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Photographs From the Wave and Area

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The area surrounding the Wave. You can see why route-finding skills are important. There is not even a shred of a trail to follow, nor will there ever be! They want it to be hard to find.

This will be my monthly post of photographs from my travels across the West. Today we are going to look at what is commonly called the Wave. It is a unique and hauntingly beautiful land formation on the Arizona side of the Arizona-Utah border. I believe it is totally unique; in all the world there is nothing like it anywhere else. Of all the beautiful places I have been, I think the Wave is in my Top 5 Must-See Places. It is also extremely fragile and sensitive to damage from humans. For that reason the BLM has taken extreme measures to protect it. There are only 20 permits issued each day which allows you to visit it. And they enforce the rule! The day I went, there were BLM Rangers waiting at the trailhead to check every hiker for a permit. The permits are day-use only, no overnights allowed. Here is the BLM web page with information:
With only 20 permits a day issued, it is very hard to get a permit! Ten are issued over the internet; the other 10 are issued in-person for walk-ins. The on-line permits are issued by a lottery and since I didn’t know when I would be there, I choose to get a walk-in permit. From March 15 to November 15 you get the permits at the BLM Pariah Contact Station. Directions to it are here:

Picture taken from my camp near the Wave.

There is a very nice little campground just down a little dirt road from the station. There are also some wonderful dispersed camping spots along the road that are right on the Pariah River. I had one under a huge Cottonwood tree and I thought it was just fantastic! Ask at the Ranger Station and they will give you directions. I have a map at the bottom of this page.
I was there in November 1 and I think that is the perfect time to go! The crowds and traffic are gone and the weather is perfect! The Cottonwoods are turning color and it just a magical time of the year! You go into the office first thing in the morning, and if there are over 10 people wanting permits (which there always are) they hold a drawing to determine who gets them. Getting one is pure luck, however, if you don’t get it the first day, when you go back the second day you get 2 balls in the machine, and if you don’t get it then either, the following day you have 3 balls in the machine, and so on. Eventually you will get a permit if you are patient! I got mine on the 4th day.
It is a difficult hike back to the Wave, and it requires good back-country navigation skills. In fact for a long time many people got the permit and tried to hike in and could not find it. In response to that the BLM put together a Direction Packet that includes a map and a detailed description of where and how to find it. To make it even more certain the packet includes photos of the landmarks so you are clear about what you are looking at. Even with all that there were a few times I wasn’t certain of which way to go; fortunately I figured it out each time and went straight to it. Bear in mind it looks very different on the way back, so turn around real often and look at the area behind you to know what you will be seeing on your way out.

Looking down at the main picture taking area from above. This might help you get a better understanding of what you are looking at.


Clouds had been building all day and I took this shot just as we got back to the trail-head. The sun was just above the horizon peaking through under these very dark clouds creating this very dramatic photo.

There is one certain area that is famous and everyone takes pictures of it, and so did I of course. But I also explored all around and took lots of photos away from the main area. It is all spectacular! The main area is in a little valley and the sun doesn’t hit it square on until noon. Until then the sides are in deep shadows and don’t photograph well. I took the time before and after noon to explore the area. This is a true wilderness trip so you must take your own lunch and water. Even in November it was hot so I took 2 gallon of water for Homer and I and we drank every drop of it (yes, dogs are allowed, but you must buy them a permit as well)! We thought we left plenty of time to get back out but we barely made it back before it got dark. Fortunately we all had brought along flashlights just in case. But I know from experience that wilderness navigation by flashlight is a very risky proposition, so be sure to get out before it gets dark. It would be a good idea to go prepared to bivouac just in case. I don’t think they want you to, but I spent the night in the trail-head parking lot so I could be walking at sunrise. The road to the trail-head is good, anyone can make it.

Antelope Slot Canyon very near Page, AZ.

You might think you don’t want to hang around waiting for a permit, but there is a lot to do around the Page area so I had a great time and wasn’t sorry about waiting there at all! I went to Antelope Canyon which is just astonishingly beautiful. It is on Navajo Nation land so you can only go by taking a guided tour with a Navajo guide. I bought the photographer’s package which was a little more but it was an outstanding trip, well worth the money! The ride to it is very interesting! Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon that is part of a river wash and the only way to it is to drive right up the wash that is incredibly sandy. So you drive back to it on “Monster Trucks”. They take 4×4 pickups, jack them up real high and put huge tires on them. In the bed they build an open-air seating arrangement to hold 10 people. They stop when they enter the wash and put it in 4×4 and then fight their way up the wash at high speed, because to slow down is to be stuck–even in a monster truck!! All the way up the wash you could feel the tires biting and fighting for traction It was huge fun; almost worth the fee by intself!! I also went to Alstrom Point, which overlooks Lake Powell. You can also drive up into Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, which is also very beautiful in November. But I had driven down through it so I had just been there.
I hope you enjoy my photos and you are inspired to take the trip to see it yourself. I have to tell you I took over 1,000 shots that day in 2009, and I am just showing you this very few. But looking back through these photos puts me right there, re-living the experience like it was yesterday. I am really glad I took the trouble to get in to photograph  it and would be glad to do it all again a second time! In fact I might try to go back in November 2013, so if you are interested in trying with me, let me know!XX
The main area of the Wave.
A nearby area similar to the Wave.

A nearby area similar to the Wave.

The guided Photographers Tour cost me $50, but it was well worth it. You can only shoot these photos on a tripod with long exposures. We got there early when there was no one else there so we could set up our tripods and take our time.

The guided Photographers Tour of Antelope Canyon cost me $50, but it was well worth it. You can only shoot these photos on a tripod with long exposures. We got there early when there was no one else there so we could set up our tripods and take our time.

Alstrom Point overlooking Lake Powell.

Panoramic of Alstrom Point overlooking Lake Powell.

Along the main road through  Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. . That's the Pariah River.

Along the main road through Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. . That’s the Pariah River. The Cottonwood trees are beautiful in late October-early November.

Near the Golden Cathedral in Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.

Near the Golden Cathedral in Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. The reason it is so lush is the Pariah River is behind that thicket. In a later post I will tell you about the 8 mile hike one-way back to the Golden Cathedral.


  1. Karen

    Beautiful shots!

    • Bob

      Thanks Karen! That’s high praise coming from you. I hope all is well in Vegas.

  2. Kim

    Just breathtaking!

    • Bob

      Thanks Kim! If you are still out here in October maybe we can travel together up that way. The more the better as far as I am concerned!


    hey now bob,glad to see your doing a little traveling,nice pic’s of the wave.are you going to drive to your mother house,for ya vaction? fair highways my friend.gary

    • Bob

      Gary, I’m not traveling now, those pictures are from 4-5 years ago. I am planning to visit that area again this fall, but like all my plans, they are written in Jello. No I am flying back to see my mom in Florida. The cost of gas is so much more than just flying and all the time it takes to drive that I just bought airline tickets.
      For those of you who don’t know, my mom bought tickets for a cruise to the Grand Caymens for her and her sister, then her sister couldn’t go. She would loose so much by getting a refund she asked it I wanted to go. While I would never pay to go, I can’t say no to a free cruise to the Caribbean!! So I will be in Florida and on the cruse the last 2 weeks of April.
      I guess you could call that “mobile living” since we will be on the move nearly constantly! I’ll take lots of pics and post about it!

  4. Rick

    Does Homer enjoy the views as much as you? And I notice you take Homer with you any time you can, what do you do when you can’t take him, just curious as I would be traveling with Penny.

    • Bob

      Rick, yes, 99% of the time Homer has gone with me. The only times he doesn’t go is when we are in the National Parks, which forbid dogs on all but a very few trails. So most of the time I don’t hike in NPs. The few times I have, I either left him in the van or found someone to watch him. But, he is getting older now and I don’t think he could do some of the harder hikes. The problem is the heat. He is fine alone but if it’s hot I can’t just leave him. Fortunately, I am generally with other people now so finding someone to watch him is getting much easier.
      The reason I choose to work as a campground host is that I was able to take him on my rounds with me-we were always together. He is so mellow and so big that all the kids in the campgrounds loved him. He is almost always more popular than I am!!

  5. roger

    Hi Bob, I met some fulltimers who’ve been roaming in their class A for the last 14 years. We got to talking about the RV life & the cost of fuel. They said they budget their gas allowance by following a rule of going no farther than 200 miles & then staying put at least 2 weeks before moving again. Thought that was pretty cool & was wondering if you go by anything similar. Great WAVE pix! Thx. -roger

    • Bob

      Roger, your friends have a very good plan to follow! I am not as organized as they are though. I generally go by a year-to-year basis. The last 4 years I worked as a campground host so I did very little traveling. The last 1 1/2 years my severely broken arm kept me confined to CA, and I still have one last doctors appointment coming up in Fresno, CA in April. Once that is all settled I will be more free. This year I’ll travel more but still not that much. I’m thinking 2014 might be a big year for travel for me. The last few years have been about building a community/tribe, but next year will be about me. My tentative plan is a trip up the Rockies, spend time in the Canadian Rockies, and the rest of the summer in Alaska. Late May is the best time in Alaska so i may go up then and come home in late August/September. Maybe even spend fall in New England and work my way down to Florida to see my mom, then back to to Arizona for the winter.
      But that is a lot of money so we will have to see.

  6. Rob

    I am seriously considering trying to visit this area. I seem to be finding conflicting information concerning obtaining a “walk-in” permit. You stated “From March 15 to November 15 you get the permits at the BLM Pariah Contact Station”. The web link that you provided states that these permits are to be obtained at the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Visitor Center in Kanab, Utah. Am I misunderstanding something?
    By the way, I came across your blog a couple of months ago and have been visiting the site almost daily. I have greatly appreciated everything that you (and others) have posted as it has been a wealth of information!! The photographs are superb!!!! “Thank you” for all of it!

    • Bob

      Hi Rob, it is a little confusing. During the months it is open you get your walk-in permit at the Pariah Contact Station, at the other times of the year when it is closed, you get them at Kanab. I was there at the end of October and even then there were about 30-40 people applying for permits every day. I assume during the peak season the Kanab station is just too busy to do it all. Plus it is far away, about 40 miles, so the rangers who held the drawing at Pariah were also the ones waiting at the trail-head to check our permits. That’s a long drive to check the trail-head from Kanab.
      They don’t hold drawings at multiple places at the same time, you have to be physically present at the Station to get into the drawing. When they did the drawing, they called your name and if you weren’t there, you didn’t get a permit.
      It seems like a cliche, but it really is my pleasure to serve in this way. And, I have to admit, all the positive feedback is pretty nice too!

  7. Sharon Gulezian

    These photographs are superb! I so enjoyed them. I would love to see them in person, maybe someday. Enjoy your cruise with your mother. Where are you going out of? I live on the South West of Florida around the Venice area. The weather here is just wonderful. Plan on traveling and spending the winters here in Florida. Looking for a cargo-van in May.
    Enjoy your time with your mother. It will be special!

    • Bob

      Thanks Sharon. Better start planning now for a big trip out West! The hard part will be tearing yourself away from such a beautiful family!
      My mom lives in a little retirement village between Orlando and Ocalla. We sail out of Miami, which is pretty common. The trip came with a bus ride from her retirement village to the boat. She loves cruising and has taken cruises all over the world. But my step-dads health really won’t let him do it anymore and she won’t go alone. So this may be her last cruise. She went all out and bought a stateroom with a balcony, so it should be a great time!! Cruises really don’t appeal to me, but it was a once-in-a-lifetime thing, so I couldn’t pass it up.
      I’ve spent quite a bit of time with my mom in Florida and i have to admit I like it. BUT, I have to have mountains; I simply can’t live without them! No mountains, No Bob. So my heart belongs to the West.

  8. Steve & Zeke the Mountain Dog

    Absolutely stunning pictures… I have to see “The Wave” at least once in this life time… AZ. is really a spectacular state, as with all of the SW…

    • Bob

      Steve, keep improving your health like you are and we will make a date to go see it!

  9. Gennifer

    Amazing photos, Bob! I can’t wait to get out there to photograph it myself! Thanks for all the information.

    • Bob

      You are welcome Gennifer! I love to pass on information on some of the beautiful places in the country.

  10. Nicole

    Hi Bob,
    I feel a bit silly asking this but here it goes. Do you think a GPS would help in this park? I do not have ‘good back-country navigation skills’ but I’d love to go next year. What’s your opinion?

    • Bob

      HI Nicole, the packet which the BLM gives you is quite good. What I did was after the drawing I asked the other people who won if they wanted to hike in together. Two others did and so we hiked together and that made it easy. I suggest you do the same and you won’t have a problem.

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