The Wave

Arizona The Wave

Arizona The Wave

Vermillion Cliffs NM The Wave

USA · The Wave

The Wave – or Coyote Buttes North – a sandstone rock formation painted with shades of red and orange. A gallery of gruesomely twisted sandstone, resembling deformed pillars, cones, mushrooms and other odd creations, a dream destination for hikers, photographers, and movie makers, a place of incredible beauty guarded by harsh weather conditions and strict visiting regulations, a place so different and pristine, you might think you are on another planet. Deposits of iron claim some of the responsibility for the unique blending of color twisted in the rock, creating a dramatic rainbow of pastel yellows, pinks and reds.

The Wave is located in Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, near Utah and Arizona border. It was first widely publicized in Germany by the movie “Faszination Natur” in 1996. Soon after the images of The Wave spread around the world via the Internet, it became an instant mecca for photographers and hikers alike.

Many describe walking through the dunes as an intensely strange experience, surreal and vertigo inducing, or in several cases, described as being like a drug induced walking dream. The soft sandstone of The Wave is fragile, so one needs to walk carefully, not break the small ridges. While the rocks have been hardened, they are still susceptible to damage. After a recent rain storm, numerous pools form which can contain hundreds of tadpoles and fairy shrimp. These pools can be present for several days.

It’s believed to date back to the Jurassic period during which time prevailing winds pushed the sandy desert dunes across the sandstone, etching it, while water runoff deposited chemicals such as manganese and iron. The resulting bands of color are referred to as the Liesegang rings, named after a German chemist. Swirled bands of color run through the sandstone, ranging from red, pink, orange, yellow, white and green.