Is “The Wave” Worth the Hassle?

by Aug 4, 2019Arizona, Hiking, The Wave, Tips and Tricks, Travel Advice, Utah



Well we’re pretty much done here then!

In all seriousness, seeing “The Wave” sometime in your lifetime is absolutely worth the hassle of the BLM’s permitting process. While the process of getting a permit is not terribly hard: they can be obtained either in person or through online reservations. What makes it difficult is the actual ratio of issued permits and the number of people that apply.

The main feature of The Wave and travel blogger “Wandering on a Whim.”

The Stats- the Odds of Getting a Permit to The Wave:

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, more than 160,000 people applied for permits to “The Wave” in 2017 and only 7,300 people were actually allowed to visit the entire year. Put another way: just over 4.5% of people who applied for permits actually got them. Here’s a breakdown of the applicants and issued permits over the last few years:

Year Applicants Applicants/Awarded Permits 
2013 86,898 8.40%
2014 97,308 7.50%
2015 116,083 6.29%
2016 132,630 5.50%
2017 161,467 4.52%

With only 20 people who are allowed to visit “The Wave” per day it is an extremely competitive lottery! Due to an explosion of people applying for permits because of Instagram and travel bloggers (like us :O ), the lottery is becoming more and more competitive each year.

“The Wave,” located in the Vermillion Cliffs, with the main water pool during sunset.

The Basics of Getting Permits:

There are two ways to obtain permits for “The Wave,” online and in-person. There are 20 people allowed into “The Wave” area per day: 10 people from the online system and 10 people from the walk-in lottery. Online permits are more challenging to obtain considering you can apply from anywhere in the world- and lots of people do. Since the odds are better for the walk-in lottery, take your chances with that if you are in the area of “The Wave” itself.

When we applied for our permits, we applied for walk-in permits. We were fortunate when we applied to have only 80 people applying for permits- a big difference from the average 200 people that apply each day.

If you are interested in trying to obtain permits: either online or walk-in, we recommend checking out this guide to winning the permit lottery at The Wave or contacting the BLM for more information.

One of the most common views of The Wave. Shot from the main overlook during sunset.

Why is The Wave Worth the Hassle?

“The Wave” is one of the coolest places to visit in northern Arizona and southern Utah for obvious reasons. The colorfully eroded sandstone features amongst a painted desert and hoodoos are every hiker and photographer’s dream. While I have only visited once, the pictures that were taken during my two hour visit will be ones that I cherish the rest of my life…and it was worth the hassle of applying for permits four times.

<a href="" target="_self">Nick The Rambling Man</a>

<a href="" target="_self">Nick The Rambling Man</a>

Nick is the owner and regular content writer for Southwest Microadventures. When he's not writing, you can find him rock climbing, peak bagging, mountain biking, backpacking, or drinking strong coffee.

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