The first time that I visited Whitney Pocket was back in 2012 before Gold Butte became a National Monument. Six years later I revisited Gold Butte after trading a Dodge muscle car in for a Jeep, so I could drive on the dirt roads once again. The changes that occurred after National Monument status was designated were easy to see after a long lapse of time. New National Monument signage was added throughout the park. The condition of the paved section of Gold Butte Road was always bad, but now the road has deteriorated to the point of being dangerous. The crumbling old blacktop and the potholes can severely damage small cars and even driving this road in a Jeep is a rough ride.
Once a visitor crosses the official National Monument border, the dirt road section of Gold Butte Road is now better maintained and much smoother than it used to be. Inside the park, old Gold Butte Road is now called the Gold Butte National Back Country Byway. Other than these few changes, the Gold Butte wilderness area is still just about the same as it always was. The exception is Whitney Pocket, where many of the old BLM campsites next to the red rock outcrops have been closed. These old campsites were popular with the winter season RV camper crowd, so it is a bit of a loss for them, but the scenic beauty was protected.
A two wheel drive car with high ground clearance can do the trip to Whitney Pocket on Gold Butte Road, but a 4×4 ATV or Jeep will have a real advantage. The dirt side roads in Gold Butte that go to points of interest are definitely too rough for an average two wheel drive automobile, because there are areas of deep loose sand in some of the dry wash ravines. Whitney Pocket is in a very remote location and it would be a long walk back to civilization if worse comes to worse, so a rugged vehicle is best for the trip. For this same reason, it is best to pack a two day food and water supply, because modern communication devices are useless in this area and help may be slow to arrive.
Whitney Pocket for the most part was only known by the local people in this region for a long time. For the local people in Las Vegas, Whitney Pocket and Gold Butte were just places on the other side of Lake Mead that were cool to go to in a Jeep on the weekends. Until Gold Butte achieved National Monument Status a few years ago, few outsiders had ever heard of this place.
One look at the majestic scenery at Whitney Pocket is all it takes to make the jaw drop in awe! The colorful red, white and yellow sandstone rock outcrops are spread out all over the slopes that gradually run downhill to Lake Mead in the distance. In a way, the red rock outcrops look like islands in this vast barren desert landscape and each has its own unique character. Whitney Pocket is a beautiful sight to see, so be sure to bring a good camera along for the ride!
There is now plenty of navigational signage where Whitney Pass Road intersects with the Gold Butte National Back Country Byway, so this destination is easy to find. To see even more of this rock outcrop landscape, just follow the Whitney Pass Road uphill. There are many hidden canyons along this road and the panoramic views of the Virgin River basin down below are spectacular to see. There are also some very creepy looking caves along this road that are well worth checking out!
There are still several campsites in the Whitney Pocket area that have remained open, but only a few are now located next to the red sandstone islands. Camping falls under Bureau Of Land Management primitive campsite rules and off-road ATV vehicles must stay on designated trails or dirt roads.
When exploring the vast terrain of Gold Butte National Monument, Whitney Pocket will be an important landmark to remember. Most of the dirt roads are marked, while others in the very remote sections are not, so a GPS system or a good paper map will be needed for navigating the trails in this place. From Whitney Pocket it is easy to get to several points of interest in Gold Butte National Monument and all that it takes to get to the neighboring Grand Canyon Parashant National Monument is to follow Whitney Pass Road uphill over the mountain to the Arizona Border, which is only six miles away.
Gold Butte National Monument is an adventure like no other and Whitney Pocket is a great place to start! Whitney Pocket is one of the easiest points of interest to access in Gold Butte, but the roads can be rough, especially after a rain storm. Like always, it is best to plan in advance, pack survival supplies and leave a detailed excursion plan with friends, family or the local BLM Office, just in case the unexpected occurs. Gold Butte is one of this nation’s newest National Monuments and it is well worth exploring this pristine Mojave Desert wilderness area, especially while the weather is relatively cool!
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