NORTHERN ARIZONA — The White Pocket is a beautiful geological area in northern Arizona that offers not only a unique scenic environment for hikers, but also an interesting part of the desert to explore.
When exploring White Pocket you’ll encounter a broad bed of white stone arranged in geodesic hexagons, pentagons and squares. The area has been described as a giant turtle shell, a village of igloos, a petrified cloud, and biscuits in a Dutch oven — those descriptions are all accurate metaphors.
The various shades of red, orange and pink rocks are due to the oxidation of hematite within the sandstone while the minerals, limonite and goethite, produced the yellows and browns. Whether you’re a polished geologist, a recreational rockhound or a mere metamorphic metaphorist you will love exploring White Pocket.
White Pocket is a geologically unique, beautiful hiking and photographic destination, located three miles south of the Utah border between Kanab, Utah and Page, Ariz. White Pocket is located in the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument and is about a two hours drive from Kanab or Page.
Half the fun of visiting the area is the drive there. The road is a four-wheel drive roller coaster ride that slaloms around a couple hundred juniper trees, up and down dozens of sandy hills, and between ancient sandstone monoliths.
- Circle Tours:
- Leaving from Kanab, Utah or Page, Ariz.
- $199 per person for adults
- Kids 12 and under: $149.
- Call 928-691-0166.
- Dreamland Safari Tours:
- Leaving from Kanab.
- $194 per person for adults.
- $97 for kids 15 and under
After your trek across this juniper-dotted, sandstone-pillared dune sea you’ll reach White Pocket’s unique island of twisted and contorted Navajo Sandstone.
“The geology there is complex,” said Rody Cox, a geologist for the Bureau of Land Management, Arizona Strip office.
Though they look vastly different from each other, both the white polygonal rock formations and the twisted orange-pink formations are Navajo Sandstone — an immense sand bed deposited during the early Jurassic age. Vermilion Cliffs National Monument Manager, Kevin Wright, said the reason for their drastic difference is that they oxidized and weathered differently.
White Pocket’s main draw is exploring its unique rock formations, but the area also has great views of the Grand Staircase to the north especially when you’re standing atop some of White Pocket’s tall rocks.
No permit is needed to hike White Pocket — However, it can be difficult to reach on your own. The road that leads hikers to White Pocket consists of long stretches of deep sand that is simply too difficult for a conventional car. But any four-wheel drive vehicle with reasonable clearance can make it. If you have the proper vehicle and navigational skills, you can find driving directions at the Vermilion Cliffs website.
The area can also be difficult to navigate because once you turn off Houserock Valley Road, travelers have to navigate through a maze of dirt roads. Some of the roads are marked, but most are not. It’s easy to get lost.
Overnight camping is allowed but there is no water or bathrooms and camping permits are not required. Dogs are also allowed.
Two guide services offer tours to White Pocket and both operate year round.
Steven Law is one of KSL.com's Outdoors and Recreation editors. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.