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The Great Wave Lottery

The Great Wave Lottery

Kimberly No Comment


The Wave. You’ve seen it on screen savers, calendars, post cards, coffee table books, it’s every where! But you have no idea the drama, the suspense, the intrigue that accompanies being one of the lucky few who can see it in person.

Did you know that this protected piece of Navajo Sandstone draws thousands of red earth adventurers every year to the Kanab, Utah Visitors’ Center but only twenty (2-0) hiking permits are issued per day?

Every morning at 8:30 am, a collection of hopeful hikers assemble at the Bureau of Land Management office and fill out applications for the highly coveted golden (or rather green in this case) tickets.


You can register a max group of 6 hikers in your party, but with only 10 permits allotted daily (the other 10 are awarded to online applicants) your chances of getting permits for a large party are pretty slim.

Day 1, Greg Felty went to the permit office.  He filed the application for our then party of 6, and waited for the 9am drawing (more on that in a minute).  No dice.

Day 2, Pieter Hartog went to the permit office.  He filed the same application and anxiously awaited our number, but again, left without a permit.

There is no weighting system.  Every day you go, you have exactly the same odds as everyone else anxiously biting finger nails and teetering on the edge of their seat.  The man I stood next too in the standing room only room attended the lottery EVERY DAY for THREE YEARS before hitting pay dirt (or should I say sand stone).

Day 3, I volunteered to go.  I left the camper at 8am with Tonia in tow.  Even if we struck out a third time, we’d at least have a lovely mother-daughter breakfast in bustling downtown Kanab.

At this point, two of our hikers needed to drop out as they were moving on, so I filed an application for 4 with a variety of back up scenarios, in the rare case our number was drawn when only 1, 2, or 3 spots remained.

Oh yes!  That can happen.  Depending on how the parties are called, with each roll of the bingo ball, the number of permits are decreased, so in the worst case situation, a party of 6 could be called, when only one permit remains and there could be bloodshed.  This alone, should entice you to at least try for a permit 😉

Bingo! <<<< Click Here!

So was it “third times a charm” or “three strikes and you’re out” for us?  Based on the attendance in the room, our odds of scoring a spot were 1 out of 112.

At 9:00am, on the dot, the ranger started spinning the balls and drew the first number…

Number 6 was a party of one, an older Asian gentleman.

Spin, spin, spin

and the next number pulled, 4, was OURS!  With 9 permits to spare, and the drop of a ball, we had just scored 4 of the most sought after hiking permits in the South West!


The next number was for a party of 2 and lastly a party of 3… perfect alignment (no blood shed – but you can’t win ’em all).

And, then came Orientation…

Words, words, words, “death”, “people have died”, “unmarked trail”, “wilderness”, lots of superlatives and more threats of imminent death.

But We Won!  and so, off we’ll go!


But we want you to come with us!  Be our guest and join us for our through the sandstone and over the dunes to the Wave we will go!  See how we prepare for this once in a lifetime adventure, what other beauty this untamed treasure holds, and how we hold up on this 6 mile journey.

You can follow along, right on this page as the widget below will automatically update, or on Instagram.

Come see one of the rarest formations in the world, from the comfort of your computer (where there is a significantly reduced chance of death).  We’ll pack some extra trail mix for you!


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