Wave Trail

Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
Located 28.5 miles from Kanab, Utah (UT)
5 Stars
6,397 Steps 1  (2.9 mi)

In northern Arizona, near the Utah border there is one of the most beautiful geologic formations in the world —The Wave. The Wave Trail is an unmarked route in northern Coyote Buttes. It is part of the Paria Canyon - Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, and it leads to The Wave. There are many Photoshopped images of The Wave on the internet; the truth is, The Wave is quite small as depicted in the following photographs. The hike begins at a designated parking area along a rough dirt road, off Highway 89 in Utah. The trail follows an arroyo for a short distance, and heads south across a colorful desert. Hiking permits are required, limited, and issued by the Bureau of Land Management. You can apply for a hiking permit through the lottery application. After many years trying, I was awarded a permit, and it was worth every effort. The Wave is a five-star trail.

The Wave TrailThe WaveThe Wave


The Wave Trail has a maximum elevation of 5,192 ft (1,582 m), a minimum elevation of 4,797 ft (1,462 m), and an elevation range of 395 ft (120 m).


[ A to B ] or [ B to A ]
Steps 1Length 2Min Ele 3Max Ele 4
6,3972.9 mi4,797 ft5,192 ft
[ A to B ]
Time 5Floors 6Gain 7Loss 8
1.5 hrs40.8489 ft156 ft
[ B to A ]
1.4 hrs13.0156 ft489 ft

What is the length of the Wave Trail?

The length of the trail is 2.9 mi (4.6 km) or 6,397 steps.

How long does it take to hike the Wave Trail?

A person in good physical health can hike the trail in 1.5 hrs in the [ A to B ] direction, and in 1.4 hrs in the [ B to A ] direction.


The following chart shows the total calories that you may expend on the trail while hiking in the [ A to B ] and [ B to A ] direction at a typical speed and is based on gross weight (which includes anything carried), the topography, trail length and trail conditions.

Topo Maps

Download the free Wave Trail topo map and the adjoining quads to plan your hike. These are full-sheet, 7.5 Minute (1:24,000 scale) Vermilion Cliffs National Monument topographic maps. Do you want full-sheet outdoor recreation JPEG Topo Maps?

Adjoining 7.5' Quadrangle Legend

  1. Northwest Topo Map: Nephi Point, UT
  2. North Topo Map: Eightmile Pass, UT
  3. Northeast Topo Map: Fivemile Valley, UT
  4. West Topo Map: Petrified Hollow, UT
  5. Topo Map: Pine Hollow Canyon, UT
  6. East Topo Map: West Clark Bench, UT
  7. Southwest Topo Map: Buck Pasture Canyon, AZ
  8. South Topo Map: Coyote Buttes, AZ
  9. Southeast Topo Map: Poverty Flat, AZ

Is there a Wave trail map?

Yes, and they're free! The Wave Trail is located on the Pine Hollow Canyon and Coyote Buttes topo maps. Use the adjoining quadrangle legend to download the maps.



  1. Steps is a unit of distance equal to the sum of stride lengths that vary with the terrain.
  2. Length is the distance of the trail between the two trailheads, measured on the trail.
  3. Min Ele is the minimum elevation on the trail.
  4. Max Ele is the maximum elevation on the trail.
  5. Time is the typical total time required to hike the trail.
  6. Floors is the gain divided by twelve, the height of one floor.
  7. Gain (cumulative elevation gain) is the sum of every gain in elevation.
  8. Loss (cumulative elevation loss) is the sum of every loss in elevation.