Don’t be one of the people that gets the permit and then can’t make it to the Wave. Having hiked the Wave multiple times in all weather conditions, there are a number of things that I have learned to check off before I make the drive to the trailhead. Here is my routine after getting the permit. The evening before, I check weather conditions, paying particular attention to temps and wind, road conditions, and sunrise and sunset times.
For any temperatures above 80 degrees, I plan my trip so that I am taking the turn for House Rock Valley at sunrise. Then I will be driving on the dirt road while there is light out. This is particularly important if there is mud or snow on House Rock.
This allows me to start as early as possible from the Wave trailhead. Even so, if there are high temps forecasted I will adjust my water supply accordingly. There are no places to filter water on the hike, and any detours can dramatically increase consumption.
If I’m feeling particularly organized, I will also put a cooler in the car with ice and some choice beverages for when I get back to the car.
If there is mud or snow on the road I would strongly consider not going. However, I also understand the urge to try and push limits, given how hard the permits are to get. Just make sure you bring along emergency phone numbers and be prepared to pay high towing fees. I’ll include relevant numbers at the end of this.
As a reminder, even if you don’t show reception, the 911 receiver is surprisingly strong and may pick up your call even if you don’t show bars. Worth a shot in a pinch.
The only truly reliable directions are the map that is given to you when you pay for the permit. Anything else, including written directions, using your GPS, trail signs, footprints, and cairns are all unreliable. Although I’ve only hiked the Wave a handful of times, I’ve been on the beginning of the trail numerous times to access other hikes. It is customary to ask outbound hikers how the Wave was and I am always surprised at the number of people who tried to get there and weren’t able to find it or turned back because they were running out of food, daylight or energy.
Yes, the area is patrolled by rangers. Not enough to rely on for help, but enough that you should not plan on slipping in there without getting a ticket.
Chances are you’ll have no problems and find the Wave and have a great time, congratulations on getting one of the hardest permits in the American southwest!
Check road conditions, plan departure time
Tell someone your itinerary
Buy food and water, pack your day bag
Pack cooler with ice and drinks/snacks for when you get back to the car
Gas up, check tires
Extra layer or rain gear depending on forecast
Take pictures periodically during the hike, facing the return direction. Particularly the saddle and the small peaks. I have a tendency to miss these on the way back.
I bring fuel and a canister stove for a warm lunch if there is snow out.
Useful Contact Information
Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness
Kane County Sheriff—Search and Rescue in Utah — 877-644-2349
Coconino County Sheriff—Search and Rescue in Arizona — 800-338-7888
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Visitor Center—745 Highway 89, Kanab, UT — 435-644-1300
Bureau of Land Management Arizona Strip Field Office—345 E Riverside Dr, St George, UT — 435-688-3200
Bureau of Land Management Kanab Field Office—669 S Highway 89A, Kanab, UT — 435-644-1200
Ramsay Towing and Service Center—115 S 100 E, Kanab, UT — 435-644-2468