The emergence of The Wave in North Coyote Buttes as a main attraction traces back to a 1995 nonverbal landscape documentary called “Faszination Natur” by German filmmaker Gogol Lobmayr. It premiered at Munich’s Talk of the Art, a popular visual art festival that includes film screenings.
Loybmayr described the documentary, also known by its English title, “Fascinating Nature I,” as a framing of “the most beautiful landscapes in the world.” Following Talk of the Art, the film continued a several-month, four-shows-a-day run to meet demand.
More than 300,000 people saw it during this time. And The Wave stood out as a popular highlight of the film. It exposed people to this geologic fantasyland that teased and provoked the imagination.
Shortly before and immediately after the Loybmayr film, commercial photographers began flocking to The Wave and the surrounding area in search of arresting images to turn into prints, postcards and posters — and to include in calendars and coffee-table books.
Michael Fatali is one of the well-known Coyote Buttes photographers. He has scouted overland through much of this area of the East Kaibab Monocline, a province carved and drained by the Paria River and its tributaries.
Some features in and around The Wave are named or known based on a Fatali photograph. One area is nicknamed “Fatali’s Boneyard.” It features wavy forms in the sandstone along with chunks of shelved sandstone that look like vertebrae.
Over the years, dozens of other professional landscape photographers have made the trek to The Wave to photograph it. And it has grown to become one of the more recognizable images in the Southwest, competing with Grand Canyon and Monument Valley.
— Information compiled from past articles and research by Seth Muller