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  • Writer's pictureTosin

Coyote Buttes North (The Wave, AZ)

The Lottery:

Earlier this year I randomly entered and won the lottery for one of the most coveted hiking permits to the Coyote Buttes North also known as “The Wave”. You may not know what it is, but I’m sure you’ve seen it as a screensaver on lots of things. The Wave is just a small part of the Vermilion Cliffs located on the border of Arizona and Utah. Each month the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) runs an advance lottery to grant daily permit access to 40+ hikers. The lottery application is a $9 non-refundable fee for each application. Winners are selected four months in advance. Once selected you have to decide who you want to attend with you to fill the group number you selected. Please note that once everything is set you cannot make any changes. So if the permit holder cannot attend, you forfeit the permit. The permit holder is allowed to select an alternate to take their place in the event they can’t make it, but this has to be done when you apply. To find out about the lottery process click here.


When I tell y’all everything lined up perfectly in our favor you won’t believe it. First of all August is the hottest month in Arizona! So yes we (mainly me lol) were crazy for even trying to do this hike. During August temperatures can reach well over 100 degrees.

Coyote Buttes North - The Wave
Coyote Buttes North - The Wave

Let me rewind to the beginning: orientation. The BLM encourages all lottery winners and group members to attend an orientation the day before the hike. I’ll start by saying I was extremely naïve about this hike. I thought it was rainbows and sunshine like the pictures I saw (Narrator: They are in for a rude awakening). As soon as we entered the orientation location the employee in charge came at us on TEN. Her first question was what are you here for? (Her tone was trash) We said The Wave and then she said "IS that the car you will be driving" (Nissan Sentra) we said yes and then a shit show ensured with all of us on level TEN. She was not offering any solutions only trying her hardest to put the fear of God in us and discourage us. Like that car won’t make it, you could DIE (that was not on my to-do list), if they have to rescue you it’s a fine blah blah blah. Then at the very end she mentioned we could hire a guide to take us there and back. Before I thought it was a piece of cake due to all the lying ass fake it for the gram, paint a pretty picture influencers. When she started mentioning flash flood, search and rescue, helicopters, amount of recent deaths, and the people who had to be rescued the day before; I was terrified like what did I get us into. We wrapped up the orientation and decided to hire a guide. There was another gentleman (Allenn) there who also experienced the same attitude from the employee. In the end we found out she had never done the hike and was talking out of her ass.

We headed back to the hotel excited, then I had a panic meltdown. The permit they mail you to bring with you was no where to be found. I damn near trashed my bags panicked like shit 😭, we came all this way spent all this money and the most important thing wasn’t there. Like how did I forget it (It slipped out of my bag when I was closing it). We started calling every possible number we could find (This was on a Sunday!). My friend offered to make an emergency roundtrip to San Francisco to get the permit. Mind you we meet our guide at 6am the next morning and Phoenix airport is a four hour drive one way. I decided to go back to the orientation location as our last ditch effort to get a replacement permit. Yes back to the lady we almost cursed out to beg her lol. I’m laughing now but I was in there begging this lady like we just paid for the guide you told us to get, please help me. She felt bad and started trying to help me. She had to get approval from her manager. I gave her my information and left defeated. I thought this wasn’t in the cards for us. As soon as I pulled out of the parking lot heading back to the hotel, she called me! I turned that car around so fast. In the end she was able to help. Please for the love of God if you win the lottery permit quadruple check that you have the permit with you before you leave your house. I got a replacement permit and my day turned around.

Hike Day August 22, 2022:

When I tell you everything was perfect for our hike you won’t believe it. First we had the best weather you could ask for in August. Weather was cool in the morning with a light breeze and an average of 85 degrees throughout the entire hike. Second we had the best guide (Brand). Brand is an active duty member of the Army with 20 year of experience. He is also a Big Water native and has been doing The Wave hike since before it was permitted. He is also a member of The Wave search and rescue team. We booked with Seeking Treasure Adventures because they were the only ones who answered the phone. We found out that during that time of year a lot of guides don’t like to go out because of the heat, it’s also monsoon season and there had been lots of flooding and several casualties.

The hike to the Wave is extremely rigorous. It’s approximately a 7 miles hike if you go the right way. On various websites it’s listed as a easy to moderate hike but as someone who’s done it, I will tell you that it’s a hard hike. It can be extremely dangerous if you are under prepared. Someone was airlifted out the day before. There was also a flash flood the week before in the canyon that killed 10 people. What they don’t tell you on these websites is a lot of the people who hike, hire multiple guides to carry their gear and everything to get them there safely and then they pretend everything was easy peezy.

Thanks to Brand we did the hike in a reasonable amount of time. We told him we wanted to be done by 2pm because we had flights later that night. We started our hike at 7am and finished at 12:30pm. Brand provided us background information, answered any questions we had, became our photographer and was over all very helpful and encouraging during the entire hike. He took our picture at the beginning and I thought oh that’s nice. But we later found out he had to send it in the event something bad happened to us.

Once we made it to The Wave we ran into our new friend Allenn and his dog Allila from the orientation center. Allenn is also a photographer and was gracious enough to take some amazing pictures of us (I'll post them once I receive them). I must say after everything we went through it was worth it to make it to The Wave. It was breathtaking. The pictures don’t do it justice ( See album below).

Here are tips if you decide to try your chance at the lottery. (Side note the BLM also runs a daily lottery based on geolocation. So if you are in the Page, AZ or Kanab, UT area give it a shot.)

Tip number 1: If you’re lucky to win a permit make sure you have your permit with you before you leave on your trip lol.

Tip number 2: I highly recommend you hire a guide. It made a big difference for us. There's very little markings to indicate that you are on the right path. One wrong turn can mean an additional 3 to 10 hours to your hike. They only provide you with outdated pictures and tell you to turn around and take pictures in case you get lost to provide you with some kind of guidance on getting to and from The Wave. Cell service is very spotty there.

Tip number 3: Make sure you are prepared. Drink lots of water starting a couple days before your hike. Pack enough water, food/snacks, battery pack, wear appropriate clothing and pack a change of clothes and notify friends/family.

Tip number 4: You need a 4-wheeled drive vehicle to make it through the rough terrain. Do not try to go with an unapproved vehicle. We saw several cars that had to stop and hike an additional 3 miles just to get to the parking lot.

Special thank you to my friend (Teonna) for coming along on this crazy adventure.

Overall I had a good experience. Will I do it again? Well that’s up for debate.

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1 Comment

Sep 20, 2022

Wow what an incredible experience! The landscape is absolutely stunning & fascinating.

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