In a world of speed and chaos, there are many places we can return to for restoration, health, freedom, and sensibility. For some, it could be their own backyard or the local park. For others, a walk to the local coffee shop or a drive to the family ranch. There are places we can escape to that require a long drive down a paved road for hundreds of miles before finally reaching the pavement’s end and the gravel’s beginning. Then, there are the others. These special, even divine, localities are where the gravel ends and the deep sand begins.
Overnighting at White Pocket on top of the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument (Paria Plateau) is not only a magical experience of observation, but also a step back in time to the way things were, a reminder of where they are now, and a preview of where they are returning. Amongst the vast Paria Valley and Buckskin Gulch Canyon lies many incredible geological features. From a personal standpoint, White Pocket is my favorite and holds a very special place in my heart. Layered red and white Navajo sandstone from hundreds of millions of years ago has been contorted, folded, fractured, uplifted, and folded again and again to form one of the most unique geological structures in the world. Situated in a location where daytime travel typically shies away from, White Pocket remains mostly a hidden gem – a luring, magnificent one at the least.
Upon arrival at White Pocket for our overnight tour, we begin by holding a brief orientation informing everyone about the location and how we will be operating through the evening, into the night, and early the next morning. Afterwards, the guides set up camp, including tents, the outdoor kitchen, tables, chairs, cots, and all included amenities for a quasi-luxurious campsite. At this time, one guide will take the group on a walkabout through the formation and give everyone a chance to either set up their locations for photography, relax, or romp around the many surrounding sandstone mounds. After the initial tour, we’ll serve dinner – and a hearty dinner it is indeed. Hot off the grill, we have mostly perfectly cooked salmon, chicken, and steak. Included are sides of vegetables and all the camp snacks one can desire. After everyone’s finished dinner, we begin prepping for a sunset photography session and any overnight set up.
The western setting sun over White Pocket is truly beyond comprehension and something words do no justice. Being able to sit in the stillness and witness such an amazing, timeless tradition gives the soul a genuine sense of eternity. To add to this amazing drama, after the sun has laid itself to rest, it is then, when you see it. One star, two stars, then a billion stars light up the night sky like a magical orchestrated light show. Depending on the time of year and the tilt of the earth’s axis, we may even get to experience the core of the Milky Way. Gazing into the unknown in a terrain so majestic allows stillness to set in, and true freedom is all that remains.
As the night carries on, and as tradition follows, the sun will begin to wake up. We then go on to explore White Pocket one last time while the morning dew settles and the first light kisses our faces – a proper parting to an idyllic spot on a unique map. Not only is it a fun camping trip, but a memory worth many lifetimes. The smiles on the faces of everyone I’ve seen truly experiencing White Pocket is a gift for my heart and something I will always cherish. So get on that road and follow your map to where the road ends – and the Dreamland begins.
Want to come camping with us at White Pocket? Check out our overnight tour below!