Two years ago we had the pleasure to camp in an off the beaten path location called Whitney Pockets. Situated 31 miles from Mesquite, Nevada on the Gold Butte Backcountry Byway, it’s a bit of a trek to get there pulling a fifth wheel. A paved but very old and bumpy 20-mile long road winds from Virgin River up a few thousand feet into the mountains.
Even with maintaining a slow speed of 25 MPH by the time we arrive many things in our rig have been jostled about. But sorting out our cupboard and fridge contents is so worth it to camp here.
Spectacular Views! On a clear day, you can see all the way to the tip of Lake Mead, Valley of Fire State Park and beyond. The camping area is surrounded by large sandstone outcroppings in a rainbow of colors. Contrasting with the sandstone are fields of green Joshua Trees and yucca plants, plus a variety of small cactus, low brush, and grasses.
Fun Hiking! Just pick any direction and go, you are bound to find something interesting or a patch of desert beauty. The area is littered with historical evidence of past human activities from native petroglyphs to an old ghost town and mining operation to dams built by the CCC. My favorite activity is scampering up the many rocky hills with the beagle in tow to discover an interesting formation, arch or just to get a better view. It’s a great way to get in shape I’ll tell you.
Sweet Four Wheeling! We don’t own an ATV or a 4×4 but places like this sure make me wish we did. Beyond Whitney Pockets are hundreds of miles of rough dirt roads and trails only suitable for 4×4 and high clearance type vehicles. You are truly in the backcountry out there. During our visit, there were many daily visitors showing up with trailers bearing off road vehicles. They headed off every morning and didn’t return to late day.
Trail Riding Too! One particular day a friend of ours showed up with his trail riding buddies. They unloaded their horse trailers stuffed with horses, mules, and 8 dogs and headed out for a full days ride. Anne even scored a quick ride on an Icelandic horse which was ironic since last fall she visited Iceland but never got to ride one of this famous breed. She had to come to southern Nevada for that pleasure, haha.
Wicked Photography! Looking to get some really unique photos? Whitney Pockets is just the place. Very few other places can boost its collection of brightly colored sandstone surrounded by scads of Joshua Trees with jagged mountainous backdrops.
We were so lucky this time as the Joshua Trees were putting on an early show with their large yellow blooms. An extra dose of rains thanks to this winter’s El Nino had really greened up the place. If fact, one of its storms passed through near the end of our visit.
Most campers hit the road but where they saw wind, clouds and rain on the horizon we saw a fantastic photographic opportunity. We knew with the storm clouds came dramatic skies and wetted down sandstone. It would take just a little peek-a-boo from the sun to create an amazing shot.
Whitney Pockets as Storm Passes Through Video
Whitney Pockets is BLM land with free vehicle camping in designated areas near the roadways to protect the wild lands. The very primitive camping spots are simply a patch of dirt sometimes with a fire ring made from rocks. There are absolutely no services and you are 30 miles from the nearest town Mesquite. The road to Whitney pockets and beyond is called the Gold Butte Backcountry Byway
BLM Back Country Byways serve a unique niche in providing an “off-the-beaten-path” adventure through landscape settings as diverse as the West itself. The BLM currently manages 54 BLM-designated National Back Country Byways totaling approximately 2,952 miles in 11 western states. – http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/Recreation/recreation_national/byways.html
Mesquite, NV (the nearest town) is located on Interstate 15 and has all the services a boondocker might need. There is a Walmart with an RV wash in the parking lot at the one end of town. At the other end look for a truck stop called the Virgin Valley Food Mart which has a $7 per use dump station, propane fill, and overnight RV parking. A few blocks down the road is a Smiths grocery store with fresh drinking water fill machines out front. Also, in Mesquite are several casinos with dry camping areas for RVs.