This magical place is hidden in the rugged backcountry around the Coyote Buttes in the Paria Wilderness in Northern Arizona.
It was our third trip to the area and second try to get one of the 20 permits that’s been issued per day. Last year, we tried the in-person lottery in the BLM office in Kanab, but had no luck. This year, we entered the online lottery and got lucky with 2 tickets for a Saturday in June.
We really understood why they limit it to only 20 people per day. The sand stone formations are very sensitive, you can already see the marks from hikers over the years in the rock formations. But the even more important thing: people easily get lost in the area if they’re not prepared and have the proper maps.
It’s about an hour and a bit away from Page, Arizona, which would be the closest option to stay overnight and get to the trailhead early in the morning. The hike is a strenuous 7 miles roundtrip of slickrock and sand dunes but in a gorgeous setting. If you’re able to obtain a permit in the lottery, you’ll get detailed trail information and maps as well as a permit to hang in your car. We’ve got there very early in the morning at 5:30am to beat the heat during the middle of the day. It can easily be over 100 degrees there in the summer months. Parking is available at the trailhead.
What to bring
Water, water, water and water. We’ve decided to split up our gear, one of us was carrying the photo equipment and a lighter carbon travel tripod and the other one was packed with food and water. We’ve brought 9 liters of water for the two of us and needed nearly everything of it. You don’t want to strand in the area with no water supplies left.
Other than that, the right gear is important. The trail climbs up sandy dunes as well as steep rocks and you’ll love your sturdy and comfortable hiking shoes. We saw folks coming up on our way back wearing Chucks and light jogging shoes and they were already looking like they won’t make it up and down another rock.
Bring some food as well to stay energized and high factor sunscreen and a hat. Don’t risk getting dehydrated or a heatstroke, there will be no one there to help you.
This place is likely one of the favorite places for landscape photographers – and for a good reason. You’ll enter a wonderland of wavy hills and rock formations with an incredible intensity of multi-colored facettes of red sandstone. The preferred light is in the middle of the day where it’s fully lit and is burning in red colors. We’ve arrived there in early morning and stayed until 10:30am and enjoyed having the Wave for us, with likely a bit more shadows but still a beautiful outcome.