Wave with snow

Coyote Buttes North is in the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness area and is known for having some of the most visually stunning sandstone formations in the world. Hiking in Coyote Buttes North to see the Wave requires a permit that you must acquire through the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Only 64 people per day can hike to the Wave, so you will need to plan ahead to get a Wave permit.

In this post, I’m going to cover the following:

  • Online permit process
  • In-person permit process
  • Backup plan
  • Recommended gear

Online Wave Permit Process

To obtain a Wave permit online, you will need to enter a lottery four months in advance.  For example, let’s say you hope to hike to the Wave in April. You will want to start the Wave permit process between December 1 and December 31.

Here is the process you would follow:

  • Go to the Permit Page four months in advance.
  • Follow the directions, choosing up to three possible entry dates.
  • Receive notification via e-mail the 1st of the following month if your lottery application was successful or unsuccessful. If you were successful, you will only be given a permit for one of your selected entry dates.
  • Accept your permits by the 15th of that month. If you do not receive an e-mail, call 877-444-6777 to check the status.  Failure to accept your permits will result in your permits being surrendered. No exceptions.
Wave permit dates

Limits are based on people and groups visiting the area each day. A daily maximum of 48 people or 12 groups (whichever comes first) is awarded through the online lottery system.

Walk-In Lottery Wave Permit Process

Currently, the walk-in lottery takes place daily at 8:30 a.m. at the Kanab Center, 180 E 100 N Kanab, Utah. (NOTE: This is NOT the BLM Kanab Visitor Center.)

The lottery procedures and timing go as follows:

  • 8:00 a.m. – The lottery opens to group leaders only. Only one person per group is admitted into the building. Be sure to bring your own pen or pencil to fill out the application. If more than one member from your group submits an application and the BLM staff catches you, your group will be disqualified from the lottery.
  • 8:30 a.m. – The initial Wave lottery briefing starts, and BLM staff begins accepting applications. When you complete your application, you will need to have the license plate number of the vehicle you will be parking at the trailhead and your emergency contact information.
  • 9:00 a.m. – BLM staff stops accepting applications. The drawing for the walk-in lottery begins.
  • 9:15-10:00 a.m. – The BLM holds a safety orientation for applicants whose number was drawn during the lottery.

There are a couple of other things to note should you win a permit at the walk-in lottery. First, you must pay for walk-in permits with either exact cash or check. The BLM may or may not be able to make change, and there is no ATM available. They do not accept credit cards. Second, you will be required to have a government issued ID.

To ask specific questions regarding the lottery, call 435-644-5033/1300. You can also find more information on the BLM website.

Sixteen permits or four groups (whichever comes first) are available for the walk-in lottery.

Coyote Buttes North

Recommended Gear for Hiking the Wave

So, you were lucky enough to win a Wave permit. Here’s the gear you should take with you:

 

  • Phone + charger
  • Headlamp + extra batteries
  • 1 gallon of water per person
  • Lunch and plenty of snacks
  • 20-30L day backpack
  • Hiking shoes with good grip
  • Gaiters for the sandy sections
  • GPS unit or phone with the AllTrails map downloaded (people do get a little lost as there are no trail markers after the first mile or so)
  • Hiking clothes appropriate for the season
  • Hat to block the sun
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Hiking poles
  • Camera
  • Permit

Backup Plan

Don’t drive all the way to Kanab to participate in the walk-in lottery without a backup plan. Even though you have a higher chance of scoring a permit at the walk-in lottery, the odds are still not in your favor.  If you end up not getting a Wave permit, there are several great hikes and other sandstone formations that are just as spectacular! 

Some of my favorite destinations / hikes in the Kanab area include the following:

  1. Explore White Pocket (requires high clearance 4×4)
  2. Hike Coyote Buttes South (you still need a permit, but if you go in the off season, you are almost guaranteed a spot)
  3. Hike Wire Pass to Buckskin Gulch
  4. Visit Coral Pink Sand Dunes
  5. Visit / tour Best Friends Animal Sanctuary (maybe plan to volunteer!)
  6. Hike Buckskin Gulch to Edmaier’s Secret (image on left)
  7. Hike Squaw Trail (image on right)

Want to backpack in the area? Check out our guide on Backpacking Buckskin Gulch and Paria Canyon.

Edmaiers Secret
Written by Cindy Bird Vance

Written by Cindy Bird Vance

Co-founder and Backpacking Guide

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