Hiking permit for Arizona’s The Wave

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The Wave, one of Arizona’s most stunning and popular geographic features, will soon be welcoming more visitors. The colorful sandstone rock formation in Vermilion Cliffs National Monument was formed by wind erosion and now resembles a smooth ocean wave. To protect the area’s integrity, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has capped the number of daily permits at 20, but now that number will be increased to 64.

The permits are in high demand. In 2018 over 200,000 people applied for just 7,300 available permits to take the hike through the Coyote Buttes North section of the park. Only 3.6 percent of applicants actually succeeded in securing a permit, however. Now that percentage is likely to go up.

Half of the permits can be reserved online four months in advance through an online lottery that costs $9 per application. The other half are given to the visitors’ center in Kanab on a first-come, first-served basis for $7 per person (and $7 per dog).

According to BLM Arizona State Director Ray Suazo, “We conducted robust environmental analysis and worked in collaboration with partners and interested stakeholders in an effort to allow more visitors access to the Wave, while maintaining wilderness character.”

Despite assurances, however, concerns remain about the effect more tourism will have on the integrity of the landscape.