When my wife saw the pictures of a geologic feature known as White Pocket that I had visited a couple of years ago, it went on her bucket list. It was the second day of a three-day trip on the Arizona side of the Utah border. The first day, we traveled through the Kaibab Forest visiting viewing points along the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.
Similar to The Wave situated in the North Coyote Buttes of Arizona, White Pocket is a 50-mile round-trip OHV ride. The Wave is so popular that access is restricted to 20 permits per day. White Pocket is not as well-known and does not require a permit.
Traveling south from Fredonia on Highway 89A, we took a beautiful road through the Kaibab National Forest. After passing through Jacob Lake, we began a descent out of the mountains. We could see a ranch in the valley as we took the winding road down.
That ranch marked the beginning of House Rock Road. Leaving the highway here, we parked in a field where we had permission to leave our vehicles and unloaded. Lining up, we headed north on House Rock Road that follows the west side of the Vermillion Cliffs.
Just over 2.5 miles into our ride, we stopped at a viewing area for the California condor. This endangered species was introduced here and seems to be doing well. We could see the area high on the cliffs where they nested, but we didn’t see any birds on this day. This turn-out had a toilet, which was another reason we stopped.
Back on the trail, we turned east onto Pine Tree Road. The road was dry and sandy, much different from the first time I was here — rain had left huge puddles in the road we were challenged to negotiate.
About 6 miles after turning onto Pine Tree Road, we came to a ranch by the same name. It consisted of a house with a water well and a holding tank. An old ’53 Chevy pickup was backed up under a derrick as a part of the set up.
It was quiet and looked abandoned the first time I visited, but not today. An old single-cylinder engine ran the water pump; it was chugging away and the tank was full.
This type of engine has to be started with a hand crank on one of the two fly wheels. The fly wheels have to be going fast enough for the engine to catch and run on its own.
It brought back memories of my boyhood in Oklahoma. I would often go to sleep to the faint sound of one of these engines pumping oil somewhere in the night. Snapping out of my nostalgia, we angled north and proceeded to our destination.
Situated near the border of the Paria Canyon/Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness, White Pocket is bordered by a buck and pole fence. We pulled up to it and began exploring this unique and amazing world.
The sky was cloudy on my first visit, but the sun was bright on this day and the colors were vibrant. I had an opportunity to explore more of this landscape on this trip and was even more fascinated.
The rock surface was hard, but at one time it seems like it was a liquid that was stirred and shaped into wonderful formations before becoming so rigid and colorful. Lines of orange and white flow through this landscape as if painted with a brush.
We found shade and had lunch before heading back. When you go, take plenty of water, keep the rubber side down and see this incredible feature for yourself. It is important to remember that Arizona requires a permit on out-of-state ATVs.