White Pocket Within The Vermillion Cliffs Are A Breathtaking Martian Landscape
I’m not much of a “rock nerd” but seriously, these rock formations are unbelievable. And so martian… I half expected Matt Damon to be peeking out from behind one of the awe-inspiring cliffs.
White Pocket, Arizona is an often overlooked gem in the Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness area. The fragile rock formations are absolutely stunning, and the colours will make you wonder if these rocks are from another planet. The views are worth the trip, and then some.
And the trip is not easy! You’ll need some knowledge of the area, as well as a high-functioning 4WD vehicle to get there. If you don’t have such things, however, you can hire a guide to take you. There are lots of super knowledgeable folks out there who spend tons of their time exploring the area, and can help you cut time in finding the real beauties among this alien landscape.
What Caused The Rolling Sandstone Formations?
It’s hard to explain the rolling sandstone formations at White Pocket, Arizona. Some geologist think that White Pocket’s beauty is created by “soft sediment deformation”. This means that the twisting and turning look of the rocks occurred back in Jurassic times, before the sand turned to rock.
Yet other experts believe that the landscape is a result of a huge sand-slide mass, potentially triggered by an earthquake. Until very recently, White Pocket was quite obscure, and was only known by ranchers and a few adventurous photographers. However, once NatGeo ran a story on the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, there have been a lot more visitors.
These days, if you check it out online, White Pocket, Arizona is a popular bucket list destination for many outdoor lovers and amateur photographers.
White Pocket Is A Photography Hot Spot…
If you’re a photographer, you’ll likely meet other like-minded outdoor enthusiasts with their cameras hunting for the perfect shot at this spot. The White Pocket photographs really well at both sunrise and sunset. The geology of this location is both beautiful and inspiring. There’s really no other place like it.
Because of this, you’ll find that it’s usually quite packed with people during busy times of the summer. Avoid these times, and even aim to go in the winter (with a super warm coat) and you’ll have pictures to keep with you forever of this gorgeous spot.
…But That Doesn’t Mean That It’s Easy To Get To
You’re in for a trip if you’re driving to White Pocket on your own! We definitely recommend having some experience driving in sand, as it tends to be its own kind of beast.
Further, make sure your vehicle is up to the challenge! You’ll need a 4WD, not just AWD. People make this mistake and it usually ends up costing them a big chunk of the day to deal with getting out of the sand.
Best Way To Get To White Pocket
Getting to White Pocket is a task unto itself. In fact, most people who go there say that visiting White Pocket, Arizona, is half about getting there, and half about viewing the unbelievable landscape.
There are rumours that some people hike the seven miles to White Pocket from Paw Hole. Definitely check up on some blogs and reviews before exploring this option, as getting to Paw Hole is a challenge in itself. You may as well just take the hard road to White Pocket instead.
And the road is hard! If you’re coming from Page, you’ll be driving for about two and a half hours. You’ll want to head east on Highway 89 until you get to a dirt road exit for “House Rock Valley Road”. From there, head south on this road for about 35 miles. This will take you around an hour. You’ll pass the South Coyote Buttes parking area, and have landed in Arizona.
Feel free to use this geolocation from there and it will guide you on your way. Keep in mind that there may be sketchy reception, so download the maps before you go.
Best Time Of Year To Visit
The roads to White Pocket are totally un-driveable when they’re wet. Because of this, you’ll want to keep weather in mind when you’re planning your trip. If there are storms coming up either the day before or the day of your visit, it’s a good idea to reschedule.
So basically, the best time to visit this incredible scenic hot-spot is when there is no rain or precipitation of any kind in the forecast.
Further, if you’d like to avoid the inevitable crowds, plan to go in winter. As long as you can stand the cold, it’s a very quiet and beautiful time to visit White Pocket, Arizona. Spring is also a great time to go, as it’s warm but you don’t get the crazy crowds that always fill up the space in the summer.
If you’re wise, actually, you’ll avoid the summer. There are monsoon storms all the time, and it’s also hot and crowded.
If you’re a photographer looking to get some incredible images, dawn, dusk, and overnight during a new moon are going to get you images that will be impossible to find anywhere else.
Know Before You Go
I know we’ve already mentioned that the accessibility of this place is notoriously challenging. However, it begs mentioning again that you should definitely consult a guide or do some major research yourself before you go.
The hiking, however is pretty casual once you get there. The views are otherworldly, but it’s easy to get lost driving there so be warned: take good care.
And again… 4WD not AWD!
Have fun and be safe!