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Exploring the White Pocket of the Vermillion Cliffs

Updated: Mar 18

White Pocket Recreation area

Exploring the White Pocket in the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument is a fantastic adventure! The White Pocket is a unique and remote area known for its stunning sandstone formations and vibrant colors. The White Pocket area is definitely a bucket list location for people that like to explore the Southwestern Desert of the United States.

Exploring the white pocket with a polaris rzr

Though White Pocket is often accessed with modified Jeeps or other modified ORVs (Off-Road Vehicles) we used our Polaris RZR Pro 4, lovingly named Rasbery to make quick work of the 87-mile round trip route to access the area. We did see many 4x4 highway vehicles going to and from the area, but they are typically traveling at 15-20 mph over the rough terrain. Our UTV had no problems at 45 mph. Our day was already a long day, at 15 miles an hour it would have been much longer.

poverty ranch vermillion cliffs

When I started on this adventure I didn't really know where I wanted to go, I was not even planning to visit the White Pocket. However, as we got deeper and deeper into the Vermillion Cliffs I noticed the White Pocket marked on my map. Since we were so close, we headed that way. En route, we also passed several other interesting places with names like Red Pocket and Poverty Ranch.

Hiking Vermillion Cliffs Area of Kanab

Making this trip will require some planning. As mentioned before White Pocket is a long ways off the beaten path. Due to the deep sand in the area and several very muddy sections, this trip can't be completed with a normal passenger vehicle. Also, this area can be accessed via Utah or Arizona. I am not sure which way is better but we can from Utah.

Vermillion Cliffs Arizona

No permits are required to visit White Pocket but if you are interested in other nearby attractions such as the Wave, you will need to get a permit from the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) online or at the Kanab Ranger Station. If you don't have a capable vehicle to make the trip don't worry, companies such as Dream Land Safari can guide you to the area. There are also UTV guides in the Kanab area that may be willing to take you.

White Teepees of Vermillion Cliffs

If you do decide to tackle this adventure on your own, be prepared. Take food and water with you and plan to be out all day. During the spring you will likely see other people but if you go in warmer or colder times of the year you could be the only person in the area with no hope of rescue if something goes wrong. For this reason, I always travel with a Garmin InReach tracker and let people know where I am going.

Sliding down rocks at White Pocket

Make sure your vehicle is in good working order. You should also carry a few spare parts to fix the most common problems. I always take a "bailout box" with me in my UTV, it contains tools to fit every bolt on the SxS, spare belts, a tire rod, an air compressor with a spare tire, and extra winch straps. A GPS is 100% required for navigation, I prefer to use the Gaia GPS app on my phone which does not require service to work, and you can download maps before heading out.

One thing I found out the hard way is that the rocks in the White Pocket are not as grippy as other rocks on the Colorado Plateau. I went to walk down an incline and slipped, luckily, I was wearing gloves, so I was not injured but my pants were ruined.

Rocks near White Pocket Utah

The more time you spend in the area the more small treasures you will find, such as these interesting rocks that had collected in a depression. Another interesting feature of the rocks is how they hold water, at least in the damp spring. There was actually a small pond on the top of the rock outcropping. It was already late in the day by the time we got there so I was unable to cover as much ground as I would have liked. Maybe in the future, I will be able to climb the 500-foot tall teepee-covered rock mountain that is adjacent to the White Pocket.


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