The Wave: Maximizing Your Chances to Win Permits

Winning a permit to the iconic Wave is not easy but it’s well worth the effort to get out there.  It’s one of our favorite places to photograph in the Southwest and certainly qualifies as a bucket list experience! According to data obtained from the Bureau of Land Management, 200,589 people applied for wave permits in 2019.  Of those, only 7,300 people received permits or about 3.5% of applicants. So, what can you do to give yourself the best chance of winning when you apply?

There are two ways to apply for permits; the online lottery and the walk-in lottery. The online lottery is available each month, with winning applicants drawn on the first of the following month. The walk-in lottery is held daily in Kanab, UT at 9AM Mountain time.  During the winter months, the walk-in lottery is not held on the weekends.  A special drawing is held on Friday mornings for Sat, Sun, and Mon.  

Online Lottery

Let’s cover the online lottery first.  48 people or 12 groups (whichever comes first) are available via the online lottery for each day of the month.  Here are some things you can do to help you win:

  • Apply every month.
  • If you can’t apply every month, apply for the least popular months.
  • Reduce your group size for better odds.  Max group size is 6 people.

When you apply online, you are selecting up to three dates, four months in advance. For example, when you apply in January, the drawing will be for dates in May.

Here are the months ranked from most popular to least popular in 2019:

  • April (most popular)
  • May
  • March
  • October
  • September
  • June
  • November
  • August
  • July
  • December
  • February
  • January (least popular)

Use the following link to apply for your permits as well as view the BLM’s rules and regulations regarding the area. Coyote Buttes North Online Lottery

Walk-In Lottery

The walk-in lottery is held every day in the summer months and Monday-Friday in the winter months. It takes place in Kanab, UT and the permits that you win at the walk-in lottery are for the following day.  16 permits or 4 groups (whichever comes first) are available in the walk-in lottery. Here are some ways you can help yourself at the walk-in lottery:

  • Attend the lottery each morning you are in the Kanab area.  Arrive no later than 8:45AM to give yourself time to complete the paperwork.
  • Plan your visit during the less popular months.
  • Avoid holiday weekends.
  • Be willing to divide up your group if you get drawn and there are fewer spots remaining than your original group size.

Attending the lottery each day you are in Kanab is the most important tip. The walk-in lottery is free to enter – you only pay for the permits if you win. You may get a late start visiting other attractions, but it will be worth it if you win.

Plan your trip in January, February, or December. It may be cold during these months, but the public lands are still open and are very beautiful when they are covered in snow, which is a sight most tourists will never see. 

Accept the permit even if there are not enough spots remaining in the lottery to cover the people in your group. The folks who stay behind will find other amazing things to see and do. Many groups turn down permits because not everyone will be able to go. For most people, visiting the wave is something they will only have the opportunity to do once, so do it even if your friends can’t.

The Wave is an astounding location, but remember, it’s not the only attraction in the Kanab area. After using the above suggestions to win your permit, make sure you explore the surrounding area. Also keep in mind that if you do not win, your visit to Southern Utah is not wasted, there are may other fantastic areas to visit.

Here at Action Photo Tours, our priority is making sure you get the most out of your trip to Southern Utah. Whether visiting the Wave or finding alternatives, our knowledgeable guides will maximize your time at these beautiful locations. Sign up for a tour today and see the best of Southern Utah!

The Wave Tour –

Alternative Tours –

Enjoy your visit and good luck!