White Pocket Arizona (Rocks & High Point) - Turktacular 2017

  • Updated: November 27, 2017
  • Post By: Matthew Hengst

November 27th, 2017
White Pocket (6,128')
3 miles, 1,000' -ish

White Pocket is a remote grouping of dramatically colored rocks in the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument.  The area is better known for nearby attractions The Wave and Buckskin Gulch but due to the difficulty in getting permits for those more and more people seem to be aware of what White Pocket has to offer.

This was our second attempt to visit after the 2014 Turktacular found us out here on the final day only for me to be so floored by the sudden onset of the flu I wasn't safe to drive.  Considering the reputation of the dirt road used to access White Pocket we decided not to risk trying to have the girls drive it and instead spent the day in post Thanksgiving traffic getting back to LA.

Now it was three years later and we were back.

We'd arrived in the area late the previous night and stayed at the BLM Stateline Campground after chatting for several hours with a BLM safety volunteer.

It's free, has nice fire pits, and there are toilets.  We've been here twice and both times there have been spots open but in the event it's full there are options for dispersed camping further south along House Rock Valley Rd.

We got here by coming south along House Rock Valley Road which runs between the 89 and 89A.  We left by heading further south to the 89A and there seemed to be more camping down there.

The turnoff for White Pocket is signed as Paw Hole and dramatically tells you to park here and walk in if you don't have 4WD.  I've spent a lot of time over the years getting street vehicles back into places that are supposed to be 4WD.  Most of the time anything listed 4WD can actually be done in a high clearance vehicle with a bit of skill.  However this road would be one of those exceptions that actually is as bad as you've heard.

It's a long sandy road to get back there and in multiple locations you have deep sand and hills to contend with.  I initially drove it in 2WD only to get stuck early on and spent the rest of the time slaloming up and down the road in 4WD low trying not to loose my momentum.

Eventually we pulled into a rather large parking area and found we had the place to ourselves.  There are no facilities here though there were indications people had camped including some scars on the ground from campfires.

There are a few interpretive signs and the start of a trail.

Not far beyond that footprints go off in every direction and your left to wander around the rocks

We explored for a bit before we heard another vehicle off in the distance.  Soon we could see a trio of folks making their way across the rocks and from what I overheard they were a couple and a hired guide.

Being the dirty peakbaggers we are the obvious highpoint off in the distance was too tempting to ignore especially once I checked and saw it was in fact listed on peakbagger.

Peakbagger showed three ascents but the only one with a track didn't go to the actual high point so I wasn't sure we'd be able to make it.  We aimed for the obvious ramp on the right hand side

We ended up filling our boots with sand for the umteenth time this weekend and since we were carrying photography gear instead of our usual hiking packs it was a bit slow going.

It was easy going at first but near what we thought was the top things got a little more scrambly.

There were also some breathtakingly beautiful little pockets of sand up there.

Getting up to the last part of the ridge required a little bit of scrambling.  As long as you pick your way and you have decent boots it's not too bad.

I stuck my head over the ridge and saw the highpoint was actually further on.  We had to downclimb and cross again further to the right to get over to this side.

When we first crossed over I looked at this wall which did look almost climbable if a slip wouldn't have dropped you down 20 feet.  Instead we circled around to the left and found another ramp that led up to the summit.

From the summit we could see all of the area most people are referring to when they talk about White Pocket and we could see multiple groups wandering around on the rocks.

We found a cairn and a messy summit register of loose pages.

A few names were familiar but it seemed like a relatively small set of people had mostly visited multiple times.

We enjoyed the view for a while until a combination of the time and some very strong wind demonstrated it was time to get down.

I knew what to expect so the drive out went smoothly with Kristen only giving the occasional sqwaak of terror from the passenger seat as I floored it through particularly bad patches of sand and five thousand pounds of jeep bounced all over the place.

We decided to head further south and exit on the 89A just to see some new territory.  House Rock Valley Road is pretty much the same the entire way passenger car accessible with annoying amounts of washboarding most of the way.  The south end seemed to have more camping options and I saw several groups pulled off the road with rather nice setups

We stopped for dinner in Saint George at a highly recommended mexican food establishment.  The food was good and the deep fried ice cream blew Kristen's mind.

From there it was just the 15 back through Vegas and into Orange County.  The extra vacation day meant we avoided the horrendous Sunday traffic and we made good time the entire way.

We made it home at a reasonable 1 am having put in a respectable 1,468 miles over the 6 days.  There were several more things we would have liked to do during this trip but that's just how it goes.  Next time!  For now it was time to get back to work and pay for all of this.  At least for four days until I was scheduled to go out to Death Valley...

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