The Ultimate Guide to The Wave - Coyote Buttes North 

The Wave



"The Wave” is part of Coyote Buttes North and require a permit to hike. Each day, only 20 lucky people get to hike this beautiful, fragile land. In 2018, approximately 160,000 people applied (online/walk-in) and only 7,300 people get the permit to hike. Each year, this number increases and it is harder to get picked but I say, try it, you just never know until you try. 


How to Apply

There are 2 ways to apply for “The Wave” hike: online and walk-in. We did the walk-in process since we were in the area and decided to give it a shot! We drove 1.5hrs from Zion National park and when we arrived, there were 196 people that day waiting for 10 slots. Apparently, this is normal for April. We got picked 2nd! Below is the walk-in process! 

Walk-In Process:  

FYI : if you google it, it will say BLM Visitor Center in Kanab on google maps but it is the visitor center for Staircase Escalante Visitor Center.

FYI: if you google it, it will say BLM Visitor Center in Kanab on google maps but it is the visitor center for Staircase Escalante Visitor Center.

  • 10 permits are chosen for the next day’s hike. So, if you want to hike on Monday, you need to submit application on Sunday. 

    • NOTE: in the winter time, you have higher chances to get it as they do drawings on Friday for Saturday, Sunday, Monday. 

  • You need to arrive at the Staircase Escalante Visitor Center between 8:30am - 9:00am for submit your application. 

    • Address: 745 Highway 89, Kanab, Utah 84741

  • One person in your party will be the group leader with all of your party’s name on it. 

    • There is a max of 6 people on an application. 

    • Dogs are allowed and is not counted in the party’s number but dog needs to be on the permit and pay the $7 dollars as well.

    • There is no age limit so kids are allowed.   

    • Have your vehicles’s license plate number handy so you don’t have to walk back outside. 

    • You will be assigned a number and if your number gets chosen, you win! 

    • NOTE: You can only be on one application so please do NOT submit multiple times to increase your chances. You will be disqualified.  Also, it’s not cool so please do not this. We know someone who did this and still didn’t get chosen. Cheaters never win!  

  • Before the drawing, they do roll call and the group leader must be present in the room. If the group leader is not there, they will remove the number from the drawing. Numbers are added to the lottery bin for drawing. 

  • Drawing is at 9am 

  • Drawing process: 

    • They will draw as many numbers to total to 10 people. 

    • Example: 

      • If the first number is chosen and that group has 6 people, then 4 more slots are available. 

      • The next number is chosen and that group has 4 people, the drawing is over. 

      • But, if the next number is chosen and the group has 2, the drawing continues until all 4 slots are taken. 

      • But, if they draw a number and the party has 4 people but only 2 slots remain, you can choose to take the 2 slots (2 people from your party will not get to go) or forfeit your permit to someone else who has 2 people. 

  • If your number is chosen:

    • You stay in the room to pay (they prefer cash) and get the permit. 

    • They will also provide information on the hike and an opportunity for you to ask any questions.

    • They also have a list of guides if you prefer to hire one. We chose not to hire one because this 69yrs old Korean lady told us we can follow her since she’s been there before and can lead the way.  

  • If you do NOT get chosen, you can come back the next day and try again. They will save your application for the next day so you don’t have to fill it out again. They will do this once for you. You can keep trying as long as you want. Also, if you don’t get it, drawing for the Coyote Buttes South is at 9:30am and you can submit it from 9:00am - 9:30am. 

  • For more information:

Online Process

  • 10 permits are chosen for a specific date 4 months in advance.

  • $5 dollars (non-refundable) to submit your online lottery. If you win, you will pay $7 dollars for the permit per person.

  • To submit, here’s a link with all the information you need to know:

Hiking Information


  • Permit is day use only; valid from sunrise to sunset so come as early as possible so you have more time to enjoy the wave and the surrounding area. Hiking to the wave is about 6miles RT but we ended up hiking 8.1miles because we explored around the area going to slot canyons, coral sand, other waves, and buttes. 

  • The turn that takes you to the trailhead is a very sharp turn and a lot of people miss it so make sure you slow down around that area. 

  • The road to the trailhead is gravel and dirt and a 4WD is preferred but not required. If you do not have a 4WD, just drive slow and you should be fine. 

  • The trailhead for Coyote Buttes North shares the same parking lot for other trailheads so make sure to look for this trailhead sign. 

  • Sign-in and sign-out on the hiking log located in the parking lot. 

  • If you don’t have a guide, you can follow the picture maps and directions they give you. 

  • The wave used to not have cell signal but we had 3G cell signal for calling. We have sprint and I think other people who had other carriers also had signal. 

  • We suggest downloading GAIA app to help track your route in case you get lost or off track. We used it and it helped us feel comfortable. There are probably other apps that works there, too but GAIA worked for many of us there. 

  • There are no mark trails but we did see 2 posts that you points you to the next part of the trail. There are also footprints from previous days so that helps as well.  


Packing for the Wave: 

  • WATER: Make sure you bring enough water as it gets very hot on the hike, especially in middle of the summer. The suggestion is 1 gallon per person but know your body so bring sufficient about for yourself. Dehydration is the number one issue on this hike so drink lots of water. We hiked when it was 65 degrees but felt hotter because of the sun hitting the rocks. 

  • Hiking shoes: You will be hiking on mainly rocks and sand so hiking shoes with good grip is recommended. We saw people with tennis shoes and it works, too but just means you have to slow down on rocks that are a little steep. 

  • Convertible pants: Pants that can become shorts for when it gets hotter is always a plus so you can reduce what you have to carry. 

  • Layer your Clothes: We hiked in April and it was cold when we started our hike and it got warmer as the day went by so wearing multiple layers that allows you to easily remove clothes is recommended. 

  • Medicine: Whatever medicine you need for the day, make sure to pack that for the hike. 

  • Emergency Contact: pack it with you as well as tell your emergency contact regarding your hike schedule.

  • Lunch and snacks: Bring your own lunch and snacks to eat at the wave. 

  • Backpack: Bring a comfortable hiking backpack to carry all of your stuff. 

  • Electronics: Camera, GoPro, cellphone, extra batteries/memory cards for camera and GoPro, external charger if you have one. 

  • Sunscreen and sunglasses: Even if you don’t burn, it’s good to sunscreen. 

  • FirstAid Kit

  • Sandals: Not required but nice to have is sandals.  Once you get to the wave and take off your shoes and relax with sandals. A lot of people just took off their shoes and go barefoot but sandals is more comfortable and relaxing.


Hiking the wave with Kids

  • We searched online and there was only one article on TripAdvisor regarding hiking with kids and it basically said not to bring kids, especially small children. We were worried and said, if we win, then it’s meant to be that we take him. 

  • We won the lottery so we decided to take our 5 yrs old son and we are so glad we did because it was fun for him and he did great! 

  • Some things to consider if you do decide to bring your little ones: 

    • Hiking with Toddlers: Only bring your child if he/she can hike on their own for at least half of the way. Harvey hiked about 3 miles by himself there and about 2 miles back. He was more tired going back for sure and we took turns carrying him. We don’t suggest you carry your child (unless it’s a baby) the whole time because it’s a long hike and you’ll be overly tired and then it might not be fun for you. 

    • Hiking with Multiple Kids: Unless your child can walk on their on the whole time, taking 2 kids or more means both of you will need to carry a child and therefore have no one to switch if you get tired. You’ll have to make your own judgement on this since you know your hiking abilities but for us, it is nice to switch off so the other person can get a break. 

    • Bathroom Breaks: This is a long hike and it will take most of the day and therefore you will need to prepare for anything. Therefore, bring diapers/ portable pooping bags/baby wipes so if your big child needs to poop, he/she can poop in the bag. And everything you carry in, you must carry out. 

      • We hike a lot and sometimes Harvey needs to do a number two. So our hack is we bring the doggy poopy bags and he swats and poops into the bags. It’s our hack and it works for us. Luckily, that day, Harvey did not poop on the trail, he waited until we got back to the bathroom at the trailhead and did his business. Phew! 

    • Stopping: This hike has a lot of fun stuff for kids like puddles (esp after a rain), sand, pretty rocks and if your kids is like Harvey and likes to stop to play in the water or sand. This is a long hike and therefore you’ll need to minimize stopping. We started at 9:30am and so we didn’t have time to stop a lot so our suggestion is to start earlier in the day if you want your kids to play or prep them that they can play when they get to the wave. 

    • Bring a carrier: Bring a baby carrier that works for you to carry them at least half of the way. 

      • Our son is 40lbs so a baby-type carrier is a little heavy to bring on this hike. We used the piggyback rider and it’s super lightweight and easy to carry in our backpack. We are not getting paid to promote this product, just sharing what we used and that it worked for us. 

    • Snacks: Besides your regular lunch, bring extra snacks. From healthy snacks to not healthy snacks to keep them going. We also bring him reward treats while hiking so it keeps him motivated and excited. Our son loves taffy and lollipop when hiking so we bring those. 

    • Extra clothes: We always pack an extra set of clothes (shirt, pants, underwear, socks) for him just in case he gets dirty or wet. Our son hates to get wet so we always pack extra for him. We like to hike in convertible pants for our son because he can convert them to short if he gets hot. 

    • Firstaid Kit: Bring a small first aid kit for family but especially anything else needed for the little ones. Bring any meds your child might need, too. 

    • Sunblock/hat/sunglasses: Unless you are hiking in the winter time, the hike gets really hot and there is almost no shade on the trail. Apply sunblock and bring some with you on the hike. Also, bring a hat and sunglasses since there’s a lot of glare reflecting off the rocks. 

    • Keep it fun: There are lots of rock formation that looks like animals so we had him find animals or things he saw! 

Things to do around Kanab: 

  • Pink Coral Sand Dunes: 30miles away from downtown Kanab is the pink coral sand dunes. We went here after the drawing and it was very beautiful. 

  • The Grand Staircase Escalante: This park is beautiful and has a lot of hikes through so many slot canyons (zebra slot canyon, etc,..) We drove through it to get to Zion National Park and it was breathtaking. 

  • Page, AZ: An hour away from Kanab is where you can take tour through Antelope Canyon. You’ll need to book a tour with the Navajo Tribe since it’s in the Navajo Nation and the land is sacred. Also, around Page is Lake Powell and Horseshoe Bend, too.