“Who could ever be the same after seeing a place like this.”
This was said to me by a fellow hiker, a stranger, a soul; we didn’t know each other, but we both knew we were experiencing a once in a lifetime moment.
Located in the Vermillion Cliffs is one of the most magical places I have experienced; Coyote Buttes North, but most of you probably know it as The Wave. This area is protected and controlled by the BLM, the Bureau of Land Management, and they do an amazing job of preserving this magnificent area.
If you want to visit The Wave you need to obtain a permit from the BLM and it can be tricky because they only allow 20 people a day to enter this area. This restriction is absolutely necessary to protect such a fragile creation. There is no real trail to this spot; once you obtain a permit, you receive a map with specific directions and points of reference to reach it. Expect to have your permit checked in this area and they will most likely request to see an ID as well.
In Coyote Buttes there is both the north and the south. Both sections of this wilderness are absolutely phenomenal, although The Wave is located in the North.
To get a permit for Coyote Buttes North you need to either enter in a lottery system online or in person. This is split up by 10 people online and 10 in person. If entering online then you need to do so around 4 months in advance through the BLM. A good tip is to pay attention to how many applications are put in for each date on the website. If you enter in for dates with less applicants then you have a higher chance of receiving a permit. April-November is high season, therefore, it is easier to obtain a permit from December-March.
There are walk in permits available, but only enough for 10 a day. If trying to obtain a walk in permit then you should arrive around 8:30 to submit your application, and the lottery begins at 9:00am. The walk in lottery is drawn each day for the following day’s permits.
There is more information on how to obtain a permit on the BLM website.
While there is no camping anywhere in the wilderness area, there are beautiful spots nearby.
This was where we stayed during our visit to Coyote Buttes. It is located near the Arizona and Utah border, and is very close to Kanab, Utah. This is a BLM campground and is fairly primitive with no water, no showers, no store, and only the basic amenities. There are pit toilets at this campground. There is also no fee for these sites at the moment, but check with the BLM website as policies are constantly changing. It is also important to note that this is reached by a soft, red dirt road that can quickly turn to mud/thick sand and may be difficult to travel on if there has been rain.
White House Trailhead and Campground:
This is also first come, first served, and is $5.00 a night. There is no water, store or showers, but this campground does have pit toilets. There are limited sites here, so after obtaining your permit I would first check the Stateline Campground and then move towards this campground as a second choice.
(Trail to The Wave pictured above)
5.2 miles out and back, moderate
This phenomenal, beautiful, and breathtaking sanctuary is something from another world. There are no real tips on the trail I can give you since you need a map and permit to reach The Wave, but when you do, enjoy it. Take it in. Inhale the power of a space like this one. I was able to take my father here, and for that I am SO grateful.
I do suggest you want to pack plenty of food and water, as this is the desert and you want to spend as much of the day here as possible. Since this trail takes around 2-4 hours not counting however long you hang out here or if you venture further out, it is important to over pack on water. It is also highly recommended to arrive and head out early to avoid the heat of the day and give yourself plenty of time.
The hike itself can be hard to find even with a map, so be prepared to spend some time finding the path to this treasure, but embrace it along the way. Also take time to explore past The Wave; there are gorgeous arches and other natural creations that are often ignored by hikers.
I hope you fall in love with this place, this earth, and this life just a little more.