Permits (Updated March 1, 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 of all types, especially photographers, from all over the world.  In order to protect the environment and the experience here, the Bureau of Land Management, or 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 you first try to get the permits online (detailed instructions below) but if you don’t succeed or if you’ve missed the deadline, don’t despair.  Give us a call at 435-644-5506 to discuss your options or 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 outcome.  All of our alternatives are absolutely amazing and usually in the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument.

If you want to go to the Wave (Coyote Buttes North) but you don’t have permits, you may still book a Wave tour for up to five people, or six people if you have won a permit at the advance lottery. Just indicate in the questions at booking that you do not have wave permits and that you accept the alternatives.  We call this our “Conditional A Tour.”  We will submit your names for the Wave permit lottery on your behalf and try to obtain those permits for you. If we are lucky enough to win we get to take you to the Wave – chances are usually about 10%, but this varies seasonally. 

If we do not get those permits, we will enter the South Coyote Buttes lottery. 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 as a final alternative either White Pocket or the Amazing Sandstone Teepee Tour as your fallback option to the Wave.  White Pocket is an absolutely otherworldly location with low to moderate amounts of hiking. The Teepees is a BIG hiking day with up to 10-12 miles of hiking in sand, so you will want to be well prepared and in great shape.  Like our other options, each of these areas are absolutely spectacular.

No matter what, a day of your trip has already been arranged and you’re headed somewhere extraordinary.  Use the links above to book online or call us to set up a conditional tour.

If you have already been to the Wave, but want to see South Coyote Buttes, and don’t have permits, 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 alternatives.  We call this our “Conditional B Tour.” We will attend 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 for you when you book a conditional tour as described above. The only time other location alternatives may be selected is if your group has five people. We cannot reserve trucks or have guides on standby in case we get permits, though depending on the time of year we may have last-minute availability.

You must agree to White Pocket or the Amazing Sandstone Teepees as the alternate location if we can’t get permits. Trust us, both are incredible. Many people like one of those two locations better than the Wave.

We do not charge a fee for our service of attending the South Coyote Buttes lottery, but with the recent changes to the North Coyote Buttes (Wave) lottery, we will recoup the $9 permit application fee. We also recoup the actual cost of permits should we win, which is $7 per person for the Wave or $5 per person for South Coyote Buttes.

If you’re serious about getting to the Wave, the best strategy is to book a Conditional Tour with us on your first full day in Kanab. We will attend the lottery for you while you are traveling. If we don’t win, you can attend the lottery on the rest of the days of your vacation to Kanab. We can even pick you up at the Kanab Center right after the lottery for your tour. This increases your chances by being in the draw on one extra day.

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.  48 permits, or 12 groups, whichever comes first, are chosen via the advance online lottery three to four months in advance.  Information is here about the Online North Coyote Buttes permit lottery. As an example, if you wish to hike to the Wave in October, you will need to apply for a Wave permit sometime from June 1 through June 30. On July 1 at 9 a.m., all of the permits for the month of October will be awarded.

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

On March 15 2022, the legacy walk-in lottery will be replaced with a geo-fenced online lottery TWO days before you want to hike.  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-fence area, have a mobile device, and have a recreation.gov account.  The cost per permit application is $9.00.

The geo-fence area will extend 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, AZ.  Visitors must submit their application online between 6am and 6pm, TWO days prior to their desired hiking date; results are announced at 7:15pm that same evening.  Winners will need to “accept” the permits by 8am the next day, and pick up their permit and attend a mandatory safety briefing in either Kanab or Page at 8:30am sharp the next day, for a hike the following day.  Winners will also pay a $7 per-person fee to receive their permit.

So, if you want to hike on a Wednesday, you will need to apply on Monday; if you win, you have to 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 Kanab Center (20 N 100 E) just north of the Hampton Inn, or Page Arizona Lake Powell Hub at 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 their friendly staff will be happy to help you with the process. 


How to get a South Coyote Buttes Permit

South Coyote Buttes is our guide’s favorite area and is another amazing area of multi-color sandstone formations.  It is just south of North Coyote Buttes where the Wave is, and also requires a permit that can be obtained via an online application three months in advance (first come/first served) or by attending the walk-in lottery the day before you want to go at 10 a.m. at the Kanab Center. 

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, and you are likely to get a permit online.

 If you miss your chance, 10 South Coyote Buttes permits for 10 visitors are awarded in person the day before you want to hike. Go to the Kanab Center in Kanab for a South Coyote Buttes application. At 10 a.m. permits will be awarded. If there are more than 10 applicants, a lottery will be held. During the busy spring and fall season, odds can be about 20-30% while in the middle of winter or heat of the summer, a lottery is not usually held at all and everyone who requests a permit gets one.

 There is a lot of difficult navigation and deep sand on the way to South Coyote Buttes. South Coyote Buttes requires a high clearance 4WD vehicle, knowledge of how to drive on sand, and navigation tools and abilities. Paw Hole can be reached by parking on Houserock Valley Road (which, depending on the weather, can be passable for 2WD) followed by a long, difficult uphill road hike in deep sand. Access to Cottonwood Cove requires good 4X4. The rental AWDs are not good enough; don’t even try it. Please do not obtain a permit if you are not prepared to use it. This prevents others from enjoying this remarkable landscape.

Wire Pass permits

Wire Pass Slot Canyon and Buckskin Gulch require an advance parking permit obtained via the website www.Recreation.gov; 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, and then write your permit number on this and place 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 has been 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 sand, and navigation tools and abilities. To read more about White Pocket as a great substitute for the Wave, and the difficulties getting there, read our article HERE. 

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 thunderstorms can flood/mud the crossing of Buckskin Gulch 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.

All that being said, in good conditions most vehicles can make it to the Wire Pass trail head where the Wave hike starts even if the drivers are violating rental contracts and risking flats driving on thin tires designed only for street use. High clearance 4WD is necessary though 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. 

Kanab Center (Wave permit pick-up and South Coyote Buttes lotteries)

20 N 100 E in Kanab
Wave permit pick-up is at 8:30am.
South Coyote Buttes Lottery is at 10am – permit applications are distributed at 9:30am

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 experienced, 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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