The splendor of Vermillion Cliffs’ White Pocket

By Janet Wight

My husband Jeremy and I have been exploring various aspects of travel for over 30 years with a special interest in learning about national and state parks along with off-the-beaten-path destinations.

We have been following several YouTube channels devoted to these topics for a while. About a year ago we stumbled upon the channel BackRoadsWest1 that showcases trips to out of the way locations with many excursions on unpaved roads through scenic areas in the southwestern U.S.

While watching one of these journeys, we learned about White Pocket, a set of impressive Navajo Sandstone formations. This geological wonder is located in an isolated part of Vermillion Cliffs National Monument between Page, Ariz., and Kanab, Utah.

We were surprised we had never heard of this spot, especially since we previously vacationed in this area. It seemed like a visit to White Pocket would be the perfect choice for any geology or photography enthusiast due to its unusual spiral patterns and quirky appeal.

Once we started planning a summer road trip to Utah and Arizona, we decided to include a visit to White Pocket too. Since it can only be reached by a 90-­minute drive through deep sand, we opted to book a guided tour through Kanab’s Dreamland Safari Tours. We would rendezvous with our guide and fellow travelers at House Rock Valley, then we would be driven in a high clearance, four-wheel drive truck to our destination. Including a few hours of hiking, our round trip excursion would take about seven hours.

Once we made our travel reservation, we received detailed instructions regarding confusing time zone boundaries. This was essential information since we were driving in from Page, a part of Arizona where daylight saving time is not observed. However, Kanab is in the Mountain Time Zone and daylight saving time is observed throughout Utah. Since permits are not required in national monuments, we did not need one to tour White Pocket.

When our tour date arrived, we ate a quick breakfast at our hotel and then drove to the meeting destination. There was a family of four adults on the tour along with our knowledgeable guide. His off-road driving skills were superb as he navigated deep sand, rocky patches and unmarked roads. For neophytes, it would be so easy to get lost and also dangerous to get stuck with temperatures hovering around 100 degrees. Luckily, our guide’s truck was equipped with satellite communications equipment so we did not have to worry about mechanical breakdowns.

When we finally arrived at White Pocket we were greeted with a spectacular bounty of exceptional color and texture. The pictures and videos we had seen were captivating, but nothing is quite the same as witnessing the vibrant swirling colors in person.

Around each bend were more impossibly intricate designs of burnt orange, gray, peach and white rock set against a magnificent deep blue sky. As we walked around the conical shapes rising above us, we marveled at the splendid beauty concentrated in this small parcel. The endless array of picturesque views was stunning.

Some practical things to consider: The White Pocket tour is rated as a three out of 10 in hiking difficulty. The rock layers have excellent traction and there are different paths that can be chosen to avoid steep climbs.

This hike was accessible for people of most walking ability levels, although the extreme heat made moving around more challenging. Our guide had a thorough knowledge of the area and led us up, down and around the formations for several hours. We mostly had the area to ourselves along with one other group from Dreamland. There was plenty of water available and lunch was provided.

After we finished hiking, we had snacks and drinks in the parking lot, then settled in for the long ride back to the meet-up area. Although we had chatted easily on the way to White Pocket, the trip back was much quieter. We were all overheated and worn out, and several passengers tried to nap despite the bumpy ride.

Dreamland Safari Tours offers a good selection of tours and each one is rated for difficulty, which is essential when choosing an outing. We were completely satisfied with the tour and we would definitely recommend this company due to its experienced guides and informative website. We hope to take a different tour to one of the other picturesque spots in this region the next time we are in the Kanab area.

Although we saw many incredible sights during our vacation in the southwest, the White Pocket trip was definitely our favorite outing. Traveling to this inspiring area provided a unique opportunity to be in a remote area far away from the urban jungle.

Would you like to deeply immerse yourself in a dazzling display of nature’s palette? If so, a visit to White Pocket is an incredible experience that would undoubtedly provide you with a lifetime of vivid memories. 

Janet Wight is a resident of Como Park where she lives with her husband and daughters.

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