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The Wave

Updated: Apr 19, 2019

The Unmarked Journey to One of The Southwest's Premier Photographic Destinations


The Wave, located in the Coyote Buttes North area of the Utah Arizona border, offers one of the worlds most incredible rock formations. The six-mile round trip hike offers no marked trail and requires topo-map or GPS — a trail not for the weak hearted.

Only 20 people are allowed into Coyote Buttes North each day and to acquire a permit, you have to enter a lottery from the US Bureau of Land Management at Coyote Buttes Permits.

We planned to sleep at the trailhead and hike in the early morning of Thanksgiving, Thursday, November 22nd. Despite a not-so-forgiving weather forecast predicting rain that would flood the dirt road leading to the trailhead, we moved forward with our plan.


  • Parka

  • Headlamp

  • Gaia GPS App

  • Handwarmers

  • Osprey Day Pack


With everything packed the night before, we set out on the trail at 3 am. I'm humble enough to say that I would not be able to do this trail without Taylor and his topo-mastery. There are no markings, no clear path, just the quiet open desert.

We walked in the deep blue light of the moon which offered a dramatic contrast when we arrived at the red Navajo Sandstone formation. The Wave is really something that needs to be seen in person to appreciate the geology.

I'm embarrassed to say that as soon as we arrived I took a nap, exhausted from waking up so early. Tay's over-sized Parka made for a wonderful Liv-size sleeping bag. Waking up to a gentle yellow light touching the U-shaped troughs was like drifting into a dream - despite having just come from one.

You'll never have enough time at The Wave. It will always feel short lived. We spent hours there, leaving only because staying would risk the dirt road flooding and us not being able to get back to the main road from the trailhead.

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