Buckskin Gulch Dispersed Campsite for Car Camping with our Luno Car Air Mattress near The Wave

How to Get a Permit to Hike The Wave in Arizona

Tucked away in the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness of Northern Arizona, is one of the most exclusive hiking destinations known as “The Wave.”

This captivating formation, crafted from sandstone, has garnered immense popularity among hikers and nature enthusiasts who flock here from far and wide.

We were able to hike The Wave in May 2023 and are sharing everything you need to know about getting a permit all in one place! (Which is really saying something because even the government’s website for The Wave doesn’t do this)

Entrance to The Wave
Nikki and Jon at The Wave

How to Get a Permit

A permit is required to hike The Wave. Unfortunately only about 5% of those who enter get one. This leads many to ask, “Why not just go even if I don’t win?” If you get caught by a ranger without a permit you can get fined between $1,000 – $10,000 and even end up in jail. To avoid that, grab one here!

Permits are given out on a lottery system and there are two different ones you can enter; an advanced lottery and a daily lottery. Note: If you win one, you must confirm it or you’ll lose it!

  • The Advanced Lottery is for those planning four months in advance. You can enter the lottery at any time during a month and the winners will be selected on the 1st of the next month. (i.e. We entered in January for a date in May and we got our permit in February.) Enter the Advanced Lottery here. 
  • The Daily Lottery is only for those within the certain geographic boundaries near Coyote Buttes North the government has set. To register you have to have the Recreation.gov app and your location enabled on your device. Enter two days before your desired hiking day between 6:00am – 6:00pm as long as your are within the geographic boundaries.

Some helpful facts about permits for The Wave:

  • All permits are non-refundable and non-transferable.
  • Application Fee: Each application costs $9.00 and is nonrefundable.
  • Recreation Fee: If you win a permit, a recreation fee of $7.00 per person or dog is required.
  • You can only add 6 people to your group when you enter.
  • There is a daily maximum of 64 people or 12 groups allowed; whichever comes first. 48 people/12 groups are awarded through the Advanced Lottery and the remaining 16 people/4 groups are awarded through the Daily Lottery.

Want to learn more about what to bring, where to camp the night before, and the trail?
Check out our complete guide here.

Beginning of the trail to The Wave
Jon standing along the trail leading to The Wave
Views From the Trail
Jon at the sign in stand for The Wave
Trailhead Sign Ins & Maps

Where and when to visit, convenient places to sleep and more!