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“Amazing feat of nature”

The Wave at Coyote Buttes
Ranked #1 of 16 things to do in Big Water
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: The Wave is a sandstone rock formation located near Big Water, Utah on the slopes of the Coyote Buttes, in the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, on the Colorado Plateau. It is famous among hikers and photographers for its colorful, undulating forms, and the rugged, trackless hike required to reach it.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Level 5 Contributor
67 reviews
27 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 63 helpful votes
“Amazing feat of nature”
Reviewed January 3, 2013

Yes, The Wave is magnificent - and it is a good thing there are protective measures in place so that it might last for future generations to see. In order to get to it, you must be chosen thru a lottery system to be one of the limited number each day allowed to hike to it. This review is the tale of the in-person lottery system the BLM is running. You will be invited to fill out an application with some vital info about you, how many in your group, your home address, your emergency contact, your vehicle license plate number, etc. You can begin to fill in the application at 8:30 am and then mill around with the others thronging the BLM Office til the lottery drawing begins at 9:00 am. At that time, he then repeats a bunch of the details, including that if your application is drawn, you must decide immediately if your group is going, so that they can draw again if you don't. He then reads the name on each application he draws (and this occurs with great difficulty, as a huge majority of the visitors are Asian with names that are unfamiliar to locals), so the reading process is painful for both the BLM person and all those in attendance. In fact, he might be afraid of public speaking or maybe he doesn't comprehend the sad reality of this rudimentary process. Unable to pronounce the last name Garcia, he feebly admitted that he just 'didn't read it right'. Sadly, the lottery process took up a full hour from 8:30 to 9:30, as a big waste of time for those 100+ there on December 18, 2012. In the end, there are great amounts of potential hikers who are disappointed by not being chosen in the lottery, and they go away with a bad taste in their mouths. We had made alternate plans and had a wonderful time on other hikes, but leaving the BLM office with the other 'losers' was not a happy time. By the way, there is no Comment box or way to convey info to the management. Later I called to speak with the Monument Manager who was not there and others weren't sure when he would return. I was told no one on location knew who else would know or be able to comment on the process. It certainly appears that the BLM management has not given much attention to lottery improvements and really don't care about their public's participation. In my humble opinion, a 5th grader could make the whole thing easier/more fair/more favorable to BLM as a short class project.

Visited December 2012
Helpful?
13 Thank Plannersis
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Graham, Washington
Level 4 Contributor
21 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“beautiful hike for mid-december”
Reviewed December 29, 2012

My wife was in vegas for a conference amd when it was over we decided to see southern utah again. As we have been there many times we tried to find something new. Searching the web for best hikes in southern utah, the wave hike kept coming up. because you have to enter a lottery to hike the area we aere skeptical we would be able to go but when we arrived at the BLM building on mondday morning only 11 people were there for the 10 passes. first lottery we have ever won!.
The hike itself is very remote but very refreshing and interesting. the directions they give you before you leave give you no chance of getting lost. it is 6 miles of the most beautiful country around. when you reach the wave you will need a digital camera or lots of film, so many things to see.
best hike we have been on since we hiked down and up the grand canyon in one day back in 1983.
Well worth seeing again or for the first time if you havent seen it.

Visited December 2012
Helpful?
5 Thank Jim_and_Jan_1983
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Los Altos, California
Level 6 Contributor
208 reviews
56 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 126 helpful votes
“Gorgeous spot, well worth the trouble”
Reviewed December 22, 2012

A friend of mine turned us onto The Wave and we happened to get permits through the online lottery. Sadly they were for the middle of December. Turned out my friend wasn't able to make it so it was just my partner and I for a quick midweek fling. The day before our hike it snowed so there was a good blanket of snow on the ground. That made getting from highway 89 to the Wire Pass trailhead parking lot interesting. Do NOT do this 8 mile drive without 4WD. In the morning on the way out it was actually fine. There was another group that came before us so we had their tracks in the snow as a guide. On the way back, though, much of the snow had melted and the road was a muddy, slippery mess. I imagine when there's not snow on the ground then it probably isn't a big deal, but if the road is wet then 4WD is definitely required.

The hike out to the Wave is great. It's about 3 miles each way and I used my iPhone with EveryTrail as a primary navigation tool. Most of the way we just followed the tracks of the couple (clearly with a dog in tow) in front of us so that was handy. Because of the beaming sun, the snow was beginning to melt and we ended up being overdressed for most of the walk. The geology and the vistas along the way are worth the hike alone, but the final destination of The Wave is the crowned jewel. The hike out wasn't easy but it wasn't difficult either. There are a couple steep parts and nothing overly tricky.

The Wave itself was amazing! It's a fascinating tiny space that we wandered around for probably over an hour. About half of it was still covered in snow (the area where the sun wasn't hitting) but we could clearly see the colorful and wavy lines through the rocks. One side of it where the trail goes down was too icy and slippery to navigate so we didn't get to see that part.

When we were there we caught up with the couple (turns out they had 2 dogs!) that was in front of us. They were very friendly and we chatted a bit and played with the dogs. There were a couple other guys there but we didn't chat with them, just a polite wave and "hello" as we passed near each other.

The hike back to the trailhead is just the reverse of the trip out, but because the sun had been out for a few hours, quite a bit of the snow had melted making it feel like a completely different hike. We saw much more of the rocks which was nice. Unfortunately in spots it also meant that there was now water which in the shady places that meant ice. My partner slipped and fell pretty badly on one spot, despite being careful. Regardless, we made it back without major injury. As I mentioned, the road on the way out was muddy and messy (the rental car place even commented on the amount of caked mud on the side of the Suburban we had rented -- oops!).

Overall it was a really enjoyable journey. The snow added something special to it and we'd definitely return to see what it's like in the spring/fall.

Visited December 2012
Helpful?
8 Thank Paul M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Baltimore
Level 4 Contributor
32 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 36 helpful votes
“Wow!! A true natural wonder!”
Reviewed December 9, 2012

A wonderful experience for anyone who loves nature in it's finest form. I would highly recommend it, but be sure you can hike 6 miles (some steep) and be prepared (some food, plenty of water, hiking boots). It was amazing!

Visited December 2012
Helpful?
Thank SherryBaltimore
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Denver, Colorado
Level 5 Contributor
62 reviews
36 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 40 helpful votes
“An Experience of a Lifetime”
Reviewed November 18, 2012

What a thrill to walk through this wilderness without a trail, below a vibrant blue sky, scrambling over slick rock and ridges, plough through red sand and climbing up the rock wall. When I entered The Wave, I was awestruck..it was magical and exciting. Everyone can take fantastic photos here.
Anyone in reasonably good shape can do this. Try to get your permit in advance (lottery is 4 months in advance).

Visited November 2012
Helpful?
4 Thank Sue G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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