The Wave “Conditional Tour”: What is it, how does it work, and can you help us get Wave permits? 

There are few places amongst America’s great natural wonders that are more sought-after (and harder to access) than the famous “Wave” of Coyote Buttes North in Vermilion Cliffs National Monument.  People from around the world spend years—sometimes even decades—attempting to win a rare permit in the famous Wave lottery, while others are lucky enough to win on their very first try.  

If you’re eager to experience the rare beauty of Vermilion Cliffs National Monument and would love an extra, hassle-free chance to try for a Wave permit, then Dreamland has the perfect solution to the lottery dilemma.  Come sign up for our  Wave “Conditional” Tour, and we’ll take care of all the last-minute lottery details for you.  Although winning isn’t guaranteed, we can certainly give it a good honest try, and we’ll also have several equally spectacular “backup” destinations firmly in place as alternatives.


Here’s how it works…

  1. Sign up for a Wave “Conditional” tour with Dreamland on a specific tour date.
  2. We’ll submit applications to the last-minute Wave lottery on your behalf, and as a backup, to the last-minute South Coyote Buttes lottery as well.
    • The Wave is always the first choice if we are lucky enough to win permits. 
    • South Coyote Buttes is the second tour option.  This lottery is considerably easier to win, and the destination is just as stunning as the Wave.
    • If neither permit attempt is successful, the Conditional tour will go to White Pocket.  Like the Wave and South Coyote Buttes, this location is also in Vermilion Cliffs and features uniquely beautiful red-rock geology.  Fortunately, it doesn’t (yet) require a permit and is a “guaranteed” option.
  3. Already seen White Pocket?  No problem!  You can always substitute a different full-day tour to be the guaranteed third option.  Popular choices include:
  4. We’ll contact you on the day before the tour to let you know the lottery results and tour destination.

This way, you can rest easy knowing that you’re guaranteed a tour that will fit your overall itinerary, without having to worry about any of the paperwork or lottery details.  And whatever the lottery results happen to be, we make sure that the Conditional tour will go to an amazing destination and provide everyone with a truly epic desert adventure.

Still have questions? Check out our Wave Conditional FAQs below for more details…

If I sign up for more than one Wave Conditional tour, how are the alternate destinations organized?  (White Pocket is beautiful, but I don’t need to see it twice in a row.)

For folks who sign up for multiple Wave Conditional tours, we recommend booking over the phone or sending us an email at hello@dreamlandnestg.wpengine.com so that we can work with you to set up different “guaranteed” destinations from our wide-ranging selection of full-day tours.   We will also be in contact with you by phone or text on the day before each Conditional tour to let you know the lottery results and ensure that all of the tour details are in order. 

Can I apply for permits independently, in addition to Dreamland’s application on my behalf?  I want to double my chances of winning Wave permits!

The short answer is yes.  The Recreation.gov website allows for one Wave application per account per day, so in theory, you could apply multiple times.  However, there are several important logistical factors to keep in mind: 

  1. If you apply independently and win a Wave permit with your own Recreation.gov account, you must be the one to pick up the permit in person on the following day.  The Wave lottery officials will not allow Dreamland to retrieve the permit for you in this instance.
  2. For our Conditional tours, we submit one application for the entire tour group, and with non-private tours, this may include other participants in addition to your own party.  If you win a Wave permit independently, but the Conditional tour goes to South Coyote Buttes or White Pocket, we may not have a guide available at the last minute to accommodate a new tour.  (This is especially likely during the high seasons of April/May and September/October, when our tour calendar is frequently booked solid well in advance.)

If Dreamland doesn’t win Wave permits for my Conditional tour date, can we just move the tour to the next day and try again?

Due to the complexity of the logistics involved (guide assignments, vehicles, etc), it is essential for us to have certainty in our calendar so that we can allocate resources effectively each day.  For this reason, we can only attend the Wave lottery once per Conditional Tour booked and cannot move tour dates in the event we don’t win. 

If Dreamland doesn’t win Wave permits for my Conditional tour date, can we just cancel the tour?

In this instance, our standard Cancellation Policy would apply. Since we will not know lottery outcomes until ~36 hours prior to your tour departure, a cancellation would mean forfeiting your tour fee. 

Can I just try the last-minute lottery myself, then hire a Dreamland guide if I win? 

Of course.  However, our calendar does tend to book up quickly during the popular hiking seasons of spring, summer, and fall, and we may not always have guides available for last-minute tours.  The Wave Conditional tour option allows folks without permits to make advanced plans knowing that they’ll be guaranteed a tour to an excellent location regardless of lottery results.  

I’d like to apply for the Wave Lottery independently.  How does the system work?

There are two different lotteries available, depending on how far ahead you’re planning:

  • The Advanced Wave Lottery allows hopefuls to apply online from anywhere in the world, four months ahead of the desired time frame.  Applicants are allowed to choose three potential dates within the specific month.  (For example, if you’re aiming for a Wave hike during the month of May, you would need to apply online between January 1st and January 31st, and the lottery results would be announced on February 1st.)  
  • The last-minute Wave lottery, officially known as the Coyote Buttes North Daily Lottery, is conducted two days ahead of the desired hike date.  Although the odds of winning this lottery are a bit higher than the Advanced Wave Lottery, only those who travel to within a very small “geofenced area” in northern Arizona/southern Utah are eligible to apply.  (The geofenced area extends north of Kanab to beyond Glendale, east to Page, and south to Jacob Lake.)

What are the deadlines involved in applying for the last-minute Wave lottery independently?

Visitors will be able to submit an application on Recreation.gov two days prior to their desired hike date.  Applications will be accepted from 6 am to 6 pm, and the results will be announced at 7:15 pm.  Winners will need to accept and pay for the permit online by 8 am the next morning, then attend a safety briefing and pick up their permits promptly at 8:30 am in either Kanab or Page.  The hike will be on the following day.  (E.g., For a Wednesday hike, you would apply for permits on Monday, pick them up in Kanab or Page on Tuesday, and hike on Wednesday.)

Those permit-free, “guaranteed” alternatives like White Pocket… are they anywhere near as good as the Wave? 

We suspect that, if you are asking this question, there is likely nothing we can say to convince you that the Wave is by no means the cream of the crop when it comes to scenic destinations in our neck of the woods… so we’ll just stay quiet, share a few photos, and let past guests’ opinions speak for themselves. 

I’ve been dreaming to get into The Wave for years, but having no luck, I chose White Pocket. It was nothing short of amazing. Totally no regrets! If not better, this has more interesting features than The Wave.” Linusaurusx on TripAdvisor, September 2021

“On our full-day tour, we visited South Coyote Buttes through the special service that Dreamland provides where they will attend the Wave lottery for you, and if you don’t get a permit (as you know, this ain’t easy), they will try to get a permit for South Coyote Buttes. I did not feel this trip was a consolation prize. South Coyote Buttes is stunning: Melted ice cream swirls of purple, rust and cream, brittle sandstone layers in otherworldly sculptures, teepees and hoodoo-like structures jutting up above landscape.” SHERRY F on TripAdvisor, June 2021

White Pocket is not just a Wave consolation prize but a uniquely beautiful first choice option.” NOLAFILE on TripAdvisor May 2022

“We did a tour of White Pocket, and it is by no means a consolation prize. Beautiful unique formations I haven’t seen anywhere else – with lots of striations to get classic photos. (…) Thank you Dreamland, this was our big adventure on our long road trip and was definitely worth it!” Traven M October 2021 on TripAdvisor

If those testimonials don’t convince you then we don’t know what would.  Let us take care of the permit process and give yourself a shot at seeing the sought-after Wave! Worst case… you get to see another amazing spot that few folks have ever heard of.  What are you waiting for? 

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