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the wave, coyote buttes north | paria canyon, ut



While traveling the country in May of 2011, I stumbled upon one of the most beautiful, and most protected pieces of land in America: THE WAVE, located in the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, on the Colorado Plateau.

Protected under the Bureau of Land Management, only 20 people per day are allowed to hike The Wave. Each day, 10 permits are issued in the local Paria Ranger Station, while another 10 are awarded through an online lottery. During peak months, well over 100 dreamers from all over the world pack the ranger station hoping to win the hike of a lifetime.*The daily lottery now takes place in St. George UT instead of Paria.

At precisely 8:45 each morning, names are dropped into a big brass raffle drum. A hush falls over the crowd as we eagerly wait and pray to hear our name. One by one, names are called. If you are a hiking party of 3 and your name is called, there goes 3 permits! If 9 permits have been issued and they call a name of someone seeking 2 permits, then that couple has to either choose who will go, or forfeit their victory. They don't mess around! I tried my luck for 3 straight mornings, traveling 20 miles from my campsite, just over the border in Page, AZ. Each morning I arrived excited only to have my dreams shattered. lol It wasn't that dramatic. I quickly realized I could be there forever. Some folks had been there for over 2 weeks, building their entire vacation around "trying" to win the hike. I decided to continue my journey and try my luck with the online lottery. The Wave was now officially on my bucket list.

I paid my $5 and entered the online lottery on Dec. 10, 2012. January 1, New Year's Day, the winners would be announced. I was sitting outside in my girlfriend's jacuzzi nursing my NYE hangover when I opened the inbox on my iphone. I had put the idea of winning so far out of my mind (assuming it would never happen), that it never occured to me I could possibly win. I held my breath and opened the email. I WON! I stood up screaming at the top of my lungs. Shocked into sobriety, my hangover was immediately gone. This was my dream hike and I can't believe I won. The winning date is issued 4 months in advance to allow time to plan and prep. My permit was issued Thurs, April 26th 2013. YES, I was hiking The Wave with my best bud Lulu. Hallelujah!

A trackless 3-mile hike over rugged terrain leads to the promised land. Rhythmic, undulating striations of sandstone sweep through the canyon to form breathtaking chutes, castles, and beehives. Rippling layers of red, yellow, pink, green and orange Navajo Sandstone change with the light as the day progresses.

I feel like I could write an entire book just on this hike alone, but I'll keep it short. It was simply magical.

I traveld with my tripod and somehow stole away a few minutes to myself – hence the partially naked shots. Heck, this is a once in a lifetime experience! I'm going to do something memorable. :)

*Anyone can hike Coyote Buttes South. Permit is required for Coyote Buttes North ~ The Wave.
Click here for the online lottery!

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