The permit area of Coyote Buttes North is a relatively tiny portion of the 112,500-acre Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness. Yet, it is home to some of the most impressive sandstone formations on the planet, such as The Wave.
The Coyote Buttes North Permit region is located in an unspoiled wilderness region, far from civilibazation, and as such, has no man-made infrastructure or paths. The proposed path to the Wave is mapped out and photographed, and the GPS coordinates for the route are provided to those who have obtained a permit.
The 6.4-mile round-trip walk to the Wave is somewhat strenuous. Permit holders are expected to be in excellent health and familiar with traveling in rural settings.
The road leading to the permission area is poorly maintained and unpaved. If you have a high-clearance, two-wheel-drive car, you can usually get it to the trailhead without needing any further clearance. The route may become unusable during the wet and cold seasons, even for four-wheel drive cars.
All individuals covered by this permit are required to follow the CDC’s recommendations for protective gear and distance as outlined in 43 CFR 2933.31. When the CDC recommends that people keep a safe distance from others and wear masks, this rule becomes mandatory.
Permit & Season Information for Coyote Buttes North Advanced Lottery (The Wave)
This permission is necessary to enter the Coyote Buttes North permit area, which includes “The Wave.” The place is only open during the day (no camping is allowed). Permit holders who choose to participate in the monthly lottery may do so at any point throughout the month. They are seeking a permit for a month, four months ahead of the one they are currently in.
All candidates will be required to pay an application fee upon submission. After submitting your application, you will receive two confirmation emails. The first step is to submit your application and pay for it. The second step will verify your permission application details.
On the first of the following month, at 9:00 am, a lottery is held, and candidates are subsequently notified (by email) as to whether or not they were successful.
Winners of a permit have until the 15th of the next month to confirm their win, fill up any missing information, and pay for their permission online, or they will lose it. There is a one-time application limit per lottery for all participants.
Lottery Information about the Coyote Buttes North Advanced Lottery (The Wave)
You can submit an application for a permit for the month four months ahead at any time during the calendar month. You can request up to three potential departure dates per application; if approved, only one will be granted.
There is a one-time application limit per lottery for all participants. All lottery applications must be submitted using the applicant’s legal name, and applicants may be asked to provide a government-issued ID that matches the name on the application.
There is no minimum age requirement; however, all participants must be accompanied by an adult. If the same person enters the lottery more than once, their entries will be discarded without compensation. No one is allowed to possess more than one permit in any given zone at any time.
Results of the lottery are announced by email on the first day of the next month at 9 am MDT. After the lottery, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument will mail out the permits within 4–6 weeks. Permits cannot be sold or transferred; doing so voids the permit’s validity and may result in a citation.
Geology of Coyote Buttes (The Wave)
The Wave’s stripes are essentially sand that has been lithified over time, yet the company lists them as “lithified eolian laminae” on their resume. The sand dunes in the Southwest Desert took on a topographic map-like appearance when Jurassic-era winds shifted and carried different types of sand over the region.
The wind is currently the dominant eroding force on the Wave, as the water drainage that formed the two main chutes has long since dried up. You could give a laugh about all that history, or you might not, but think about the millions of years it took to form before you start messing about with something you shouldn’t.
The Wave isn’t the only scenic spot in Coyote Buttes North, though. The dinosaur footprints, Melody Arch, Top Rock, Fatali’s Boneyard, Sand Cove, and the Second Wave are all worth visiting and worth some of your time.
Buckskin Gulch in Paria Canyon is a great place to go long-form canyoneering. The identical starting point to the Wave Trail, but with a different (unrestricted, self-funded) permit.
And if you don’t get one of the much sought-after permits for the North, don’t worry; the South is even larger and less popular, plus it has enough of its own amorphous Jurassic earthwork. The Wave-free South is even more favored by some people! Check out teepees, fins, Paw Hole, Cottonwood Cove, etc.
Coyote Buttes North and South are not connected by paths, so if you want to explore them, you’ll need to either carry a GPS or do some research first. If you plan on moving south, you should apply early because permits are more readily available. It’s advised that you travel with a four-wheel-drive vehicle.