Arizona Bucket list: The Wave, AZ
One of the most highly sought hiking permits in the American Southwest is for the Wave, AZ, located about 40 minutes west of Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon. This bucket list item attracts people from all over the world, with well over a thousand people a day applying for just 20 permits. How to get a Wave Permit
There are some advantages to being a local, and one of those is that I can run over to Kanab and enter the lottery in the dead of winter and try to get one of the 10 daily permits (the other 10 being available online months in advance.) This used to be the way to get a higher chance because of the lower crowds during off-season, but no longer. This last Feb, with heavy snow on the forecast every other day, there was still over 200 people milling around the Kanab visitor center before the 9am drawing.
During winter hours, the Friday drawing is special because they draw for Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. 30 permits drawn on the same day swells the number of hopeful applicants and the anticipation to Walmart Black Friday doorbuster levels.
I had applied for 3 people, and by 9:12AM they had drawn 29 people. My number was drawn for the very last spot and I tried to avoid making eye contact with the many people I knew had traveled thousands of miles for that same chance. To make this opportunity even more rare, the rangers are authorized to increase the number of permits by one person if the last winner applied as a group, so as to discourage solo hikers. All I needed to do was to decide which friend I liked more.
And so on that chilly morning of Feb 6, 2017, there were 21 people who hiked to the Wave, Arizona.
- If you apply as a solo hiker and you draw the last permit you don’t get to decide to bring a friend. If you apply as a group they will let you bring 1 person so you’re not hiking alone. Or you can refuse the permit and maintain your friendships.
- During winter months, the visitor center is closed on the weekends, so they draw permits for Sat, Sun, Mon on Friday. All other days are normal; permits are drawn at 9am for the next day.
- The road to the trailhead can be extremely difficult to drive on if it has recently rained or snowed.
- There is little to no reception, and people have died on this hike.
- As with all desert hikes in the area, get a really early start during summer months.
- The two closest cities are Kanab, UT, and Page, AZ, but AZ does not follow daylight savings, so check time difference.
- Bring exact change in cash! 7$ a person