Alternative areas that may remain accessible to vehicular travel and dont require a permit

The diversity and options that can be found in this part of the world are almost unimaginable.  All of the following areas offer incredible opportunities to see nature at is best!

  • Antelope Canyon

  • Horseshoe Bend Overlook

  • Lake Powell

  • Alstrom Point

  • Horseshoe Bend Slot Canyon (formerly known as “Secret Canyon”)

  • Antelope Canyon X

  • Mountain Sheep Canyon

  • Rattlesnake Canyon

  • Wind Pebble Canyon

  • Ram’s Head Canyon

  • White Pocket
 

 

  • The “New” Wave

  • Stud Horse Point

  • Thousand Pockets

  • Grand Canyon Toroweap Overlook

  • Mystical Slot Canyon

  • Peek-A-Boo Canyon

  • The “White” Wave

  • Zion National Park

  • Bryce Canyon

20 Responses

  1. Hi Alley,
    Amazing information you have put together! I have read several of your articles! I am planning a trip to AZ the second week of January. Our original plan was to to the wave and antelope canyon. The lottery results came out for January today and neither my partner or I got a permit. I also see that antelope canyon is currently closed. We had planned on doing horseshoe bend the same day as antelope canyon and coyote buttes north on the day before. We will be renting a car, not sure if it is all wheel drive or not to take us around Arizona. Since we did not get permits to coyote buttes north, is there something in the same area you can recommend to me? We are good with long hikes and just want to see some scenery, it is ok if it doesn’t look like the wave. We would love to do it ourselves without a guide. If antelope canyon does not open before our trip, is there something near horseshoe bend we could do that same day that you would recommend?

    Thank you for all your information!!

    1. Hi Jessica,
      So sorry to hear that neither you nor your partner got picked for the Wave. FYI, you could try your hand at the walk-in lottery. It is held at the Kanab, UT, Convention Center, and you would apply the day before you wish to hike.
      Should you not wish to do that, and still wish to go someplace really cool, I’d recommend White Pocket. This is a stunning area, also located within the Paria Canyon/Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness Area. Unlike the Wave, a permit is not required to go there (not yet anyway — that could change, given how popular it’s become!), and the “hiking” involved is relatively easy. Although you stated your preference for not going with a guide, we strongly recommend you rethink that due to the difficult nature of the terrain on the access road into the area. It typically consists of very deep sand, and even experienced 4X4 drivers get stuck out there on a daily basis, necessitating a VERY expensive tow. Besides, if you’re driving a rental car, you would void your insurance the minute your tires parted with the pavement.
      The companies listed below have knowledgeable guides (I know many of them personally) and vehicles with beefy enough suspensions to handle the rigors of the desert. For more information, read “Hire A Guide To The Wave AZ ” or contact/visit:
      – Paria Outpost & Outfitters — http://www.paria.com — 928-691-1047
      – Action Photo Tours — http://www.actionphototours.com — 208-789-5899
      – American West Scenic Adventures — ScenicToursUSA.com — 435-767-0220
      – Dreamland Safari Tours — http://www.dreamlandtours.net — 435-644-5506
      – Grand Circle Tours — http://www.vermilioncliffs.net — 928-691-0166
      – Grand Staircase Discovery Tours — http://www.grandstaircasediscoverytours.com — 928-614-4099
      – Kanab Tour Company — http://www.kanabtourcompany.com — 435-644-5525
      – Kanab Western Adventures — http://www.kanabwesternadventures.com — 435-690-0220
      – Lake Powell Tour Company — http://www.lakepowelltours.com — 928-618-5219
      – Seeking Treasure Adventures — http://www.seekingtreasureadventures.com — 435-689-2182
      – Antelope Canyon Tours/Vermilion Adventures — http://www.antelopecanyon.com — 928-645-9102
      Whether you go with a tour to White Pocket, or you DIY it, a trip there would most likely take the better part of a day, so you’d probably want to plan on visiting Horseshoe Bend the following day.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  2. Hi:
    Great info.
    I heard about the 10 walk-in permits for The Wave. Are they still doing that? We will be in the area Oct. 3-8 and what is the best strategy for getting a walk-in permit? Thanks so much.
    Sally

    1. Hey Sally, and thank you for your compliments. I apologize for not replying to your inquiry sooner.
      The short answer is, there is no “strategy” for getting a walk-in permit. It all comes down to the luck of the draw, and at the time of year you’re visiting, you’ll need a lot of luck because October is considered prime time to hike to The Wave. Since it appears you have a few days to try your hand at the walk-in lottery, that can work in your favor, but be prepared to explore other areas in the very likely event your party isn’t chosen to go.
      Otherwise, try again to apply for a Wave permit through the online lottery. Strage as this may sound, you might try doing so at the absolute worst times of the year for hiking: dead of winter and/or heat of summer. While people are still competing for permits at these times of the year, there are typically fewer of them due to the challenges posed by the weather.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  3. Hi love your info … Visited Antelope Canyon , Horseshoe Bend and South Rim… I’m interested in around Page area..like White Pocket.. especially that doesn’t need permit… Coming from Scottsdale AZ… Even considered revisiting Antelope canyon..but I saw it’s closed due to covid… Is White Pocket open 1st week in Oct 2020?… It is stated not to enter Navajo territory…

    1. Hi Flory!
      So sorry for the delay in response to your inquiry. I thought I’d turned on notifications for these, but obviously, something I did isn’t working 😛
      Anyway, the White Pocket area is open. It is not located on Navajo Indian Tribal Lands, and you do not need a permit to visit (not yet anyway — that could change, given how popular it’s become!). However, we strongly recommend going with a guided tour due to the difficult nature of the terrain on the access road into the area. These companies have knowledgeable guides (I know many of them personally) and vehicles with beefy enough suspensions to handle the rigors of the desert. For more information, read “Hire A Guide To The Wave AZ ” or contact/visit:
      – Paria Outpost & Outfitters — http://www.paria.com — 928-691-1047
      – Action Photo Tours — http://www.actionphototours.com — 208-789-5899
      – American West Scenic Adventures — ScenicToursUSA.com — 435-767-0220
      – Dreamland Safari Tours — http://www.dreamlandtours.net — 435-644-5506
      – Grand Circle Tours — http://www.vermilioncliffs.net — 928-691-0166
      – Grand Staircase Discovery Tours — http://www.grandstaircasediscoverytours.com — 928-614-4099
      – Kanab Tour Company — http://www.kanabtourcompany.com — 435-644-5525
      – Kanab Western Adventures — http://www.kanabwesternadventures.com — 435-690-0220
      – Lake Powell Tour Company — http://www.lakepowelltours.com — 928-618-5219
      – Seeking Treasure Adventures — http://www.seekingtreasureadventures.com — 435-689-2182
      – Antelope Canyon Tours/Vermilion Adventures — http://www.antelopecanyon.com — 928-645-9102
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  4. Due to Covid – wasnt sure if we were getting a vacation. So now we are and I know it is too late to get permit, but is there still a way to see the wave or what other choices would you recommend. We are coming from Yellowstone down that way.

    1. Hi Natalie,
      Unfortunately — or fortunately depending on your point of view — it is not possible to hike to The Wave without a permit. Fortunately — or unfortunately depending on your POV 😉 — there is no shortage of incredible scenery around here that doesn’t require a permit to access.
      In the immediate vicinity of Coyote Buttes North, there is Wire Pass Canyon and the Buckskin Gulch. Although these aren’t comparable in looks to The Wave, you’ll still have a ton of fun exploring these beautiful slot canyons! Buckskin Gulch is the grand-daddy of all slot canyons in the Southwest, the longest and deepest in the area! Carved by a tributary of the Paria River that eventually joins with the Colorado River near Lees Ferry, hiking the full length of the Buckskin Gulch is a multi-day affair, requiring advance planning, camping permits, occasional boulder scrambling and frequent slogs through pools of cold, smelly standing water. Fortunately, the typical vacationer needn’t commit to the “whole enchilada” of Buckskin Gulch; you can get a perfectly satisfying sampling of its wonders in Wire Pass Canyon. Wire Pass Canyon is a photogenic two-part slot canyon that is short enough for intermediate-level hikers to enjoy, yet offers the option to delve further into Buckskin Gulch for those wanting more of a challenge. The walk to the entrance of the initial slot is via a typically dry streambed, which may feature deep sand. An 8-10’ drop a short distance into the slot canyon is one reason why Wire Pass Canyon may not be appropriate for those traveling with young children, the elderly, or individuals afraid of heights. As the canyon walls become higher and closer together, they suddenly open up as the second slot connects with the Buckskin Gulch. If you’ve had enough at this point, you can simply turn around and head back to your vehicle. If you’d like to explore further, you can easily make a half-day hike out of the immediate area around the confluence with the Buckskin. Look for some bighorn sheep petroglyphs dating back hundreds, maybe thousands of years! Access to Wire Pass Canyon and the Buckskin Gulch is off US89 between Page, AZ, and Kanab, UT, on the House Rock Valley Road. Hikers are required to pay a self-permitting fee at the kiosk by the trailhead. Fair warning: the House Rock Valley Road is unpaved! While it is accessible to 2WD vehicles much of the time, if recent weather has brought any moisture whatsoever, the HRVR can turn into a muddy, impassable mess. Parties in rental cars should think twice about attempting this road since off-road driving is strictly prohibited by most rental car companies. A guided tour will get your family to Wire Pass Canyon and back in one piece, and turn you onto features you might have missed trying to find your own way. Page, AZ, and Kanab, UT based companies offering guided tours to Wire Pass Canyon and the Buckskin Gulch include:
      – Detours American West, 480-633-9013, http://www.detoursamericanwest.com
      – Paria Outpost & Outfitters, 928-691-1047, http://www.paria.com
      – Grand Staircase Discovery Tours, 928-614-4099, http://www.grandstaircasediscoverytours.com
      Another area that’s chock-a-block with intricate rock formations and fascinating history near the Wave is White Pocket. Thought by many to put The Wave to shame, White Pocket does not require a permit or guided tour to visit, and the hiking is relatively easy. However, due to the rugged nature of the access road (lots of people get stuck there), we strongly recommend taking a guided tour so you can get out there and back in one piece. Guided tour providers that go to White Pocket include, but are not limited to the following:
      – Dreamland Safari Tours, (435) 412-1790, http://www.dreamlandtours.net
      – TC Tours, (435) 668-5262, http://www.slotcanyontourskanab.com
      – Kanab Tour Company, (435) 644-5525, http://www.kanabtourcompany.com
      – Forever Adventure Tours, 435-644-5700, http://www.foreveradventuretours.com
      – Grand Circle Tours, (928) 691-0166, http://www.vermilioncliffs.net
      If you have your heart set on seeing sights comparable to the Wave in the cosmetic sense, you might consider visiting The “New” Wave, near Page, AZ, a small but interesting cluster of rock formations, some of which resemble The Wave. IMO the most fascinating rock formation in this area is Radio Tower Rock. FYI, there is a campground here, so be sure you park so that you’re not impeding on their space or enjoyment of the area.
      Other sites that resemble The Wave’s unique looks are Yant Flat, aka the “Candy Cliffs” near St. George, UT, and the Fire Wave, in Valley of Fire State Park just Northeast of Las Vegas, NV.
      If all else fails, you can always charter an airplane or helicopter over Coyote Buttes out of Kanab, UT, or Page, AZ. Yes, this will be pricey, but you’ll get to see a ton of amazing scenery in addition to The Wave that are virtually inaccessible to anything or anybody! For more information on flying over The Wave, visit “So You Didn’t Get A Wave Permit: Now What?
      Good luck and safe travels!
      Alley 🙂

      1. This information is great! Thank you! I was curious of best options for the most accessible locations to check out. I have 4WD with clearance and Lots of experience off roading in desert, but will be with my parents and we aren’t able to hike more than a mile or two. Any suggestions on places we can off road to without needing a permit? In normal circumstances I would take them on a guided tour, but due to covid we don’t want to be with groups.

        1. Hi Ashley,
          In your case, I would recommend White Pocket. This is a stunning area, also located within the Paria Canyon/Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness Area. Unlike the Wave, a permit is not required to go there, but IMO the best part is, the “hiking” is relatively easy.
          For detailed directions and tips for photography at White Pocket, visit http://www.TheWave.info: White Pocket
          Good luck and safe travels,
          Alley 🙂

  5. Hi Alley,

    Greetings from London, UK. What a fantastic job you have done with this wonderfully informative site!

    I wonder if it would be possible to tap into the benefit of your experience? My lovely wife and I will be staying in Page in mid October and would love to see some of this amazing area. The problems being, of course we won’t be getting a permit, but also we will be in a rented Mustang.

    Do you have any advice as to anywhere we could visit without permits and in a low clearance vehicle please? Given the time we would arrive, I’d say we could fit in a hike of around 5 miles but a hike isn’t essential. We’re more interested in good spots for scenery / landscape photography. I’ve done a fair bit of research already and almost everything I’ve found so far is either too long a hike and or requires permits and a high clearance vehicle. Our trip is wiping out our funds somewhat so that has ruled out paying for a tour also.

    We will hit Horseshoe Bend for sunrise the next morning. And we don’t really have any interest in playing sardines in Antelope Canyon!

    So far, all I can come up with is doing the Cathedral Wash Trail, which looks to be a pretty good option but if you have any other advice of places I could look into that would be very much appreciated.

    Best regards,

    Mes

    1. Hi Mes,
      I know you’ve already traveled, but your inquiry might be of benefit to other travelers to the area!
      In a low-clearance vehicle, you will be somewhat limited as to where you can go, but you’ll have no shortage of beautiful sights to visit.
      If you’re up for a 5+ mile hike, you might try hiking for a ways on the Page, AZ, Rim View Trail. This relatively easy trail encircles Manson Mesa, where the original town site of Page was built on. This trail offers great views of landmarks such as Navajo Mountain, Tower Butte, the Vermillion Cliffs, and Lake Powell, but no access to the lake itself. The full length of the trail is 10 miles, but you don’t have to commit to all that. There are several “spur” trails off the main trail that will get you back to populated areas in relatively short order.
      Depending on conditions at the time of your visit, you might also visit The “New” Wave, aka the Beehives, which are located across from the turn-off to the Southern entrance of Lake Powell Resort on US89. The road into this area is unpaved, but regularly graded. However, if any storms have occurred in the days leading up to your visit, you might take a pass on this area as this could render the access road impassable to low-clearance vehicles.
      Another good hike located on US89 between Page, AZ, and Kanab, UT, is the Paria Rimrocks/Toadstool Hoodoos Trail. The parking lot, located near mile marker 19, is paved, you would then walk in from there.
      You might also drive down to Lees Ferry, where you can actually walk right up to the banks of the Colorado River. Time permitting, you might also take a walk around the Lonely Dell Ranch Historic Site and save room for a meal at Cliff Dweller’s Lodge Restaurant.
      Good luck, safe travels, and Happy Holidays to all!
      Alley 🙂

  6. We are from overseas and we intend to drive from Las Vegas to Zion (stay one night only to walk the Narrows the next day), then stay in Kanab so that we can visit: The Wave, Grand Staircase-Escalante, Marble Canyon, Paria Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Lake Powell, Antelope Canyon, Goblin Valley State Park, and Arches National Park. Do you have any comments on this route?

    I have just started to do research for my August/September trip, so please pardon my ignorance and possibly silly questions. My friends and I are not very sporty, we don’t prefer to do some serious hiking. Last time, we snowshoed at Zion for 2 hours and that was difficult enough for us. Do you think we can drive a do some short walk (say, 1 hour or so) to appreciate the Wave?

    1. Hi Ava,
      I took your two questions and integrated them, and I’m gonna work a bit backwards if that’s OK.
      RE: The Wave — it’s a 6+ mile out-and-back walk, so, no, there’s no way to just walk “an hour or so” to see/appreciate it. The biggest obstacle to seeing The Wave, however, is the very strict permit requirement. Only 20 people per day are allowed out there: 10 spots are give by online lottery 4 months in advance, then another 10 are distributed by walk-in lottery the day prior to when you wish to hike at the Grand Staircase Escalante Visitors Center in Kanab. The process is very competitive, so statistically, the chances of you getting a permit are very slim to begin with.
      Another area in the Vermillion Cliffs/Paria Cayon Wilderness area that is absolutely stunning and doesn’t require a lot of walking, or a permit, is White Pocket. The hardest part of accessing that area is the drive: a lot of sand, occasional boulders, a 4WD vehicle is definitely required, along with experience in driving that kind of terrain. For your safety and enjoyment, going with a licensed tour outfitter is the best way to go. There are several in Page, AZ, and Kanab, UT, but a couple we know personally are Paria Outpost & Outfitters and Vermillion Adventures.
      As for the rest of your plan, using Kanab, UT, as a base camp from which to explore the parks and monuments out here is OK for the most part, except when you get to Arches/Canyonlands and Goblin Valley. It takes 5 hours — one way — to drive from Kanab, UT, to Moab, UT, the gateway community for Arches/Canyonlands. Goblin Valley State Park can be visited en route. If you wanted to hit Bryce on the way, you could do that, too, as well as Capitol Reef, for that matter. At that point, it’s best to break up the drive about half-way. Torrey, UT, would be a good candidate for an overnight, or Fruita, or Hanksville. Then you need at least 3-4 days to do Moab, UT, justice. If you’re flying out of Las Vegas after your vacation is over, you might want to do this part of the trip first, so you don’t have such a long drive at the end of your trip, when you’re tired.

      Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, and Lake Powell can be visited in one day’s time as a day trip out of Kanab, UT. It takes 1 hour and change, each way, to drive to Page, AZ. You need reservations to tour Antelope Canyon. If you’re wanting to tour both Antelope Canyon and do a short boat tour on Lake Powell, consider booking both tours as “bundle” for optimal convenience. If you wanted to, you could return to Kanab via Marble Canyon and make it a nice “loop” drive.
      With Grand Staircase-Escalante, that area is huge, and you actually have views of that area all around you traveling between Kanab and Page, and then as you travel between Kanab and Moab. Lower Calf Creek Falls is a nice hike you might do, although it is 5.5 miles total.
      The biggest over-arching concern with using Kanab, UT, as a base camp to make day trips to the various attractions out here is to keep an eye on the time. You need to ensure that you get back to Kanab before sunset, which occurs at ~8:30 PM, Kanab time. Nighttime driving is strongly discouraged in this part of the US due to lack of ambient lighting on local roads, and the possible presence of deer, elk, free range cattle, and even wild horses. The stretch of road between Page, AZ, and Kanab, UT, is especially notorious for nighttime collisions with large wildlife, which will ruin a vacation in a hot second. HOWEVER — you must also keep in mind that Arizona DOES NOT observe Daylight Savings Time, whereas Utah DOES observe it. This means that Kanab, UT, will be one hour “ahead” of Page, AZ, so you’d “gain” an hour passing from Kanab to Page, then “lose” it again as you travel from Page to Kanab.
      Oh, one more thing: if you wish to see The Wave, but don’t get a hiking permit and/or aren’t prepared to walk 6+ miles, you might consider chartering an airplane or helicopter over it out of Kanab, UT, or Page, AZ.
      Good luck and safe travels!
      Alley 🙂

  7. Alley – So appreciate your posts and information. I am trying to plan a bday trip for my husband from 2/20 -2/22 between the Grand Canyon, Sedona and now Page with all the awesome options I am seeing.
    I planned a helicopter trip over the Grand Canyon for the morning of 2/20 and think I would like to head to Page after that. With the late afternoon of 2/20 arriving into Page.
    What would you recommend as the best spots to visit and the timing of hitting those spots. We are pretty flexible for 2/20 afternoon and all day 2/21 & 2/22.

    1. Hello Jane, and thank you for visiting our site!
      The trip from Grand Canyon South Rim to Page, AZ, is ~150 miles, and takes about 2.5 hours – if you drive direct and don’t make any stops. That rarely happens as the drive is very scenic and you’ll no doubt find yourself stopping to take pictures at the 6+ named overlooks of the Grand Canyon you’ll pass on the way to Desert View Point, the Little Colorado River Overlook, the Cameron Trading Post, Chinle formation/”badlands” views, and The “Cut” Overlook… just to name a few 😉 In light of all this, 3.5-4 hours ends up being a more accurate figure.
      However, you want to be sure to time any drives you make so that you’re at your destination prior to sunset. Nighttime driving is strongly discouraged in this part of the US due to lack of ambient lighting on local roadways, plus the possible presence of deer, elk, coyotes, free range cattle, and other wildlife. Daylength in February is relatively short: sunrise occurs at about 7:15 AM, and sunset takes place shortly after 6:00 PM.
      Timing and parking permitting, you could hit the Horseshoe Bend Overlook on the way into Page. It’s located a few miles South of town, so it’s right on your way. However, this is a very popular spot for sunset, so you might find the parking lot already full. If that’s the case, plan on going back the next morning, just after sunrise. The views are just as pretty, and there tends to be fewer people to contend with.
      The next day, plan on touring Antelope Canyon. If you can grab a mid-day spot, that’s generally regarded as the best time for lighting in the canyon. If these spots are already full, which is entirely possible at this point, then go whenever there’s space available that fits your schedule. If you’d rather not mess with all that, you might also consider touring one of several “alternate” slot canyons that are just as beautiful, but far less crowded.
      As for other things you might do, water-based activities such as Lake Powell Boat Tours and the Glen Canyon Float Trip are on seasonal hiatus. If you have another full day to work with, I’d suggest doing a tour to White Pocket or maybe Alstrom Point. White Pocket is an area in the Vermilion Cliffs/Paria Canyon Wilderness renowned for its amazing rock formations, and the fact that you don’t need a permit (yet, knock on wood) to visit it. Tours to this area are offered by several companies. The ones we’re most familiar with are Paria Outpost & Outfitters (located between Page, AZ and Kanab, UT) and Vermilion Adventures, which is a division of Roger Ekis’ Antelope Canyon Tours, located in Page, AZ. For Alstrom Point, we recommend Alstrom Point Tours, a division of Horseshoe Bend Slot Canyon Tours, also located in Page, AZ.
      These are just a few suggestions; the possibilities are almost endless! Ultimate 2-Day Itinerary in Page, AZ
      Hope that helps! Best wishes for safe travels, and a Happy Holiday Season 🙂
      Alley

  8. On the above list I have already been to Bryce Canyon and Zion. Are there any of the others you can recommend that does not entail too much walking? My days of doing that are over but I would like to see more sites. I would just rather drive to these places and get out and walk some if I have to.

    1. Hello Sindi,
      Fortunately you’ll find lots of parks and other attractions in the Southwest where you can keep exertion to a minimum if needed. The most notable entrant: Grand Canyon South Rim. It is very easy to tour using your own vehicle on the East Rim/Desert View Drive and the free shuttles out to the Hermit’s Rest/West Rim overlooks. Sedona and the surrounding area can also be enjoyed by car, with the backcountry areas accessible by jeep tour. In Page, AZ, Upper Antelope Canyon is one of the most, if not THE most accessible attraction in the area at just 100 yards in length, with a flat trail out and back. Horseshoe Bend is another must-do attraction in the Page, AZ, area, but the walk can be a challenge for some. If you think you might fit into this category, there are alternate means of seeing Horseshoe Bend, such as flying over it, or taking a shuttle to the Navajo Reservation entrance, that will eliminate much, if not all of the need for strenuous walking.
      Hope that helps. Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

      1. A friend told me about a canyon near the wave that’s not so crowded and every bit as spectacular. Do you know what and where that might be?

        1. Hi Mary Rose,
          That sounds like either Wire Pass Canyon or Buckskin Gulch. You access either one of these via the House Rock Valley Road. However, these are slot canyons, so not comparable in terms of scenery to Coyote Buttes North (where The Wave is located), but still beautiful in their own right.
          The most popular alternative to The Wave at the present time is White Pocket. This is an area that, by some miracle, doesn’t require a permit to visit, and doesn’t require a lot of intensive hiking to explore. The hardest part of exploring this area is getting there: the road into it is very sandy, and shouldn’t be attempted in a rental car. Fortunately, there are a number of licensed tour guides in Page, AZ, or Kanab, UT, who can get you to White Pocket in comfort and safety. For more information, visit TheWaveAZ.com: Hire A Guide The companies we ourselves are most familiar with on a personal basis are Paria Outpost & Outfitters and Dreamland Safari Tours.
          Good luck and safe travels,
          Alley 🙂

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