Labor Day 2018: The Wave

I haven’t written a post yet for Labor Day 2017, but let’s just skip ahead right to 2018! The Wave! We’ve been trying for these permits for….let’s just say a while. And amazingly we finally got them! For Labor Day no less! For those of you who don’t know, The Wave is a very limited access hike. They only let in 20 people per day. 10 through an online lottery held a few months before hand, and 10 the morning of in an in person lottery. The fine for being caught hiking it without a permit is thousands of dollars. (We did run into a ranger checking permits fyi, so I don’t really suggest trying it). You also get a map to go with your permit. Another huge this is that this hike is mostly a trail-less hike. They recently put up a few markers, but not many. Let’s just say we did get a bit lost a few times. I do not suggest you do this without a permit OR the provided map! Not only because you could get lost or fined, but the daily limits are placed there for a reason. Preservation, safety, etc. So let’s get started on this trip recap!

Start: San Diego
Fly into: Vegas
Stops: Bryce Canyon, The Wave
Transportation Method: Flying & Rental Car (High Clearance vehicle required/recommended to get to The Wave Trailhead parking lot)
Time of Year: September

And here’s my usual excel sheet, because we know how I love my excel sheets!

We all had crazy work/school schedules this year, so we all flew to and met up in Vegas to start our road trip off there. Plus cutting out that extra 4-6 hour drive was amazing!!! Flights to Vegas weren’t too bad either. I’d definitely say it was worth it. We all arrived late Saturday, picked up or rental car, stopped by Umiya for AYCE (all you can eat) Sushi and then headed out on our short 2 hour drive to St. George. *We stopped by a Wal Mart to pick up a few gallons of water before heading out.* We stayed the night, woke up *not so early* to grab that free continental breakfast and then headed out to Bryce Canyon.

Once we got to Bryce Canyon, we stopped by the Visitor Center and then the Lodge for some pizza (which was delicious)! From there, we headed further in to start our day of hiking. We took in some views from Sunset & Sunrise Point before started our trek down.

The hike down was pretty nice & easy. We took a few different paths that I can’t really recall now. It was some mixture of the trail starting/ending at Sunset/Sunrise Point and passing through Queens Garden Loop & Navajo Loop. It was a pretty nice short & moderate hike with lots of nice views. Just prepare yourself for all of the switchbacks on the way back up!

After our hike out, we drove a little outside the park to do the Mossy Cave & Waterfall trail. This is a pretty easy and short trail. The cave is nice, but my favorite part was the river! It’s a pretty chill hike and a great way to end the day. Bryce was a great warm up day before doing the wave. Difficult enough to really give us a warm up with lots of great views, but not too hard to wear us out for the next day.

We headed out from Bryce pretty early, before the sun even set. We drove a few hours out to Kanab (probably the closest place to stay for The Wave). We grabbed dinner at a nice little restaurant across the street from our Holiday Inn. And then we got second dinner at McDonald’s, because you can’t have a road trip without getting chicken nuggets at least once!

We woke up pretty early the next morning, grabbed a quick breakfast at the hotel and headed out to the trail. It”s not too far from Kanab, but the last few miles can take over 30 minutes just because of the rocky path. I’d give yourself an hour or so to get to Wirepass Trailhead parking lot. And I would strongly recommend a high clearance vehicle. Be sure to check the weather because some parts of the road are impassable if there is heavy rain.

I’m not going to include any maps or specific instructions on how to get to and from The Wave. But here’s the quick run down. The hike itself isn’t too difficult. It’s the finding your way and heat that really get you. There is zero to little coverage during most of the hike. The hike is about a 5.5 mile round trip hike (although ours turned into around 9-10). There are a few markers to help you out so you know you’re on the right path. But not many. The beginning has a pretty defined trail. But after that you will have to hike across rocks, sand, and do some scrambling. There will be a few spots of steep incline and decline. You will be pretty much going up, down and through mountains. Especially if you get lost. We ended up going up and down and back tracking a few times.

We got through the beginning pretty easily/quickly. But about halfway we must have taken a wrong turn and ended up at a place we now call “The Fake Wave.” We hung out there for quite some time. It was pretty cool. Everything look pretty Wave-like to us. After this though was when we realized we were a bit lost. So we ended up going further up a mountain, then all the way back down before we head back in the right direction onto the “official” trail. I’m glad we got lost though because we all loved the “Fake” Wave!
From there, the path was pretty straight forward to get to the Wave. You also cross the UT/AZ state lines once you get to there. There’s some nice shade and a bit of a wind tunnel right before you see The Wave. Plus there’s the little pond full of water you need to pass first. You can either traverse along the side and bypass it or wade right through it. I did both, traverse there and waded through when leaving. If you look closely you can also see a bunch of little critters and tadpoles in pools of water throughout your hike!

From there, you can get your shot of The Wave. You’re gonna want to go to the top and take it from the top. That’s the usual angle you see all those pictures from. There is about a 2+ mile loop you can do after the wave with some other cool sites. We actually ran into a ranger who asked if we wanted to come along with him. Unfortunately we were pressed for time (some of us had to catch a flight that night back in Vegas) and couldn’t join him. So if you still have some time there is a whole 2nd section you can explore. But again you will have to find your own way. No trail. No map. But just getting to see The Wave itself is pretty amazing already even if you don’t have time to hike further.

After hanging out for a bit and taking a bit of a break, fueling up on some Honey Stinger Waffles & Chews, we headed back. The first part was pretty straight forward. There was a whole new section we hadn’t hiked through originally since we got a little lost getting there and went the wrong way so there were some new sites! We got a little lost again going back, we were pretty close to getting back to the initial defined trail. But we ended up trying to cut through a mountain and ended up losssst again. So it was a good thing we didn’t stay longer for that 2+ mile loop. We ended up lost for about an hour because we were scrambling up and down hills and backtracking a lot. We eventually decided to go down the right side of the mountain and just hugged the base and went around the mountain instead of trying to cut through. Which was the right thing to do because we found that defined trail we had started out on almost immediately!

It was a pretty straight shot back from there. But towards the end we could see some storm clouds in the direction of the parking lot. It also got a lot colder and windier the closer we got to the beginning of the trail head. By the end we were pretty much trying to race back to our car before it started pouring. Remember those impassable roads I mentioned on the drive in? Yea we did not want to get stranded. It actually started raining right as we got into the car and started driving off. It wasn’t a heavy rain, some light rain on and off. About half way down the dirt road driving the rain definitely picked up. But we got out before the roads got too wet or anything. I think the roads were probably fine anyways, the rain didn’t seem intense enough to really block anything off, but we sure as hell were not gonna risk it.

From there we drove straight back to Vegas (About 4.5 hours), and checked into our hotel. I am a bit of a MyVegas fanatic so we got a free room at Mandalay Bay with some of my in game rewards. (It’s a Facebook game where you play slots with fake money and you can use your earned coins to buy rewards – like free rooms, buffets, shows, etc). We hit up the buffet, took a little nap, then some of our group flew out for the night. The rest of us flew out the next day. And that wraps up our 4th Annual Labor Day Road Trip!!!! Couldn’t have spent it with a better group and we finally got to check this one off the bucket list!


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