The Wave, Arizona (Coyote Buttes): Permits, Lottery, Hiking, and Camping

Ultimate Guide for The Wave, Arizona: Permits, Lottery & Hiking

Located in Northern Arizona, near the Utah border, is one of the most difficult-to-visit areas of public land in the United States. This small area inside of the Coyote Buttes North region known as “The Wave” is famous as it is where orange and white swirls of sandstone come together to form a perfect wave.

Hundreds of thousands of people attempt to visit The Wave every year, but very few actually have the opportunity. The BLM (Bureau of Land Management) operates the land and only issues 64 visitor permits for a daily visit. Of those, 48 are issued via an advanced online lottery, and the other 16 via a daily online lottery.

If The Wave is on your bucket list, as it should be, getting a permit will take some patience, persistence, and a bit of luck. Check out our ultimate guide below. It will help you with any and every question ranging from how to get one of those elusive Wave permits, what to bring, what to expect at the Wave, and how to get to Coyote Buttes.

Note: We are not affiliated with the Bureau of Land Management and it’s best to check their website or visit the ranger station in Kanab for up-to-date information before hiking in Paria Canyon. 

The Wave Lottery: The Wave Arizona Permit: Odds of winning a permit for The Wave, Arizona by Wandering Wheatleys

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase or booking through one of our links we may earn a small commission (don’t worry, it’s at no extra cost to you).

The Wave, Arizona: How to Obtain a Permit, Lottery Tips, and Hiking Guide

The Wave Permit Process

How do I get a Permit for The Wave?

The BLM issues 64 permits for daily visits to the Coyote Buttes North area and there are two ways to obtain a permit: daily lottery and advanced lottery. 48 of the permits are issued via the advanced lottery and 16 are issued two days ahead of the permit date via a daily lottery (you must be in the geofence area to apply).

If you decide to do the advanced lottery, you must apply for dates four months into the future. So if you are applying for a permit in January, you’ll need to pick a date during the month of May.

On any given day there are hundreds of people applying for four months in the future. You’ll register for the total number of people in your party and pick your 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choice dates. You’ll also pay a non-refundable application fee. You can apply online here.

The second option for obtaining a permit for The Wave is via the daily online lottery. The BLM office transitioned its daily in-person lottery to a mobile-based geofence system. Applicants must go to (North Coyote Buttes Daily, The Wave) to submit the daily lottery application.

On day 1 of the daily lottery process, you can apply at two days ahead of the permit date. You can submit the application between 6 am and 6 pm and results will arrive after 7:15 pm. On day 2, you’ll need to be onsite at the permit pickup location between 8 and 8:30 am to get your permit and attend your safety briefing at 8:30 am. Be careful about the time difference between Utah and Arizona. On day 3, go on your hiking adventure to The Wave!

When we first applied, the BLM had an in-person lottery system and it took six attempts to win. We have detailed our experience here so you’ll know what to expect.

How Many People Can I Have in my Group to Visit The Wave?

Your group cannot exceed 6 people.

How will I Know if I Won a Permit?

Those who applied for The Wave advanced lottery will be notified as to whether or not they were successful via email. They will receive the email on the first day of the next month. So if you apply during the month of July, you will be notified on August 1st.

Those who applied through The Wave daily lottery will receive a notification by 7:15 pm. You must accept the winning lottery and pay the fees by 8 am Utah time the next day, and attend the safety briefing at 8:30 am. 

How Long Will it Take to Get my Permit for the Wave?

People who win the advanced lottery will receive the permit via mail 4-6 weeks after they pay the permit fee. People who win the daily lottery can pick up the permit the next day after receiving the results at a permit pick-up location by 8 am. Then, you’ll attend the safety brief at 8:30 am.

Can I Take my Kids to The Wave?

Of course! However, everyone regardless of age needs to be in the permit. This includes infants that are not walking.

Can I Bring my Dogs to The Wave?

Yes! Dogs do not count against the quota, but they must appear on your permit and also require a fee. The process to register your pup occurs during the confirmation of a successful lottery application. They must be kept under control at all times and you must pack out their waste.

What are the Fees to Visit the Wave?

A non-refundable application fee of $9.00 must be submitted with each lottery application. Once you win a permit, a $7.00 fee per person and/or dog applies. And everyone, regardless of age, needs to be in the permit and pay the fee.

What are the Odds of Winning a Permit via The Wave lottery?

The most recent odds data provided by the website are from 2013. At that time the odds of obtaining an online permit from April-June and September-November were about 4-5%. And in the other months (off-season), the odds varied from 8% in August to 25% in January.

We tried for the in-person lottery in March of 2017 and estimated that our odds were about 10% although the number of people trying was slowly increasing every day.

When we visited in 2017, the record number of people trying for the in-person lottery was 278. One lady tried for the in-person lottery 38 days in a row before getting a permit for The Wave and another person tried 17 days in a row and never won the lottery. 

Can I Change Dates or Group Size Once I Have a Permit?

No changes or modifications are allowed to permit dates, applicant name, alternate permit holders, or group size following the application process. The only way to modify these details is to cancel the first application and submit a new one, which will require an additional payment of the $9.00 application fee. 

If you need to increase your group size, you’ll need to apply for a new permit for the additional people. Considering that there are never available dates on the calendar and thousands of people compete for the lottery every day, both of these are pretty unlikely.

If the primary permit holder cannot make the trip on the permit date, the permit can only be used by the alternate permit holders listed on the application. If a primary or alternate permit holder is not present, the permit is invalid. 

I won a Permit for The Wave but I Can’t go. Can I Transfer it to a Friend?

No, permits are non-transferable. You must present a valid government-issued ID when you pick up your permit. You also need to carry your ID in case you encounter a BLM ranger during your hike. They will check.

Visiting The Wave Without a Permit

Can I Visit The Wave Without a Permit?


Why Not?

The entire Coyote Buttes area is incredibly fragile and designated as protected land. Only 64 people are allowed to visit The Wave every day to continue to preserve the rock formations for generations to come.

The Wave Lottery: The Wave Arizona Permit: Fine for hiking The Wave without a permit by Wandering Wheatleys

But, What if I Hike The Wave Without a Permit Anyway?

You can try, but it’s highly likely you’ll get caught.

Those who win the lottery receive brightly colored permits to attach to their backpacks. A second permit goes in the dash of their vehicle. At least one BLM ranger hikes out to The Wave daily to check for trespassers. When we visited in March of 2017, a ranger checked on us at The Wave at 10 am and then we ran into her again at the parking lot at 3 pm.

What is the Fine for Visiting The Wave without a Permit?

The fee for trespassing ranges anywhere from $1,000 – $10,000 per person. When caught, the BLM ranger will take down your information and give it to the local police station to determine your punishment.

The severity will depend on how far you got before being caught. If you are near the trailhead, you may never hear from the police. But if in the vicinity of The Wave, you’ll likely receive the maximum fine.

Getting to the Trailhead for The Wave

What is the Closest Town to The Wave?

The closest town to The Wave is Kanab, Utah about 47 miles away. The BLM office that issues permits for The Wave is located there as well. If you win the daily lottery, you will need to be in Kanab as you’ll need to be at their office at 8 am for the permit and safety brief.

How Long is the Drive to The Wire Pass Trailhead?

From the closest town of Kanab, Utah, the Wire Pass trailhead is about 47 miles away. It will take you about an hour to drive there. You’ll drive about 39 miles along US 89 before taking a right onto House Rock Valley Road.

The remaining 8.3 miles are very bumpy and a bit slick and muddy if it’s recently rained. A 4-wheel drive vehicle with high clearance is ideal. Check with the BLM office in Kanab regarding road conditions prior to heading out.

The Wave Lottery: The Wave Arizona Permit: How far is the drive to The Wave, Arizona by Wandering Wheatleys

Where do I Park to Hike to The Wave?

The Wire Pass trailhead is the most common place to park to hike out to The Wave. It is also where you’ll need to sign the trail register.

Are There Toilets at The Wave Trailhead?

There are two drop toilets located at the Wire Pass trailhead which is where you will park your car to begin your hike. You’ll want to use the bathroom here before setting off on your hike as they are the last ones you’ll see all day.

Can I get Water at the Wire Pass Trailhead?

No, there are no water sources at the trailhead, The Wave, or anywhere along the hike. You’ll need to stock up in the closest town of Kanab, Utah prior to setting out.

The Hike to The Wave

How Far is the Hike to The Wave?

The hike from the trailhead to The Wave is approximately three miles (so you’ll be hiking a minimum of six miles round-trip). But there is no specified “trail”. Rather, you’ll just be scrambling up and down the orange sandstone that is found all over this area of the country. You’ll be given a photographic map by the BLM office. If you follow that or your GPS perfectly, you can do the trek in three miles.

However, if you begin your hike before the sun rises or have any trouble following the map, you’ll likely add at least another mile to your trek. It is very easy to get lost.

The Wave Lottery: The Wave Arizona Permit: How far is the hike to The Wave, Arizona by Wandering Wheatleys

What are the GPS Coordinates of The Wave?

36°59’45.4″N 112°00’22.6″W

Are There Toilets at The Wave?

There are no toilets at The Wave itself or anywhere along the 3-mile hike out there. Plan accordingly.

Are There Trash Cans at The Wave?

No, you’ll need to pack out all of your trash. That includes any toilet paper.

What Should I Pack to Hike to The Wave?

We developed a comprehensive packing list to help you prepare for your hiking adventure.

Can I Visit The Wave at Night?

Your permit to hike to The Wave is valid for the entire 24-hour period. So from 12:01 am to 11:59 pm on the date of your permit. You are allowed to be in the protected area at night. Note that the rangers at the BLM office do not recommend it because it increases your likelihood of getting lost (and needing to be rescued).

If you do choose to begin your hike before sunrise or leave The Wave after sunset, be sure you have the GPS coordinates, a downloaded map, and plenty of light to guide your way. The photographic map provided by the BLM office will not help you in the dark.

Camping and Lodging near The Wave

Can I Camp at The Wave?

No, there is no camping allowed anywhere within the Coyote Buttes North protected area, which includes The Wave. It is a day-use only. There is also no camping allowed at the Wire Pass trailhead.

What is the Closest Campground to The Wave?

About two miles past the Wire Pass trailhead along House Rock Valley Road is the Stateline Campground. There are only four sites that are on a first-come, first-served basis and they fill up fast. They do not have water.

If you cannot get a spot at the campground, you can continue down the remote House Rock Valley Road where you’ll find a few pull-offs on the right-hand side. If you want to get an early start on your hike you can set up camp along the side of the road; however, there are no amenities so it’s not exactly ideal.

White House Campground is located about 15 miles (35 minutes) from the trailhead if legal camping is more your style. They have five tent sites, and toilets, but no water.

There are also commercial campgrounds in Kanab for those interested in amenities, such as electricity and running water. The Hitch-n-Post RV Park is particularly convenient if you’re attempting the in-person lottery as it’s walking distance to the Kanab BLM Ranger Station.

What are the Closest Hotels to The Wave?

Flagstone Boutique Inn & Suites, Kanab, Utah
Canyon Boutique Hotel, Kanab, Utah
Rodeway Inn, Kanab, Utah
Perry Lodge, Kanab, Utah

The closest hotels to The Wave are in Kanab, UT. The Flagstone Boutique Inn & Suites and the Canyons Boutique Hotel are both newer boutique hotels in Kanab that are lovely places to spend a night (or even 2). If you’re traveling on a tight budget, the Rodeway Inn is probably the best value in town.

And for the most interesting stay in Kanab, check out the Parry Lodge. During the 1940s and 1950s when Western films were being shot in the surrounding desert and canyons, the Perry Lodge hosted numerous Hollywood stars, including John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, and Ronald Reagan.

Find a room in Kanab, UT

What if I Can’t Get a Permit for The Wave?

This part of the USA is spectacularly beautiful – you’ll find plenty of amazing hikes and adventures to keep you busy! Check out Zion National Park, Pink Coral Sand Dunes State Park, Buckskin Gulch, Coyote Buttes South, Buckskin Gulch, The Wahweap Hoodoos, The Paria Rimrock Toadstools, and White Pocket.

Hiking from Here to WOW: Utah Canyon Country

The best hiking guidebook for the area is Hiking from Here to WOW: Utah Canyon Country. You should definitely pick up a copy if you’re heading to Kanab. And check out our list of 8 Epic Outdoor Adventures in Northern Arizona!

Is Visiting The Wave Worth all the Hassle?

A million times YES!

The Wave Lottery: The Wave Arizona Permit: Hiking to The Wave, Arizona by Wandering Wheatleys

Do you still have questions about visiting The Wave? Drop them in the comments below and we’ll do our best to answer them!

Check out our favorite travel guides for Northern Arizona!



  • Valerie Wheatley

    Val grew up in Portland, Oregon but moved to Oahu on a whim back in 2013. She sold her house and all of her belongings and bought a one-way ticket. Since then she’s taken two around-the-world trips and has visited 60-ish countries while living out of a duffel bag.

    Val started documenting the Wandering Wheatleys travels back in 2013 as a way to update friends and family about her whereabouts and to relay humorous daily interactions. The only readers were her mom and her mother-in-law but that didn’t stop her!

    These days you’ll find Val dreaming up future trips, creating new travel content, managing a team of amazing travel enthusiasts, and chasing around her two adorable but naughty kids.

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24 thoughts on “Ultimate Guide for The Wave, Arizona: Permits, Lottery & Hiking”

  1. My brother and I are going there in March, and we are planning to go to the lottery the day before. If I get a permit, can he come? Or does he need a permit as well? Thanks!

    1. When you sign up for the in-person lottery you tell them how many people are in your group. So you’ll just enter the lottery as a group of two. So you’ll either both go or neither of you will. (the one caveat to this is if 9 of the 10 daily permits have already been assigned and then your group is drawn; in that unlikely instance you’ll have to decide if one of you wants to accept the single remaining permit and go on their own or not)

  2. I have a 2 d permit in early April. I understand there is no camping within the Coyote Buttes North, but are there any camping areas you can backpack to from the Wave?

    1. Hi Kelvie, the closest campgrounds near to The Wave are the Stateline Campground and White House Campground. Both are managed by the BLM, but neither is really a “backpacking” campground – they are car camping. If you want to do a backpacking trip while you are in the area you could look into getting permits to camp in Buckskin Gulch (also managed by the BLM office in Kanab)

  3. I scored a permit for May. Is there any way to get a map early? Or from someone? I suck at map reading. Would love to start early. Do I pick the map up that morning? Or can get it the day before?


  4. Colleen Dzwonczyk

    If you are lucky enough to score a permit in the in-person lottery can you rent a Jeep anywhere for the trek to the trailhead?

    1. Hi Colleen, There are a few places in Page, Arizona that rent off-road ready jeeps. That being said, if you’re just going to the Wire Pass trailhead to hike in Coyote Buttes North (The Wave) then you should be able to make it fine in almost any vehicle as long as it hasn’t been raining too much lately. The dirt road can be a bit rough at times but just go slow and you should be fine. You would only need a 4×4 vehicle if you’re going to White Pocket or Coyote Buttes South.

  5. Michaela Degenaro

    I’m set to hike the Wave next month. I checked with BLM and besides camping at Stateline Campground, if there are absolutely no spots available, you’re allowed to camp at the Wirepass Trailhead. In fact, people usually car camp there. For any questions about The Wave, the BLM number is 435-688-3200.

  6. Thanks for all the great information! We won the lottery for the end of November and I’ll have a couple of kids with me. We want to see it all, but probably don’t need extra time for the absolute best photos. I understand that the hike can be up to about 9 miles if we see everything. In order to do that and have time to enjoy and explore, how long should we plan to be there (assuming that we are about average hiking speed)?

  7. Joanne E marshall

    I only just decided to travel to the area for February but the online lottery is now for March. Is there a way of getting on the online lottery for a month that is passed – it is November 19 and Inwill be there February 10

    1. Hi Joanne,
      Unfortunately, there is no way to enter the online lottery for a month that has passed. Sometime people can’t make it and their permit becomes available – it’s typically just a permit for a single person so if you’re traveling alone you can check the website leading up to your travel dates to see if someone cancels. Your only other option is the in-person lottery – good luck!

  8. What I have read regarding taking kids on The Wave varies greatly. My kids are 7 and 11. In general, what are your thoughts on kids going. I read what you wrote about kids (above) but I’m looking for more specifics. Of course, you don’t know my kids, but what are your thoughts on kids hiking The Wave in general? Thanks!

    1. I think taking kids to The Wave totally depends on 2 factors – 1. their level of fitness and hiking ability and 2. your level of comfort navigating with a GPS.

      As we mentioned in our article, the hike is 6 miles round trip, and you’ll almost certainly wind up hiking closer to 8 miles if you plan on exploring much in the area.

      All of this hiking is over sandy and rocky terrain without a well-maintained trail. So your kids should be comfortable hiking around 10 miles in a day if you want to take them to The Wave.

      There is also almost no shade so it will be hot and you’ll need to bring lots of water.

      It is also easy to get lost which could add some distance onto your hike – if you’re comfortable using a GPS to find the trail markers you’re much less likely to get lost. Follow the instruction provided by the BLM office when you receive your permit for the Wave and you should be fine.

      At the end of the day, only you can decide if your kids are up for this adventure, but hopefully, this info helps you make an informed decision. Happy travels!

    1. July is the hottest month to hike to The Wave and the high could easily be over 90° that day. How dangerous it is depends on how well prepared you are – start the hike early, bring loads of water, sunscreen, and a hat. It’s best not to do the hike solo (though with limited permits for The Wave I understand that’s not always an option). Follow the map closely so you don’t get lost and you should be fine. Have a great trip!

      1. Thanks! yep I already hired a guide… my specific concern is that although I am in good shape I tend to sweat a lot due to medications I’m on. I will bring loads of water and I’m going to consult with my doctor too.

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