The Wave - North Coyote Buttes

The Wave is an area located in the north section of Coyote Buttes between Paria Canyon and Vermillion Cliffs National Monument. Unlike many other landscapes that are best photographed in the early morning or late afternoon, it is best-photographed midday to best eliminate shadows. Due to overwhelming popularity, BLM has enforced a limit of 20 visitors per day, 10 for walk-in and 10 for lottery four months in advance, all through lottery! There is a $5 fee to enter the lottery, and it took us three tries to get the permit. But no complaints at all! For $15 dollars an a bit of patience, you get a rewarding experience that lasts a lifetime. I mean it!

Once won the lottery, BLM will mail you a permit together with a map detailing the trail to The Wave. There are no formal trails, and GPS really isn't very useful. Trust me on this. Using GPS coordinate can easily get you lost in the worst or make you detour a lot in the best. The best way to navigate the area to the destination and out is to follow the detailed maps mailed by BLM. The map contains pictures of various landmarks to look for during the day hike. I highly recommend using the map for navigation and do not use any GPS. Hiking in this area is a strenuous effort. This means hiking the wrong route can quickly tire you out.

If you're lucky enough to win the lottery, you really should take the hike very seriously, especially during the summertime like we did. The weather can get extremely hot, and your body could lose water much faster than you can actually realize. A gallon water per person is the minimum amount for a round trip. In fact, people have died because of the extreme weather and lack of water.

Directions to The Wave

To hike to the Wave, there are two trail heads you can start at: Wire Pass Trailhead and The Notch. The trail starting at Wire Pass is easier to identify and hike so we took this one. Check the linked wiki page for GPS coordinates. There is a parking space near the trailhead and you need to place the parking permit on your car's dashboard if park there. BLM also has a booklet there for you to check in and check out. I think it's probably more for safety reasons so they know you successfully hiked out by the end of the day.

Photographing The Wave - North Coyote Buttes

Photography wise, the hike to the The Wave is full of beautiful rock formations made of layers of windblown sand deposited over millions of years. These rock formations are fragile, so not damaging them is every visitor's responsibility.

Twin Buttes. If you follow the map provided by BLM, this is a landmark to identify the trail to The Wave. In my opinion, it's as beautiful as The Wave itself.

"The Wave" view is just behind this area

The iconic viewpoint! Best taken around midday when the sun is overcasting to avoid shadows.



  1. WOW. I don't know in which state this is but the colours remind me of the geology around Sedona, AZ, but on a bigger scale. Beautiful. Would it be a good idea to add a date to your blogs? For example, I will only share news and photos if I know they are recent (generally) as people can otherwise think 'didn't I see that last year?' or whatever, and I guess others do the same.

    1. Thank you Paul for your comments! Yes, this area is located in Arizona. This article was written only a few weeks ago. :)