If you have ever dreamed of standing atop an immovable stone wave, a visit to Vermillion Cliffs National Monument in Arizona is an absolute must. Vermillion Cliffs National Monument’s most famous rock formation—The Wave—isn’t a literal petrified wave, but it sure looks like one. The Wave is a giant rust-colored rock with white swirls that looks like a wildly undulating ocean wave suddenly turned to stone by Medusa’s vengeful gaze. Visitors can hike the entire expanse of the wave, provided they attain a permit first.
Vermillion Cliffs National Monument is an extremely rugged, rustic environment. In order to hike The Wave, visitors must obtain a permit via a public lottery prior to entering Vermillion Cliffs National Monument. There are no paved roads, visitor centers, or manicured trails in the area—so hiking the Wave requires quite a bit of preparation. Ample amounts of sunscreen, water, and food are a must. If you forget your hat or wear uncomfortable hiking shoes with a poor tread, you’ll be sorry. Packing a sturdy set of hiking poles is an excellent idea.
In addition to The Wave, Vermillion National Monument features arches, narrow slot canyons, petroglyphs, and even a few well-disguised dinosaur tracks. If you see 2 or 3 holes embedded in a rock formation, you may be looking at the footprint of a dinosaur who roamed the Earth millions of years ago. Surveying the landscape carefully may yield some very exciting sightings of fossilized plants and animals.
Thanks to the permit system, you will never find yourself surrounded by throngs of people at Vermillion Cliffs National Monument. If you’re seeking some true desert solitude, Vermillion Cliffs National Monument offers permits for primitive backcountry camping. Spending the night surrounded by some of the most striking rock formations in the world is well worth roughing it.