Visiting White Pocket + Photo Tips

White Pocket is a must-see gem in Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, Arizona. Known for its striking resemblance to its Utah counterpart, The Wave, visiting White Pocket boasts equally fascinating rock formations!

Embarking on a journey to this extraordinary place to visit near Utah demands more than a sense of adventure. Navigating the road to get there requires a high-clearance 4WD vehicle and a level of expertise driving in deep sand. 

visiting White Pocket

At White Pocket you’ll see a stunning landscape of towering sandstone buttes and otherworldly shapes. With its unique rock formations, colorful sunsets, and expansive views of the surrounding area, it’s easy to see why White Pocket has become a popular destination for photographers and outdoor enthusiasts alike.

Since White Pocket is right on the Utah border, the Utah Packing Lists apply as well. Be sure you have the right clothing and gear for visiting any time of year! Grab your free printable packing checklist by clicking the image below!

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A Photo Tour of White Pocket

Take a visual tour through White Pocket to see the stunning landscapes at this unique destination!

Things to Know Before Visiting White Pocket

Known as the White Pocket, this remarkable site encompasses a vast expanse of distinctive rock formations characterized by their white-capped appearance. 

Location: White Pocket is in the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness within the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument. It is often thought to be in Utah but is located in Northern Arizona, just south of the Utah border. Its precise GPS coordinates are 36.955011, -111.893296. 

Geological Formations: The rock formations at White Pocket are primarily made up of Navajo Sandstone, known for its vibrant red and orange hues. The unique patterns and textures found at White Pocket result from erosion, weathering, and geological forces acting upon the sandstone over millions of years.

Access: Getting to White Pocket is limited and requires a high-clearance four-wheel-drive vehicle. The remote area is off-road, with no paved roads leading directly to the site. 

Wilderness Experience: White Pocket offers a remote and relatively untouched wilderness experience. Visitors can enjoy solitude and immerse themselves in the breathtaking scenery, away from the crowds typically found in more accessible areas. Respecting the natural environment and practicing Leave No Trace principles when visiting is essential.

Weather and Seasons: The weather at White Pocket can vary significantly depending on the season. Summers tend to be hot, with temperatures exceeding 100°F, while winters can bring cold temperatures and occasional snowfall. Spring and fall offer milder weather and are popular times to visit.

Road Conditions: When the roads are wet, accessing White Pocket becomes highly challenging, if not impossible. Thus, monitoring the weather conditions closely when planning your trip is vital, as they can change rapidly. Plus, when you get stuck, getting a tow costs over $1000. 

During July and August when it’s the summer monsoon season, water pools will form at the White Pocket. Smaller pools may dry up shortly after rainfall, but the larger ones usually retain their water throughout the entire period. 

Keeping an eye on the weather a few days before your excursion is recommended to ensure the roads will be dry and passable. Stay informed and adapt your plans accordingly for a smoother journey.

Services at White Pocket: There is no water and no toilets in the area. The nearest services are located over 2 hours away, so it’s essential to pack all necessary supplies for your trip. Additionally, keep in mind that the desert is a dry environment with no access to potable water.

Do You Need A Permit for White Pocket? 

No permits are required to visit White Pocket in northern Arizona.

How Long Does It Take To Visit White Pocket? 

White Pocket is a whole day trip, requiring ample time to explore its wonders. It takes more than two hours to get there. It is advisable to allocate an entire day for this excursion for you to have enough time exploring the area once you reach White Pocket.

What Vehicle Do You Need to Get to White Pocket? 

To reach White Pocket, driving a high-clearance 4×4 vehicle is crucial. It’s strongly advised not to attempt this journey with an All-Wheel Drive (AWD) vehicle, as multiple signs indicate that AWD vehicles are prohibited along the route.

A significant portion of the drive to White Pocket has hard-packed dirt and sand, which can be easily navigated even in a smaller two-wheel drive vehicle. However, it is essential to note that the final stretch of the drive is entirely composed of soft sand, with specific areas being particularly deep. Be extra careful in this last section, and never attempt to stop or park in this unsafe area.

White Pocket photo
White Pocket at Blue Hour

Directions to White Pocket 

To get to White Pocket, there are two main options. The nearest towns you can consider as your home base are Kanab, Utah, and Page, Arizona.

It is important to remember that you need to be in a 4WD (not AWD) vehicle. Otherwise, the vehicle could get stuck along the way. 

NOTE: BLM warns that visitors get stuck or stranded on the way to White Pocket annually. If you find yourself lost while hiking, encounter a non-life-threatening emergency, or your vehicle decides to act up by getting stuck or breaking down, remember it is on you to handle the situation, not the emergency services or BLM. Stay prepared and take charge!

From Page to White Pocket: Getting to White Pocket from Page is a roughly 2-hour and 40-minute drive. Start by heading east on Highway 89 until you spot an unassuming dirt road exit for House Rock Valley Road. Go to that exit and head south on House Rock Valley Road. This trip lasts approximately 34.7 miles and will take about an hour. After passing South Coyote Buttes, you will be officially in Arizona – the perfect time to adjust your clock! 

Continue the drive until you find Pine Tree Road or BLM Road 1017. Follow 1017 until you reach Road 1087. Take the turn onto 1087. Upon reaching this point, you will find plenty of signs that indicate private properties. For the rest of the trip, take extra caution! This is the transition to the deep sand portion of the area. 

After spotting the 1086 Junction, turn left and head north. You will pass by a ranching outpost with a gate, where White Pocket’s beauty awaits you to explore. 

From Kanab to White Pocket: When starting from Kanab, hop on Highway 89A heading south out of town and turn left onto BLM 1025. This road will lead you to House Rock Valley Road, about 10 minutes from the Pine Tree Road turnoff. Once you reach House Rock Valley Road, head south and follow the instructions for the drive from Page. 

photographing White Pocket
Photographing White Pocket

White Pocket Packing List

When planning a trip to White Pocket, it is vital to pack several essential items to ensure a comfortable and safe experience. Here are some things you should consider including in your packing list:

  • Ample Water Supply: Since no potable water is available in the desert, it is crucial to bring an adequate amount of water for hydration. Plan to carry more water than you think you will need, especially considering the dry climate and potential for dehydration.
  • Snacks and Food: Pack enough non-perishable food and snacks to sustain you throughout the trip. Opt for lightweight and easily portable options that provide energy and nutrition.
  • Sun Protection: The desert sun can be intense, so pack sunscreen with a high SPF rating to protect your skin from harmful UV rays. Bring sunglasses, a wide-brimmed hat, and lightweight, breathable UV clothing that covers your arms and legs.
  • Proper Footwear: Choose sturdy and comfortable hiking boots or hiking shoes for walking on uneven desert terrain. Closed-toe shoes are recommended to protect your feet from rocks, cacti, and other potential hazards.
  • First Aid Kit: It’s always wise to have a basic first aid kit on hand. Include band-aids, antiseptic ointment, pain relievers, blister pads, and any personal medication you may require.
  • Navigation Tools: Since White Pocket is a remote area, it’s essential to have navigation tools such as a map, compass, or GPS device. Familiarize yourself with the area and have a reliable means of finding your way.
  • Camera Gear: White Pocket is known for its stunning and unique geological formations. Capture the area’s beauty with a camera or smartphone, and bring extra batteries or a portable charger to ensure you take advantage of all photo opportunities.
  • Camping Gear (if applicable): If you plan to camp overnight, pack a tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and other necessary camping equipment. Be sure to check local regulations regarding camping.

Remember to pack efficiently, considering the weight and size limitations of your transportation method, and respect the fragility of the desert environment by practicing Leave No Trace principles.

Dreamland Safari Tour at White Pocket
Dreamland Safari Tour at White Pocket

White Pocket Tours

You’ll find quite a few options for White Pocket Tours. This is a terrific way to visit the area if you don’t have the right vehicle to get there yourself! Tour guides have a love for the wild places of the Utah/Arizona borderlands and enjoy sharing tips and information with guests.

We had a group of photography friends and booked the overnight White Pocket Photography Tour with Dreamland Safari Tours. The entire experience was amazing!

Staying overnight means you are right there for sunset and sunrise – the best times of day for the best light when taking photos! And it’s a bonus for photographers who enjoy night photography!

Booking a tour meant everything was taken care of for us so we could focus on exploring White Pocket!

  • Excellent home-cooked meals for dinner and breakfast.
  • Comfortable camp environment with essentials provided: toilet, tables, chairs, tents, air mattresses, sleeping bags, and down comforters when cold.
  • Safe, comfortable 4×4 transportation on rough dirt roads.
  • Wilderness First Responder Guide and satellite messenger in case of emergency.
hiking at White Pocket
Hiking at White Pocket

Hiking at White Pocket 

Hiking at White Pocket in Vermillion Cliffs is one of the highlights when visiting the area. When you arrive at the parking lot, you will notice an unmistakable sandy path leading directly toward White Pocket. Follow this path until you reach the slick rock.

There is no set hiking trail, you create your own unique adventure as you explore White Pocket. Marvel at the wave-like formations that grace the landscape or be captivated by the delicate rock swirls. Anticipate walking a minimum of 2 to 4 miles, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the wonders of White Pocket.

TIP: Taking a picture of people at White Pocket shows scale – the relative size of the formations compared to human size!

White Pocket reflection
White Pocket reflection

Photography at White Pocket

Photographing the White Pocket is all about taking pictures of the abstract formations and the light. The best photography at White Pocket happens in the late afternoon, sunset, and dusk or dawn, sunrise, and early morning.

Some of the best colors are found during the 30 minutes before sunrise and 30 minutes after sunset – during Blue Hour and Golden Hour!

We had booked our tour in early October hoping for clear smoke-free skies from western wildfires, and avoiding the summer monsoon rains. But, when we arrived at White Pocket with our tour group, it started to rain hard!!

hiking White Pocket in the rain
Hiking White Pocket in the rain

A few photographers braved the elements and headed out to the rock formations. Thank goodness they had rain gear for themselves and their camera gear!

The rain did end in time to produce a dramatic sky so we could all photograph a stunning sunset at White Pocket!

sunset at White Pocket
Sunset at White Pocket

The next morning, the rains created water puddles that were perfect for capturing reflections!

Our best tips for photographing White Pocket are to use a variety of basic composition techniques and be ready to take advantage of whatever weather conditions are presented!

Tent camping at White Pocket
Tent camping at White Pocket

Camping at White Pocket

Camping near White Pocket is a popular choice among visitors, thanks to the availability of various dispersed camping areas. If you are up for an adventure, explore a few fantastic spots along Pine Tree Road and its offshoots.

There are also a handful of camp spots near the White Pocket Trailhead, but be ready for some off-roading with a high-clearance vehicle to reach these spots.

For those seeking convenience, there are new camping spots along House Rock Valley Road, but be quick as they tend to fill up rapidly. It is highly recommended to make reservations in advance for a successful booking.

Please note that all these camping areas operate on a first-come, first-served basis, following the dispersed or boondocking style. This means you must come prepared with your bathroom kit, bring potable water, and stock up on necessary supplies for your stay. 

Selecting designated campsites is crucial during your camping and avoiding setting up impromptu ones. The reason? To protect and preserve the pristine natural surroundings. Remember, never damage trees or gather firewood from the vicinity. Also, responsibly dispose of all waste by burying it at a minimum depth of 6 inches and far away from the campsite or packing it out when you depart.

Utah Travel Guides & Maps

Utah guides and maps

Things To Do Near White Pocket

Utah Bucket List

Check out this comprehensive list of must-do activities that belong on every Utah Bucket List: things to see, do and taste all around the state! Grab the free download by clicking the graphic below!

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