"For all these things My hand has made. So all these things came into being by and for Me,"
Declares the Lord. Isaiah 66:2a AMP
Geological wonder, fantasy landscape, alien planet, magical piece of the globe, phantasmagorical carving, and, my personal favorite, “massive sculptures made by other worldly hands.” These are just a few of the various descriptions given to this small 20 acre “pocket” of the earth nestled deep within the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, one of the most isolated places in the United States.
The term “pocket” means a small area of land markedly different than its surroundings. And that is certainly the case here. The Paria Plateau is mostly sandy plains with sparsely populated trees and bushes. The one square mile of The White Pocket, however, is anything but sparse. There are bulges of white rock that look like brain matter—aptly called brain rock; wave after wave of orange and red striations that might resemble a petrified sea—if we knew what one looked like; bulges within the waves that look like pieces of a giant reptile—perhaps a Dragon’s Tail; and even the Diary Queen-esque ice cream sundaes like those in our September photo of the month. It appears our Master Sculptor can create creamy rock swirl tips that would rival any frozen custard connoisseur.
Such is the White Pocket, a photographer’s dream landscape, but, yes, there is a catch. It is very difficult to enter this wonderland and not because of permits or permission requirements. No, this area has its own natural filter for entry—deep, soft, dangerous sand, miles and miles and miles of it. There is no exact road. Tracks criss cross the plateau with little discernible intent. Some intrepid explorers have called this maze of roads the “off-road gauntlet” for entry. It takes the right vehicle (off road and high clearance), the right driver (experienced in difficult sand situations with equipment for lowering and raising tire pressure) and the right knowledge (where to go, where not to go and how to go). And, if you try to make it without these three, chances are you will be paying the over $1000 assist fee from the BLM to get you out of the sand—that is if you can explain where you are and have the cell service to make a call. Many inexperienced tourists have found themselves stranded in a sea of sand with a damaged rental car. The good news is that this natural barrier makes this a lovely place for solitude. There are, at this time, very few visitors.
Once you reach The White Pocket it is only a short 200 yard sandy trail that gains you entrance. Boom, there it is in all its glory. There are no trails within the Pocket, unless you count the cow tracks etched in the rock, but on every side is there is something so lovely and amazing that it takes your breath away. One photographer says he repeated “Oh my goodness” over a 1000 times during his time there. While sunset and sunrise are always nice, this is one scene that is lovely with bright blue sunny skies and white clouds dancing in the middle of the day. There is no need for specific instructions on where to go and what to photograph, just wander to your heart’s content. It is a place MADE for wandering and discovery. We already can’t wait to go back!
What created the White Pocket? Well, it appears that even the geologists are somewhat confounded. They all have theories but none that are convincing. Most contend that it must be some type of “soft sediment deformation,” but the chaotic appearance of the formations reveal evidence that the formations are not “normal.” All too confusing for me. Here is my theory. The Master Sculptor loves to give us beautiful surprises in the midst of ordinary occurrences, so why wouldn’t He create an ice cream shop of rock delights and hide it in the midst of a sandy plateau? Sounds like a wonderful idea to me! Thank you Heavenly Father for all these things your hands have made.
Location: The White Pocket is located in the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument in Northern Arizona, close to the Utah border.
Two towns with guides to provide access are Kanab, Utah and Paige, Arizona.