The Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness is a place of incredible wonder. The Coyote Buttes area has a colorful rainbow of swirling striated sandstone with pastel yellows, pinks and reds. The dramatic colors are from iron and other minerals within the sandstone. If you have ever seen books with pictures of the National Parks in Utah, you have most likely seen a feature known as "The Wave" even though it is actually in Arizona.
The Wave was our motivation to visit the confluence at 37N-112W. This was the final leg of our daughter’s spring break and it would turn out to be the highlight of our trip.
Special care is required in this delicate area administered by the BLM to ensure that the impact of visitors is minimized to the fragile sandstone formations. Only 10 people are allowed into this area each day. Passes are available on-line (usually filled 6 months in advance) but a lottery is conducted every morning for walk-ins.
We were first in line at when the Paria Contact Station opened hoping to get a walk-in permit for the next day. There were four of us and fourteen people wanting to see the wave. As luck would have it, our group was not picked. We spent the day touring the Glen Canyon Dam . Early the next morning we returned for another chance at the lottery.
If you return a second day after not being picked, your name is entered into the drawing twice, if you return a third day after not being picked, your name is entered three times. On this day, we were the first group to be picked! We finally had our passes! Now we just had to wait another day before we could hike out into the Coyote Buttes Wilderness. We spent the rest of that day hiking out to the Toadstools; incredible formations of red and white balanced rocks and other short hikes in the general area. We stayed another night at the Wahweap Lodge and watched a beautiful sunset over Lake Powell from the Rainbow Room restaurant.
After your group is selected and you pay for the use permits, you will be given a very nice color handout and map with waypoint coordinates and photos taken at each one so you can easily find your way to The Wave. The next morning, we drove down to the Wire Pass Trailhead to start our day’s adventure.
37-112 is just a little east of the route and less than ½ mile from The Wave. We made a slight detour and easily found the confluence. My daughters were delighted with a small pond full of tadpoles. I took some pictures but none of them came close to fully capturing the colors of the area. I scrambled up a sandstone formation about 25 meters south of the point to try to get some elevated pictures of the general area.
Picture #1 looks north towards Utah. Picture #2 looks east. Picture #3 looks south. Picture #4 looks west; the subtle color variations within the sandstone in the distance are not captured in any of these pictures but are simply incredible! Picture #5 shows where the first four pictures were taken from as seen from the actual confluence. Picture #6 depicts a simultaneous 2D agreement at 37N-112W for 4 GPS receivers – lots of zeroes! Picture #7 shows my daughters admiring the tadpoles in the confluence pond. Picture #8 shows me walking into The Wave – again, the colors simply do not come out in the pictures. Picture #9 looks down part of The Wave towards my wife. Picture #10 shows my daughters against a backdrop of striated and extremely colorful sandstone between the confluence and The Wave. This is a great area for family photos!
Our plan for the day had also included a 2 mile hike down the Buckskin Gulch slot canyon. We were so captivated by the wonders of The Wave that we ended up spending the entire day there exploring and simply did not have time for a second hike.
Total hike was just over 7 miles. This is one of the most scenic confluences I have ever been to! It is also one *you* will want to spend the entire day at!
Inspiration for your own journey to this incredible confluence can start with the simple mouse click and looking at some more pictures of what you will experience on your way to this confluence.