It could soon be easier to explore The Wave, a geological phenomenon near the Utah-Arizona border where access is so limited that its field office consistently breaks more hikers’ hearts than it pleases. The Bureau of Land Management proposes increasing the daily permit maximum for the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness Area to 96, up from the 20 it allows now by a monthly online lottery and a daily walk-up lottery.
Parts of The Wave’s allure are its absence of people, its exclusivity and its rolling, striped red sandstone landscape. Officials are grappling with balancing preservation and access.
“If a proposed change to visitor numbers is decided upon, the BLM would announce that decision… and would then look at a multitude of ideas on how best to implement the new permit number,” says public affairs officer Rachel Carnahan.
BLM officials accepted public comments on the issue through late June before analyzing alternatives and beginning an environmental assessment of the area.