Prior to the creation of Gold Butte National Monument, Whitney Pocket was a scenic place located near the northeast section of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Nevada. Both the NPS and BLM regulated this area back then, but for the most part this site was a wide open place where there were few rules. RV campers used to park right next to the sandstone landmarks and ATV riders were carving up the landscape with new trails, which contributed to the destruction of this pristine environment that most people in Las Vegas never heard of. Fortunately, the National Monument designation laid down protective rules and Whitney Pocket is no longer going in the direction of a dusty desert winter season trailer park.
Many resources referred to this destination as Whitney Pockets, but the name has now officially changed to the singular context. Whitney Pocket is a place where colorful sandstone outcrops dot the desert mountain slope landscape in a surreal fashion. Pristine hidden desert valleys run in every direction at Whitney Pocket, so a visitor can spend plenty of time exploring this majestic place.
On a side note, the photographs were gathered for this article back in 2011 before Gold Butte was designated as a National Monument. Relatively few local people knew about Whitney Pocket and for outsiders this place was practically unheard of. Since then, this entire region has became Gold Butte National Monument and the pockets of colorful rock outcrops are now a more popular than they used to be, yet overcrowding is still far from being a problem.
Views of the Whitney Pocket landscape are nothing but spectacular! There are a few gravel access roads that lead to ATV trails along Whitney Pocket Road, which runs up into the mountains toward the Arizona border. There are many hidden valleys and canyons that are within hiking distance in this area. Some of the creepiest looking red rock outcrop caves that I have ever seen can be found in the higher elevations at Whitney Pocket, so taking the road uphill simply is a must to do!
Whitney Pocket is a great destination for camping and hiking. There are primitive campsites along the road that are reasonably close to the pit toilet facilities. There are a few flat slips for RV land yachts too. This region has plenty of 4×4 ATV trails, so enthusiasts hauling trailers will feel right at home.
To get to Whitney Pocket from Las Vegas or Mesquite, just follow I-15 to Exit 112, then follow Riverside Drive south to the to the Virgin River. On the east side of the Virgin River is a paved road called New Gold Butte Road. This road runs through the entire length of what is now Gold Butte National Monument. The signage for Whitney Pocket is easy to spot from there. On the downside, Gold Butte Road is usually in terrible condition and this travel route may be too rough for an ordinary passenger car. A high ground clearance SUV or pickup truck is better suited for this long rough dirt road.
Winter is the best time of year to visit Whitney Pocket, but on some days the weather can be quite chilly and the lack of humidity in the desert does not help when trying to stay warm. Even so, there are plenty of comfortable days every winter season and the mild temperatures are far better than suffering in the extreme heat of summer in this desolate place. The summer temperatures in this region can exceed 115ºF, so visiting during winter definitely gets the nod!
Those who do not mind some brisk temperatures will be rewarded with panoramic views of the snow capped mountains that tower above Whitney Pocket. This landscape is as surreal as can be, so be sure to bring a good camera along for the trek. Whitney Pocket definitely is a good choice for a weekend adventure and this destination is a nice day trip escape from Las Vegas too!
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