The Wave Arizona Permit

Pursuit of the Permit: Hacking The Wave’s Daily Lottery

Jan 18, 2024

You’re getting desperate.

You’re falling into despair.

Cue the dramatic music to emphasize the utter disappointment as you (read: I) sift through the broken shards of a damaged heart when yet another NO lands in email boxes everywhere informing us, YET AGAIN, that we did not win The Wave permit.

Will the odds ever be in our favor to win a permit to one of the most sought after hikes?  I’m referring to the very one that leads to a coveted experience full of the most unimaginably outlandish sandstone swirled and striped geologic formations we’ll ever lay eyes upon?!

I get it. It feels hopeless. Should we all just give up?

No. Absolutely not. But we should change our tactics and try something more extreme… and by extreme, I mean the lengths in which we’ll go to nab the permit of all permits.

We should hack the system.

Legally, of course. Let’s not get to crazy…at least not where there are witnesses, anyway.  

Ahem. Back to our strategy of trying to swing those odds back into the realm of our favor so we feel just a little bit more in control of an excruciatingly frustrating situation that inspires us want to eternally scream into our camping pillows.

The plan is this: We aggressively go ALL IN on The Wave’s Daily Lottery.

The Wave Arizona In Person Lottery

Background on The Wave’s Daily Lottery

Historically, the Daily Lottery used to be held in person at a Kanab, Utah government building.  Participants would be assigned a number and that number would coincide with a literal bingo ball.  That bingo ball would go round and round inside a metal cage as contestants tensely prayed to the Permit Gods that their now lucky number would be drawn. An official from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the governing body responsible for not only The Wave, itself, but also your adventure-loving fate, would randomly dispense the bingo balls and call out the drawn numbers.  Dreams would be recognized and hopes would be dashed within a few celebratory breaths or smothered sobs and all contestants would scatter within minutes.

The Wave Arizona Geo Fence

The Daily Lottery’s Geo-Fence Explained

In recent years, the BLM moved the entire Daily Lottery online with presiding over the proceedings. Along with this new way of issuing permits, installed a game-changing geo-fence to their daily lottery procedures.

The geo-fence, a digital barrier placed around a large region encompassing Kanab, Utah and The Wave’s physical location, among other towns and parks, prevents participation in the Daily Lottery if you are not physically located within their prescribed boundaries.   

But how will they ever know where you are when you hop on to enter the Daily Lottery?!

Here’s an example of what happened when I asked the same question:  I was sitting on my couch in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Las Vegas is only three-ish hours away from Kanab, Utah.  I would have had no issues in being able to pull off that last minute trip of a lifetime.

I attempted to enter the Daily Lottery and a warning window popped up that told me I was not located within the geo-fence. knew I was not physically within the required area because the app had access to my cellphone’s location. Hmmm, what would happen if it no longer had access to my location? was one step ahead, though, and answered sternly, in no uncertain terms, that entry would not be granted to the Daily Lottery if it did not have access to your location through a mobile device (no desktop or laptop computers allowed, either) with enabled location services. 

With this info tucked away in the back of my mind, I engineered a plan.

The Master Plan to Get The Wave Permit

Step 1 – Getting Everyone On Board Your Pursuit of the Permit Plan

In early spring of 2023, I planned a camper van trip to Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks…while also wondering if any of my itinerary might be included in The Wave’s geo-fence area.

A quick check of the Geo-Fence Map that the BLM released online to all the scheming hopefuls revealed that Bryce Canyon was a do-able drive from the border of the geo-fence and Zion National Park’s East entrance was actually located within the prescribed area.

With this nugget of solid gold info in mind, this is the point where you’ll need to decide just how badly you want The Wave permits. 

To tailor an entire trip around obtaining The Wave permits could be a bit extreme for some.  At the very least, the requirements you’ll need to fulfill to enter the lottery will be inconvenient and an imposition on otherwise perfectly good plans. 

Because of this, your next step will be to inform and confirm with everyone going on your trip into the area located in or around The Wave geo-fence of the crazy maneuverings that will be involved and to be ready and willing to make those deadlines and physical location requirements THE priority.

Step 2 – Entering the Geo-Fence and the Daily Lottery

Once I had my husband on board with my schemy and sandstone dreamy plan, we were off and running in our camper van towards Zion National Park. We spent our days touring every corner of the park, but always kept in mind that the window to enter the Daily Lottery was between 6 A.M. and 6 P.M.

We planned our days around making a beeline straight to the East Entrance of Zion, conveniently located in the geo-fence area, as close as we could to the hard cut off time at 6 P.M. (MST), while still allowing time for any issues that might come up with cellphones, reception and navigating

Once we arrived and parked at Zion’s East Entrance, my cellphone reception, courtesy of T-Mobile, was a bit spotty. Never fear, I found a good spot by standing on the retaining wall behind the park’s pit toilet building. My location within the geo-fence was confirmed by the app and I. Was. In. 

Filling out the registration for myself and my husband was a breeze and I nervously submitted my entry into the Daily Lottery. Since cellphone reception could have been an issue, I stood in that exact spot, not breathing, until I received confirmation emails and notifications within the app.

Step 3 – Win, Lose and Try, Try AGAIN

Once we successfully entered the Daily Lottery, I realized several crucial things. The results of the Daily Lottery are released by 7:15 P.M. on the same day in which you apply for the permit.  We would need to be available, via good cellphone reception, to receive the email ultimately informing us as to if we won a permit or not, but…

Regardless of the results, we had to make contingency plans for each outcome and be able to move fast, no matter if we won or lost.

The plan if we WON a permit:

If we won, there were additional must-do requirements, as dictated by the Bureau of Land Management.  With the Daily Lottery window being open from 6 A.M. to 6 P.M. and the results being emailed out at 7:15 P.M., the BLM issues an important next step in the form of an even more important deadline:  After you are notified of winning your permit at 7:15 P.M., you MUST digitally claim and pay for your permits, via, with a very hard deadline of the next morning before 8 A.M.  You can be located outside of the geo-fenced area, but you MUST have cellphone reception in order to actually digitally claim and pay for your permits.

Once you digitally claim your permit, you are required to physically pick up an actual hard-copy permit, in person, at a pickup location you chose from the provided list, presumably in Kanab, Utah. You will also be required to attend a safety briefing upon receiving your permits.

Once you are physically issued your permit, your actual hike will begin the very next day.

Keep in mind that the trailhead to The Wave is located a little over an hour east of Kanab, Utah. You’ll need to make plans in town for a hotel stay or car camp, RV or camper van it east to public land that allows camping somewhere in the vicinity of the trailhead.

One last thing, and I cannot stress this enough:  MAKE SURE that your clocks, watches and phone are all set to Mountain Standard time – the time zone in which Kanab, Utah is located.  Yes, The Wave is located, just over the Utah state line, in Arizona, but the BLM offices that manage The Wave are located in Utah.

The plan, if you LOST and Did Not Get a Permit:

After submitting our registration entry for The Wave Daily Lottery, we impatiently waited for 7:15 P.M. and the notification email to arrive. When 7:15 P.M. hit, we heard nothing. I kept refreshing my inbox and belated realized, at around 7:30 PM, that we had not won. It made sense that the permit winners were likely notified first and that the mass of losers were notified soon thereafter. Unfortunately, I was right.

We received the “sorry to inform you that, unfortunately…”email that we had not won, but we immediately came up with our plan to bounce back, ready and excited to enter the Daily Lottery, again, the very next morning.

Our Loser Plan entailed us staying the night, in our camper van, within the geo-fence area of the Daily Lottery so that once morning hit, and the clock struck 6 A.M., we were right back on and entering for the chance to win The Wave permits.

Once we successful registered for the lottery, we were off and running again.  This time we headed to Bryce Canyon National Park where the only next steps of attempting to win The Wave permits was that we needed cellphone service to be able to receive the BLM notification at 7:15 P.M.

…and when 7:30 P.M. rolled around, we were notified again that we had lost. 

This is your fork in road as to if you want to keep pursuing entries into the Daily Lottery or scream to the Permit Gods, “NEVERMIND! WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO TO WIN! GAAAAAAAAAHHH!”

Should you choose to stop the permit pursuit madness, there is so much to do in the region including Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks and multiple unique hikes in and around Kanab, UT.  If you still want to pursue a coveted permit, there’s always Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park with your chances at winning being exponentially better.

If you choose to go full on feral for doing anything and everything you can to try to win permits, then read on dear, crazy-ass adventurer!

The Plan, if You Lost the Daily Lottery AGAIN:

Since we were located in Bryce Canyon National Park when we were notified, at 7:30 P.M., that we lost again, we decided to stay in Bryce Canyon overnight, hike the park the next day, but head out to drive toward the border of the geo-fence, in an attempt at a third time in trying to nab a damn permit. 

Because we would be required to head into Kanab, Utah the very next morning, should be win permits, we decided to make that our destination for the night, since we had good cellphone reception in town.  You, however, do not have to go that far, especially if you wish to spend more time in Bryce Canyon National Park. 

The geo-fence border crosses the Bryce Canyon National Park to Kanab route, just south of the Alton, Utah turn and as long as you have cellphone reception, you can pull over, complete your lottery entry registration and be off and running again. You just need to keep in mind that you are required to be physically located in Kanab at 8:30 A.M. the next morning, should you win the permits.

The Wave Arizona Sandstone Swirls and Stripes

Last Thoughts on the Pursuit of Coveted Permits

Yes, the plans detailed in this pursuit of the permit blog post are…a bit insane, but so are those sandstone swirls. 

Once you get the hang of the juggle of the geo-fence borders, cellphone reception, deadlines, and still trying to go on alternate adventures in the meantime, it doesn’t seem so mind-bogglingly impossible to try to pull off.  Surprisingly, we felt pretty successful in orchestrating this insane strategy and were happy with our visit to two National Parks and multiple unique hikes…if only it had actually paid off in the form of winning permits.  

We’ll never stop trying, though, and I hope you don’t either, friends.

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