Bright and early yesterday morning I was at the Paria Canyon BLM office along with 30 or so other folks taking part in a bizarre ritual. The half acre or so of wilderness known as “the wave” may be one of the most hotly contested areas to visit in the US. Due to the fragile area only 20 visitors are allowed per day, and a lottery system has been established. The BLM volunteers have the daily lottery draw down to a science. You show up at 8:30 and fill out your visitor request, one per group of up to six. Each group is given a number and the numbers are thrown into a bingo hopper. With my lucky number 10 and a little positive attitude I was picked second!

This morning I hit the trail at 7am. With the help of a very detailed map given out by the BLM the two and half mile hike over washes and slickrock was fairly easy. Words really can’t describe this wonderful place. In one sense anyone who has been to Zion National Park will recognized the orange and white rock formations prevalent in this area. It just so happens that this particular set of cliffs is visual perfection. As if the rock was like taffy on a puller, it dips and swirls and doubles back in a lyrical dance. To a photographer the bounty is almost embarrassing, point in any direction and you probably have a keeper.

I explored the area around the wave. One wash in particular has some incredible sandstone boulders that have been eroded in a lace pattern, truly awesome. Unfortunately this season was too dry for there to be any standing water on the plateau.

I was amazed by the scenery, but perhaps more by the sheer popularity of the place. Most of the visitors were from Europe, and traveled thousands of miles to enjoy this place. I was glad to experience the wave, and it was a fitting end to my week of photography in the southwest.