The Wave is a sandstone rock formation comprised of intersecting u-shaped troughs eroded in Jurassic era (200 million years ago) Navajo sandstone. Highlighted in this iconic formation are large sections of cross-bedded (cross-stratification) eolian (wind) sandstone, laid down by the alternating and cyclical prevailing winds of the era. Deformed laminae and the irregularities that define the terrain are really highlighted in the "trough" of The Wave - this soft-sediment deformation produces the iconic swirling patterns commonly seen in the many photographs of the formation. Some of the deformation was created by water flowing though the soft-sediment sand, while other patterns may have been attributed to dinosaurs walking through the sand prior to the hardening or lithification process.
In other words - The Wave is a striking, otherworldly formation that used to be a Desert Dinosaur Oasis!
But it is so much more than just a geological wonder. It is stunning. It is breathtaking. A panacea for the soul. A place to recharge and find the answers you've been searching for. It is a place that will stay with you long after you leave.
There are places that are all hype, but fall short of living up to the promise. The Wave is certainly not one of those places - it delivers as promised and then some. Pictures do not do it justice, you simply have to see it to believe it.
The first step in going to The Wave is to secure a permit. This can be done through advanced or daily lotteries. The Bureau of Land Management governs this lottery and can be entered by visiting the Recreation.Gov website linked below
The Wave is a beautiful sandstone formation in Northern Arizona, just South of the Utah border, within the Coyote Buttes North section of the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument. This delicate and iconic landscape is protected by the Bureau of Land Management, with only 64 people per day allowed to enter, as selected through advanced and daily lotteries.
GPS Coordinates: 36°59′45.8″N 112°0′21.9″W - in Northern Arizona, just a few miles from the Arizona/Utah border. The Wave is within the Coyote Buttes North section of the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument and requires approximately 45 miles of travel from Page, Arizona to reach the Wire Pass Trailhead.
There are two different lotteries - advanced and daily. These are governed by the Bureau of Land Management and can be entered via the recreation.gov website. Advanced lotteries can be entered from anywhere, but the daily lottery requires you are within this Geofence of either Kanab, Utah or Page, Arizona two days prior to the permit date.
This is a difficult one to answer. "Bad" is a relative term. There are periods where even high-clearance 4x4 vehicles cannot manage the road. The road is not paved, is quite rocky, full of washboard, flash-flood zones, and comprised of a lot of Southern Utah red clay. When wet, travel on this road is not at all recommended. After storms, it is not uncommon for the road to be deeply rutted, and for there to be large amounts of vehicle shrapnel - bumpers, wheel-wells, fenders, tires, hubcaps, etc - strewn about. Check the weather and road-conditions before heading out. Or, better yet, hire a guide!
That depends. While the hike - 6.7 miles total for just the Wave and back - is often listed as moderate or intermediate, it can certainly present great difficulty for some. The Wave is situated at 5225' above sea-level in an area that is prone to weather extremes. It is not uncommon for this region to be well below freezing in the Winter and in excess of 100 degrees in the summer months.The trail provides little to no shade and full-exposure to the elements. It is recommended that you take a gallon of water per person, particularly in the summer months.
From the Wire Pass Trailhead to The Wave, you will walk through a variety of terrain: rocky washes,some steep inclines, and a lot of sandy or sloped sections. In winter months, you might have to navigate stretches of snow and ice.
While the hike is often cited as 6.7 total miles, this represents the total mileage going directly to The Wave and back. Most people, however, walk closer to 8 miles, as they may not take a direct path and/or wander around Coyote Buttes North exploring some of the other attractions.
Your permit is for far more than just The Wave - within the permit area of Coyote Buttes North you will find other incredible formations like Top Rock Arch, The Alcove, Melody Arch, Sand Coves, The Dinosaur Dancefloor, Fatali's Boneyeard, Dino Trackway, and more!
We highly recommend hiring a guide to help mitigate some of the dangers associate with hiking The Wave.
The permit is for Coyote Buttes North, The Wave being only one of the amazing formations to see within the boundaries. Most people go directly to The Wave and back, often missing some fantastic spots along the way!
Our certified, professional guides always aim to maximize your time within the permit area, hoping to show you the full "Wave Loop Trail":
Not everybody who wins the permit is able to see these additional attractions, as they can be physically demanding and not suitable for those with fear of heights.
Directly to The Wave and back is roughly 6.7 miles; adding the full Wave Loop takes this to approximately 9.2+ miles.
As long as you have successfully won a permit through the BLM lottery, you are allowed to enter on your own.
It is highly recommended, however, that you do hire a guide for transport, safety, information, and to get the most out of your day in Coyote Buttes North. A guide can help you seer other amazing sites within the permit area - The Second Wave, Top Arch, Melody Arch, The Alcove, Fatali's Boneyard, and more!
Don't risk getting lost or stranded - hire a guide. We recommend Lake Powell Scenic Tours out of Page, AZ. They are BLM/NPS certified and locally owned and operated.