Is The Wave in Arizona Worth Visiting?

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View of the wave in Arizona

The Wave has been captivating the hearts of crowded sports stadiums for generations. However, in the Grand Canyon state of Arizona, The Wave has an entirely different meaning. Here, you’ll be left speechless by an experience unlike any other.

Millions of people flock to see Grand Canyon National Park each year. In contrast, if you visit The Wave, you can join a much more exclusive club.

So what’s the big deal about The Wave, and should you visit it? Let’s see!

What Is The Wave in Arizona?

The Wave is an incredible geological phenomenon in Northern Arizona near the Utah border. Its swirling rock pattern has bright colors and smooth curves.

The designs result from millions of years of erosion and a process known as lithification. This process takes sand grains and cements them together to form solid rock.

Photographers, hikers, and nature enthusiasts dream of experiencing this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. If you’re one of them, plan to visit the Coyote Buttes North area of Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness Area. Unfortunately, the odds of getting to see and experience it aren’t good.

The park severely limits traffic and uses a lottery system for permits to protect the environment. Each day, 64 lucky visitors get the opportunity to experience it.

However, 48 of those individuals applied four months before the hike. The remaining 16 permits enter the lottery 48 hours in advance.

As we said, the odds of winning aren’t outstanding. There are no official odds, but many believe it’s less than 1% during the peak season and no more than 3% during the off-season. However, permits sell out daily due to limited availability and high demand.

View of the wave in Arizona

How Much Does It Cost to Visit The Wave?

Winning The Wave lottery means paying a fee. Permits for the hike cost $7. It’s important to remember that you must also pick up your pass in person and attend a safety briefing.

Failure to follow the process or meet the required deadlines voids the permit. To avoid any potential issues, familiarize yourself with the requirements beforehand. Since methods can change, we recommend you contact the Coyote Buttes North Lottery page for the most up-to-date information.

How Hard Is the Hike to The Wave in Arizona?

The hardest part of The Wave hike in Arizona is getting the appropriate permit. However, the trek itself isn’t a cakewalk. It’s a 6.7-mile out-and-back trail with an elevation gain of over 1,200 feet. A typical hiker takes just over three hours to complete it. Unfortunately, the hike can be strenuous.

Additionally, the hike doesn’t follow a marked trail. However, it has a few landmarks and cairns to help hikers find their way. You must read a map and have a GPS device. Trust us; this isn’t the type of place where you want to get lost.

While navigating the route, remember to watch your footing. The rocks can be slick, and you may need to scramble in some areas. You’ll want proper balance and placement with each step to avoid falling.

View of the wave in Arizona

Can You See The Wave Without Hiking?

Unfortunately, it is not possible to see or experience The Wave without hiking. It sits in a remote and protected area within Coyote Buttes North area.

No roads or viewing points make it possible to enjoy the magnificent view. You’ll have to cross your fingers, rub your lucky troll doll, and use whatever other good luck charms you might have just to get the permit. Then prepare for the hike out and back.

Tips for Visiting The Wave in Arizona

Does the idea of visiting The Wave appeal to you? If so, we have some crucial tips you should know before making the trip. These tips can help you start your hike on the right foot. Let’s take a look!

Get a Permit

As we’ve mentioned, a permit is essential to visit The Wave in Arizona. You won’t get to experience it without one. Take your time to research and familiarize yourself with the process. Know the rules, regulations, and limitations for the process and the hike.

Applying in advance means starting your planning months ahead of time. You need to know the dates you’ll visit so you can start applying for this hike. Since you’re planning months in advance, you’ll have plenty of time to adjust your itinerary if you win one of the 48 permits.

You’re not entirely out of luck if you don’t snag an advanced reservation. The daily lottery takes place two days ahead of time. However,  a maximum of 16 permits get handed out during this process.

It also doesn’t hurt to check for last-minute cancellations occasionally. However, be ready to act quickly if the opportunity becomes available.

Wear Appropriate Clothing

No matter when you come, it’s essential that you consider what you wear. Temperatures can be intense, and there’s minimal protection from the sun. 

You’ll face extreme temperatures if you visit during the peak summer season. Protect yourself from the sun. Apply sunscreen regularly and wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect your face, neck, and ears.

Sunglasses can help protect your eyes and make it easier to enjoy the views of The Wave in Arizona.

No matter when you visit, you want a quality pair of hiking boots. While you can wear athletic shoes, the grip and support of boots are worth it. Your feet will thank you after hiking six miles on uneven, loose terrain.

Pro Tip: Before your next hike, make sure you know about these Hiking Safety Tips That Could Save Your Life!

A hiker relaxing at the wave in Arizona

Bring Plenty of Water

The Wave is a very remote hike with limited available resources. You won’t find water along the route. You must carry any water you’ll need during the trip.

Carry a gallon of water per person during the hottest part of the year. Whether you choose a hydration bladder or water bottle, ensure you have enough. You don’t want to get several miles into the trail and discover you need more water. You can get dehydrated very quickly.

Respect the Environment

The Wave in Arizona is so hard to visit because officials want to protect it. When visiting, make sure you do your part. Follow Leave No Trace practices and pick up any trash or debris you see from others. If waste and debris pile up, you can bet officials will take action.

While exploring the area, respect the plants and wildlife. Observe them from a distance and avoid removing plants, rocks, or any artifacts you might find. Remember, the vegetation and environment here are fragile; don’t destroy it.

It’s also vital that you are considerate of others. While it might feel like you have The Wave all to yourself, you don’t. Keep noise levels to a minimum and maintain a level of respect for the area, other hikers, and wildlife. 

Report anyone that you see altering or modifying the formations. No matter how much you love someone, carving or writing your initials on the rocks is not the way to show it. If we all do our part, generations of adventurers can enjoy the experience.

Keep in Mind: Camp for free while in Arizona with any RV at these Free Camping sites!

Is The Wave in Arizona Worth It?

The Wave is one of the rarest opportunities when it comes to outdoor adventures. You should take advantage of the opportunity to experience the colors and unique formations, especially if you win the lottery ahead of time. 

While it may take a lot of planning and luck, the opportunity is almost always worth it. It’s typically an experience that most avid hikers always remember.

Do you want to see The Wave in Arizona?

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