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Permits (Updated October 31, 2022)

How to obtain Wave and South Coyote Buttes permits

The Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness is a world-class scenic resource that draws outdoor enthusiasts from all over the globe.  In order to protect these fragile environments and the visitor experience, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has placed restrictions on access to the North and South Coyote Buttes Wilderness areas. We tour these two landscapes frequently and work through the permit process almost daily, so we have built this resource page to offer our expertise in how to get Coyote Buttes permits. The Coyote Buttes system and all its rules are also explained at length by the BLM HERE.

Did you know Dreamland Safari Tours can attend the lottery on your behalf to help get you permits?

We recommend that you first try to get the permits online via the advanced lottery (detailed instructions below), but if you don’t succeed or if you’ve missed the deadline, we just might be able to help.  Give us a call at 435-291-1216 to discuss your options, or you can book a “Conditional” tour online. Conditional simply means we do not know where your tour is going until we attend the permit lotteries just before your preferred hiking day(s). You are guaranteed a tour with us, we just won’t know the location until the day before, based on the lottery outcomes.  All of our alternatives are absolutely amazing and usually in the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument.

Here’s how it works:

“Conditional A Tour”:

Wave OR South Coyote Buttes OR Guaranteed Alternative

If you want to go to the Wave (Coyote Buttes North) but don’t have permits, you may still book a Wave tour for up to five people. Just indicate in the booking form that you do not have Wave permits and that you accept the alternative tour options we will provide.  (We call this our “Conditional A Tour.”)  We will then submit your names for the Wave permit lottery and try to obtain those permits for you. If we are lucky enough to win, we get to take you to the Wave.  Please keep in mind that this is a tough permit to win, but we do occasionally win permits for our guests.  Generally speaking, the chances are usually less than 10%, though there are seasonal variations.

If we do not win Coyote Buttes North permits, we will then try to obtain permits for the South Coyote Buttes.  If we win that lottery, we will take you on the South Coyote Buttes Tour.  If we don’t win either permit, you may choose a final alternative: either White Pocket or the Amazing Sandstone Teepees Tour as your fallback option.  White Pocket is an absolutely otherworldly location with low to moderate amounts of hiking. The Teepees, on the other hand, is a BIG hiking day with up to 10-12 miles of hiking in sand, so this option is only recommended for strong hikers who are in great shape.  Like our other options, each of these areas is absolutely spectacular.

No matter which destination the tour will explore, a day of your trip has already been arranged and you’ll be heading somewhere extraordinary.  Sound intriguing?  Use the links above to book online or call us to set up a Conditional tour.

“Conditional B Tour”:

South Coyote Buttes OR Guaranteed Alternative

If you have already been to the Wave but want to see South Coyote Buttes and don’t yet have permits, you can easily book our South Coyote Buttes tour and simply indicate in the questions at booking that you do not have South Coyote Buttes permits and that you accept the alternative tour options.  We call this our “Conditional B Tour.”  We will submit your names to the South Coyote Buttes lottery on your behalf.  If we don’t get the permits, we will take you to White Pocket or the Amazing Sandstone Teepees.  Either trip is incredible.  You won’t be disappointed.  Use the links above to book online or call us to set up a Conditional B Tour.

Because of logistics, we will only enter permit lotteries guest who have officially booked a Conditional tour as described above. We cannot reserve trucks or have guides on standby in case we get permits, although depending on the time of year, we may have last-minute availability.

In order to finalize the reservation, it is necessary to commit to either White Pocket or the Amazing Sandstone Teepees as the alternate location if we can’t get permits. (Trust us when we say that both are incredible!)  Many people like one of those two locations better than the Wave.  Call us at 435-291-1216 if you have already been to these other locations and wish to discuss a different alternative.

A quick note for permit winners…  If we do win either the North Coyote Buttes (Wave) or South Coyote Buttes lottery on your behalf, we will recoup the actual cost of the permits, which is $7 per person for the Wave or $5 per person for South Coyote Buttes.

If you’re serious about maximizing your chances to get to the Wave, the best strategy is to book a Conditional Tour with us on your first full day in Kanab.  We will submit names to the lotteries for you while you are traveling.  If we don’t win, you can still apply for yourself online via the geo-fence lottery (explained in detail below) on the rest of the days of your vacation to Kanab.

Advance Wave Permits – a basic explanation

Because of the high demand for permits to the Wave, which is in North Coyote Buttes, two BLM lotteries determine who gets them. In February 2021, the BLM increased the number of permits issued from 20 to 64, but also added a group limit.  In the updated version of the permit system, 48 permits (or 12 groups, whichever comes first) are chosen via the advance online lottery, which is conducted three to four months in advance.  More detailed information on this process can be found at the Recreation.gov Online North Coyote Buttes permit lottery webpage.  (As an example, if you wish to hike to the Wave in October, you will need to apply online for a Wave permit sometime between June 1 and June 30. On July 1 at 9 a.m., all permits for the month of October will be awarded and the winners notified via email.)

 

Wave Geo-Fence Last Minute Lottery – As of March 15, 2022

On March 15, 2022, the legacy walk-in lottery was replaced with a geo-fence online lottery TWO days before the desired hike date.  Like the old walk-in lottery, 16 permits (or 4 groups, whichever comes first) will be drawn.  To apply, visitors need to be within the geo-fenced area, have a mobile device with location services enabled, and have a recreation.gov account.  The cost per permit application is $9.00.

The Wave geo-fence area extends north of Kanab to just beyond Glendale, UT, east to just beyond Page, AZ, west to near the closest edge of the Kaibab Paiute Reservation, and south to Jacob Lake and Marble Canyon, AZ.  

There are several crucial steps in the process:

1.) Visitors must submit their application online between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., TWO days prior to their desired hiking date; results are announced at 7:15pm that same evening. 

2. ) Winners will need to “accept” and pay for the permits online ($7/person) at recreation.gov by 8 a.m. the next day.

3.) Winners must also pick up their permit in person and attend a mandatory safety briefing in either Kanab or Page at 8:30 a.m. sharp the next day, in preparation for a hike the day after that. 

What does all this really mean in practical terms?  Well, if you want to hike on a Wednesday, you will need to apply on Monday; if you win, you must pick up your permit on Tuesday either in Kanab or Page, for your hike on Wednesday.

Permit pick-up locations are in Kanab, Utah at the Kane County Office of Tourism (78 S 100 E), which is across the street from the Hampton Inn, or in Page, Arizona at the Lake Powell Hub (48 S Lake Powell Blvd).

If you don’t have a recreation.gov account or mobile device, or just have questions or simply need some help, you may stop in at the Dreamland Safari Tours office in Kanab at 406 E 300 S (next door to the Travelodge), and our friendly staff will be happy to help you with the process. 

 

How to get a South Coyote Buttes Permit

South Coyote Buttes is our guides’ favorite destination and is another amazing area of multicolored sandstone formations.  It is just south of North Coyote Buttes and the Wave, and it also requires a permit that can be obtained via an online application three months in advance (first come/first served) or, starting November 1, 2022 via the geo-fence online lottery. 

For the advance lottery, permits for October are made available on July 1st at noon, Utah time, for the entire month of October. These permits go very quickly, usually within 15 minutes. Be on time and be prepared to answer all the questions on the application. It’s best if you have a range of dates that you are available.

If you miss your chance with the advance lottery, there will also be another opportunity. Four groups, or ten visitors, whichever comes first, will be awarded last-minute South Coyote Buttes permits via the online geo-fence system on the same schedule as North Coyote Buttes.

Just as with the Wave lottery, the geo-fence area extends north of Kanab to just beyond Glendale, UT, east to just beyond Page, AZ, west to near the western edge of the Kaibab Paiute Reservation, and south to Jacob Lake and Marble Canyon, AZ.  Visitors must submit their application online between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., TWO days prior to their desired hiking date; results are announced at 7:15 p.m. that same evening.  Winners will need to “accept” and pay for the permits online ($5 per person) at recreation.gov by 8 a.m. the next day, then pick up their permit and attend a mandatory safety briefing in either Kanab or Page at 9:00 a.m. sharp, for a hike the following day.  

So, if you want to hike on a Wednesday, you will need to apply on Monday; if you win, you must pick up your permit on Tuesday either in Kanab or Page, for your hike on Wednesday.

Permit pick up locations are in Kanab Utah at the Kane County Office of Tourism (78 S 100 E) and across the street from the Hampton Inn, or Page Arizona at Lake Powell Hub (48 S Lake Powell Blvd).

If you don’t have a recreation.gov account or mobile device, or just have questions or simply need some help, you may stop in at the Dreamland Safari Tours office in Kanab at 406 E 300 S (next door to the Travelodge) and our friendly staff will be happy to help you with the process. 

There is a lot of difficult navigation and deep sand on the way to South Coyote Buttes, so a high clearance 4WD vehicle, knowledge of how to drive on sand, and navigation tools and abilities are required. Our tours access South Coyote Buttes at Cottonwood Cove, which is where all of the good stuff is – you cannot access Cottonwood Cove with an AWD vehicle.  Another access point that some visitors use is Paw Hole, which can be reached by parking on House Rock Valley Road (which, depending on the weather, can be impassable for most vehicles) followed by a long, difficult uphill road hike in deep sand.

 

Wire Pass permits

Wire Pass Slot Canyon and Buckskin Gulch require an advance parking permit obtained via the website www.Recreation.gov; the cost is $6 per person.  Search for Wire Pass, and if you have a printer, print the permit to put on your vehicle’s dashboard before your hike.  If you don’t have a printer, note the permit number, and when you get to Wire Pass, get the permit stub at the self-serve kiosk.  Then write your permit number on the permit stub and place it on your dashboard before your hike.  There is a boosted cell signal at Wire Pass so you can obtain an online permit when you get there; however, recent feedback suggests that it is unreliable.

White Pocket does not require a special permit, but it does require a high clearance (4WD, NOT AWD), knowledge of how to drive in deep sand, and navigation tools and abilities. To read more about White Pocket as a great substitute for the Wave (and the difficulties in getting there), read our blog post HERE

*You may book this tour as a ‘South Coyote Buttes Conditional Tour’ even if you don’t have permits. Simply follow the permit prompts during checkout.

Weather and Road Conditions on House Rock Valley Road

The limiting factors in winter are wet weather, snow on the ground, the sloppy condition of House Rock Valley Road, and a dangerously icy trail over the sandstone. Wet weather can also be a factor in summer when afternoon monsoon thunderstorms can cause flooding and/or deep mud at the crossing of Buckskin Wash and turn the road into what the guides like to call “gorilla snot”. 

In this condition, the road can become nearly impassible and/or dangerous for ill-prepared visitors. The local tow company has a field day. Never attempt House Rock Valley Road or crossing Buckskin Gulch when flooded or muddy, especially in a 2wd vehicle. Not only will you ruin your own day, but you will block the road for everyone else.

With that being said, in good conditions most vehicles can make it to the Wire Pass Trailhead where the Wave hike starts, even if the drivers are violating rental contracts and risking flat tires by driving on basic, thin tires designed only for street use. 

Keep in mind, however, that high clearance 4WD is always necessary if one wishes to leave the main road to go to South Coyote Buttes or White Pocket. When the conditions are borderline or the roads too sandy, guided tours will still operate and can keep you safe. 

OTHER RESOURCES:

Wave and South Coyote Permit Pickup

  • In Kanab: 78 S 100 at the Office of Tourism
    Wave permit pick-up is at 8:30am.
    South Coyote Buttes pickup is at 9am
  • In Page: 48 S Lake Powell Blvd at the Lake Powell Hub

IF COMING TO KANAB FROM PAGE, BE AWARE OF THE TIME CHANGE MOST OF THE YEAR!

Kanab BLM Visitor Center contact info:

The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Visitor Center in Kanab:
745 East Highway 89, Kanab, UT 84741
Phone Number: Information: (435) 688-3200, Actual VC Desk: (435) 644-1300
Hours: 8am-4:30pm, 7 days a week (March-November), Mon-Fri (December-February). Closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Safety and Guided Tours

There are many safety and logistical issues associated with getting to the Vermilion Cliffs & Paria Wilderness and back to civilization safely. Don’t become a statistic! People sometimes get themselves in predicaments in the Paria Wilderness by being unprepared, ill-equipped, and/or inexperienced. Kane County Search and Rescue is sent out to retrieve wayward tourists multiple times every year. It has turned fatal more than once.

Guided tours to all of the locations mentioned above, as well as several different combinations, are available through Dreamland Safari Tours. Our highly trained naturalist guides help you to get the most out of your experience in the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness by showing you the subtle points of interest and photography you’re unlikely to find on your own. We explain how the geology, ecology, paleontology, and human history of these extraordinary places have unfolded over hundreds of millions of years. We keep you and your rental vehicle contract safe on unpredictable House Rock Valley Road, guide you on a spectacular scenic route, and carry satellite communications as well as abundant supplies in case of emergency.

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