Pets allowed
Allowed
Elevation Gain
?
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
6.00 mi (9.66 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The Wave is a truly remarkable geological formation famous in outdoor and photography communities. Given the access restrictions to the area, the hype about this formation is immense; it is also completely justified. The Wave is a unique Navajo Sandstone rock formation dating to the Jurassic period. Early erosion occurred due to infrequent runoff, but it is now is almost exclusively wind driven. The result of this erosion is the exposure of spectacular eolian cross bedding in the sandstone, present as innumerable ridges and ripples. 

The Wave is located in North Coyote Buttes, which is a visitor use limited section of the Paria Canyon-Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness on the Arizona and Utah state line. Only 20 persons are allowed to enter the North Coyote Buttes area per day. Permits are awarded via two lottery systems, and 10 individuals are awarded permits from each: (1) an online lottery held four months in advance or (2) an in-person lottery held one day prior to the permit date. Current and detailed information on the lottery system can be found here.

The trek to the wave begins from Wire Pass Trailhead, but it follows no established trail. Rather, the route traverses mostly slickrock and sand terrain. The BLM does not place permanent signs or cairns in the wilderness, but it does provide a pamphlet with useful images and GPS coordinates. Still, good backcountry navigation skills are necessary. Even in "cooler" months heat can be oppressive given that the terrain is largely exposed to the elements. Between the extreme environmental conditions and the lack of any permanent water sources in the vicinity, it is recommended that you begin your adventure early in day.  

Numerous additional adventures are available in this area if a permit can not be obtained, including adventures in South Coyote Buttes, Wire Pass, and Buckskin Gulch. At times, travel on House Rock Valley Road will require high clearance and/or four-wheel drive. Check with BLM stations in the area to determine the latest road condition information.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring
Fall

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

Coyote Buttes North Permit

Pros

Remarkable geology. Undeveloped wilderness. Numerous nearby additional adventure opportunities.

Cons

Difficult to acquire a permit. Heat and sun exposure dangers.

Trailhead Elevation

4,820.00 ft (1,469.14 m)

Net Elevation Gain

330.00 ft (100.58 m)

Features

Backcountry camping
Big vistas
Geologically significant

Typically multi-day

No

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

Comments

02/29/2016
Worth the wait for the permit. Was lucky and was 2 for 4 attempts. I think I am up to 2 out of 14. So many trying to get there. Amazing hike. Great views. Bring plenty of water.
07/14/2018
This is a must do Hike. Beautiful, amazing !
My husband and I had the privilege of hiking The Wave in May, 2006. For almost 2 hours we were the only ones there. Absolutely amazing, special place.

Even in mid-May temps were in the high 90s. Take more water than you think you'll need and enjoy any shade you can find.

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