One of the main purposes of my recent trip to Utah was to bear witness to the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and the newly created and now newly threatened Bears Ears National Monument. For reasons you are probably aware of, there was a sense of urgency. Even next year or this fall might be too late to see them in a pristine state. My priorities were all about seeing as much of the monuments as possible in the relatively short time I had. That lead to the unbalanced economy of paying about $20 a night for accommodations in my RV and splashing out hundreds on guided tours. It’s the perfect spending plan. Always a fan of guided outfitters in wilderness areas, I find a local guide will get you out to the the most beautiful areas usually by a combination of four wheel drive and guiding you through the best hiking routes — without the chance of getting lost or turned around (a very real possibility with my terrible sense of direction). With an outfitter, you get maximum wilderness in minimum time. I chose Dreamland Safaris and I chose wisely. Dreamland will do what it can to get you one of the few coveted permits to see the storied Wave. Failing that, they will line up for the nearly as difficult to get permits to Coyote Buttes. As the third and final fallback — should lottery magic not be yours — you will be taken to the White Pocket. I did not have lottery mojo, so the White Pocket it was. In retrospect, I think — based on descriptions of the other hikes — that I actually won this round. Apparently the other hikes involve a lot of hiking to get out to the fantastic and colorful formations. The White Pocket hike, after a relatively but short bone-jarring jeep ride, gets you to the formations almost within a mile of where you park the vehicle. That allows your day to be spent almost totally in a wonderland of rock. But hurry, the growing popularity of this adventure may lead to it soon to being limited to a few lucky permitees per day.

The White Pocket got its name from the predominance of white Navajo Sandstone which is eroded into pockets that hold water long after other sources have dried. One thing you quickly learn about the desert and semi-arid places is that water is everywhere if you know where to look. The White Pocket must have been a magnet for game back when the only visitors were Native Americans. Sadly, nowadays it’s a magnet for free range cattle who stomp through the fragile wilderness under grandfathered grazing rights. The Grand Staircase Escalante itself extends through several states — although the protected portion has been criminally reduced — you can’t find a better taste of it than basing yourself in Kanab and hiking the White Pocket. Words cannot describe the amazing rock formations which are carved almost exclusively from the erosion action of wind blown sand. So here are some pictures.

Some of the more fanciful formations reminded me of melted spumoni ice cream.

There’s even a mini wave. Actually, not so mini. Our guide said the real Wave is astonishingly small, a fraction of the size of this striated formation.

A wonderland of wind-carved rock formations.

There are a wealth of petroglyphs in White Pocket.

And pottery shards from Anasazi that have been left in situ.

Our excellent guide was well versed in geology and explained these formations. Sorry, I’ve forgotten.

Here’s where the pocket gets its name. Eroded pockets trap water everywhere.

In nearly 8 hours, I don’t think we covered it all.


More of my White Pocket hike pictures here.