White Pocket, Vermilion Cliffs, Arizona (with Map & Photos)

White Pocket Vermilion Cliffs National Monument


White Pocket
is an isolated, inaccessible stretch of sandstone hidden within the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument near the Arizona-Utah border. The entire area is covered with a gray rocky layer, sometimes only a few centimeters thick, covering red sandstone, where the landscape is shaped to make the entire landscape look like it is covered in powdered sugar. In some places, the stone layers are completely curved, like a huge marble cake.

White Pocket Vermilion Cliffs National Monument1
White Pocket Vermilion Cliffs National Monument

The extraordinary geology at White Pocket (Vermilion Cliffs National Monument) has yet to be fully explained. Some geologists declare that the White Pocket is the result of “soft sediment deformation,” noting that the curvature in the White Pocket dates back to the Jurassic period, when the sand was completely turned into rock. According to retired oil geologist Mark Deschowitz, who has studied White Pocket more than anyone else, the landscape was the result of a tremendous mass of sand sinking caused by an earthquake. As the mass slid and fell into the lower layers, it tore apart chunks of stratified sand below and filled a large body of water or oasis. This large mass of sand is the featureless discolored white sandstone that we see today.

White Pocket Vermilion Cliffs National Monument2
White Pocket Vermilion Cliffs National Monument

The fine thin plates are remarkably well preserved. This may indicate that all of the sand involved was buried along with large deposits of additional sediment. In other words, the sand mixed with additional rock 30 meters below the surface. This explains the strange contours that are still in a certain order. 

White Pocket Vermilion Cliffs National Monument3
White Pocket Vermilion Cliffs National Monument

Until a year ago, White Pocket was relatively unknown, only known to local ranchers and a handful of enterprising photographers. National Geographic then launched the Cliffs of Vermillion National Monument, which included superb footage of these landscapes. This was a turning point, now Vermillion is on the list of visits for every traveler and nature lover.

White Pocket Vermilion Cliffs National Monument Map