It was another weekend of exploring northern Arizona with White Pocket as the goal and this time I got my buddy Will to tag along.
The theme of the trip was ‘Hidden Gems of Arizona’ and it turned out to be well worth it.
We played hooky from work on Friday and was up at sunrise to give us a full day of adventuring. The two of us made good time getting up north and our first stop was in Cameron to pick up permits to camp that weekend (same place I went back in February where it snowed on us). Then, we skedaddled up to Mable Canyon – someplace I hadn’t been in 15 or more years.
After shooting photos and checking out the sights, we hopped back into the car and made our way towards White Pocket. Google Maps says it’s close to a 6-hour drive from Phoenix to White Pocket and, while we were initially skeptical it would take that long, it as relatively accurate.
To get to White Pocket, you head up and past Vermillion Cliffs National Monument and turn onto House Rock Road. From here, you have 25 miles on a dirt road. The first 9 miles or so are pretty well maintained and any car could drive on it. Once you turn off this, though, you’ll need a high clearance AWD/4×4 vehicle to get through. For reference, we made it in Will’s Subaru Outback just fine.
The road is slow and very sandy and bumpy, which makes for an eventful ride – especially if you’ve never driven on something like this before. We had a lot of “eeeks” and “oh shit” moments as we bounced along, evading rocks and anything else mother nature wanted to throw at us.
Once we arrived at White Pocket, we were floored.
This. Place. Is. So. Cool!
There’s about a quarter mile sandy walk until you get to the rock formations and then it’s a free for all.
Jaw Dropping Views
We headed right first and simply enjoyed life. At every turn, my eyes grew wider and my jaw made its way closer to the wavy ground below. Will and I both couldn’t believe what we were experiencing. All I could muster as I wandered around was “this is stupid beautiful.” At second thought, I probably could have come up with something a little more elegant but alas, that’s what I had to offer.
The ‘pocket’ isn’t too big, but we spent a good two hours there and time flew by as we explored up and down the slopes.
I would have loved to spend some more time there (and to have flown my drone…but it was windy) but we had to be on our way to the next portion of our trip. With this being BLM land and how few people visit, you can easily camp in the parking lot. And the best part, you probably won’t see more than 10 people the entire time.
Navigating on the way back was much easier than coming in and we made great time. Coming in, our maps freaked out twice and diverted us from the route, causing us to momentarily lose our way. This time, it was a straight shot out of there.
Before we exited the dirt road, we stopped at the California Condor viewing pull off at the Vermillion Cliffs. We got lucky that there were people from a non-profit group that monitors these gigantic birds. They let us peer into their telescopes to check out the birds sitting on the rock wall before us.
According to the National Park Service, they are considered some of the rarest birds in the world.
Weekend Camping Spot
Once we ditched the dirt road, we made good time heading south to the Navajo Reservation and our camping spot for the weekend. Will and I couldn’t camp in exactly the same spot as last time due to the Navajo turning that spot into a helipad. Weird how so much can change in just two months.
After setting up our tents, again in windy conditions… I swear it doesn’t stop gusting here, we settled in for a nice pasta dinner and enjoyed a ridiculous amount of stars in the sky. You forget how beautiful it can get when there’s no light pollution and the only lights are from billions and billions of miles away.
Stay tuned for the recap of our hike down to the Little Colorado River!
Until next time adventurers, take care and be safe.
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