This morning we got the bad news that none of our geo-fenced lottery permits had come through. It wasn’t too surprising, but it meant we had no plans for the day. Should we just call it and drive home? Should we try to find some other feature to explore? We opted to visit one of the other amazing places inside Vermillion Cliffs National Monument that Mark had heard about. None of us knew anything about it other than it’s usually pretty crowded because it’s supposed to be pretty awesome. I have never hiked Coyote Buttes at all. I haven’t seen The Wave in person. But I can’t imagine it’s any better than what we experienced at White Pocket. This place was amazing and we had it completely to ourselves. There were a couple people there when we arrived, but they all left before we walked out to the formations. It doesn’t get better than that.
The Paw Hole Problem
Our first attempt to reach White Pocket went sideways. The dirt roads inside the national monument are basically just deep rutted sand. Our 4Runner is very capable. We have after-market suspension, wider rims and larger tires. We let out some of the air in our tires to give us a softer ride and a bit more traction in the sand. Our friends have a similarly capable Land Cruiser. The sandy roads were not an issue for either of us. So why did we have to turn back before reaching White Pocket on our first go? Because we are stupid and didn’t read the map before driving to Paw Hole. We originally thought we would just drive up past Paw Hole and continue on to White Pocket. It is definitely the shortest route. Unfortunately, when we got to the Paw Hole trailhead, we realized the road we wanted to take heading East to White Pocket is designated one-way going West. There were no other cars around and we considered just doing it. But we figured it might have some narrow sections that made it difficult-at-best to pass an oncoming vehicle, and we didn’t want to cause trouble, so we ultimately decided to head back out and take the long way around. Later we decided it may just be too steep to be passible in the deep sand.
There was a motor home and a Sprinter van on the edges of the White Pocket parking lot. They were camping there and probably taking some amazing sunrise and sunset pictures. We also saw a well-equipped Jeep. The owners of the Jeep showed up as we were putting on sunblock. They gave us a quick rundown of what they thought was the best and then they headed home. They described the trail out to the rocks as being formidable, but it was a pretty easy walk. I wouldn’t even call it a hike.
The clouds were rolling in, which looked really great and provided some interesting sun and shadow spots across the rocks. But they also brought rain, which was a problem. We didn’t mind getting wet or walking around the rocks in the rain, but we had to drive back out on those roads of deep sand. Rain and deep sand are not the recipe we needed, so we didn’t stay very long once the rain hit.
Despite our worries, the drive out was a piece of cake. The rain hadn’t made it very muddy. In fact, it may have been just enough to help hold some of the sand together. We zoomed along the back country roads and headed back home. What a great weekend. We will be back.