The Wave in Arizona - one of the World's Wonders where Only Lottery Winners can go
It was Friday – the day of my birthday. I parked in front of the tourist information center in Kanab and was surprised to see so many cars outside. Everyone in the area has come to win the famous Wave lottery. That was my second try and probably the last one.
In winter time the office is not working during the weekend, and the drawing for all three days (Saturday, Sunday, and Monday) is happening on Friday. I had triple chances, but the people were also quite a lot. It was estimated that during the high season the chances of winning are about 2%. In the middle of January when I was applying the chances are the highest – 25%, as well as the possibility to have bad weather. It was important to not win the lottery on Saturday when it was supposed to snow, neither on Sunday, when the snow is going to melt (Wave doesn’t look so good with water). I wanted my permit for Monday.
I filled in an application, draw a birthday cake on it and went to try to convince the guy holding the lottery, that having a birthday should give you some advantage. I put on the biggest smile and asked if someone has a birthday does this qualify him/her for a second application. “No” – the guy replied with an even bigger smile than mine. I felt bitten on my own game and went back to sit on the floor (no chairs left). The rules are simple. There are 10 spots for each day + 10 more online (applying 4 months in advance). One application can be filled for no more than 4 people. So, when two big groups are drawn only two spots are left. That happened for Saturday and Sunday, where all spots were gone just after a few balls picked.
We moved on Monday and I have started worrying that I was too arrogant to ask the Universe not only to win but also for a specific day. One big group left only 6 places, two couples and one Russian took the others. Only one place left. The guy explained that if he draws a couple he will let both go because he doesn’t want people wandering around in the wilderness alone. He drew the last ball and after checking the number and applications he said: “It is one person and she has a birthday” (:. I was away from home and didn’t get any presents that day but receiving the chance to visit one of the most amazing places on Earth made it for the whole year. Everyone started applauding, and I think they didn’t feel so bad missing the last spot (:.
All the winners were given maps and instructions and we had to pay $7 for the permit. Everyone received two tags, one to be displayed on the car in the parking lot and one to be attached to our backpacks. Winning the Wave lottery gives you 24 hours permit to enter the Coyote Buttes North special management area.
Although The Wave is the most popular formation in it, the area has much more to offer. The Coyote Buttes North is one of the most spectacular places on Earth and walking in it seems like entering a real Wonderland. Remarkable formations with unusual colors are scattered all over the area and I support the effort the Rangers are putting to save it.
The unique sandstones are fragile and allowing hundreds of people to enter the area would have it destroyed long before I even discovered it exists. The fee of being caught on The Wave without a permit is $1000.
I had two options where to sleep the night before the special day. One was the campsite very close to the parking lot where the hike starts, free of charge. The other choice was $40 dollars motel in Kanab. I slept half of the time on my trip in the US in a minivan, but that night it was -15 degrees Celsius, so I decided I can splurge on sleeping accommodations.
There is no marked hiking trail in Coyote Buttes North. I was provided with a photo guide and used GPS on the way back because I wasn’t following the suggested path. I managed to reach the wave quite fast because like everyone else was in a hurry to get there. The Wave is one of a kind formation. As such it totally deserves the attention it gets, but it is a pity some people only see it without continuing to the other attractions the area has.
There is a second wave very close by and just a random walk around will lead you to some other stunning places. Luckily the Coyote Buttes North special management area it’s not that big and if you spent the whole day there you can cover pretty much everything. Check thewave.info for detailed information of the attractions and if you are certain you don’t want to miss some of them – download the GPS coordinates.
I’ve seen pretty much everything without the Dinosaur Tracks because I was sure I will find them without the GPS. I didn’t. So, do yourself a favor and download the coordinates before visiting this magical place.
I didn’t travel as much as I wanted to, but I have been to places. If there is a competition for the best place I have ever seen, the Wave and the area around it will have the first place in it. I hope you enjoyed the pictures as much as I did taking them.
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Cheers, Eva (: