The Wave can be found in Arizona's Paria Canyon-Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness. While many flock to this state to see the canyon, the Grand Canyon, the Wave is just as worthy, if not more intricate, than its bigger neighbor. The problem is that in order to see this location up close, you'll have to wait in line behind many others in order to obtain a permit... but that doesn't mean it's impossible.
Recognizable by its deep trenches and unique wave-like pattern, this destination is an experience that hikers aren't soon to forget. Once a permit is obtained, then the real planning can begin. Hiking the Wave is not without its dangers, the same as with any epic hike, and it's definitely not without a challenge in the grueling Arizona heat, but it's worth it to see Mother Nature's magnificent handiwork in person.
Obtaining A Permit Takes Quite A While, So Start An Application Early
The US Bureau of Land Management only allows 20 people to hike the Wave at a time, therefore significantly limiting the number of people who can hike it per year. The wait might be somewhat of a frustration but to hikers who have had this destination on their bucket list, it's all simply part of the process - one that's lengthy, but entirely worth it. In order to gain a permit, potential hikers will need to enter their names into a lottery which can be done in-person or online. Chances improve between the months of December to February, The lottery can be played once each month and hikers are advised to apply roughly five months before the month they actually want to hike during.
What To Bring And How To Prepare
So you've gotten in! Congratulations. The question is, how does one prepare for a hike in Arizona's desert? For starters, water is a must. Hydration is the main cause of fatalities on this hike (yes, there have been several). Although it's not an extremely long trek, between the exertion and the heat, dehydration happens quickly, a common problem on many of the world's most dangerous hikes.
Sunscreen, a lightweight (roomy) backpack, a hat to keep the sun off, and seriously good hiking footwear are all recommended. A GPS device doesn't hurt, either, but hikers can also obtain an area map at the ranger's station, which they'll definitely appreciate having.
How Long Is The Hike, And What Can Hikers Expect?
The hike in the Wave itself is just over five miles in total, making it a moderately-paced. The total amount of time it takes will vary based on how many stop hikers make, but the average is anywhere from two to four hours. Along the way, hikers can expect desert (dry, hot) conditions and sandy terrain until the wave, when the terrain goes from sand to rocks. Hikers are also permitted to take their dogs at a fee ($7).
What To See At The Wave
There's plenty to take in at this park! Roughly an hour after sunrise, the wave is at its best and should be everyone's first stop. Next up is the Boneyard and Dinosaur Tracks and it can be a bit of a challenge to find the latter, but so cool once you do (a GPS device is helpful with this). The Boneyard resembles something similar to the set of the Lion King, with its craggy rocks and jagged edges. Sandy Cove Wash and the Second Wave are next on the list, resembling rock-like waves that seem to be frozen in time and are truly fantastic to see in person.