Staircase-Escalante and the Glen Canyon Region - Ron Adkison , 1998
- Photographing the Southwest: Volume 1 - Southern Utah, Laurent Martres
- Photographing the Southwest: Volume 2 - Arizona & New Mexico, Laurent Martres
- Standing Up Country - Canyon Lands of Utah and Arizona, C. G. Crampton, 2000
- Falcon Utah Wildlife Viewing Guide - Jim Cole, 1990
- Falcon Scats and Tracks of the Desert SW - James Halfpenny, 2000
- Moviemaking - Canyon Country Chronicles Greer Chesher
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Some of these are available from the Paria Information Station and other tourist book shops.
Every hiker gets an annotated topo (Coyote Buttes North Navigation map) when they pick up their hiking permit. It's all you need.
BEST WEB PAGES
After this page, the best links are:
BEST PHOTOS & TRIP REPORTS
MOVIES, VIDEOS, DVDs
You may see pieces of old film sets in the region though vandals set fire to the main Paria movie set in 2006.