The Wave

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One of our top 10 day hikes in the world

The Wave

Only 20 hikers / day are allowed access. The BLM is considering an increase to a maximum of 96 per day .

Getting a permit is the BIG problem.

AT A GLANCE

  • on the Utah-Arizona border, halfway between Page, Arizona and Kanab, Utah in the Paria Canyon/Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness
  • in 2014 about 50,000 applied for permits. Only 15% were granted.
  • Wire Pass trailhead located in North Coyote Buttes permit area of the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
  •  5.2 miles return
  • you can go any month of the year, if you can tolerate the heat

How to apply for a permit

  1. advanced online lottery ($5 non-refundable fee) 4 months ahead of start date
  2. in-person lottery at the BLM Visitors Center in Kanab, Utah

Your odds are better if applying alone. December – February might be slightly easier months.

If successful, the permit cost is $7 / person.

BestHike editor Rick McCharles got lucky in 2006 walking into the Visitor Center in Kanab UT and got a permit for the following day. (He had slept in his car in the parking lot to be sure to be at the door on opening.)

The Wave consists of intersecting U-shaped troughs that have been eroded  into Navajo Sandstone of Jurassic age.

Above and slightly west of the Wave is what many call “the Second Wave“, which has fainter colours but is still of interest to most visitors and photographers.

Why We Like This Hike

  • the colours, the colours
  • magical and wonderful geology
  • nearby dinosaur tracks
  • There are many, many other excellent hikes in the area. You won’t be disappointed even if you fail to get a walk-in permit for The Wave.
by Horseshoe Bend

Considerations

  • can be hot and dusty
  • bring sun protection
  • no mobile phone service
  • dogs are allowed
  • carry the water you need
  • the drive from Kanab to the Wire Pass trailhead is about an hour. The last 8 miles along House Rock Valley Road can be impassable at times due to flash flood. BLM recommends a high clearance 4-wheel drive or AWD vehicle, if possible
  • hikers must display half their permit on their vehicle windshield and the other half visible on the outside of their backpack
  • permits non-refundable and non-transferable

Trekking Guides

Not needed. Do this hike on your own.

Local Information

Bureau of Land Management
Kanab Visitors Center
745 East Highway 89
Kanab, UT 84741
Highway 89, 1 mile east of junction with alternate 89.
435-644-1300
escalante_interagency (a) blm.gov

 

Bearfoot Theory

Best Trekking Guidebooks

Not needed. BLM will give you a simple map.

Best Travel Guidebooks

Best Web Pages

“But, I thought you said it was called ‘the Wave’?”

Best Trip Reports

Movies

Click PLAY or watch the OFFICIAL video on YouTube.

Questions? Suggestions? Leave a comment on this page. Our editors will reply.