A Guide to getting Permits and Hiking The Wave in Coyote Buttes North
Updated: Sep 12, 2021
The Wave is an Extraordinary example of natures artistry at it's finest. Located in Coyote Buttes North, The Wave and the surrounding area has everything you are looking for in an outdoor experience, Breathtaking Views, The Wave, Arches and Mountain Top Sand Dunes just to name a few.
The Wave itself is absolutely breathtaking. It is one of those places that makes you question how anything like this can exist on earth. The contours of the way the sandstone is naturally carved out by the wind and the angles these carvings took place are spectacular. The different minerals that are embedded in the sandstone make for an almost fluorescence to the scenery. This place took our breath away.
Beyond the Wave
There are so many Gorgeous places beyond The Wave to explore, too. Here are just a couple of the places we got to. There is so much to see out here. We hit as many as we could before sundown.
The Second Wave
The Second Wave is a formation like The Wave except it sprawls out on a long shallow stretch. It probably runs a good 30 to 40 feet along the side of the mountain. This is located just beyond The Wave.
This is located almost at the top of the mountain just behind the wave. It is harder to navigate your way up there because again, no trails. So, you have to find a point of reference to shoot for and figure out the path of least resistance to get there. It is worth the hike if you can do it. It is a wind carved bowl in the mountain with a 30 to 40 foot sand dune in it. Really cool stuff.
Melody Arch and The Grotto
This one was a bit tougher to navigate. We found ourselves overshooting the easiest path to get there and ended up climbing up and over a part of the mountain we probably didn't need to, but, it turned out that part of the mountain we crossed was a really cool section of hike with some awesome formations. Looking outside of Melody Arch gives you a gorgeous view of the whole valley below.
There is a whole section of dinosaur tracks fossilized in part of the trail. It is a cool stop but ONLY if you have already explored everything you wanted to see.
It was a cool highlight and worth mentioning, but, for us it wasn't at the top of our list.
The Mini Wave
This section of the hike was a really cool addition to our hike. On the way back to camp we popped off and explored this little section. It is called The Mini Wave and it is a small section that resembles The Wave in all aspects (color, wind erosion, etc.) just in a bite size little chunk. It was a really cool spot.
There are some other places in here like The Boneyard that we would've loved to explore, too. Unfortunately at one point we had to start prioritizing what we wanted to get to before sundown.
How to Get a Permit
Permits are a MUST! There are heavy fines for hiking Coyote Buttes North. If you are pirating a journey into this area and are caught, the fines can be upwards of $10,000. To me as beautiful and majestic as this area is, it still isn't worth a $10,000 permit. So, please take that into consideration and understand the permit system for a place like this is (in our opinion) fantastic. It keeps the land from getting destroyed.
There are two ways to get permits for The Wave. You can apply Online and (if you're hanging out in the area and feeling ambitious) you can apply for a Walk-in Permit via Application Lottery. We got our permit December 3rd of 2020. At that time, The Bureau of Land Management was only allowing 20 people per day in (yup you read that right!). As of January 11, 2021 they increased the number of people allowed to enter Coyote Buttes North to 64 total people and/or 16 groups, whichever comes first. 48 of these spots or 12 groups are issued online and 16 spots or 4 groups are issued walk in lottery.
If you are applying for permits Online you can do it here at recreation.gov . When applying for a permit online you are going to be applying for a permit that is four months from the month you apply. So, for instance if you are applying for a permit in June you will actually be applying for a date in October. The lottery application fee is $9 and the recreation fee is $7 per person if you are granted a permit. You are probably more likely to get permits in the winter months, but you may be at risk of having snow on the trail and at The Wave itself and if you are planning on exploring beyond The Wave it may be difficult if not impossible to see things like Melody Arch and The Alcove. If you are applying for a summer permit make sure you take a TON of water because I am sure this place gets crazy hot during the summer months.
Walk in Permits
If you are in the area and you are wanting to test your luck at The Walk-in Lottery you can do it at the Kanab Center. Here:
From March 15th to November 15th they issue permits every day. In the winter months (November 16th to March 14th) they issue permits on Friday for the Weekend and Monday. All of them are at 9 am, so, get there early. Again winter months, your chances of getting a permit are way better. Spring and fall months I assume are the hardest to get, and (if you can deal with the heat) the summer months are probably good too. Just make sure to take a TON of water.
Getting to "The Wave"
After obtaining a permit BLM will give you a briefing on how the whole experience is going to work out. Your permit will be good for the whole day into the night. They provide you with a map that will guide you to The Wave, giving you landmark references to navigate your way through Coyote Buttes North. The land is an open exploration with very few trail markers. So, if you are an inexperienced hiker and you don't feel comfortable navigating your way around the land it may be a great idea to hire a Guide. A bonus on hiring a guide: they can get you to destinations beyond the wave not many people get to see.
We started our journey at Wire Pass Trailhead. There is parking just across the way. If you get there early you will be able to find a parking spot no problem. Plus, you'll want to start your hike as early as possible to make the most of the day.
The road getting to the parking lot is a bit rough, so, be prepared for a bumpy ride. I heard the road can get washed out at times after a heavy rain. Take it slow and be aware of road and weather conditions.
Coyote Buttes North is a gorgeous place to explore. One of the biggest bonuses to this hike is that it is open exploration. There are no designated trails to stay on. It is all free roam. They do have a few trail markers at the beginning of the trail to help guide you through the area at the start of the trail (depending on which way you are going). The hike to "The Wave" is about a 6 mile out and back moderate/hard hike.
Hiring A Guide
If you are an inexperienced hiker it might be a good idea to hire a guide. There is so much to see beyond The Wave and if that is something you are interested in, we would hate to see you miss out. I'm not going to pretend I know a lot about this, but, I did do a bit of research. Just enough to give you a jumping off point to find a hired guide to seeing all of the gorgeous things this amazing place has to offer. We are not affiliated with any of these companies. I just did a bit of research to find the ones that I would look into more. This is your journey, so, pick a guide that feels right to you.
Paria Outpost & Outfitters - These guys also seem to be really good and mentioned a lot when searching for guides.
Seeking Treasure Adventures - I've seen a lot of really good reviews on these guys. It seems like a really good company to look into.
Kanab Tour Company - These guys have a ton of great reviews and is a local company in Kanab.
Hopefully that gives you a good place to start. Again, this is your journey, so, find a guide that you feel good about.
Things to Bring: A good Daypack with The 10 Essentials:
Navigation: Map, Gps Device, Personal Locater Beacon (Garmin inReach) Compass
Sun Protection: Sun Protective Clothing, Sunglasses & Sunscreen
Headlamp: Extra Batteries
First Aid Kit: Bandages, Foot Care, Insect Repellent, Epi Pen, Allergy Meds
Knife: Plus Gear Repair Kit
Fire: Lighter, Matches, Tinder and/or Stove
Shelter: Carried at all times. (Light Emergengy Bivy)
Extra Food: Beyond the minimum expectation.
Extra Clothes: Base Layers, Warm Clothing for unexpected weather, Beanie
Extra Water: Water Filter (Sawyer) Water Treatment Tablets (Aquatabs) Electrolyte Tabs (Nuun Hydration Sport) is my personal go to)
I Know this is a List is of The 10 Essentials but I wanted to add 1 more thing I personally like to have. I like to always have a Power Bank (Anker) in case of emergencies to keep my devices charged. Phone, Garmin inReach, etc.
If you got your permit to hike The Wave CONGRATS!!! If you haven't and this is a place you want to hike DON'T GIVE UP! Honestly, it is all luck of the draw. Keep going after it! It is more than worth it.
As always safe travels, be adventurous, and pack it in pack it out!