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I hiked The Wave, the epic US trail that only 64 people can hike a day

I hiked The Wave, the epic US trail that only 64 people can hike a day
Trail on The Wave trail. Different colors of red and orange rock and a blue sky
I won a permit to hike The Wave.Arlene Salisbury
  • I won a permit and hiked The Wave, an unmarked trail that runs through Utah and Arizona.

  • Only 64 permits are issued each day, and we had to attend a safety briefing before hiking.

  • Once we filled out a sign-in sheet, we embarked on the awesome, 6-mile-long hike.

Exploring The Wave, a destination on the Coyote Buttes North hiking trail along the Utah and Arizona border, was a mesmerizing adventure.

This permit-only hike guides you to the awe-inspiring sandstone formations along the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument.

Here's what winning the permit lottery and hiking The Wave was like.

The hike has unmarked trails and can be dangerous, so the number of permits issued is limited.

Brown and white safety notice sign by entrance to The Wave trail. The sign sits on a rocky hill with bushes in the background
We had to get permits before we could hike The Wave.Arlene Salisbury

For me, securing a permit was the most challenging aspect of hiking The Wave, as only 64 are issued daily.

Of the 64 permits, 48 are allocated through an advanced online lottery, while the remaining 16 are available via a mobile-based daily virtual lottery.

A few days before our hike, I entered the mobile lottery on behalf of my entire party using the Recreation.gov app.

In order to enter this lottery, we had to be located within the app's Geofence perimeter, or within the 2 million-acre area spanning from Lake Zion in Utah to Page, Arizona.

Then, I paid the $9 application fee and submitted the document.

Once I learned via email that I had won a permit, I logged back onto Recreation.gov to officially accept it and pay a fee of $7 per hiker.

After winning the permit, we learned about safety along the trail.

A bright-yellow PowerPoint slide of safety instructions and images of a hiking trail
The slideshow reviewed some key landmarks to look for along the trail.Arlene Salisbury

Upon successfully winning the lottery, hikers must attend a mandatory safety briefing.

During this session, I asked last-minute questions and received trail maps, safety tips, and directions to the trailhead.

This briefing was crucial before embarking on our adventure the following day.

Because it's easy to get lost along the hike, we had to fill out a sign-in sheet.

A hang filling out a sign-in sheet at entrance of The Wave trail
Each group member wrote down their name, car information, and emergency contact.Arlene Salisbury

We started our hike at about 8:30 a.m. to ensure we had ample time to relish the scenic views.

Upon reaching the trailhead, we left the permit tag on the dashboard of our car and signed in on a sheet at the trail entrance.

Each hiker provided their full name, details of the car they came in, and an emergency contact. Signing in and out is crucial because the hike has no marked trails and can be dangerous.

Not signing out and leaving your car in the parking lot may result in a search party being dispatched. For safety purposes, we also took lots of pictures during our hike to reference during our return.

My group made sure to pack enough supplies and prepare for anything.

The writer wears white pants and a pink and white sweater and walks among red rocks and bushes with blue sky overhead
I carried a backpack filled with essential items.Arlene Salisbury

I came prepared with a backpack filled with water, snacks, sunscreen, toilet paper, wet wipes, the map from the safety orientation, and a flashlight.

I also wore sturdy hiking shoes, as the sandy terrain can make the rocks slippery.

Because cellphone service was unavailable on the hike, I used the AllTrails app to download a map of the trail. This allowed me to keep the directions accessible even after we lost service.

The first part of the hike was flat.

The writer wears a pink and white sweater and makes a surprised expression in front of The Wave rock formation and a blue sky
I was excited to finally start hiking The Wave.Arlene Salisbury

The hike to The Wave is classified as moderately difficult and takes about three hours roundtrip.

If you follow the designated route on your map, the trail covers a little over 6 miles.

There are stretches of soft sand, which can be challenging to walk on, and steep hills and rocks that require hikers to climb uneven sandstone.

However, the hike started off pretty easy, with a roughly 1-mile walk on level gravel.

Once we got past the gravel, we walked through a sandy, flat area.

After the sand, we faced a challenging uphill climb.

Red and orange mountain-like rock formations and a rocky plane with bushes
We saw the Twin Buttes during our hike.Arlene Salisbury

As we hiked, I saw footsteps from previous hikers, which helped lead the way to the Twin Buttes.

Once we passed the sandy hill, we had an uphill, uneven climb to one of the final areas of the hike.

We even had to get on our hands and knees and crawl along some parts of the uphill climb. We were extra careful here, as the sand on the rocks makes them difficult to grasp.

Finally, we made it to The Wave.

Top of Th Wave trail, with wavy red and orange rock formations and a blue sky
The view from the top of The Wave was amazing.Arlene Salisbury

The Wave itself was extraordinary. The realization that such a beautiful place exists, and I was among the fortunate few to experience it, made it even more special.

This remarkable sandstone formation had an inexplicable charm —the smooth, flowing contours and the beauty of the vivid red and yellow stripes were absolutely captivating.

I'm so thankful I got to hike The Wave.

The writer wears white pants and a pink and white sweater and leans against rock wall with orange and red layers and looks up
The sandstone formations were beautiful.Arlene Salisbury

To put it mildly, the journey to The Wave was truly epic. Winning the lottery felt like a significant achievement, and the hike was a great experience.

I highly encourage those who want to take the hike to apply for a permit.

Read the original article on Business Insider