The Wave Arizona Lottery

A Day at The Wave

If you have been following my journey on my JAdRunning Facebook page then you know I’ve been traveling for a year now. The Wave has been on my list since day one! The beauty of this highly sought after sandstone rock formation draws hikers and photographers from all over the world to get a permit.

At the time of my writing this, the hike to The Wave is limited to only 20 people/permits a day. Ten permits through an online lottery months in advance and ten “next day” in person lottery permits. The rules are pretty simple for the in person lottery and you can find the rules with the link (BLM Wave Website).

I showed up to the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Visitor Center in Kanab, Utah at 8:30 am after parking the night at the gas station across the street. We listened to a little spiel from the Park Ranger about the dangers of the hike before going into the lottery room. Each group then fills out an application and is given one number no matter the size. So let’s say the number of a group of six gets called…then only four permits are left of the ten.  

The Ranger makes a joke about our odds of getting picked is pretty good compared to other days because it was a rainy night with snow in the morning. Only 29 people were there for a chance to hike the next day. The record of people the Ranger said was 254! I was feeling lucky on my first Wave lottery. You could feel the tension as the Ranger drops the numbered balls into a bingo wheel. He spins the wheel and calls the first number and two people cheer loudly! “They’re still nice people but their group is for 5 so there are only 5 permits left” the Ranger chuckles. The second and third numbers are called…both to a group of two.

This now leaves one permit. The Ranger then explains when this happens he allows an extra permit because he doesn’t recommend hiking alone. But, if the number called is for a group of more than two they would have to decide to pass or leave someone behind. “It could put a strain on some relationships,” he says. He spins the wheel and the last number drops…number 12? I motion a low fist pump to my side and let out a subtle YES! Then I say, “Well I saved everyone’s relationship…it’s just me.” The hint of laughter after my comment seemed to be more of an, ‘I hope you roll your ankle’ than a ‘that was a funny joke.’

I paid the $14 fee for the permit ($7 for me and $7 for Pup), grabbed my map, and started to prepare for my next day’s journey!

With it still raining through the day we were cautioned that only 4×4 would get us to the trailhead via the clay back roads. That didn’t stop me. Once I found out there was a free campsite only a mile from the trailhead I set out to venture the roads. I decided to come in through the south after being told the roads were better that way. It would be an extra 45-minute drive but I’d rather be there than miss this hike. The last two miles of road to the campground were a sloppy mess but manageable if driven right. Pup and I explored  around the little campground  and as sunset neared I got everything ready for the morning adventure!

So if you’re compiling a list of must see places I recommend putting The Wave in Arizona on your list! Pictures will never do justice for the beauty Mother Nature holds!