So you've decided that you want to hike Coyote Buttes North, better known as "The Wave", that Windows 9 Screensaver, or the hidden gem found in Arizona. Unfortunately, it's not as easy as just parking your car and getting on the trail head. Since it is one of the most sought after hikes in the US, the Bureau of Land Management requires people to enter a lottery to obtain a permit in order to hike the trail. In this short article, we will walk you through important information you need to know before you apply, the ways you can apply, and your chances of obtaining one of these permit.
What to know before you apply
Before you apply it is important to note 2 important items. The first is that you have to enter the lottery 4 months in advance for the month that you want to go. This means that if you want to go in the month of June, you have to apply for the permit in February. Furthermore, you are only allowed to apply for the lottery once per month as multiple submissions, if selected, will lead to you forfeiting your permit. The second is that there are only 20 people are allowed per day on the Coyote Buttes North trail. This is split between 10 online and 10 walk-in. Lets start with the online lottery process.
Online Lottery Process
The Bureau of Land Management website is the only place where you can apply for the Coyote Buttes North (The Wave) permit online. Once you select the apply link on the website, you will be taken to the following Coyote Buttes permits page below:
On this page, you can also apply for the Coyote Buttes South lottery as well. As you can see, there are two options: Apply for Lottery Here and Check Calendar. The Check Calendar take you to a view of if there are any available permits in the following 4 months leading up to the next lottery pull month. Your chances of finding a permit through this is slim to none unfortunately as there are rarely any cancellations. As you can see below (as of September 27th, 2018):
Once selecting the Apply for Lottery Here link, you will be taken to Coyote Buttes North Lottery Application page where you will be asked to watch a short video of the going over the background of the Paria Canyon/Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness and asked to check the box to confirm you've watched the video. There is more information below referring to the Privacy Act and other government warning but you don't need to be concerned about this.
Once complete, select the "I Agree" confirmation button at the bottom where you will then be taken to the official application page. The application requires an answer to a simple question (as shown below) along with your first/last name and email. After this you will be asked to select 3 dates on the calendar as to when you would want to hike the wave and check the two boxes below acknowledging that there is a $5 lottery fee and that you are allowed only one submission per month.
On the same page you can see how the application pool stacks up for every day of the month in the chart below. As a strategy, we suggest selecting the day that has the least amount of applicants therefore giving you a better chance at winning the lottery. To put it into perspective, as of September 27th, 2018, there were 1911 lottery applicants for January 2019. You have the entire month to apply and the winners of the lottery will be selected on the first day of the following month. After the selection, the lottery process starts over. Below is a break down the the current applicants listed from most number of requests to least:
Online Lottery Strategy
While the odds are low (2-3% for 2018 for April-June and September-November and between 7 (August)-25% (January)), there is some strategy to help better your chances of winning the lottery:
The first is to limit the size of your group applying. Since only 10 people are selected per day through the online lottery, you have a better shot of getting selected with a group of two versus a group of six. This is because if a group of six people is selected, then only a combination of group with 4 people can be accepted.
The second is to not be picky on the day you choose to go and pick the last 3 days of the month that have the least number of requests/people. Less people means more of a chance to win.
The third is to apply every month, regardless of the time of year. Whether it be in the 100 degree heat of mid July or the cold in December, having the opportunity to see one of the most popular natural phenomenons in the United States is your goal!
Below is an example of an online lottery application selection from the Bureau of Land Management website:
Walk-In Lottery Process
If you missed the online lottery application, you have the opportunity to participate in the walk-in lottery. Similar to the online lottery, only 10 people are selected each day. In order to sign up, you have to visit the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Visitor Center in Kanab, Utah. Below is the location of the visitor center:
Chances of obtaining a walk-in lottery permit are similar to that of the online process. The best strategy is to visit during the off season (August-December) as there will be fewer people entering the lottery. Either way, if you follow the 3 simple strategy tips we suggested above, it will help in winning the lottery to hike The Wave!
If you would like to learn more about The Wave or any other information that wasn't covered in this article, click the link here to the Bureau of Land Management website for more FAQ. While the chances are slim, keep on applying and don't give up on the chance of winning the lottery for this permit. It is one of the most incredible hiking experiences you can take and is worth the wait. If you do obtain a permit or are interested in checking out Utah and Arizona, check out our post 10 Day Road Trip Itinerary on our website for more. From all of us here at TrekPrep, we hope you enjoyed the article and stay tuned for more!
Picture Sources: Bureau of Land Management (www.blm.gov)