I won!!! I can’t believe it.
To visit the famous Wave you either try to get a permit on line four months in advance that is also very difficultl or you come and enter a lottery one day before the hike. I did not think too much about it but when I arrived in Kanab, UT, the place where the Office of Land Management of the Vermillion Cliffs and Grand Stair Escalante is located, I realized that the chances to win are very slim.
The lottery is organized every day, seven days a week, and the winners’ permits are issued for the next hiking day. Registration starts at 8:30 am and the lottery is at 9:00 am. In my case there were 32 applications each with 2-4 names on them. Probably around 90 people. The week before the maximum was reached at 147 people who entered the lottery. If a number assigned to the application is getting picked each of the people from the group listed on the application gets a permit, in such a way that the total numbers of persons that are issued permits is only 10/day.
Besides there are the other 10 permits offered 4 months ago in an online lottery, for a total of only 20 visitors a day, that includes dogs also. The permit is valid for hike in the entire Coyote Butte North area, the place where is located The Wave. At 9:30 am every day is another lottery for Coyote Butte South, that has also beautiful and fragile formations but not so famous. The lottery system is another way the National Park Service tries to protect fragile resources. It goes together with the unpaved roads that give more difficult access to locations. The permit cost is just a mere of $7, just enough to pay for the up-keeping of the trail.
Somehow my lucky number 4 was the first picked number to my speechless amazement and I was put in possession of the coveted permit. So today, one day after the lottery, I left to see Wave. The hike is not guided and is not marked. It is just a sign on the wash leaving from Wire Pass that marks the beginning of the trail, stating that this path is to Coyote Butte and it needs a pass.After we received the permits we got an entire instruction in regards to the hike. Because there are no markings of any kind, except one as I saw, BLM is giving a two page flier that has 12 photos from various points located on a map to show what you have to see from those points. In case you get lost, and there are some chances, the photos are supposed to help.
The hike to The Wave takes around 1.5-2 hours if you walk slow. There are some detours on the way that you can explore, like the one close to Point 4, the Twin Towers where uphill are beautiful formations.
The Wave itself is astounding. The sediments in the rock were polished by the wind and water and created this amazing tracks going to the sky or undulating like waves on water.
Besides the Wave the area is a treat to explore and to look for all sort of patterns in the rock, formations, regulated cracks in the rock that may develop in years in new and more interesting formations. The entire area of Coyote Butte North is a symphony of colors and shape. On top of the ridge, maybe too high to be explored is an arch.
Please note that somehow everybody recommends to visit between 10am-12pm that being the best time for photos. I found this interval not only too short but the light that you get close to 3:00 pm I found to be better that the one in midday when everything is flat. There is more color visible latter in the day and is no shadow on the Wave as it is commonly believed.
Most of the 20 people became friends and were chatting, expressing their disbelief that somehow they made it. The ones that won the previous day were invoking tremendous luck and the ones who succeeded to win on-line 4 month ago were saying that their way was way more difficult to win, because you compete with the entire world….But all were very happy and enjoyed the view!
I stayed there and chat with some folks from Wyoming and Utah, some of them being originally from Long island, and explored till around 3:30 pm when I was the last and had the entire Wave only for myself. The reality is that I did not want to leave and finally I kind of dragged myself out and walked slowly to the the Wire Pass parking and drove back to Kanan.
On the way back I stopped in Paria, an old settlement destroyed by floods and a movie set used for many Western movies shot in this area, Kanab being a sort of Little Hollywood in the times when the Western movies were in vogue. All the famous Hollywood stars made films here.