The Wave is a sandstone rock formation located in Coyote Buttes North (not to be confused with South) in Arizona. Marked by its bright red and white “wave” or ribbon formations, it’s become a wildly popular hiking destination due to the breathtaking photos visitors have shared of their visit on social media. In order to protect the area, the Bureau of Land Management limits the number of people allowed to enter The Wave each day and no overnight camping is allowed.

The Wave Permit
Photo courtesy of

Odds of Getting a Permit for Coyote Buttes North

It’s much more difficult to get permits for Coyote Buttes North (and thus The Wave) due to the popularity of the area. There are only:

20 people allowed in per day

10 through the online lottery, 10 through walk-ins

To fairly give out the permits to these 20 people, it’s done through a lottery system (both online and in person). During the busy season, there are on the low end, almost 2,000 people entered into the online lottery each day, which is around a .005% chance of getting a permit… less if you’re going in a group. There were 6,727 online lottery applications for a total of 21,116 people for May 2018 (for 310 available spots).

The Wave lottery odds

Reserving Permits Online

The lottery system is reserved 4 months in advance. So if you want to visit in May, you have to enter the lottery during Jan., and on Feb. 1st the lottery is drawn and the winners are notified.

The Wave lottery schedule

You can enter three date options for when you want to visit and you can see how many requests/people have already entered for each day before choosing.

  • There is a $5 non-refundable fee for entering the lottery
  • Max. group size is 6 people
  • Day hiking only. Overnights are prohibited

Pro Tip: Wait until the end of the month before entering the lottery. You don’t get any benefit for being first, but if you’re last, you can request the three dates with the best odds.

Apply for the lottery here

If you are successful in getting a permit:

  • You will be notified once the lottery is drawn, which will be on the 1st 3 months before the month you applied for the permit
  • After being notified, you will have 14 calendar days to pay for your permit. You can pay online with your credit card. Your e-mail notification will contain a link to a secure web page, where you can go to pay and submit the remainder of your trip information.
  • Your permit will be mailed to you four to six weeks after you have paid your fees, unless you choose to pick it up there

If you are unsuccessful in getting a permit

  • You can try to obtain a walk-in permit (see below).
  • You can continue to religiously check the hiking calendar incase there is a cancellation so that you can swoop in and snag those dates. This is of course very unlikely.
    The Wave calendar
  • Keep trying! There’s no limit to how many times you can enter the lottery (only once per month, but you can enter every month from now until forever). Focus on the less popular months (Nov-Feb) when the odds will be more in your favor.

Walk-In Permits

Walk-in permit are giving to 10 people per day (just as many as are available online). From mid-March to Mid November, walk-in permits can be obtained 7 days a week. From mid-November through mid-March, walk-in permits are only issued Monday-Friday.

In order to apply for a walk-in permit, you have to be at the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Visitor Center (745 E. Hwy 89 Kanab, UT 84741) at 8:30 a.m. MST to submit your application. The lottery is drawn at 9am and permits are issued.

  • Cash or check only. No credit cards are accepted.
  • Only one person per group may enter the drawing.

Permit Costs

  • $7.00 per person per day
  • $7.00 per dog per day

Getting a Permit for Coyote Buttes South

The Southern Wave
Photo courtesy of

The Wave is not accessible from Coyote Buttes South. The South is also still breathtakingly beautiful and has its own landmarks and attractions, it’s just not as “vivid” or popular.

Good news is: There is no lottery system!

While this area is less popular than Coyote Buttes North, there are still only 20 people allowed per day and permits do sell out! You have to reserve your permits online four months in advance. Be ready to go on the 1st of the month at 12pm MST to get in your online reservation.

coyote buttes and paria canyon permit schedule

Reserve a Permit Online

Walk in permits

Just like with Coyote Buttes North, there are equal spots available online as for walk-ins. 10 people are give walk-in permits per day. To apply for a walk-in permit, be at the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Visitor Center (745 E. Hwy 89 Kanab, UT 84741) and submit your application between 9:30-10:00 a.m. If there are more requests than available spots, a lottery is drawn at 10am.

  • Cash or check only. No credit cards are accepted.
  • Only one person per group may enter the drawing.

Permit Costs

  • $5.00 per person per day
  • $5.00 per dog per day

Recommended Hiking Gear

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