Hiking The Wave –We did that!!!

Hiking The Wave

I recently had one of the most incredible experiences of my life. We’ve done lots of outdoor adventures, but this one…is the tops!

Me, my husband and two friends got a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hike The Wave, on the Arizona/Utah border.

You need a permit to do this hike, and they’re not easy to get. They give 10 a day in-person at the local BLM office and they give 10 away online 4 months prior to your visit.

People try for months and years to get the permits, and only a lucky few actually succeed.

Read all the way through this post to find tips on how to increase your chances of being selected AND to see our Video Tour of The Wave.

Although I’ve unconsciously seen photos of The Wave my whole life, I never really understood the majestic mystery until I saw this KSL news package.

While watching that broadcast, I told my husband in true Liz Lemon style, “I want to go to there!”

I knew if I mentioned it to Steve, even once, in passing, that he would make it happen.  He always does.  He makes my wildest dreams come true.  Fortunately for him, none of my dreams are all that wild.

Unbelievably he won permits on his second month trying, scoring us 4 permits for the month of October!  He’s always been a very lucky person. While you’re waiting to score your permits, check out the free book about hiking the wave on Amazon!

We were planning to take our kids. Until this kind of news started happening. After 4 deaths there this year alone, we decided to ya…NOT take our kids.  Instead we started assembling a team of people who could help us get there and back safely.

Hiking in October, we weren’t super concerned with extreme heat which seems to be the biggest danger surrounding The Wave. But to be safe, we invited people who we knew would be fun, appreciate the opportunity and would be useful to get us there and back safely. We also made sure to stay hydrated even though it wasn’t hot.  How to Hike The Wave Safely

So…We invited my friend Spencer, who is always good times and a bit of a world traveler lately. Oh, and he’s an M.D. which we thought might come in handy if we got into a pinch in the wilderness.

We also brought along Dan of A Small Step for Dan, an avid back country hiker and childhood friend of mine.  We follow Dan’s hiking blog and know that he uses GPS technology, something we don’t have, to track his exploits.

Having known Dan’s obsessive nature for almost my whole life, I knew he would over-prepare.  I knew he would map and route and know the terrain like the back of his hand by studying maps and satellite photos.  Dan is also a legitimate genius.  Did I mention that.  He is.  With him on the team, I knew we wouldn’t get lost.

Having these three men on my team, I knew this would be an experience to remember.  So the four of us headed down to Kanab, UT to stay the night before our morning venture out into the desert.

The Wave is about 50 miles from Kanab, half of those miles going down a dirt road which is impassable when wet.  Lucky for us, it was not wet on our permit day.  We listened to some jams on the way out there.  I liked this one in particular and especially loved that all these guys just basically ignored the irony.

I’ll basically let the photos tell the rest of the story except for this.  If you appreciate this kind of stuff, you should go here.  It’s worth the effort.


You have to sign the log so they know who’s in there and when you left.  The Wave Utah You know…just in case you don’t come back out.

Off we go. What is the Wave trail like?

It was VERY cold when we started.  Cold is better than hot for hiking in this landscape, but we knew it was still important to stay hydrated, and even bundled up! How to stay safe at The Wave Got it.  We’re basically on our own. The Wave Cayote Buttes By the way, it’s a $1200 fine for hiking without a permit.  A few days earlier a group a 30 hikers decided to take advantage of the government shutdown and found out the hard way that the Ranger was not on a furlough. The Wave Beehives at the Wave There are thousands of these beehives dotting the landscape all over the place.  How can I get a permit to hike the Wave? I’ve never been to a place where I’m basically making the first set of footprints.  Wave Hiking permits It’s a three mile hike through this unmarked, back country wilderness.  No defined marked trail.  It’s easy to get turned around.  We sure did.  Thanks to Dan’s preparation, we never got too far off track.  The Wave The Wave The hike wasn’t real strenuous. Any person in shape and up for adventure could physically do this.  The unique thing about this is the terrain was really uneven.  Up and down in sand on rock.  Hiking on sloping rock and up and down sand hills, and watch out for cactus.   What is the Wave trail like? The last push right before you get to the formation is this steep sand hill.  This photo doesn’t do this enough justice.  It was steep and thankfully NOT that long.  All your effort took you about 6 inches closer to the top.  Walking up loose deep sand is hard.

Enterance of The Wave One of the coolest moments of my life.  Wave rock formation features Really. Hiking The Wave Mine. The Wave With out Tye-Dye Where is the Wave? We all just stared into it for a long time at what water and wind and eons of time can do. The Wave We met a couple from Japan there, one of only 2 sets of hikers we saw the whole day. They wanted a photo of themselves surfing The Wave.  We took one of them and then they took one of us.

Showdow bowling. Nice. The Wave There was lots of climbing up and around The Wave as well.  We thanked the sun for providing the perfect amount of light and heat.  The Wave Here’s the view from above looking down into the bowl of The Wave. The Wave We totally did this. Hikign the Wave Rather…We totally did this.

The Wave We took more time and hiked around the area near the wave.  Although there is nothing that compares to The Wave itself, there are LOTS of spectacular things to see.  There is an arch directly above the Wave and a lot of other cool formations.  If you go, be sure to take some time to research and find some of the other things out there. The Wave hike Can anyone tell me how this happened?  cayote buttes area We had an amazing trek.  We have to do it again, but who knows when we’ll be lucky enough to get another chance.

As promised, here’s the video tour.

If you’d like to see this yourself, here’s our best advice to get advanced permits.

1. Visit this site and follow the process exactly. Read the disclosures, watch the video. Be informed about how this works.

2. Apply for your permits on the last day of the month.  This allows you to see how many applications are submitted for each day of the month.  Choose days that have fewer applications.  Tuesdays and Wednesdays in non-summer months are always the least popular days.

3. Consider going in February.  It would seem that by far that is the least popular month. And really…why would you want to do this in the summer?  That’s like having a death wish.  Any other time of year is better.

4.Don’t go in the summer, because you might die.


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Kristin Sokol
I’m an early thirties mother of two and wife to a husband who is pretty much the wind beneath my wings (and the money behind my debit card). I enjoy writing and laughing at the things I write. After graduating from Weber State University I pursued a joint career in full-time mothering and part-time writing. I discovered a passion for learning and writing about community and women’s issues. Besides writing, I enjoy doing things I’m not sure I can do. Some things I’ve failed at. Others I have accomplished. Other interesting things about me…I’m very short. I survived being sprayed by a skunk. I love my pet hibiscus flowering plant almost as much as my human children. I stalk celebrities, but not for a living. I swim surprisingly fast.

6 thoughts on “Hiking The Wave –We did that!!!

  1. Hi Kristin Sokol!
    I would like to know what are more ways to increase my chances in getting to the Wave for permits and how exactly did your partner get the permit luckily? By the way, nice Reading your blog! I really love your adventures and pictures and motivated me to get go! Hope to hear from you soon! I have questions about your trip and the weather and the conditions around certain times of year too.

  2. Hello there! Such beautiful pictures, and a wonderful place! I love all the information and taking it all in! Thank-you for sharing so much.
    My only question is with the kids thing. Do you know if they allow it? Like if she is in the pack most of the time? We just have so many trips we want to do that don’t include her this is one I was hoping we could. Thoughts? Thank-you so much!

  3. You’d most likely have to pack the child. I think it’s always fun for them to have the experience, but it’s a longer hike so little legs may get tired.

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