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Directions to The White Pocket

It is quite difficult to get to the White Pocket, and a high clearance four wheel drive vehicle is definitely needed due to deep sand. The White Pocket is often combined with a trip to Coyote Buttes South so I will give directions from there as well. Due to the bad roads after shooting at the White Pocket I recommend camping at the trailhead overnight and driving out the next morning.

Best Route

If you are coming from the North take House Rock Road about 20 miles to BLM 1017 (called Pine Tree Road) on the google map below, in green. After about three miles bear right and continue on Pine Tree Road (in blue). 6.1 miles from the intersection with House Rock Road reset your odometer and turn left. The general direction of the road you are traveling on is NNE. Go through the gate and continue 3.9 miles where you will bear left. Continue another 5.4 miles and you will see the main White Pocket parking area on your left. Alternatively you can continue straight for another .3 miles down a sandy hill to a second flat rocky area where you can also park. If you are camping this second area offers more privacy but the last sandy hill will present problems for some on the return.

From the main parking area just head due West on the well defined trail to the White Pocket.

Notes for your return - 0.5 miles after you leave the White Pocket bear right, the left fork goes to Hole in the Rock arch. 1.4 miles after you leave the White Pocket you will reach an intersection, bear left here to retrace your route. If you go right you will soon hit a steep up hill which could be troublesome for some cars. As of August 2011 the road was almost impassable in the uphill direction.

Route from Coyote Buttes South

From Pawhole take the "Shortcut" Road East from Pawhole 2.8 miles to Poverty Flat. The road is shown in red on the map. This road has a steep uphill near Pawhole and can be difficult in dry conditions. Then follow the Poverty Flat directions below.

From the Cottonwood Cove trailhead take the road in blue 2.4 miles South to Poverty Flat.

From Poverty Flat take the Red Road Northeast, then East 4.5 miles, then bear left and continue 1.4 miles to the White Pocket trailhead. This road has a steep downhill about 4 miles from Poverty Flat. The road is much easier to traverse going to the White Pocket than from it.

Directions to Other Areas in the Sand Hills / Vermilion Cliffs


The first three areas shown below are very remote and see little visitation. They are much more remote than the White Pocket which sees visitors almost every day. If your vehicle get stuck, or breaks, if you injure yourself, or if you get lost you may die. I strongly recommend that if you visit these areas you go with another vehicle, have a good spare and extra gas and water, and have a satellite phone or PRB. A GPS will also help keep you on the right road.

Joe's Ranch and the Cowboy Hat

From House Rock Road take BLM 1017 about 6 miles to "Pine Tree Pockets". At Pine Tree Pockets BLM 1017 continues southeast becoming what is known as the Loop Road, shown in a red orange color on the map (with a lavender section at the end to close the loop). The entire loop is over 20 miles in length. The road is very sandy and occasionally difficult to follow. Joe's ranch and the Cowboy Hat can be reached from the loop road via short spur roads which are in even worse condition. Joe's ranch is right off the spur road, to get to the Cowboy Hat park where I've indicated on the map and hike east .3 miles or so. The top of the hat is visible from where you park so it is easy to find.

Soap Creek Tank and the Beehives

From House Rock Road take BLM 1017 about 6 miles to "Pine Tree Pockets". At Pine Tree Pockets continue straight on BLM 1017 13.6 miles and turn right onto a sandy track. Take the Sandy track 4.1 miles and park just before a short steep hill. I suggest you do not continue up the hill, it is very easy to get stuck on it. After parking I suggest you explore the areas to the south and east, there are many good photo ops here, and some of the most unusually colored rocks I have ever seen.

Soap Creek Tank can be easily combined with a trip to Joe's Ranch or The Beehives. The Beehives are a small formation with some hillside ruins and pottery fragments. To get to them proceed on the loop road as above to the sandy track leading to Soap Creek Tank. After about 2 miles on the sandy track you will see a road going off to the left with a road closed sign. Park here and continue on foot via the closed road to The Beehives. The hike is about .4 miles one way.

Wrather Arch Overlook

With a span of 180 feet Wrather arch is one of the longest arches in the US and is considered the least accessible of US major arches. It is found in a short tributary of the Paria river and the normal route to it requires a five day backpacking trip down the Paria. An overlook of the arch can be found on the northern rim of Sand Hills. The best way to get to the overlook is to follow the directions to the Cowboy Hat trailhead. Continue due north past the trailhead 4.4 miles to the road's end. The road is shown as green in the map below. At roads end hike off trail ENE about 2.3 miles to the overlook. The track I took is shown in red on the map below. Michael Kelsey's book Hiking the Paria 5th edition indicates that it is possible to descend down the cliffs in the vicinity of the overlook to the Paria River/arch. A guide I talked to indicated that the trail is very difficult and should not be attempted unless you are a climber.

For the adventurous - There may be an alternative route to the overlook that involves little hiking. The road parallels the route above slightly to the east. The road is shown in lavender on the map below. There was quite a bit of vegetation at the beginning of the road when I last saw it and I suspect it has not been used in some time. I choose not to take it on my visit to the overlook. The road appeared to be open, or at least there was no "closed" sign.

Double Barrel Arch

This arch is easily seen from House Rock Road just south of BLM 1017. From the north take Highway 89 to House Rock Valley Road (HRVR) which is between mileposts 25 and 26. Proceed south on HRVR 20.5 miles and park on the side of the road. To get there from the south proceed 9 miles on HRVR and park. You should be able to see the arch off to the east. Hike east through the sage field to the arch. There is no trail. The hike is about .9 miles one-way. About half way through the hike there is a great deal of clay based soil which is difficult to walk on when wet, so I suggest you do this hike in dry weather. Double barrel arch can be easily climbed from its south side. The east side of the arch is inaccessible. The arch is best lit at sunset. Sunrise works as well, the underside of the arch gets a nice red glow, and sunbursts are possible. To shoot a sunburst set the aperture at f/22 and exposure bracket. HDR works well to bring out the colors of the arch at sunrise. A wide angle is needed to best photograph the arch.


The Map

The following map covers an extremely large area and is a work in progress. It covers most of the Vermilion Cliffs NM. Vermilion Cliffs NM is BLM land and is open to the public. There is some state owned and private land in the area, click here to see the large scale official BLM map showing ownership and to place the map in context.

Caution - Some of the roads shown have not been driven by me and may be closed or impassable. The main routes to Coyote Buttes South and The White Pocket have been verified however.

The map below not only covers The White Pocket but also Coyote Buttes South and the entire Sand Hills area. The map has many layers that can be turned on or off to zoom in on areas of particular interest. I suggest you view the map using the View larger option below. Then use the check boxes at the left to turn on and off particular features of interest. To the best of my knowledge it is not possible to turn the overlay off in Bing maps.

To view the map larger please click on the box in the upper right corner of the map, or choose:

View The White Pocket in a Bing Map.

Click to download a KML file (Note - in IE Right Click and choose Save Target as)

Click to download a GPX file (Note - in IE Right Click and choose Save Target as)

Topo Maps Covering Sand Hills

Vermillion Cliffs is largely covered by 13 USGS 24K topo maps. The White Pocket is covered by the Poverty Flat Map. The roads to it are covered by the Coyote Buttes, House Rock Spring, and One Toe Ridge maps.

For reference here is an image showing the names of all 13 topo maps and their location. The topo maps can be downloaded following this image.


The table below contains the topo maps in a variety of formats. KMZ overlay files can be opened with Google Earth, and Oruxmap files can be opened with oruxmaps, a free mapping app for android phones and tablets. USGS topo maps contain a white border (called the collar) which contains information such as the map name, names of neighboring maps, date the map was created, latitude and longitude reference lines, ... While collars are very useful on printed maps, the information on the collar is much less useful for computer use. Maps with the collar removed can also be downloaded in the table below.

24K Topo Map (Geo TIFF) KMZ Overlay file Oruxmap formatted KMZ Decollared Oruxmap Decollared
Bridger Point KMZ Oruxmap KMZ Decollared Oruxmap Decollared
Coyote Buttes


Oruxmap KMZ Decollared Oruxmap Decollared
Emmett Hill KMZ Oruxmap KMZ Decollared Oruxmap Decollared
Emmett Wash KMZ Oruxmap KMZ Decollared Oruxmap Decollared
House Rock Spring KMZ Oruxmap KMZ Decollared Oruxmap Decollared
Navajo Bridge KMZ Oruxmap KMZ Decollared Oruxmap Decollared
One Toe Ridge KMZ Oruxmap KMZ Decollared Oruxmap Decollared
Pine Hollow Canyon KMZ Oruxmap KMZ Decollared Oruxmap Decollared
Poverty Flat KMZ Oruxmap KMZ Decollared Oruxmap Decollared
The Big Knoll KMZ Oruxmap KMZ Decollared Oruxmap Decollared
Water Pockets KMZ Oruxmap KMZ Decollared Oruxmap Decollared
West Clark Bench KMZ Oruxmap KMZ Decollared Oruxmap Decollared
Wrather Arch KMZ Oruxmap KMZ Decollared Oruxmap Decollared

This page was last updated 1/12/2015.