Editor's Note: The following is pulled from my journal that I kept while I was camping out West I won the lottery to go see ‘The Wave’!!
Located in Coyote Buttes, which was unknown before the mid 1990s, but it is now quite popular because of just one formation called, 'The Wave'. It is a small ravine between eroded sandstone domes that have formed amazingly beautiful rocks containing thin, swirling strata.
To get a permit to enter North or South Coyote Buttes it costs $7 per person, with a limit of 20 people per day, and no more than 6 in a single group. Half these are bookable up to 4-5 months in advance by writing to the BLM in Kanab or applying via their website, while the other half (this includes me) are available by applying in person to the BLM office at the Paria River Office. Before 9 am, on the day prior to the intended visit if more than ten people are waiting, a lottery system is used to select the chosen few.
Because the formations are considered to be particularly delicate, Coyote Buttes has recently been subject to fees and entry limitations. Like I said, only 20 people per day are allowed to visit.
Yesterday, I had talked with people from Page’s (Arizona) Visitor’s Center and they gave me a map to find ‘Paria Contact Station’ (to try and get a permit to hike to the wave). I was told that they only choose 10 people a day and it’s done by a lottery system (not first come, first serve). I was also informed that it takes 30 min to get there AND to show up promptly at 8am.
I woke up around 6:50 and left camp at 7:10. “I’ll get there around 7:40 am. Great, this will give me plenty of time to find the place, and I’ll be early,” I thought to myself.
I was driving along; I passed a sign that said… “Welcome to Utah!” (Ugghhhhhh, what??? I didn’t know I was going to cross the border!!!) I looked closely at the map the woman gave me, and sure enough this office is in Utah….what does that mean, you ask?? Utah is an hour ahead (apparently Arizona doesn’t follow daylight savings time). OH SH!T….. It’s now 8:35 UT time and I’m now 35 min. late and I haven’t even gotten to the station yet!!!!! NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!
When I got to the station it was now 8:45 am. I was 45 min. late. I ran into the office and asked if I could still enter into the lottery to go see The Wave. The man behind the counter said I had 10 min. to spare – whew!!!!! I frantically filled out the paperwork and handed it back to him.
I looked around me and there were a lot of people in this tiny little building. My chances didn’t look so hot. At 9 am he assigned everyone a number; I was given #9. Most people were traveling in a party of 2 or more, and some in parties of 4+ (these parties are all assigned just one number).
“10 spaces were sold 5 months ago on the Internet,” he announced. “There are 36 people here today in the lottery for just 10 openings--I will start pulling numbers for the other 10 remaining slots right now.”
Here it goes…..
The first number he pulled was a party of 3; now just 7 slots remaining. (What…that was fast—oh no.) The next number was a party of 2; now 5 slots remaining. (It’s already ½ over???)
15! Another couple sighed in relief. (Need I mention that some of these people have tried the lottery for 3 days?!)
6! – A mother/son duo were elated. “There is one slot left. If you have a party of 2 or more you should decide now who would get to go, and who should stay,” said the man behind the counter.
(Why am I nervous?! I never win these things…..)
“And the last number…..9!” THAT’S ME!!!! “REALLY?”, I shouted. “I never win stuff like this!” People began to chuckle at my amusement. One man came up and congratulated me; I felt like the luckiest girl!!! Can you believe it?!? Out of 36 people I was chosen to go!
All successful applicants received a hiking permit and a topographic map to help identify the route to The Wave (which is not well marked on the ground). My pass was good for the next day only.
I was a little nervous about hiking out in the desert alone. They were right, the trail was not well marked. The hike was mildly intense, the heat and hiking through sand made it more difficult (oh and my backpack being heavy from carrying all my camera gear, food, and water). The sand was very fine and was difficult to maneuver in…almost like hiking in brown sugar.
I felt proud that I was leading the way without a GPS, and I had made it! I had gotten to The Wave -- I was the 1st one there. I explored the area taking 100’s of pictures.
I later befriended guys from CO, Harold and Larry. They were such nice guys! I just WISH he shot with Nikon...he had this beautiful wide-angle lense – ahhh it would have been AWESOME to use that thing—oh well). Together, we continued exploring the area—seemed like the more time I spent there the more angles I discovered.
Larry and Harold decided to leave around 2:30 and I asked if I could join them on the hike back. When we got back to the parking lot, they offered me a cold beer from their ice chest – the perfect reward! We continued getting to know each other and decided to have dinner together. We ate a Mexican restaurant; had great food and delicious margaritas. We toasted to a wonderful opportunity to seeing the wave and getting to know each other. They were great company!
Still cannot believe I won the lottery and had the chance to experience one of nature’s true treasures. I couldn't have asked for a better 'grand finale' to my camping trip out West.