The spectacular Wave

Sometimes a hike takes away my breath, not physically, but rather emotionally. It’s exactly what happened when I hiked to see The Wave on the Utah-Arizona state border. This remote and unspoiled desert landscape is a geologic treasure. At the scene, I spent nearly 4 hours soaking in the surreal beauty. I also had my best lunch moment ever. No café in the world can offer such a spectacular setting. Why is it called The Wave? I think my gallery speaks for itself. More details below the photos.

Would I like to come back? For sure! I want to explore the area more thoroughly as I know there are dinosaur footprints to be found. There are also other great hiking trails nearby, so definitely a place that goes into my top list of follow-up-places.

Are you hooked? Only 20 people per day are allowed to enter the area so a little preplanning is required.

Good to know

  1. You need a permit. There’s an online lottery which allocates 10 permits four months in advance of the month for which the permit is sought. Other 10 walk-in permits are available through a lottery at the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Visitor Center (pretty long name, huh?) in Kanab, Utah. The lottery is conducted the day before you wish to hike.
  2. It’s a remote place and you won’t see any convenience features like you do at Grand Canyon. You do get a map that can guide you to The Wave, but don’t expect fancy signs to help you along the way. It’s easy to become disoriented.
  3. If you’re a photo geek (like me), conditions are great when the sun is high. But I’d say anytime during the day is worth a photo, so don’t rush.
  4. It’s a desert! Temperatures typically climb above 110 Fahrenheit in the summer. At the visitor center, they really mean it when they recommend hikers to carry plenty of water and to drink it. Fatalities are not uncommon. You’ll receive this flyer (below) with your permit, just to make sure you get the message.


The Wave is located within the Paria Canyon/Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness. This wilderness is administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Go to their website to apply for a permit and read more about the area. The Wave is part of the Coyote Buttes Permit Area.

The trail

The shortest hike to The Wave begins at the Wire Pass Trailhead. You reach The Wave by hiking approximately 3 miles across open desert, so the round-trip to and from The Wave is nearly a 6-mile hike. Distance is not the factor, but weather can be, so plan and prepare. You get to the trailhead by the scenic House Rock Valley Road, a dirt road that begins about 8.3 miles south of US 89.

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