The Wave is among the most elusive hiking permits and a staple on many hikers’ bucket lists. The 6-mile round-trip hike takes you deep into the stunning backcountry of this remote part of Arizona and rewards you with one of the Southwest’s most iconic views. Here is all the information on how to experience this fantastic trail. 


  • 6 miles round trip, 8-9 if you explore all the other formations
  • Must have permits to do the hike (more on that below)
  • High clearance vehicles are required to reach the trailhead, and 4×4 may be required after a rain 
  • One hour from either Page or Kanab, right in the middle of both.
  • Here is the AllTrails map we used

Getting Wave Permits

Permits are given out in two ways, and only 64 people are allowed access per day. The easiest way is via the online permit lottery four months in advance. The chances of success are low outside of the heat of summer and the cold of winter. But you know well in advance if you do this option and can make plans for your trip. You can apply for the permit here. The other way is via the geofenced day early permit lottery. This has to be done in a specific location radius of the hiking area, and you can only apply for it the day before if you are in the location.

Driving There

The trailhead is about an hour from Kanab, Utah, or Page, Arizona, depending on where you are coming from. The road to access the trail is generally okay with a high-clearance vehicle but can be impassible after the rain and even require a 4×4. Be sure to check before you go.  When we went, driving with a high-clearance vehicle was easy, and a 4×4 was not needed. A parking lot right near the trailhead has lots of space, as the trailhead is also used for the popular Buckskin Gulch Trail. 

The Wave Trail

The trail to the Wave is difficult to follow due to the lack of signs and an actual trail trail. I HIGHLY recommend downloading an AllTrails map for offline use, as that is the best way to stay on the path.

When you get your permit, they will give you a map with photos showing how to get to the Wave. However, they are not great to rely on unless you are good at route finding. We had to help a few people using the photos when we were there. 

The trail to the Wave is an adventure in itself, with a diverse landscape that transitions from soft sand to rugged sandstone rocks. While it may be steep in a few sections, the real thrill lies in navigating the uneven sandstone, a challenge that adds to the excitement of this unique hiking experience. 

After about a half mile, you will split off the main wash trail and start the trial to the Wave. It is easy to miss, so be sure you are looking for it. 

The trail heads uphill and crosses a hill before heading back down, crossing a wash, and hiking up the sandstone. 

You will have a large set of rocks on your right side and generally follow along this most of the way to the Wave. 

Again, don’t just read this post; be sure to download and understand the map before you go so you can stay aware of it. 

Eventually, a large crack in the rock will come into view in the distance, and you will head down to the base and start the climb up to the Wave. 

The Wave

When you reach the Wave, there is only one way to enter, which is much bigger than I anticipated. There are three main corridors where you can take photos that showcase the Wave.

There were only a few other people there with us in the early morning, and we all tried to stay out of each other’s way, so it was easy to get good shots. I’m sure it is tougher later in the day when it is busy. 

We explored for over an hour and took many photos of the iconic location before exploring more of the area. 

If you want to see these other sites, download the map. You can see them on the map and navigate to them via the Top Rock Trail. It is very steep and won’t be great for everyone. I’m not going to explain how to get to them as it would be difficult, but the map will help you see them if you want to make the climb. 

Melody Arch

Top of the Rock arch

The Alcove

After exploring, we made our way safely off the rock and spent another 15 minutes with the Wave before starting the hike back. This is easily a top 10 hike for me; it was incredible, and there were many amazing things to see, even without the Wave. I highly recommend you get a permit and check it out for yourself. Let me know what you think in the comments.