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“Bucket List photo location”

The Wave at Coyote Buttes
Ranked #1 of 16 things to do in Big Water
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: The Wave is a sandstone rock formation located near Big Water, Utah on the slopes of the Coyote Buttes, in the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, on the Colorado Plateau. It is famous among hikers and photographers for its colorful, undulating forms, and the rugged, trackless hike required to reach it.
Reviewed 16 December 2013

Like everyone that goes to the Wave, Coyote Buttes North in Vermillion Cliffs in northern Arizona, I had to enter the lottery drawing for one of the 20 permits issued daily.

I entered on Sept. 1 for a December date. I was chosen for Dec. 3.

I booked my hotel in Kanab, Holiday Inn Express. It is close to the BLM permit office and about a 40 minute drive from the road to go to the Wave.

I was told at the permit office that 206 people has been present for the Friday drawing for one of the 10 permits available. On the Monday that I went to the permit office it was to seek a person to go with me on my permit. I had a permit for two and my partner had cancelled. I dound one of the 23 people there to go with me.

I hired a guide through Circle Tours. We both paid $200 for the guide service. We were both disappointed with the guide provided on that day.

However, with a guide they will have a four wheel vehicle. The road to the Wave hiking point is dirt, uneven, bumpy road. If it is wet from rain it is very difficult to drive on without a 4 wheeled vehicle. So that was a plus.

I carried two camera bodies, one with a wide angle lens and the other a zoom. I also carried a tripod and two bottles of water. It was winter and two bottles of water was enough.

This hike is not easy. I have read that on a 10 scale this hike is rated a 7.

The first portion of the hike is over soft, fine grain sand. Very difficult to walk on and a strain on the leg muscles.

Approx. 1/3 of the total distance we hiked, 8.11 miles, was this soft, fine sand.

The other 2/3 of the hike was up and down over rock formations, again a strain of the leg muscles if you are not in good shape. I am 65 and it was a difficult hike for me. The distance to the Wave is appox. 3 miles. Not a straight line and not easy to find.

There are many formations along the hike area that are worthy of photographing.

The Wave area is of course a great photo location. The other hiker/photographers respected each others attempt to get a picuture and shared the space.

There was significant wind while at the location and the blowing sand hurt as it struck my face. I had to cover my eyes to keep sand out. It was also difficult to protect the camera equipment from such fine, blowing sand.

I wore good hiking boots, and a jacket for the cold. However, during the hike as the body temperature went up I took off the jacket.

On the return with 2 miles to the parking lot my upper thigh muscles were hurting and walking on the sand became more difficult. I had to take small steps, find the head winds and keep going. There is no stopping and having someone pick you up. You have to just suck it up and put one foot in front of the other and complete the hike.

Again, it is not an easy hike. The location is great. Photos can be great, but don't think it is an easy day in the park hike. It is not. The hike to the Wave was approx. 2 hours. We spent 2 hours taking picutures and then began the hike back to the parking lot, another 2 hours.

By all means if you go in the heat of the summer, take plenty of water. Know where you are going or hire a guide to get you there and back.

15  Thank IrvineTraveler71
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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"per day"
in 22 reviews
"good luck"
in 13 reviews
"coyote buttes"
in 27 reviews
"on line"
in 12 reviews
"slick rock"
in 9 reviews
"parking lot"
in 16 reviews
"bucket list"
in 10 reviews
"months in advance"
in 8 reviews
"win the lottery"
in 8 reviews
"pay attention"
in 9 reviews
"in december"
in 6 reviews
"mile drive"
in 6 reviews
"hiking shoes"
in 6 reviews
"amazing hike"
in 5 reviews
"ranger station"
in 7 reviews
"high clearance vehicle"
in 7 reviews
"out of this world"
in 6 reviews

130 - 134 of 271 reviews

Reviewed 23 November 2013

My wife and I were 2 of the 58 that showed up at the Kanab Utah BLM office at 8:30 for the 9:00 drawing (be on time they close the door at 9:00 sharp). Each group of hikers up to a total of 6 are allowed to fill out one permit and each permit is assigned a number. They then put all the numbers assigned to a permit in a wheel and randomly draw out the numbers. Each permit is filled until a total of ten people are selected. Our number was drawn 2nd. There were 8 people selected when the last permit number was drawn. That permit was for 3 people. They were given the choice to reduce their number to 2 or let them draw a new number to allow a total of 10 only. The other 48 people in the room left with no permit.We were 2 of the 10 that were given great directions, a map and many helpful tips The $7.00 per person permit is actualy for the following day. We had considered renting a 4 wheel drive for the next day but after talking to the ranger he assured us that our Toyota Pris would make it the 8.4 miles down the washboard dirt road. We took our time and he was right. We would not want to try the road on a wet and rainy day. Following the map is easy if you pay attention and the 6.4 mile round trip is well worth the effort. The wave is all it is made out to be and we look forward to returning and trying the lottery again.

16  Thank eddie81650
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 November 2013

Recently my sister and I were among the 20 people who were lucky to receive a permit to hike the Wave just across the Utah border into Arizona! We obtained our permit online, where only 10 spots are chosen, the other 10 spots are chosen at the BLM station in kanab, Utah...where numerous people show up hoping their name is called to obtain the much coveted permit!
We rented a jeep and headed out to the BLM station just east of house rock valley road, the day before our hike, to talk with rangers about the hike...and we were so glad we did. We received an updated version of the photographic pamphlet showing landmarks to watch when hiking, plus we found out the road conditions, etc... So the next day, we left Kanab at 8:00 a.m. Headed east for about an hour to House rock Valley road, and with our jeep, headed the 8 miles south over a dirt, washboard road, with beautiful vistas of the Utah territory....Soon we came to the parking lot, put our parking permit in the window, logged in, and started hiking up the wash to the trailhead. About 15 minutes down the wash, the Wave trailhead veers to the right, and soon we were heading up a rocky trail that left us just a bit winded.....glancing at our pictured guide from the rangers, we could spot the second landmark, and headed in that direction....at this point the trail is easy to follow, walking through Sandy stretches with lots of footprints.....we soon approached the Saddle, where we ascended a bit over a craggy, stony area....reaching the top of the saddle was easy, then we looked down and saw a small arrow pointing south! A big thank you to the rangers for telling us to look for that! We began to hike south, and stopped to turnaround and remember landmarks that would lead us back to this spot! We also took pictures with our iPhones to document this return point, as this was an area where many get lost! Now heading south, we could see the twin buttes that we must pass on the right. Now we are hiking on slick rock, no path, just following the landmarks! It was a beautiful, cool day, and yet we were thankful to have plenty of water in this very dry area!
Passing the twin buttes, we suddenly could spot, the large black crack in the distance, this crack in a rock formation is right above the wave! Heading straight for the crack, our steps quicken,knowing we are halfway there! Crossing a Sandy wash, now we are heading upwards over craggy walls and rocks, not difficult at all! Suddenly you reach the entrance to the wave and you stand in awe at the waving sandstone walls! just beautiful! There is a peaceful calm , walking among the beautiful striated colors, feeling a gentle breeze, talking with the other lucky hikers with permits, soaking in this awesome wonder! It took us two hours to reach the Wave....we ate our lunch and lingered for an hour and a half....after taking hundreds of photos, we absorbed one last look, and headed out into the beautiful landscape... We felt confident heading back, watching for landmarks, find out our way to the saddle, from there we took a left, heading west to the wash....We took a right down the wash to wire pass, a great slot canyon that leads to Bucksin gulch, the longest slot canyon in North America! Upon reaching the first 6 foot blockage in the pass, we decided to turn around.....Two years ago I tore my ACL at this very spot, trying to head out of Wire Pass, and I didn't want to chance that again!
Hiking the Wave was an experience I will never forget! The hike is easy, but always bring plenty of food and water! We brought a gps Garmin with us, but the rangers say they are not always reliable due to the minerals in the rock it is more fun to watch land formations,
Good luck! And do not attempt to hike the wave without a permit! There is a big fine for that!

24  Thank lovehiking12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 November 2013

I was lucky enough to get a permit to visit The Wave in September '13 while visiting my two cousins who live in Tucson. We are all women, not young, aged 78 ( Me. I also have 2 hip replacements), 78 and 74 but experienced hikers. We had heard stories of the dangers and difficulties, even warned to take a guide, but maybe we were foolhardy or lucky. We found the way without too much trouble with the help of the BLM information, no GPS, and it was possible in many places to see the footprints of previous walkers. We took plenty of water although not a gallon, and food and wore sensible clothing and shoes, as advised. It was hot, but probably not as bad as earlier in the year. The heat reflecting off the rock has to be taken into account though. We set off from Kanab in the dark and started the walk about 8.00a.m. took about 2 1/2 hours. We had plenty of time for taking photos and exploring and returned in early afternoon, getting back to trailhead about 4,30p.m. A perfect day. Unforgettable. Goes without saying that the place lives up to expectations.

4  Thank Welshwalker2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 24 October 2013

I applied and won a permit to hike The Wave during the first week of October. Little did I know that the government shutdown would occur to disrupt my husband's and my two-week trip to Utah. Because I considered my chance to hike The Wave a once in a lifetime opportunity, my husband and I did not cancel our vacation plans. My internet research led me to believe that BLM areas were still accessible to hikers. I never received an official notice not to proceed with the hike. On my scheduled day to hike The Wave, my husband and I drove to the Wirepass trailhead early in the morning. There were quite a few people there, camping and hanging out. Someone told me that the ranger would soon be coming to the trailhead. When I took out my pink permit and attached it to my backpack, people jumped out of their cars and lined up behind me and my husband. I had the directions, and they did not! Some of these people were from China, Germany, and, of course, the US. I'm not sure if this is a regular occurrence or if people thought they could take advantage of the shutdown.

The hike to The Wave went well. The weather was perfect, the directions were easy to follow, and we made great time getting there. (My husband and I would have like to do the hike and visit by ourselves, but we had our entourage.) Everyone was overwhelmed with the beauty . I noticed that everyone spoke in a hushed voice as if this were a place of reverence. My husband and I took hundreds of pictures. I really don't feel that the pictures we took captured how fabulous this place is. The colors and light are so intense, and we are amateur photographers.

In total, my husband and I spent about 7 hours in the area around The Wave. On the way back to Wirepass, we did not followed the same route back. Evidently, the ranger was ticketing people coming back from The Wave on the regular route.

My thoughts on the hike: It was a wonderful experience. Don't do it in the summer months. I can easily see how people would be overcome with heat and fatigue in hot weather. Carry the recommended amount of water. Do internet research before the hike so you will know what to expect.

Another comment: There has been recent controversy about why the BLM limits the number of people to visit each day. The recent incident in Goblin State Park in Utah shows how some people treat beautiful and unique places. In The Wave, I found trash, water bottles, (even a man's jockey shorts!). Some areas have to be protected.

19  Thank lovetotravelSc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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