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White Pocket Overnight Photography Tour
Fully Guided Tour
Our Overnight White Pocket Photography Tour allows photographers, couples, and other vagabonds to optimize the full cycle of daylight at this wondrous expanse of contorted, multi-color sandstone.
What is included on your tours?
Daytours include pickup and dropoff from local hotels, off-road transportation, natural history narration, guided hiking, photo advice, snacks, water, and lunch on tours of 6 hours or more. Our multi-day tours include all of this plus camping equipment, camp management, three excellent meals, stargazing, sunsets and sunrises for the photographer, and lots more time outside.
How soon should we book?
This depends on several factors, but our best advice is to book as soon as you finalize your plans. We do fill up, and if you have a limited window of opportunity, you may miss out. The smaller your availability window and the tighter your schedule, the earlier you need to book in order to ensure availability. The larger your group, especially if it involves more than one of our trucks (>7 passengers), the earlier you need to book.
How do I reserve my date(s)?
You are able to book online or by contacting us. We do require a 50% deposit to reserve your daytour date(s) and a 1/3 deposit to reserve a multi-day tour. The remaining balance is due the day of your tour at departure. Your guide can take any method of payment.
Can I pay via cash, Paypal, credit card, check?
What is your weather policy? What is your cancellation/reschedule policy?
These policies are all found on our Policies Page. PLEASE NOTE: Because of the constantly changing weather, targets moving over the whole region (our trucks), unpredictability of weather forecasts, the complexities of different road surfaces in different areas, the variable nature of storms as far as coverage and volume in this area, and the fact that some of the best photography weather is often on days with a chance of rain, we do not reflexively cancel tours without solid information. However, as your safety is always paramount in situations where incontrovertible evidence leads us to believe that potentially dangerous situations are probable, we will cancel tours if necessary. We will assume tours will run until departure time. We do not cancel tours until departure time as the most relevant information is at hand. Also if we know of a particular area or time that will be a problem we will often consult with all parties on the tour as to how best to go about re-routing, postponement, or cancellation. Trying to manage this on the phone hours before the tour is nearly impossible. If a party decides to cancel prior to departure time for reasons of weather forecasts, the cancellation will be subject to the standard policy. Cancellations made by us at departure will be accompanied by a full refund if no other solution can be reached. Also the information we have at any given time is often incomplete. For example, we do not know if the Wave is covered in snow or if the route is hikeable, whether roads are impassable in a given location etc….as we do not have a webcam at these remote locations. We do try to network to get better information if we can. Sometimes incontrovertible evidence is only found once the tour has begun. Guessing, followed by reflexive cancellations, we have learned, produces more poor results for everyone involved, than the strategy we take. It is very, very complex making these decisions. We are always monitoring the weather and have many years of experience managing the logistics that are affected by weather in this area. Please trust us to act in both our best interests.
What kind of vehicles do we tour in? Do you offer ATV/Jeep Tours?
All of our tours are run in Chevrolet Suburbans or Crew Cab Silverados for comfort and safety. We do not offer ATV or Jeep Tours.
What do I need to bring on a daytour/overnight?
The biggest things you need to remember on a daytour are a small pack to carry your own water (essential especially on tours with more hiking), jacket for warmth and rain (essential), boots or high top sneakers (optional but optimal in sand), any essential medication, and camera. Other items include extra layers when cold, hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, chapstick, and other typical daytime sundries. For scheduled overnights bring all the same except an extra layer or two. You do not need a change of clothes. For overnights in April or October bring a warm hat and gloves. For custom multi-day trips just add a change of clothes or two. On all tours we provide water and snacks. On daytours of more than 6 hours and multi-days more than 24 hours we provide lunch. On scheduled overnights of 24 hours we do not provide lunch so please eat before you come.
What is the weather like there at various times of year?
We want to do one of your overnight tours, but aren’t able to make any of your scheduled dates. What are our options?
Depending upon our schedule, we may be able to add or shift dates. Please contact us with which tour you are interested in and which dates you are considering. Custom multi-days can be arranged APR-OCT depending on availability.
Because White Pocket is fast becoming a top photography destination, many times our guests want to stay late and/or arrive early to get the best light. Some of the most hardcore even stay up round the clock doing night photography, including star trails and Milky Way Shots.
Our Overnight White Pocket Photography Tour lets you get them all in this remote corner of Arizona on the Paria Plateau. While this tour is often offered on a custom basis to larger groups, we also schedule several standing dates so that couples and singles can take advantage of this primo Arizona Photography Tour.
This tour includes:
- Lots more time to enjoy this world class Landscape Photography Venue
- Optimal Photographic timing to capture Sunset, Sunrise, and some of the Best Night Skies in the continental United States.
- Excellent Home-cooked Meals for Dinner and Breakfast. No lunches included.
- Comfortable Camp Environment with Toilet, Tables, Chairs, Campfires when possible, Tents, Air Mattresses, Sleeping Bags, and Down Comforters when cold.
- Safe, Comfortable 4×4 Transportation on rough dirt roads.
- Wilderness First Responder Guide and Satellite Messenger in Case of Emergency.
The Overnight White Pocket Photography Tours currently scheduled are listed below. Sometimes dates are added, removed, or shifted so check back from time to time. If you wish to book this tour click the “Book Now” Button below to get started with online booking or give us a call at 435-644-5506. Also please give us a call if you do not see your desired dates below. Overnight season is April-Oct.
May 22-24 (Photographer’s Special 48hr, call if you only want one night)
June 18-20 (Photographer’s Special 48hr, call if you only want one night)
Fully Guided Tour
12:00pm – Guests meet at at 4350 East Mountain View Drive, Kanab, Utah 84741. Guests may leave cars or extra bags here.
2:45pm – Guide orients the group to the White Pocket Area and leads a 1-hour hiking tour to various points of interest then returns to camp to set up. Guests have free time until dark/dinner.
7:45 – 8:45pm – Sunset Photography (timing varies)
9:15pm – Dinner (timing varies, but late dinner allows for sunset photography until dark)
10:00pm – bedtime – Clean up, campfire, discussion, relaxation, astronomy, night photography
5:00am – Wake up Call, Coffee, Muffins
6:30 – 7:30am – Sunrise Photography
8:00am – Full Cowboy Breakfast
8:30am – Guide packs up while guests get 1 more hour to shoot or relax
9:30am – Depart White Pocket
12:00pm – Arrive in Kanab
Guest Experiences on the White Pocket Tour
Steve was an awesome guide and we had a great time hiking White Pocket (Vermillion Cliffs) with him. He customized our hike and planned a great route for us. Since we liked birds he stopped at the California Condor viewing area for us. We got to see 900 year old drawings and then amazing views of the white pocket are from different angles. Lunch was yummy with fresh veggies, fruit and meat. Fantastic Day, highly recommend.
DABEDB – May 20, 2019
Best tour ever. Such a beautiful natural wonder! The journey there and back was also amazing. Andrea was an excellent guide pointing out all kinds of interesting features of the landscape. Her driving was swift and safe in a well maintained all wheel drive vehicle. I would not want to attempt this trip on my own even with a adequate all wheel drive vehicle. White Pocket itself is simply stunning. I would recommend this tour to anyone who appreciates natural wonders.
I8990KDrobertr – May 16, 2019
Took a tour of White Pocket with Dreamland at the end of April with Andrea as our tour guide. It was a great experience. White pocket is very difficult to get to – both in terms of terrain and directions. Having a guide to get you there safely, as well as give some interesting history and facts on the area was great. Would definitely recommend!
Jamie U – May 12, 2019
Bailey did a great job for our small group. My wife and I enjoyed everyone’s company as well as the good lunch prepared for us. It takes a while to get out to White Pocket, but you will be glad you made the effort to see this fascinating area.
Departure68316626825 – May 10, 2019
Just completed a truly wonderful visit to White Pocket on a photo safari with Dreamland and AZ Highways Photo Tours. Dreamland’s outfitters were outstanding. Food was almost too good and plentiful. Their service and attention to detail is outstanding. Not sure when my next trip is with them but I’m already looking forward to it!
Terry G – May 7, 2019
About White Pocket
White Pocket has gained notoriety only recently as a photographer’s playground and world-class hiking destination. It is the perfect alternative to the Wave in North Coyote Buttes and White Pocket lies less than 6 miles away from that famous feature. The colorful stripes and otherworldly rock shapes provide infinite opportunity for photography, and the hiking is much easier than at the Wave. The White Pocket formation itself is 0.7 of a mile across, which doesn’t sound very big, but the gorgeous striations are quite condensed. And it is much bigger than the actual Wave, which is about 2 acres in size.
At White Pocket, the view changes constantly and curious hikers will want to peer around every corner and climb up onto each high point. Those who really appreciate natural beauty have spent a full day exploring White Pocket and felt like they barely scratched the surface. Our guides still uncover fascinating details after scores of trips there.
The Grand Staircase provides a vast and gorgeous backdrop for White Pocket’s intense swirls and white polygonal brain rock. Look out past White Pocket to the brilliant red sandstone of the Coyote Buttes, the Cockscomb, the landmark known as Molly’s Nipple, the Kaibab Plateau and the colorful layers of the Grand Staircase.
Getting to White Pocket
The Jurassic age sandstone formation is situated on the remote and rugged Paria Plateau in the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument in Arizona, less than three miles from the Utah border. Its remoteness ensures you won’t encounter crowds here. In fact, on most days there are only a handful of cars at the trailhead. It’s easy to find a secluded spot at White Pocket where you will hear and see no one.
Roads on the Paria Plateau are unmaintained and are comprised of deep sand with rocky sections scattered throughout. A four-wheel drive vehicle with good ground clearance and off road tires is a must. Some experience driving in deep sand can really come in handy, especially in summer when the sand is dry, soft and deep. We lower our tire pressure to power through the sections of deep sand. It takes at least 2.5 hours from Kanab or from Page to get to White Pocket. On our tours, we try to make a loop drive out of the trip when we can, depending on road conditions, weather and our pick up locations. On our preferred route, we take 89A out of Kanab heading through Jacob Lake and then we enter House Rock Valley from the south, where we stop at a California Condor release site to look for the endangered raptors. From there, we turn onto BLM 1017, often called Corral Valley Road, which heads up onto the Paria Plateau. This is where maintained roads end. When we reach Pine Tree Pocket, we veer north and traverse about 10 more miles of sandy roads to White Pocket.
On our way home, depending on weather, we may exit the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument through the north end of House Rock Valley where we catch the gorgeous Vermilion Cliffs and the brilliant East Kaibab Monocline (Cockscomb) in the soft, afternoon light.
It’s a long drive to White Pocket, there is no way around it, but the variety of scenery on the way is incredible and the feeling of remoteness in itself is a real thrill. These roads are remote, sandy and not clearly marked. We rarely bring guests to White Pocket who later say they would have been comfortable navigating the roads on their own.
White Pocket Geology
Rewind 190 million years and imagine a hot, dry desert with gigantic sand dunes stacking up in the brisk wind. White Pocket is comprised of Navajo sandstone that got its start as towering dunes back in the early Jurassic Period. Back then, the area was much closer to the equator than it is today. As the dunes were buried under more and more sand, they became saturated with groundwater. Slowly, groundwater minerals cemented the sand grains together, turning the dunes to stone. But that’s only part of the story. Something happened here, a major ground disturbance – perhaps an earthquake that triggered an underground landslide – that caused layers of sediment to separate, fold and become sheared while the sand was saturated with water and before it had turned to stone. Geologists call this soft sediment deformation. The result of the massive sand slide is wildly contorted and twisted rock. The specifics of how some of the formations came to be stump the most experienced geologists.
There are many shades of red, pink and yellow that are caused by the oxidation of iron-bearing minerals. Pink hues in the rock often indicate the presence of hematite, while limonite appears yellow or brown. The white coating over White Pocket is calcium carbonate.
There are several theories about how the polygonal cracks in the “brain rock” came to be, including thermal contraction, moisture cycles and drying processes of the sandy sediments and tensile forces. Similar cracks have been observed elsewhere on the Colorado Plateau and even on the moon. Guests sometimes say it feels like you’re walking on the back of a giant white dragon or strolling across the surface of the moon. Another “otherworldly” feature found at White Pocket is Moqui marbles. The marble-like concretion has a sandstone center encased in an iron oxide shell. Scientists say iron was dissolved into ground water 50 million years ago and collected to form sphere shaped iron concretions. In 2004, two Mars rovers landed on the Red Planet and sent back images of BB sized formations similar to Moqui marbles. NASA scientists call them Martian blueberries. NASA studied Moqui marbles on the Colorado Plateau to learn how they form, wondering if this could provide evidence of water on Mars. Results are inconclusive. The Martian blueberries may have been caused by meteorites. But walking around the bizarre landscape at White Pocket, it’s easy to imagine a connection between it and Mars. Rock gathering in the national monument is not allowed.
Humans have probably been visiting White Pocket since the ice age when nomadic hunters wandered the expansive landscape in search of large game. The Paria Plateau is also home Native American ruins dating back to the Pueblo Periods from about 750 A.D to 1250 A.D. Pottery fragments and arrowhead flakes can be found in the sand surrounding White Pocket. Ancient corn cobs and petroglyphs depicting desert bighorn sheep and deer are found in a cave within walking distance of the White Pocket formation. More recently, ranchers settled and grazing began somewhere around 1840. On the dry plateau, ranchers often drew water from underground springs using pumps powered by windmills. One such windmill, now out of commission, is seen along Corral Valley Road at Corral Valley Pockets. The word ‘pocket’ is a ranching term for a place that holds water. That’s how White Pocket got its name. Way before we sightseers showed up with our cameras, cattlemen were watering their stock in pockets of water on the formation. They even built two concrete dams in 1929 to increase the water capacity of the water pockets. Today, we enjoy these reflective pools for their incredible photographic potential and for their fascinating wildlife. Fairy shrimp, tadpoles and triops are often spotted in the pools.
While ranchers no longer live on the plateau and the land is in public hands, cowboys can still occasionally be spotted rounding up cattle on horseback. One family has ranched the plateau for four generations. Most of the roads on the Paria Plateau were created by ranchers who needed to mend fences and water their cattle. Other signs of ranching are evident: corrals, old abandoned trucks, broken windmills, and cowboy graffiti are signs of a different time. Richard Faye Hamblin (1908-1976) is one cowboy who signed his name on the plateau, on a sandstone wall near White Pocket.