More Hikers Could Soon Get Permission to Hike to the Wave in Arizona

May 11, 2019

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Hikers hoping to visit the Wave — a striking geological formation in Vermilion Cliffs National Monument near the Utah-Arizona border — might soon find it easier to do so. On Wednesday, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) proposed increasing the number of visitors from 20 to 96 per day, according to USA Today.

For now, people who want to see the Wave must enter a lottery for access to Coyote Buttes North, where it’s located. The odds of getting a permit to visit during the high season (April through June and September through October) were about 4 to 5% in 2013, according to the Bureau of Land Management, and the number of applications for permits has increased in recent years. People lucky enough to get a permit hike 3 miles each way through tall sandstone buttes and sage brush in order to see the Wave.

Mike Herder, an official at the Bureau of Land Management, told USA Today that the agency is soliciting public comment and that changes could be implemented as soon as October. During peak season, the agency gets as many as 400 applications per day. The proposed changes would allow more hikers to experience this beautiful natural site that features a sloping sandstone basin in vibrant shades of red, yellow and orange.

But not everyone is in favor of allowing more people in.

“It could mean more people in your photographs, more people walking off trail onto sensitive soil, more wildlife disruption,” Taylor McKinnon, a senior campaigner with the Center for Biological Diversity in Northern Arizona, told USA Today. “The agency needs to make sure any user increase is compatible with environmental protection.”

The BLM is considering adding additional public restrooms, parking and other resources outside the trailhead to accommodate more people. The Wave is said to be one of the most photographed places in the US, and it’s also one of the country’s most exclusive hiking spots.

Featured image by Lobineau / Italian Wikipedia

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