Obtaining a Permit

In order to visit The Wave you need a permit for an area called Coyote Buttes North. Online permits and permit information can be obtained from the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) at Coyote Buttes Permits. Twenty people are allowed into Coyote Buttes North each day. Permits for a total of ten poeple are issued online and for another ten via a walk in lottery that normally occurs the day before the permit is valid.

On-line Permits

On-line Permits for Coyote Buttes North are very difficult to obtain, with demand greatly exceeding supply. All Coyote Buttes North permits are awarded by lottery. The lottery opens up four months in advance of your trip date. You have the whole month to apply. For example, for a January 15 permit you would open the lottery page in September. The application fee is $5 per group. You are only allowed to apply once each month. If you apply more than once and win a permit it will be forfeited. On each application you can select up to three dates. The drawing is held the day following the close of the lottery (i.e. October 1 in our example). Shortly after the lottery closes you will be notified via e-mail whether you were successful or not. If you do not receive a notification by the 2nd of the month check your spam folder. If you still haven't received notification it is likely you typed your email address incorrectly on the application. In this case you should call the BLM at +1 435 644-1300 or 1301 for a status. If you win the lottery you will have to pay an additional $7 per individual fee for the North Coyote Buttes permit.

Coyote Buttes North Lottery Schedule

Apply between
for a permit during
January 1 - 31
February 1 - 28
March 1 - 31
April 1- 30
May 1 - 31
June 1 - 30
July 1 - 31
August 1 - 31
September 1 - 30
October 1 - 31
November 1 - 30
December 1 - 31

Coyote Buttes South Permits

The Southern Wave

The Southern Wave

If you are unsuccessful in getting a permit for Coyote Buttes North, consider getting one for the Coyote Buttes South area. Coyote Buttes South has an appearance and geology similar to that of Coyote Buttes North, and even has a Wave like formation. There are two trailheads for Coyote Buttes South, a 4WD vehicle is required for either. As of 2018 permits for Coyote Buttes South are generally easy to get, provided you apply when they first become available. To apply click here or on the calendar icon to the right and select an available date. You can apply up to four months in advance of your trip date. For example, for a South Buttes January 15th permit go to the permit page starting on October 1. Permits first become available at Noon MST (or daylight time when DST is in effect) on the first. South Buttes permits cost $5 per individual. Demand for Coyote Buttes South has been increasing, and it would not surprise me to see an online lottery instituted in the future.

Walk in permits

Walk in permits are issued one day in advance of your hiking date in Kanab at the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument (GSENM) visitor center. The address is 745 E. Highway 89, the phone number is (435) 644-1300. The visitor center is open from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM seven days a week. The visitor center is on the North side of Highway 89 as you head east towards Page just after the Kanab City Cemetery. If you pass the Comfort Inn you've gone too far. From March 15 to November 15 permits will be issued every day of the week excluding national holidays. During the winter months (approximately November 16-March 15) weekend and Monday permits are issued on Friday. The lottery in Kanab is held at 9 AM Utah time. If you are hiking alone your chances for a permit are better than for a group since there are relatively few single hikers looking for permits. For example if permits were already issued for two groups of four and a single, and you are the only single left you will get a permit unless a group is willing to be split up.

The number of applicants at the walk-in lottery varies greatly by month, and slightly by week day. I recently received data from the BLM showing the number of applicants by day for the period Nov 5,2012 - November 30, 2013. From 2013 to 2018 the number of permit applications has nearly doubled so your odds are only about half of what the 2013 data shows. The data was generally of good quality but there were some limitations: the lottery is not held during weekends during the winter months, it is not held when the office is closed for national holidays, and the government shutdown occurred in this period. There were also a very small number of points where data was not available. After reviewing the raw data I adjusted it so that no data was missing. Based on the adjusted data I drew the following conclusions:

  • The best months to apply for walk-in permits are December - February. You have about a 25% chance of getting a permit in these months. Your best chance of getting a permit is in mid January. Early and mid-December also have relatively few applicants. Keep in mind snow cover makes hiking difficult and magnifies risk. Snow also greatly hurts your photographs. House Rock Road may be impassable. Snow cover may make it impossible to reach Top Rock from the west side. Update - July 2015. I have heard that the number of applicants in Dec-Feb is much higher now than it used to be, with 30-40 people applying each day.
  • The odds are greatly against you in March - May and September - October. In May the average number of people applying is 95 for the ten permits!
  • In the winter months there is a slight advantage in applying on a Friday for a Saturday, Sunday, or Monday permit. Friday applicants are much higher than normal but not high enough to offset the fact that three days of permits are available.
  • When the BLM office is open (Mar-Nov) the best day of the week to apply in person in Kanab is Sunday, followed by Saturday and Monday.
  • The Thanksgiving and Christmas/New Years weeks have very high numbers of applicants and should be avoided. Only these longer holidays seem to have high visitation, for other holidays visitation is average.

To the right are two summaries of the data supporting the above. Note that the daily data shows the number of people applying in Kanab on that day, for a permit the next day.

Winzip icon

If you're interested in the raw data download and unzip the attached file to the right.

Permit Statistics by Month

Average # of
Jan 11.4 11
Feb 19.2 9
Mar 58.8 33
Apr 77.9 23
May 94.5 17
Jun 52.9 17
Jul 39.2 15
Aug 48.6 11
Se 71.1 23
Oct 66.8 15
Nov 44.1 20
Dec 23.8 20
Average 50.4 30

Permit Statistics by Day

Sun 41.7 28
Mon 48.9 27
Tue 55.6 31
Wed 53.1 31
Thurs 53.6 30
Fri 52.7 32
Sat 47.1 28
Average 50.4 30

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This page was last updated 8/9/2018.

The Southern Wave in Coyote Buttes South

The Southern Wave