North Coyote Buttes Hike "The Wave" - Vermilion Cliffs National Monument - Arizona
We were part of the lucky few to get a permit through a lottery to be able to visit this designated wilderness area within the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument on the Utah/Arizona border. Visitation is limited to only 20 people per day to help protect this wondrous place. If you manage to secure a permit, all your efforts will be rewarded with an experience you will never forget.
Yesterday, we were chosen in the daily lottery to get a permit to hike in the North Coyote Buttes wilderness area of the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument on the Utah/Arizona border. It was my fourth attempt and getting selected was pure luck as there were 65 - 90 people each day vying for 10 spots.
There are 20 permits per day issued for North Coyote Buttes - half of them are issued as part of an online lottery and half are issued as part of a daily in-person lottery at the Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument Visitor Center in Kanab, UT. Here is the link that explains How To Get A Permit either online or as a "walk-in".
When you win a permit, you are given maps and special instructions on how to get to "The Wave", an internationally popular hiking destination within Coyote Buttes. The map provides directions as well as photos of what you should be seeing as you move from point to point.
We were ready to head out this morning with our biggest concern being whether or not Linda was going to feel up to doing this 6-mile round-trip hike. She certainly was not feeling well, but she was a lot better than yesterday, and she wasn't about to miss out on this opportunity.
It was about 30 degrees when we left the RV park at 9:00 a.m. and we were expecting temps only in the high 50s today. However, the sun was shining bright and it was supposed to be a clear sky day - another stroke of luck since yesterday was overcast and it snowed twice.
It took us about an hour and a half to get to the parking area which is about eight miles back a rough dirt road. We were told it would take about two hours to hike to "The Wave" and midday is the best time for photos.
We were bundled up and headed out with our map in hand.
The hike itself was beautiful.
At my orientation, we were told to be sure to stop and look back and take note of where we came from.
Even with our map, we were warned that there are some confusing spots, and others have gotten lost on the way back.
Note: Three people died on this hike the summer after we were there. It's no joke when they warn you to pay attention and to be prepared.
We continued on and starting seeing the rock swirl patterns that are present at "The Wave".
Our approach to "The Wave" included rock and sand and a mixture of colors as we climbed.
Arriving at "The Wave", part of the entrance was in the shadows.
But the swirls and colors were quite prevalent as we proceeded.
As we walked through "The Wave" and then looked back, we were treated to the iconic and amazing view.
Linda first went off to the side and then hiked through.
We were fortunate to arrive before others and had "The Wave" to ourselves for a short period.
After her video, Linda took my picture.
Okay, now for a montage of photos I took around this fascinating place.
Eventually, almost everyone with permits for the day showed up at the same time. And everyone was respectful in allowing each other to get photos.
We took each others' photos and just marveled at this special place.
We stayed around after most people left, and then we climbed up above "The Wave" to explore more of the North Coyote Buttes area.
When we decided to head back, I suggested that we work our way down into a wash rather than backtrack through "The Wave". Well, it was a bit challenging, but it also provided some scenery most folks wouldn't see.
We reached the wash and mini-slot canyon.
We chose a route requiring us to slide down into the wash.
The canyon walls were striking.
We had to do a little improvising in one section.
Soon we were out in the open wash.
Eventually, the wash intersected the "trail" and we headed back out.
There was a lot of walking on slanted slickrock that was a bit hard on the ankles, and a lot of walking through thick sand, but all in all, it wasn't a difficult hike. Still, with us, especially Linda, not feeling up to par, the 6.5 miles we walked wore us out.
But it was all worth it.
Only 7,300 permits a year are given out for "The Wave" and almost 50,000 applications a year are made. So, if you are fortunate enough to get a permit, be sure to get here and take advantage of the amazing opportunity.
Because of the remoteness, the limit on people, the rarity of being able to get a permit, and the stunning beauty, this is definitely in our top ten hikes.
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