On a Wave

To beach vacationers, the rhythmic the sound of the waves coming to shore provides peace and relaxation. To water skiers, waves are the peaks and troughs created by the boat pulling them along the aquatic surface … yet the surfer eagerly awaits the ultimate ride.

To physicists, waves are disturbances transferring energy; then again, different types of waves exist. To sports fans, the wave is the standup-sit down ritual to create a rolling motion across a mass of people. Yet with hair, it refers to a curve or curl.

As a verb, wave is associated with a variety of hand actions including a common gesture. Wave can indicate a sudden surge in emotions or numbers, but it can also be a persistent condition. This post is not about any of these or any definitions not included, but a place known as The Wave.

Steve and I met as college freshmen on the windy plains of northwest Ohio. Through those college years, we shared a dorm room, had many of the same friends, and shared many memories. We were each other’s best man at weddings and though many states apart, we have stayed in contact and visited each other.

Several years ago, I saw his photos of a land I had never seen or knew it existed. Figuring that many readers may not know this place, enjoy the Q&A and pictures about The Wave at Coyote Buttes in the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness Area. If available, Steve will also try to answer comments and questions.

You have visited your share of national parks. Why did this one take so long?
The Wave was supposedly ‘discovered’ sometime in the 90’s, and I saw pictures of it sometime in the early 2000’s. Once I figured out where it was, I was determined to see it. As it turns out, by then many others had discovered it too; and there was in place a 20-person per day limit into the area. I managed to acquire two passes for July 4th (2007) coinciding with a mountain bike trip that a group of us had planned for the same week. One of my friends and I hiked there on a very hot (near 100 degrees) day.

As a geologist, what impresses you about The Wave?
The Wave is formed from mainly wind-worn Navajo Sandstone, one of the most photogenic formations in the West. The layers of sandstone were originally laid down by wind in a huge sand dune field, and looking at the layers one can see the dune patterns. The really cool thing is that the formation was created by wind, and now the wind has created this beautiful formation.

As a photographer, how does The Wave differ from other locations?
It is a unique blend of colors, textures, and rock shapes. I have never seen another place like it, either in pictures or in person. There are similar rock layers in some of the nearby areas, but none approach the perfect combination of features seen in The Wave.

How difficult was the climbing within The Wave?
It is a 3-plus mile one-way hike across sand and sandstone to get to The Wave. Generally, it is not a difficult hike for somebody in pretty-good shape, but the temperatures in the summer are brutally hot, there is very little shade, and no water. Carrying a camera, extra lenses, and tripod limited the amount of water that I could carry, and on the day we were there, I ran out of water by the end of the day.

Tell us anything else about The Wave that you have not already mentioned.
Now, it is nearly impossible to get a pass into The Wave, as so many people want to go there, and there is a lottery set up to get passes. Most days have a hundred or more applicants. I have applied a couple of other times, unfortunately unsuccessfully.

107 thoughts on “On a Wave

  1. Hi,
    Very intriguing place, I love all the different colours in the rock, just spectacular, and very good information to go with the pictures, a fantastic post, I enjoyed reading about this beautiful place. πŸ˜€

    We have a place in Australia as well called the Wave Rock. I did a post awhile ago on it, but the colors are not as spectacular as these. πŸ™‚


  2. AMAZING! Beautiful pictures, I felt like I could almost feel the smooth sandstone under my hands as I looked at the photos. Such layers and colors. I can’t wait to show Navar the photos and interview. Thank You for sharing the pictures and doing the interview. Great Post!


  3. Wow! What an incredible place. The images are stunning. I would love to visit (although it’s pretty far out of my reach right now even if I did manage to win the lottery — any lottery).


  4. Wow! That is amazing. Great post Frank. What a beautiful formation. I just love the colour of the wave – it’s very similar to our red dessert areas here in Australia. What a privilege for your friend to go there. He photographed it and captured it so well. xx


    • Spiced,
      Glad you enjoyed this. The idea came to me last week, so I proposed it to Steve, and here it is. Mags (another Aussie) told us of Wave Rock, so I provided a link to its images. Until he went, I had no clue it even existed! Thanks for commenting.


  5. I’m very happy that I stumbled upon your blog!

    I’m also looking forward to the 2012 presidential election. I’m not even American and I’m drawn right into it. :p

    When I look at the wave, I see something very unique. It has such an interesting color to it. I find it amazing what kind of environments exist in our world.


  6. Holy Toledo, I am slobbering on my keyboard Frank. Great shots of a spectacular piece of real estate. Talk about a bucket list include! Thanks for posting and congrats to Steve for tenacity and skill.


  7. ….and all created by wind. It’s hard to come up with an adjective to describe my feelings. I can only say “Wow” because my mouth’s still hanging open. My sincere congratulations to Steve on capturing the beauty of the place.
    I’ve been to the painted desert in Arizona. Is this near by?


  8. Great pics and blog, Frank. We just went to Natural Bridges in Calaveras County Northern CA today. Very cool cave with lots of stalactites and calcium and basalt. Nothing like the waves, but still intense.


  9. Pingback: …things I LOVED! Week March 5th through March 11th « …things I LOVE!

  10. I’m enjoying “strolling” through your travels. I, for one, enjoy driving more than cruising (despite the comfort and the lack of packing and unpacking), as it gives us more time in each destination. However this place The Wave is spectacular, and obviously there’s no ship there (my husband fell in love with cruising, not I), and it is a place I have not been to. Next on my list!


  11. Frank I cannot believe what I’m seeing… this must be unique to that spot and found nowhere else in the world… it is absolutely Gob Smacking… I would love to see that in real life but by the sounds of it very little chance exists… thanks for pointing me over here … this is outstanding….


  12. What a gorgeous place… Though it is a bummer that it has been restricted, I can totally understand as it would erode much too quickly otherwise… Gorgeous shots, Steve!

    What a great friendship you two have, Frank & Steve!


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