Southwest Road Trip Part 1: White Pocket

After a 7 hour drive from LA, we finally arrived at our hotel in Kanab at 1am. We had watched (with a little too much sleep-deprived, delirious astonishment than it probably deserved) the satellite clock in our Outback jump back and forth an hour as we entered and exited Arizona twice. We were going to be team Little Sleep and wake up early to get to the Kanab BLM Visitor Center at 8:30am sharp to enter the lottery for the ever elusive Wave. We had entered the online lottery twice before, but this was the first time we would attempt to enter in person.

That morning, there were 53 groups ranging from 2-6 people. The forecast for the next day was rain. Still, we were all determined. There were people from all over the world who had traveled a long way in hopes of being one of the lucky 10 chosen. Every group was assigned a number and with breaths held and fingers crossed tightly, we all watched as the bingo cage began to roll. Winners were called, followed by enthusiastic cheers and whooping. Sadly, we were not one of the lucky ones, but there was so much to explore in the area that as the BLM ranger would say in his well-rehearsed speech, "The Wave is only a drop in the bucket."

After the lottery, we had planned a trip to White Pocket with Dreamland Safari. (Shoutout to our awesome tour guide, Orion.) The deep, sandy road to get there is notoriously difficult to navigate, requiring a high clearance 4WD vehicle and off-roading skills. Plus, a $1000 towing fee was not something we wanted to risk. 


Situated on the Arizona side of the Utah-Arizona border and just a stone's throw from The Wave, White Pocket is a diverse and expansive, other-worldly, twisty, gnarly, holey, bulgy, stripy sandstone landscape ranging in color from whites and grays to all the shades of pale reds, yellows and oranges. White Pocket gets its name from the pockets of water that collect in large pools as well as its uniquely white, calcium-rich surrounding rock formations. Exploring the area does not require a permit and fortunately, the mere fact that it is so difficult to get to has been excellent for crowd control. (There is talk that a permit system may be instated in the future as the area gains popularity.)


This red, striated slot canyon like section is The Wormhole. At the end of the Wormhole is a dark red dot called the Clamshell. The white, bulgy area with the famous lone tree is very appropriately called the brains. 


This pool of water and the surrounding white brain-like formation is how White Pocket got its name. To this day, ranchers in the area will take their cattle to this watering hole to drink as evidenced by the cow patties we found. 


Two of the coolest things we saw were these beautiful petroglyphs of Bighorn Sheep preserved in the red sandstone and an almost perfect Native American chert arrowhead. 


This rock formation with the candy-colored stripes is known as The Lollipop. 


Halfway through the tour, we returned to the vehicle where a spread of cold cuts and fresh veggies were laid out for us to construct our own wraps and sandwiches. Not to be left out, Hoku munched on cucumbers and bell peppers.

It showered on us throughout the day, but the weather held up for the most part and it was fascinating to see the landscape in all sorts of light. David and I are already talking of returning to experience Dreamland's overnight camping tour. I can only imagine how stunning White Pocket is at sunrise and sunset. We couldn't have asked for a better way to kick off our Southwest adventure.