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). A maximum of 64 people, 16 groups are allowed into Coyote Buttes North each day. Permits for a total of 48 people / 12 groups are issued via an online lottery and for another 16 people/ 4 groups via a walk in lottery. The walk-in lottery normally occurs the day before the permit is valid. During the winter season the BLM is closed weekends so walk-in permits for Saturday, Sunday, and Monday are issued on Firdays.

Coyote Buttes North On-line Permits

On-line Permits for Coyote Buttes North are very difficult to obtain, with demand greatly exceeding supply. Almost all online Coyote Buttes North permits are awarded by lottery held on recreation.gov. 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 fee to enter the on-line lottery is $9 per group effective June 1, 2020.

Wave permits are non-transferable except for up to three specific people you list when you apply for the lottery. These people are called "alternate permit holders". If you win a permit and are stopped by a ranger on your hike to The Wave either you or a listed alternate permit holder must be present with your group. If not your group may be ticketed. Alternate permit holders must have an account on recreation.gov.

You may only apply once per month to the lottery. If you try to apply more than once at checkout you will get the message "You have excellent taste! However, you are only allowed to submit or be listed as an alternate permit holder on 1 lottery application or hold 1 active permit(s) reservation at a time." Note that if you list someone as an alternate permit holder they cannot apply for a permit that month as well. If there are several people in your group each can apply to the lottery separately provided you do not list the other members of the group as alternate permit holders.

On each lottery 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 (435) 688-3200 or email them at blm_az_asdoweb@blm.gov 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
May
February 1 - 28
June
March 1 - 31
July
April 1- 30
August
May 1 - 31
September
June 1 - 30
October
July 1 - 31
November
August 1 - 31
December
September 1 - 30
January
October 1 - 31
February
November 1 - 30
March
December 1 - 31
April

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 2020 permits for Coyote Buttes South are generally easy to get, provided you apply when they first become available at noon MST on the first of the month. You can apply at https://www.recreation.gov/permits/16851 up to four months in advance of your trip date. For example, for a South Buttes February 15th permit go to the permit page starting on November 1. Reservations are not accepted for trips beginning day-of or the next day. Permits first become available at Noon MST (or daylight time when DST is in effect) on the first. South Buttes permits cost $9 per reservation (once per group) and $5 per individual in the group. For example, if you reserve for two people the total fee would be $9 plus 2 times $5 = $19. Demand for Coyote Buttes South has been increasing, and it would not surprise me to see an online lottery instituted in the future.

New in 2020 - You cannot hold two Coyote Buttes online permits at the same time. For example if you have a permit for December 15 you cannot get one for March 2nd until December 15th has passed.

Walk-in permits

Walk in permits for both Coyote Buttes North and Coyote Buttes South are issued by lottery one day in advance of your hiking date in Kanab at the Kanab Center Gymnasium, 20 N. 100 East in Kanab, Utah. Note that the lottery is no longer held at the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument (GSENM) visitor center. The Kanab Center is on the east side of Highway 89 just past the Hampton Inn. If you pass the Best Western 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 for Coyote Buttes North permits in Kanab is held at 9 AM Utah time. The lottery for Coyote Buttes South permits is held at 10 AM Utah time. If there are fewer than ten people applying for a Coyote Buttes South permit one will be issued on the spot at 10AM. 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.

There is no fee to apply for the walk-in lottery. If you are successful in the lottery the fee for the permit is $7.00 per person. Only one person per group can apply at the walk-in lottery.

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 13% 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 in 2013 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


Month
Average # of
Applicants
Standard
Deviation
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


Day
Average
Applicants
Standard
Deviation
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 2/13/2021

The Southern Wave in Coyote Buttes South

The Southern Wave