The North Coyote Buttes region of the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness Area in Northern Arizona/Southern Utah contains some staggering scenery, most famous of which is “The Wave,” an alcove of salmon-colored sculpted sandstone.
The region is limited-access, requiring a permit to enter, which allows only 20 visitors per day. Ten are allocated four months in advance via the internet and ten via a lottery system the previous day at the BLM office either in Kanab (in winter) or on AZ-89 (the rest of the year.) If you go on a Friday, they hold a lottery for Sat, Sun and Mon, but be warned that they ask you to pick a single day (ie you cannot put your name in for all three days.) However, I did notice that some groups applied for multiple days by using a different trip leader for each day, which is not at all fair to those traveling solo or those following the rules. I originally put my name in for Sunday, but later changed it to Monday once I realized that no-one else had applied for that day. In the end only one other group applied for Monday and we all got permits, whereas many people who applied for Saturday were turned away. Overall, your chances will be much better in winter than other times of year, especially spring and fall, which are the peak seasons. The weather for my trip was cold (around 25 degrees in the morning and maybe 40 by mid-afternoon) but clear and gorgeous.
There is much more to see than just “The Wave,” so take time to explore the region. Below is a panorama of some other formations – use the scroll bar to see the whole photo.