Photo by Eric Richter/age fotostock
At this unique formation, Navajo sandstone in shades of deep red to white was first eroded by water and then primarily by wind to create smooth, rolling terrain that resembles ocean waves. The differing densities of stone have caused the structure to erode at varying speeds, resulting in undulating fins of rock along the entire surface. Made up of two separate U-shaped troughs, the Wave is as narrow as seven feet, as wide as 60 feet, and more than 100 feet long. To preserve its serene nature, the Bureau of Land Management only issues 20 permits per day to visitors. If you’re lucky enough to secure one, you must then hike nearly three miles across the open desert from the trailhead closest to the site to reach it.
By Cameron Martindell, AFAR Local Expert
We were roadtripping across the country and heard about The Wave through word of mouth. The Wave is designated as wilderness, so only 20 people per day are allowed to see it. The whole trip I was hotly anticipating the walk-in lottery, which decides 10 of the lucky spots. You go to the Visitor Center in Kanab, UT to put your name down for the lottery the day before you intend to hike it. The process literally involves numbered plastic balls being placed in a caged wheel, as if you're at a bingo event. Our number was pulled first which was such a relief! One insider tip: if you are renting a car to visit, try getting one with 4WD and high clearance. There were flash floods the morning of our lottery so one of the entrance roads to The Wave was completely closed, and we were told that 4WD was strongly recommended for the alternative entrance. If we were to do it again, we would have gotten the name and number of one of the other "lottery winners" that we had spent the morning talking to so that we wouldn't feel the pressure to rent a 4WD car. (Did I mention we were MOVING across country? Our little Mazda3 was already riding so low, there was no way it could have cleared even a small mound haha) All these tips to say, The Wave was one of the most incredible natural wonders we have ever seen. We were the first to arrive so had two whole hours to ourselves, running our hands along the stunning rock in complete captivation. Absolutely a must-do.
The Wave Trail, Kanab, AZ 84741, USA
Sun - Sat 4:20am - 7:30pm