What if we told you that most people who hike to The Wave end up missing out on the exquisite beauty and singular geology of Coyote Buttes North, because they’re so focused on not getting lost on the way to The Wave? That would be the ultimate case of not seeing the forest for the trees, right? Getting a permit to hike The Wave is a highly-coveted, once-in-a-lifetime experience. So how do you ensure that you make the most of it? By hiring a guide!
If you were fortunate enough to score a permit for The Wave, one of the first things you learn is that there is no “established” trail to The Wave. Even though the BLM supplies a detailed map of the hiking route to permit holders, basic map reading and route-finding skills are a definite plus. There are instances every year of people getting so hopelessly lost that they never see The Wave, or worse, require a costly search and rescue operation to get them back to safety, and civilization. Then there’s the matter of whether the House Rock Valley Road to the Wire Pass Trailhead is even passable at the time of your hike. Winter snowstorms and summer flash floods can turn the normally hard, compacted dirt road to sticky, wet clay, which has mired many a rental car over the years. Who needs all those variables to ruin what is likely to be your one and only chance to see The Wave?
There are about a dozen tour outfitters authorized by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to conduct tours to Coyote Buttes North and its crown jewel, The Wave. These trained professionals can eliminate the guesswork out of hiking to The Wave, and lend insight and expertise on the geology and human history of the area that you may miss out on by going unaccompanied. They can help you get better photos by guiding you to the best areas of Coyote Buttes North at the times of day that lend optimal light and shadow play on the rock formations, such as:
The “Second” Wave
Top Rock and Top Rock Arch
North and South TeePees
The Dinosaur Dance Floor
Since these companies have fleets of high-clearance 4WD vehicles, and drivers with the experience and knowledge to safely pilot them, they can power through deep mud and sand, and spider-crawl over boulders, ruts and other obstacles – both expected and unexpected – that might pop up on the journey.
If you were unable to secure permits for The Wave and Coyote Buttes North, these companies can suggest a myriad of alternate sites that are just as incredible as The Wave (some, dare we say it, even moreso!), and don’t require a permit. Remember, they are experts on the area of the American Southwest known as The Grand Circle and their knowledge and enthusiasm can make a huge difference in the quality of your vacation, your photos, and your memories!
Companies with the necessary clearance from the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) to guide tours to The Wave are:
Action Photo Tours — www.actionphototours.com — 208-789-5899
American West Scenic Adventures — ScenicToursUSA.com — 435-767-0220
Dreamland Safari Tours — www.dreamlandtours.net — 435-644-5506
Grand Circle Tours — www.vermilioncliffs.net — 928-691-0166
Grand Staircase Discovery Tours — www.grandstaircasediscoverytours.com — 928-614-4099
Kanab Tour Company — www.kanabtourcompany.com — 435-644-5525
Kanab Western Adventures — www.kanabwesternadventures.com — 435-690-0220
Lake Powell Company — www.lakepowelltours.com — 928-618-5219
Paria Outpost & Outfitters — www.paria.com — 928-691-1047
Seeking Treasure Adventures — www.seekingtreasureadventures.com — 435-689-2182
Antelope Canyon Tours — www.antelopecanyon.com — 928-645-9102
Some outfitters offer round-trip transport from Page, Arizona, Kanab, Utah and other gateway cities. Others require that you meet them at their headquarters. Be sure you establish your tour’s meeting place, and convenience to where you’re staying, before committing to use their services. Also, be aware that utilizing a guided tour to The Wave does not exempt you from the requirement to get a Wave Permit. You still need to get one. Some tour companies may apply on your behalf as part of a booked excursion, with contingency tour locations for if a permit is not awarded.