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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 White Pocket area is shown in lavender near the upper middle of the map (near the 10% grade sign). You should concentrate on this section of the if you are only visiting The White Pocket. I suggest you view the map using the View larger option below. Then locate The White Pocket and turn the lavender overlay off using the menus on the left edge of the Google maps window. To the best of my knowledge it is not possible to turn the overlay off in Bing maps.

View The White Pocket in a larger map

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

Click on any map name to download a PDF. Upper left is northwest, lower right is southeast.

Pine Hollow Canyon West Clark Bench Bridger Point  
Coyote Buttes Poverty Flat Wrather Arch Water Pockets
House Rock Spring One Toe Ridge The Big Knoll Navajo Bridge
  Emmett Hill Emmett Wash  

The next table has the same maps formatted for use with GPS devices. 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.

24K Topo Map (Geo TIFF) KMZ Overlay file Oruxmap formatted
Bridger Point Bridger Point KMZ Bridger Point Oruxmap
Coyote Buttes Coyote Buttes KMZ Coyote Buttes Oruxmap
Emmett Hill Emmett Hill KMZ Emmett Hill Oruxmap
Emmett Wash Emmett Wash KMZ Emmett Wash Oruxmap
House Rock Spring House Rock Spring KMZ House Rock Spring Oruxmap
Navajo Bridge Navajo Bridge KMZ Navajo Bridge Oruxmap
One Toe Ridge One Toe Ridge KMZ One Toe Ridge Oruxmap
Pine Hollow Canyon Pine Hollow Canyon KMZ Pine Hollow Canyon Oruxmap
Poverty Flat Poverty Flat KMZ Poverty Flat Oruxmap
The Big Knoll The Big Knoll KMZ The Big Knoll Oruxmap
Water Pockets Water Pockets KMZ Water Pockets Oruxmap
West Clark Bench West Clark Bench KMZ West Clark Bench Oruxmap
Wrather Arch Wrather Arch KMZ Wrather Arch Oruxmap

This page was last updated 10/2/2013