Welcome to my article on the famous sandstone rock formation in Arizona known as The Wave! My name is Mattalynn and I grew up in a small town in Arizona. When you grow up in a small town, you have to make your own fun. The more time I spent outside hiking, camping and at lakes, the more I knew how much I was drawn to nature and the outdoors.
I then moved to Southern Utah where I graduated college and went on to become a Dental Hygienist. I have always had a passion for adventure, but just like with anything, you love it more if you lose it. I was diagnosed with cancer in 2020 and was very weak and not allowed to do much but try and survive. I am now in remission and will never take another day for granted!
Adding The Wave to my Bucket List
I remember seeing a photo of The Wave in a teacher’s classroom when I was in college. I didn’t know where it was located or what it was called but I just remember being mesmerized by the photo every time I saw it. When I moved to Southern Utah, someone posted a photo of The Wave on Instagram and I clicked on the location. It was only an hour and a half away!
After researching how to get there and learning it was based on a permit system, I started to apply for permits even though I knew they were going to be very hard to obtain. Little did I know that it would take six long years before the stars aligned, allowing me to obtain a permit with a friend.
Six Long Years Applying for Permits
The first year I moved to Southern Utah I began applying for permits. I would usually apply for the online lottery a couple of times and drive to Kanab to try the walk-in process a few times each year. It’s not a difficult process. However, it does require luck because they only allow a small number of people to visit each day to protect the area from overcrowding.
For the online permit process, 48 people or 12 groups (whichever comes first) are awarded permits each day. An online lottery is drawn four months in advance. Then, for the walk-in permit process, only 16 people or four groups are granted permits for the next day opportunity to hike The Wave.
It was six years before I was lucky enough to snatch up a permit. Six long years! My friend moved to Kanab and was able to enter the lottery several times to try and win us permits. To my amazement, she won! I’m so lucky to have her as a friend and to have been given the chance to visit this place.
My Experience Hiking to The Wave
The best time to photograph The Wave is at noon or the middle of the day which – if you know anything about photography – is unusual. We left at 8am and started the hike. Hiking to The Wave is not marked well. People have even died on this hike. There is no shade and the trail is unclear.
I have a GPS that mapped out the trail before we started to ensure our safe arrival. It’s a 6.4 mile hike in a wilderness area that has challenging terrain. The Wave itself is stunning and out of this world! But the entire landscape has so much to offer. We hiked past The Wave and found beautiful textures. We ended up with 11 or 12 miles clocked because we did so much exploring!
When I finally got to see The Wave with my own eyes all I could think to myself was: “Man, I’m so lucky to be alive and to be here to witness this incredible place”. There is something about beating cancer that makes you stop and realize the extraordinary moments that you will cherish forever.
This moment will forever be engraved into my memory. I was pretty much speechless for a good hour to tell you the truth. Being with my friends and just sitting there and taking it all in was such a special experience. If you plan on visiting The Wave, trust me, you will absolutely fall in love!
Why The Wave is so Incredible
If you have ever seen photos of The Wave, it’s no secret as to why everyone wants to visit at least once in their lifetime. There is no place on earth quite like it. This rock formation really does transport you to another planet. It’s hard to snatch up a permit and I wonder if that makes it feel more elusive and attractive to travelers that come from all over the world to visit.
Where to Stay near The Wave
Airbnbs seem to be a popular thing these days and for good reason. They are super convenient and have some good deals. Because I live close by, I didn’t need to seek accommodation but there are many fantastic places nearby in Kanab. You can find many cool Yurts to rent around the Southern Utah area and no shortage of hotels, campgrounds and other fun stays.
Other Arizona & Utah Hotspots
The entire Southwest region is fascinating. Travelers come from all over to see these stunning landscapes. The Wave is high on the list for many who come this way. It’s close to Lake Powell which is an epic place for boat recreation and paddle boarding. It’s also close to Zion, Bryce Canyon, Escalante and more hotspots. You can do it all in one swoop!
Need to Know Before you Go
Before visiting The Wave please, please, please do your research. Go to the BLM website and read about the permit process and the tips and tricks on when to hike, what to bring, etc. This hike can be extremely dangerous if you go in the middle of summer and don’t bring enough food and water.
Research the routes on AllTrails and download them to your phone. You want to spend your time enjoying the unique beauty of The Wave instead of trying to find it or getting lost. Lastly, if you are ever in the area and don’t have a permit, you might as well try your odds. You never know, you could get lucky and get to witness it’s incredible beauty on the walk-in process!