THE WAVE, a rock formation in the Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness on the Utah-Arizona border, looks as though it were sculpted by hand. This multicolored sandstone rock formation was, in fact, sculpted, just not by a set of hands. It was formed by millions of years of wind and water erosion. Carved in the Jurassic era, these Navajo Sandstone sculptures consist of intersecting troughs that wind in, around, and through each other.
The patterns in these rocks can be read like a book — for those who know the language — depicting weather phenomena of ancient times. You’ll see steps and risers cut into the vertical walls of the wave whose direction tell a story of the prevailing wind direction. While they were once eroded by water and wind, they now continue to be shaped almost exclusively by wind.
Since 2009, when Microsoft released a wallpaper image of The Wave, it has become a bucket-list destination for experience collectors, hiking aficionados, and outdoor enthusiasts. So many people want to hike this fragile landscape that they’ve implemented a lottery system where only 20 people are allowed per day.
How to get there
The Wave is located in the Coyote Buttes North Area in the Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, on the border of Utah and Arizona. It’s halfway between Page, AZ and Kanab, UT.
If you are one of the lucky ones to win the lottery, you’ll be supplied with a map to The Wave. Even if you don’t win the lottery there are incredible hiking opportunities in the area and Coyote Buttes South is spectacular.