Night Photography at White Pocket

Rate this Adventure Arizona White Pocket

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Acres of incredible, multi-colored sandstone formations under a stunningly dark night sky.

White Pocket is a remote outcropping of sandstone formations in Vermillion Cliffs National Monument similar to the famous "Wave". Unlike The Wave, a permit isn't needed to visit, but you will need a high-clearance 4WD vehicle with good tires; alternatively, you can hire a 4WD tour service in nearby Kanab to reach the area. The 35-mile drive in takes over 2 hours on a mix of dirt and rocky roads with the likelihood for deep sand the last 10 miles. To safely cross the sandy sections it's recommended to air down your tires to half pressure and travel with another 4WD vehicle in case you get stuck. Do not attempt this drive in a rental car, there is limited cell service and a tow can cost over a thousand dollars. Snow or recent heavy rain can close sections of the road so always check conditions at one of the nearby ranger stations before leaving.

If you've given yourself plenty of time and arrive before sunset, use the time to scout the area and find your favorite spots to revisit at night. Be careful when walking on the sandstone to prevent damage to some of the more fragile formations and avoid trampling the vegetation in the surrounding area. Once you're setup for night images you can use twilight or lightpaint with a headlamp to create exposures to blend with the night sky. There is no light pollution out here but a bright moon can easily wash out the Milky Way. Before visiting, look at the lunar cycle to decide whether you to use or avoid moonlight (the second image is a night shot using moonlight and features a "starburst" of the moon).

Pack List

  • Camera
  • Fast Wide-angle Lens (f/2.8 or faster)
  • Tripod
  • Extra Batteries
  • Memory Card
  • Warm Layers
  • Hiking Shoes
  • Head Lamp
  • Food & Water
  • High-clearance 4WD Vehicle
  • Full tank of gas
  • Cell Phone (some AT&T service in spots along the road and at the destination)
  • Air compressor (for re-inflating tires after airing down)
  • Shovel
  • Traction strips for tires
  • Sand anchor and winch
  • Recovery strap
  • Another friend with a 4WD vehicle
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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Activities:

Chillin, Camping, Photography

Skill Level:

Advanced

Season:

Year Round

Features:

Scenic

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Added by Jason Hatfield

Adventure and travel photographer based out of Denver, Colorado. I teach photography workshops and offer private guiding around the west. More at jasonjhatfield.com

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