Only 20 People Can Hike To This Surreal Spot In Arizona Every Day

the wave arizona

Al Laurente/Flickr

The Laurente family at The Wave.

“The Wave” is a surreal-looking rock formation on the slopes of the Coyote Buttes in Arizona.While it’s not the toughest place in the world to reach, very few people ever get to see it since the government seriously limits the number of people who can hike there each day.

20 permits are handed out daily—10 to people who register for an online lottery four months in advance, and 10 to walk-ins.

Business Insider reader Al Laurente was lucky enough to score five passes for his family in August 2010, and calls it “the most beautiful and spectacular place on earth.” He shared his photos and recollection of the experience with us.

Have an amazing travel story and photos to share? Send an email to [email protected] and we could feature your adventure next.

If getting permits to hike The Wave is hard, getting there in August—when the Laurentes visited—is even harder.

Temperatures can exceed 100 degrees, and rain can wash away parts of the road, making access nearly impossible.

The family got an early start on the 6-mile hike, which can takes around two hours each way.

The canyon that houses The Wave is on the Arizona/Utah border. Here's what you need to know before you head out:

The Wave, a huge sandstone formation, can be difficult for hikers to find, and many hikers bring a GPS since the trail ends after about a mile.

The Wave has become particularly popular with European tourists since the 1990s, when it appeared in a German documentary. On the day the Laurentes hiked there were 6 German hikers and 3 from Japan.

Some hikers even hire a guide. Even so, a percentage of hikers who manage to obtain permits never make it to their destination.

Thinking of doing the hike without a permit? Think again. Trespassers must pay fines of up to $5,000 or spend up to 6 months in jail.

After the trail ends, things get steep. The Laurentes followed the path based on photos from the Bureau of Land Management.

One of the first landmarks hikers reach is Twin Peaks.

The surreal rock formations were created over thousands of years, as water and wind eroded the Navajo sandstone.

The Wave is just around the corner.

The rock formations start to take on the smooth, ridged characteristics that make The Wave famous.

Finally: THE WAVE!

It had rained the weekend before the Laurentes visit, creating reflective pools around the formation.

The soft sandstone of The Wave is fragile, and visitors must tread carefully.

The formations are ancient; dinosaur tracks have been found nearby.

Midday is the best time of day for taking pictures at The Wave, since there are no shadows. Looks like the Laurentes got the memo.

But that's not all. There's a second part of The Wave around this corner.

It's only a third of a mile away, but 200 feet uphill.

Some hikers don't make it all the way there. But it's worth the extra effort.

The landscape is otherworldly.

It's time to head out. Take one last glance back!

And in case you're wondering...

NOW WATCH: Executive Life videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.