The Wave is a spectacular and world-renowned site located in the backcountry border of Utah and Arizona. A trip there is a magical experience. Getting everything in order to go there is quite another.
Hiking the Wave requires a permit, obtained through the Arizona Strip BLM at the Kanab Office or at the Paria Ranger Station (summer only). Only twenty hikers may access this resource each day. Ten of the permits are assigned four months in advance through an online lottery. The remaining ten permits are issued through a walk-in lottery the day before the hike. Obtaining a permit is competitive. You may compete against as many as a thousand people in the online lottery, and a hundred in the walk-in drawing. As you can imagine, being a lucky winner is quite a thrill.
To obtain my permit, I entered the next day lottery. Individuals showing up at 9 am for the next day are considered in the drawing. The intensity in the room while your number is drawn from a bingo ball was penetrating. There were 21 names submitted and only 10 names were permitted to enter the Coyote Butte South area to the Wave. The sixth ball drawn, eight individuals and I had still not been chosen. The seventh ball, my heart racing, I began to doubt I would be chosen this time. I had six people on my permit and not all of us would be able to go. As the seventh ball was drawn they called out the lucky number 7 and immediately Dave pipes up, “Can we change our permit number for two people?” Our remaining four would have to try for another time. I chose Dudeman Dan to come along.
The day began 7:00AM at Zion Adventure Company meeting Dudeman and driving the three hours to get to the Wire Pass trailhead. There were two ways to get to the trailhead. We took 89A to get there and the directions were not clear for the turn off. We missed our turn by six miles anticipating the House Rock sign, which was not there. The sign was posted as BLM 1165 and down the road 200 yards read a sign House Rock. The road was a nice dirt road (as far as backroads go) fit for any vehicle. We drove for nine miles until the Wire Pass trailhead. One thing worth mentioning that Dave and I got a good laugh at was the ranger, the day before, mentioned there are footsteps, but it does not mean its the correct way. There are cairns, but they do not mean it is the correct way. There are GPS coordinates, but they do not mean it’s the correct way. My mind was left with breadcrumbs because everything useful was eliminated from the list. At that moment, the ranger pulled out his map for each of us to utilize. It gave accurate pictures and descriptions with waypoints to and from the Wave, a highly useful tool.
We arrived at the trailhead at 10:30 am and began our journey. There were several cars already in the parking lot and people en route before we got there. The walk out there was not a difficult hike. The terrain was an easy walk along a pretty well marked path in the beginning, however after awhile it crossed over to slick rock with no obvious markers. Utilizing the map at that point is critical; watching and matching up the waypoints was really helpful. Once we could see the big crack in the rock, we were able to pinpoint our destination and know the direction we needed to go. We arrived after an hour of hiking, taking pictures, and shedding layers.
At 11:35 there were photographers stationed at every angle, alley, and ledge. The ranger predicted that one as well, reminding us to please be courteous of others when taking pictures. The lighting is best at 12:00 noon and we, the novices, made it just in time, but not to stake out the best spots without interference. Dudeman and I opted to take the places with less people and come back, however, we missed the prime time for photos. Our eyes feasted on the wondrous and awe-inspiring views of Mother Nature. Keeping our eyes wandering in amazement, so many different elements created this majestic view with water, wind, and erosion. Like little kids we explored every nook and cranny snapping photos around every corner.
Dudeman and I continued west down into the Paria Canyon through the wash heading south. We explored the area looking to find any petroglyphs, dinosaur footprints, or spectacular views. We did find small springs and slow seepages, which created an oasis of manzanita, pine trees, and other plants, found where there was water. One of the cliffs has markings of a waterfall from wetter times and many of the cliffs around puzzled us where to find petroglyphs. We were not so lucky. The rocks were masked with wide array of colors and pin stripping in straight lines, swirls, and of course, waves.
After an hour of exploration we returned to the main attraction area and the masses had exited leaving only one foreign couple. We sat and contemplated the immense time and work that was used to create a work of art.
For more information go to the BLM webpage.