Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument

We quickly discovered and fell in love with Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument. It is unique in that it is the first monument to be administered by the Bureau of Land Management, BLM. The land is loaded with multicolored cliffs, plateaus, mesas, buttes, pinnacles and canyons. The area is massive spanning 1.7 million acres. The best part, dogs are allowed on the trails unlike National Park where it is prohibited. The campgrounds on the BLM land are well maintained and a great price of $7 a site or depending on their location sometimes free.

Coyote Buttes is one of the areas within Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument that require a permit. The process to obtain a permit in Coyote Buttes is highly competitive and a challenging process that requires patience. This 2 acre area often referred to as The Wave, has become widely known across the world. The permits are issued based upon a lottery system that only allows 20 permits per day to hike in Coyote Buttes. 10 permits are issued 6 months in advance and the other 10 are determined the day before. In April, we tried 4 continuous days to obtain a permit and every time were unlucky. The lottery system is exhilarating and exhausting, which caused us anxiety in hopes that our number would be drawn.

How it works: The application process begins at 8:30am at the Visitors Center between Kanab, UT and Page, AZ. One application is allowed per party and each application has a maximum of 6 people allotted per party. The form also requires you to disclose if you are intending to bring a dog on the trail and luckily a dog does not count as a slot. All applicants receive a number for that day. That number is placed into a wire spin wheel by the park ranger. The drawing takes place at 9am and lasts a short 5-10 minutes. One person from the party needs to be present in order to claim the permit. There are only 10 slots available each day. The drawing can get interesting and need decisions made on the fly. For example, if only 2 slots are left and a party has 6 people that party has to decide which 2 go or forfeit their turn.

The area is large enough there are so many more amazing things to see even if you are unable to obtain a permits for The Wave. My favorite hike was the Buckskin Gulch, which is the largest and deepest slot canyon and spans 13 miles. We entered the trail at the Wire Pass, which is also where The Wave trail begins. The slot canyon was incredible and we can’t wait to explore more of this area in the future.