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The Wave Trail is a 6.3 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Kanab, Utah that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and bird watching and is best used from March until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 6.3 miles Elevation Gain: 1,174 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dog friendly

hiking

nature trips

walking

bird watching

views

wild flowers

rocky

NOTE: A permit is required for this hike. To attain the permit you must win it through the permit lottery. For information about The Wave and the permit process, call the Ranger Station at (435) 688-3230 Walk across the road, to the east, and locate the hikers path. Sign in at the register box and read pertinent information. Soon the path drops into a wash. Walk down the wash (east) for .6 miles. Look for the signed path of use on the right side, above the wash, exiting Wire Pass Wash. Hiking becomes steep for the next few hundred yards, as an old 4WD road is followed to the top of the ridge and to the second register box. Once again, stop and sign in at the register. Shortly after leaving the register box, there may be an indication that the trail splits. Taking the left-hand fork is easier traveling. It continues east and passes large rock domes on the flats below. After passing the domes, the trail soon drops into a wash. It will be necessary to cross the wash and approach the slickrock ridge to the east of the wash. Continue to the east, up and over the slickrock ridge. Once on top, work down the east side (backside) of the ridge, but start bearing to the south (hikers right), and stay as high as it is comfortable, on the steep slopes of the ridge on the right. Landmarks to locate the Wave Vertical Crack or Notch Looking south, a large slickrock mountain comes into view. There is a long, vertical crack in the mountain. This crack becomes the landmark to steer toward for the next mile. The Wave is located beneath the mountain with the crack. On the way, remember to stay as high as comfort allows, hugging the sandstone slabs on hikers right. The Wave landmark - Notch Twin Buttes As travel continues south, two large buttes come into view. These are called the Twin Buttes, and come almost halfway through the hike. They are easier passed by walking up the slickrock bowl and going around the right side. A wash is encountered .5 miles after rounding the Twin Buttes. Multi-colored Domes Peer across the wash and notice the multicolored domes on the opposite side of the wash. These and the less obvious sandstone formations to the right are the Wave. Walk down into the wash, locate the dead juniper tree and the sandy path that leads up to the Wave. The Wave The area called Top Rock, is a collection of white Navajo sandstone formations. The south end of Top Rock divides North and South Coyote Buttes. The Wave is a chasm located on the northwest edge of Top Rock. The Wave is about .04 miles south of the Arizona and Utah state line. Top Arch Most hikers never venture this far past the Wave. This section involves third class scrambling. Only those experienced in slickrock scrambling should attempt to go to the arch and beyond. Continue up the sandstone, heading toward the right. Locate the arch at the top of the mountain. Find the easiest path to travel up the steep slickrock. The arch is approached from the backside of the mountain. From the arch, the red cones of South Coyote Butte are visible. Alcove This hidden treasure is rarely found by hikers. To locate the alcove, return the way you approached the arch. This time stay to the left, hiking over crossbedded sandstone. In the alcove, fine grains of sand have been tossed and turned, wielded by wind, leaving a sculptured creation carefully piled in its bowels. Melody Arch - Grotto - Window From the alcove, scramble up and left of the alcove to attain the top. Once on top, travel southeast, following the maze of ridges and desert tanks, staying as high as possible. Steer toward the eastern edge of the cap rock. Soon a chasm appears in front. Look down and into the grotto that contains the window and Melody Arch. Backtrack far enough to find an easy route down into one of the tanks, scramble out the backside and slide down into the Melody Arch Grotto. Dinosaur Tracks From the Wave: The small reptile tracks are on the other side of the wash, opposite of the Wave. To locate them, cross back over the wash and travel up to the level ground on the north side of the wash. Rather than retracing the return path back to Wire Pass parking, hike to the west. Stay against the steep slickrock mountain, as high as possible. The Wave can actually be seen from the tracks. The GPS coordinates given are to one track. Look around to locate many more, within 100 yards. Many of the tracks are found at the base of the steep slickrock slab to the north, and are in pinkish colored rock, just before the slabs become seemingly impossible to ascend. The footprints appear to be from small bipedal dinosaurs, most likely Grallator (Megapnosaurus) and Anomoepus.

hiking
10 days ago

All I can say is wow. Started at the trailhead at around 430am. Made it to the wave at 430am AZ time (took about 60 mins). Got to see the sun rise from melody arch. Life changing experience, this is one of the best hikes I’ve ever done! Spend the time when you’re out there to explore everything.

hiking
off trail
10 days ago

Hiking The Wave Our photos of the Wave cannot begin to express the beauty of this gorgeous red sandstone formation in the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument. Hiking to the WAVE was actually easier than getting the permit. Due to the overwhelming popularity of the site, the Bureau of Land Management has limited foot traffic to 20 people per day. That’s right – only 20 people are allowed to the Wave at a time, thus preserving the integrity and beauty of the Wave. In 2017 , there were over 160,000 applicants. Ten online permits and ten walk in permits are issued each day. Only one person from each group is allowed to submit an application. We were lucky enough to be selected on our 4th walk in attempt. We were one out of 73 applicants (the first time we tried there were 189 applying). The lady next to us tried to win the walk-in lottery fourteen times with zero luck. Needless to say, hiking the Wave requires patience, planning and just pure luck. We are so happy that lady luck called our number. Our time in the Wave was absolutely amazing! To date, we have never visited any place in the world as remarkable and uniquely beautiful as this site. The privacy and exclusivity of this site make it all the better. While it’s tough to get a permit, the lack of crowds makes it so much more enjoyable. In silent splendor you can admire the wonder of Mother Nature's creative processes.

hiking
off trail
rocky
21 days ago

I have been here 2 times but on my 3rd attempt wasn't able to secure a permit. The permit process takes place in Kanab at the Grand Staircase-Escalante Nat. Visitor Centers. You along with the likes of everyone else get an action packed adventure trying to secure a spot. Small groups are easiest. The hike can be a beast during the summer so prepare well and take plenty of water as there is no water fountains along the way. The trail is not marked so you will have to follow some careful instructions on how to get there. There is some land navigation skills required.

26 days ago

I've rated this map and the trail one star. the actual wave is beautiful. This map actually takes hikers way up a mountain side, well beyond the wave. The BLM route also runs basically past the wave. I've uploaded a screenshot of the hot mess of a hike I ended up going on because of these poorly labeled maps.

hiking
off trail
rocky
1 month ago

Solid hike, nothing major. Def follow the map on here to get to the actual wave. Got lucky and saw 3 California Condors on the way back, definitely the highlight of the day.

no shade
rocky
scramble
1 month ago

Amazing! Words cant describe. yes the wave was absolutely amazing the the entire area, the landscape felt like I was on some far away distant planet. Wow!!! the last mile was definitely a challenge but soo worth it.

hiking
2 months ago

High expectations were met. Out of this world landscape, definitely do explore the area as much as you can. If you've done the scenic drive in Zion (east of the tunnel) that will give you a general sense of the kind of landscapes and colors you'll be hiking through. With a lot of really cool spots as mentioned in the summary here, among others. I especially liked the alcove and the lace rocks on the west side. The Wave itself was spectacular, went back to it a couple times while exploring the area just to see it in different light. Found the hike itself fairly simple, never lost my way at all. Not too strenuous either, walking up sand was annoying but for the most part you can avoid walking up sand by going up the rocks instead. Getting up to top rock past the wave is a bit more challenging, scrambling not strictly necessary but helpful. In the summer heat this hike would be a different story, no shade here. The BLM guys told me not to take my normal clearance 2wd car on the road so I didn't try, I parked at the start of the road and hitched a ride instead, first vehicle both ways picked me up which was nice. Turns out the road wasn't terrible, it was rutted but by being careful any normal clearance car could have made it to the trailhead, a couple of sedans were parked there. Honestly though by hitching I actually made time, the road was ok but I would still have taken it extremely slow, the high clearance vehicles I hitched on were taking that road at 30-40 mph no issues, I probably would have been going about 10.

hiking
2 months ago

I did bright angel rim to river and back the day before, so I expected this to be a letdown. Boy was I wrong. Spectacular scenery from start to finish. The trail isn’t marked particularly well, which I make up is on purpose so the terrain isn’t overly damaged by foot traffic. Basically keep an eye on the map at all times and look for footprints in the sand. No idea how long it took me to find it. Maybe 2-2.5 hrs. Stopped a lot for photos but also got turned around several times. Was losing daylight on the way out and made it back from the wave in 1:10. Absolutely loved this hike!

hiking
no shade
off trail
rocky
scramble
2 months ago

3/5/20. Experience of a lifetime! We got extremely lucky. Temps were in the upper 60s without a cloud in the sky! Won the lottery online on the first try. Rented 4WD SUV just in case. We had no prob on the 9mile dirt road, but can definitely see how the road can become difficult with just a little moisture. The scenery on the way to the the wave is just incredible. I've hiked all over the U.S. and have never seen anything like this. It is not possible to take a bad photo here. We were in awe when we reached the wave. It is like you are in a painting. There are trail markers for about the first half of the hike. After that, you are on rock and on your own to navigate. We didn't even use the map on the way back. We did come across a BLM employee who checked my permit, which I was glad to see that they do check. Definitely an experience that won't be forgotten.

hiking
no shade
scramble
3 months ago

Completed the bucket list hike on Tues Feb 11! Weather was perfect, probably in the 40's and the hike was fantastic. Be prepared for about half of the hike to be in sand, so if not wearing pants, gaitors will help. The last little section up to the wave is a very steep sand hill, but it's so worth the climb! So much to see out there, not just the wave, make a day of it and enjoy!

hiking
snow
3 months ago

hiking
4 months ago

Amazing!

hiking
icy
muddy
off trail
snow
4 months ago

Just amazing. The whole experience. Starting from the lottery to get the permit (walk-in), which was verry funny and also informative. The road to ro the trailhead was quite an experience too. At the time when I did this train, in january, the road was completely frozen in the morning, but muddy in the afternoon. You do need a 4WD vehicle with high clearance. I just had a Nissan Frontier that did nit have 4WD. After two miles in the road I parked my car and asked the first car that passed by to give me a ride. Did the same thing on the way back. The trail is really beautiful and fun. It is not your usual very easy to follow trail. You only have a few reference points and some orientation indications from the BLM Visitor Center. I did not have too much difficulty following the indications. I must say that the footsteps on the snow gave me a good hint of the direction to take. The wave itself is amazing. I am a fast walker, so I arrived there at 10 AM. I spent 45 minutes alone, before the next group of people arrived (the ones that gave me a dide to the trailhead). Even when all the 20 people who have a permit are there, you van really enjoy the place and take good pictures. There is a lot to see around the main area of the wave. Just wander around, and you'll find lots of really beautiful things. All in all, probably the best trail experience so far.

hiking
icy
off trail
rocky
snow
4 months ago

Fun Hike! Difficult to win the lottery but if you do, well worth it. Foggy enough that we couldn’t see any of the markers the BLM identified. Still made it to the wave. Snow and ice but nothing too slick.

hiking
4 months ago

Beautiful! Route was tricky at some points, GPS helped. Road was quite tricky to navigate on the way back once the ice had melted and it became muddy - recommend an SUV with high clearance. Stunning views along the way and at the Wave.

hiking
4 months ago

Hiked this trail on 12/30/2019. I'd highly recommend everyone to get a 4-wheel drive to get into the trailhead. I saw a lot of people without permit and didn't know anything about the road condition drove in with sedan or van. The road may be passable in early morning when it's still icy for those who don't have 4wd but can be really tricky when the ice melts and the road becomes muddy in the afternoon. Good hike overall. Didn't have any issue navigating with alltrail map.

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