White Pocket is my favorite piece of landscape. I tell people that you can drop your camera and you’ll get a good shot here. It is far more popular now than when I first started coming…now it has guides bringing people to the site and far more visitors, but far more has never exceeded 10 or 12 at a time (3-4 cars). The day will come when that too will be a distant memory. It is so beautiful that it will be more developed sooner or later. But I recall all the visits when I was the only soul there.
White Pocket is in the region of Vermilion Cliffs National Monument/Coyote Buttes AZ made popular by the famous Wave. Cottonwood Cove is located a bit closer to the Wave, but both Cottonwood Cove and White Pocket are close neighbors. The drive to White Pocket is the main challenge. The BLM office in Kanab will give you a little map. You’ll find the roads are not all that well marked, but in the earlier days I had to wander over miles of these roads to locate it since vandals had removed all numbers from the route.
White Pocket is located in an area of deep sand (as is Cottonwood Cove) and driving in that sand is the main obstacle that keeps the crowds down. You’ll need 4WD high clearance. Put the car in a low gear and don’t go too slow. Speed does help you keep from getting stuck, but you don’t have to be wild.
If you want to assure an easy commute, as well as magical water and reflections at White Pocket, go the day after a rain. It packs the sand and makes it MUCH easier to drive on. You’ll see photos from my most recent trip posted here, right after a rain, and a 2WD vehicle could probably have made it in. However, don’t attempt this in a passenger car regardless of weather. I’ve seen too many bad episodes when people tried to make it with a rental. It only takes 1 rough spot and your car is damaged and you are stuck. 4WD high clearance will work just fine.
Put extra water and food in the car and carry a shovel. Then you’re ready for a photo and sightseeing experience that is unforgettable. White Pocket (actually named for the larger rock that is adjacent but not part of the main feature) is a big piece of slickrock in the desert. If you stay on the rock and don’t wander into the sand, you won’t get lost. It is very close to the car park area and you will be able to find your car if you climb one of the taller rocks (or simply pay attention to where you came in). I don’t think it is possible to walk much longer than 15 or 20 minutes in a straight line here, but it is such an amazing or rich environment that few visitors really do more than wander about in amazement. Expect a minimum of a 4 hour stay, and if you camp out you’ll see sunset and sunrise and could even pursue night photography or light painting.
The photos posted here just give you the basic feel. If you can go, do it. This one is better than the Wave. Many complex and gorgeous features in a concentrated area. Just harder to get to. But once there, you’ll be surrounded by beauty and if you drop your camera, you’ll get that great shot. Rock that has been frosted, colored, stirred and swirled….That’s White Pocket and like no other place on earth.