The Wave is a sandstone rock formation located in Arizona, United States, near its northern border with Utah. The formation is situated on the slopes of the Coyote Buttes in the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness of the Colorado Plateau.
The troughs were first formed by water erosion, as run-off carved deeper and deeper into stone from the Jurassic age. But as the drainage basin that fed water to the troughs shrank, water flow ceased, and the fascinating formation -- with steps and risers cut high into the steep sandstone walls -- has been continued entirely through erosion by wind as it funnels through the troughs.
The Wave exposes large-scale sets of cross-bedded eolian sandstone composed of rhythmic and cyclic alternating grain flow and wind ripple laminae. The rhythmic and cyclic alternating laminae represent periodic changes in the prevailing winds during the Jurassic period as large sand dunes migrated across a sandy desert. The thin ridges and ribbing seen within the Wave are the result of the differential erosion of rhythmic and cyclic alternating grain flow and wind ripple laminae within the Navajo Sandstone.
Due to the fragile nature of the formation and a large number of people wishing to visit it, a daily lottery system is used to dispense permits for up to 16 people and/or 4 groups (whichever comes first) two days before (visitors must apply within a geofence area encompassing the greater Kanab visitor center, Vermilian Cliffs, and Page areas). Additionally, 48 people and/or 12 groups (whichever comes first) online permits for each date are available four months in advance of a planned trip. A map and information about the hike are supplied to those who have obtained permits.
An ideal time to photograph the Wave is the few hours around midday when there are no shadows in the center, although early morning and late afternoon shadows can also make for dramatic photos. After a rain storm, numerous pools form which can contain hundreds of tadpole shrimps (Lepidurus apus). These pools can be present for several days.
According to Wikipedia