Your chances of landing one of the coveted permits to visit The Wave, one of the most unique visual experiences on Earth, just got better. On Monday, the federal government announced it would more than triple the number of daily visitors beginning February 1.
The move by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) increases the daily limit of permits from 20 to 64. Applications for dates are done four months in advance, so the increase will not affect lottery draws for February, March, or April. Instead, the BLM will issue an additional 16 daily walk-up permits. The walk-up permits can only be obtained in person the day prior to hiking The Wave and are not guaranteed.
The attraction’s limit of 20 visitors a day had been in place for more than 20 years and has long been a point of contention for travelers who have found the permits too difficult to acquire. This led the agency to rethink the limits on available permits.
“The Wave is one of the world’s most incredible and visually stunning natural wonders,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Land and Minerals Management Casey Hammond. “We’re pleased to be able to expand options for public viewing of this amazing landscape in a way that’s consistent with its preservation.”
While the move may be celebrated by those dreaming of experiencing and photographing the U-shaped clusters and compacted sandstone, others are not so happy. The Associated Press reports that conservation groups are calling the increase a “mistake that will damage the fragile desert landscape and cut into the solitude of hikers’ experience.”
“It is going to damage the unique geology there,” Taylor McKinnon of the Center of Biological Diversity told the AP. “It really reflects the Trump administration's general disdain for preserving the quality and ecological health of America’s public lands.”
McKinnon says he’s hopeful that the new Biden administration will reverse the decision.
The Wave is one of the most photographed landscapes in the world. The phenomenon is located in what is called Coyote Buttes North, and all visitors must have a permit to visit Coyote Buttes. This means a trip to The Wave cannot be a spur-of-the-moment idea, and there are no super-secret ways to acquire these much sought after permits.
To apply for a permit, it is suggested that you try online. You should visit the government’s website and follow the directions. You will be allowed to submit three choices for travel dates at least four months ahead of your trip. Permits will be granted via a lottery drawing on the first of each month, and those chosen will be alerted by email.
Once you get your lucky permit, the fun can begin. The hike to The Wave is a 6-mile loop, but know there is no specific trail, so you’ll need a map and compass or GPS. There are no bathrooms or water sources along the way, so be prepared. The hike itself is not physically demanding, but the conditions due to The Wave’s remote nature need to be considered. The area is shadeless, has deep sandy areas, and is prone to flash floods. Be sure to visit the website for more information if you’re considering a trip, and see our guide, How To Visit The Wave In Coyote Buttes For A Perfect Photo, here.