Desert Vibes: Everything You Want to Know About The Wave, Arizona (Photos)

A U.S. National Park so amazing, it has a $1200 fine without a permit! Tips, photos, and overview for the Wave, Arizona - TravelBreak.netImagine a hike so incredible, there’s a $1200 fine for trespassing without a permit.

It definitely exists.

Welcome to the legacy, the legend — THE Wave in Arizona.

Since the Jurassic years, earth, wind and fire have shaped mother nature’s sculpture garden. A coveted sandstone landscape preserved and protected from tourism, it may only be a $7 pass, but it’s almost impossible to secure entry.

“I’ve been entering the lottery for The Wave, online, every month for a year” – my friend Kevin mentioned. “I’ve shown up a few times and I never get in. I just keep going back to Arizona.”

Andrew chimed in that he’s shown up for the lottery over a dozen times. At this point, it would have been cheaper to have paid up the $1200 penalty.

People travel from around the world to experience Arizona’s greatness. The Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and Antelope Canyon have ignited a flood of desert insta-shots, but The Wave isn’t so accessible (no matter who you are). Only twenty people are allowed into the National Park every day. According to Bureau of Land Management, Coyotte Buttes (where the Wave is located), you had a 4-5% chance of winning a permit for the Wave… in 2013.

It was my first time being entered into the lottery. Our names were called last. I’d been through nine cities in a single day to get there, and it was absolutely worth it!

So if you’re interested in taking on The Wave, here are some tips and photos courtesy of @SweatEngine and @StephBeTravel.

The Wave, Arizona @StephBetravel (4 of 8)


 Photo collaboration @SweatEngine @StephBeTravel

 The Wave, Arizona @StephBetravel (3 of 8) copy

How does The Wave lottery work?

You can enter online or show up in person for up to six of the twenty daily allotted spots. If you enter online, you are entering for a reservation four months later. Alternatively, show up, in-person, to a cow-boy, middle-America town. Showdown against 100 other travelers who have trekked to Kanab just a chance to hike the next day.

Entering the lottery is a $5 fee per person. The permit costs $7 per person, and $7 per dog (yay!).

Many limitations exist – amongst them – you are limited to a group of six, no overnight camping, and you an only apply for the permit once a month.

The Wave, Arizona @StephBetravel (6 of 8)


Photo collaboration @SweatEngine @StephBeTravel

The Wave Hike Overview


  • The hike is six miles round trip. I’d say it goes from easy to medium to medium-hard. It’s a very do-able hike and many of the travelers were elderly.
  • No littering is allowed. Please carry out what you carry in (including your trash — no bins are available for collecting garbage).
  • You need a four-wheel drive to access the park from the main road.
  • You will lose reception both in the park and on the drive to the park. Please plan accordingly with directions.
  • Your pass is valid for 24 hours (1 Day).
  • Your tripod and/or hiking poles should have rubber stoppers to prevent accidental carving into the rocks.

The Wave Packing List:

Outside of your photo equipment (DSLR, GoPro, and iPhone), consider some of these when prepping for a hike to the Wave). Also, consider these road trip tips.

I’d bring these in addition to clothing from the Active Wear Packing List for Women and Active Wear Packing List for Men.

Given Kevin is an artist, I also brought along a white dress to photograph this experience.

Made it to The Wave with @stephbetravel.

A video posted by Kevin Lu (@sweatengine) on

See here for more information about the Wave Permits


Arizona / Utah Road Trip (Photos)
Big Sur, California — No Clever Title Needed (Photos)
Road Trip Tips
Ultimate Oregon Road Trip (Photos)




  1. Sassy June 29, 2016 at 7:01 am - Reply

    My very first time entering the lottery was through walk-in, and we got lucky with permits for the next day 🙂 It was a dream come true, and I’m so thankful! Such a beautiful, incredible place. I’m glad they’re doing their best to protect it by limiting the number of hikers per day 🙂

  2. Marcie January 15, 2017 at 12:58 pm - Reply

    How have I never heard of this before!?! What an amazing spot for photos! I’m so glad you posted about this! I will add to my bucket list!

  3. Rebecca January 15, 2017 at 1:05 pm - Reply

    Fabulous post and great pictures! I’ve wanted to visit the Wave forever! Alas, I’ve only been in the area once and didn’t get a spot. Maybe I should keep trying – it looks well worth it.

  4. EG III January 15, 2017 at 6:29 pm - Reply

    I’ve heard of and seen pictures but I had no idea a lottery was required to enter the wave. The pictures you have are absolutely stunning, but I bet they still don’t do justice to just how beautiful it is to see up close and in person!

  5. Ariane January 16, 2017 at 4:08 am - Reply

    Oh my god! What a great place!!!! I didn’t even know that such a beautiful place existed! Thanks for sharing your experience and your truly amazing photos! I might consider entering the lotery myself now 😉

  6. Lena from fouronaworldtrip January 17, 2017 at 3:40 am - Reply

    I have seen plenty of pictures online and thought its just another – absolutely stunning – part of the US.. I wasn’t aware that it’s so difficult to get to it and depends on so much luck! I envy you that you have had the chance and bet you will never forget that. it’s beautiful! The restrictions seem annoying, but I can imagine if thousands of people walking along there every day, it’s beauty would be destroyed easily… the stone seems to be rather fragile.

  7. scott balaam January 17, 2017 at 4:17 am - Reply

    I love this – a brilliant article. The pictures are incredible . I had never heard of this place … I am going to add it to my list of places to visit. Great work and fantastic pictures. The ‘wave’ is so cool! Good luck.

  8. Louiela January 19, 2017 at 2:24 pm - Reply

    Beautifuuuuuul… you’re so lucky to explore The Wave… this post is one that I enjoyed most… Thank you,,,

  9. Stephanie Frias January 22, 2017 at 7:43 pm - Reply

    | have traveled a lot in Arizona and Utah,but strangely never knew of the existence of this place until long after I left the area. I never knew that entrance was quite so restricted…or that you could bring a dog! Sounds like an incredible adventure!

  10. Eliza March 19, 2017 at 8:15 am - Reply

    Wow! These photos are stunning! I had never heard of The Wave before, but I will definitely add it to my list for adventures out West. I can’t believe how difficult it is to visit! It must be so frustrating for people who don’t get called, but at the same time it’s nice how they’re working so hard to make sure the area is preserved. Thanks for the great info!

Leave A Comment