When it comes to “off the beaten path” hiking destinations in Southern Utah; The Wave, Wire Pass, and Buckskin Gulch get most of the glory, and all of it is justified. However, don’t sleep on White Pocket and the other formations that lie within the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument. With the exception of the North and South Coyote Buttes Permit Areas, none of these treasures require permits.
White Pocket is our favorite these days, a seemingly endless expanse of formations, colors, and textures. Much larger than The Wave, we discover new coves, pathways, and lunch spots with every visit. Most of White Pocket sits above the desert floor and offers great views into the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument all the way to Powell Point.
Access to this gem can be tricky. We’ve been several times in our Toyota FJ and on our ATV. We can ride the quad right from BaseCamp37°, climbing over the Kaibab Plateau and dropping down the other side, or we can drive around on the pavement to House Rock Valley Road, entering in the south from US 89A or the north from US 89. Regardless of your route and vehicle, expect 90-120 minutes of travel time each way from BaseCamp37°. The roads in the Vermillion Cliffs NM are basically sandy paths, with varying depths, and the steep climbs here and there. Certainly passable for a sturdy 4×4 with an experienced driver and air compressor, not advisable to anyone in a passenger vehicle.
For those on an ATV, the trip takes closer to 90 minutes and is about 45 miles each way from BaseCamp37°, the first 30 miles is very easy, with some route finding needed to reach the main gravel road that takes you over the Kaibab Plateau. Once you get to Lone Tree Reservoir, the fun begins on an ATV, tight twisty turns with plenty of up and downs in the soft sand.
These are our preferred resources when planning a trip to White Pocket. We’ve found this web site to be very helpful when venturing out to new places, or simply refreshing our memories on places we’ve been before. If you want to leave the driving to others, we recommend Will James and fine folks at Dreamland Safari Tours, located just up the gravel road from BaseCamp37°.