White Rim Road

Canyonlands National Park - Island In The Sky District, Utah 84026

Elevation Gain16,111ft
Trailhead Elevation4,002ft
Elevation Min/Max3944/5280ft
Elevation Start/End4002/4003ft

White Rim Road

White Rim Road is a hiking, biking, and horse trail in San Juan County and Grand County, Utah. It is within Canyonlands National Park - Island In The Sky District. It is 71.7 miles long and begins at 4,002 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 143.9 miles with a total elevation gain of 16,111 feet. The Murphy Hogback B, Murphy Hogback C, Potato Bottom, Airport, Candlestick, Potato Bottom, Gooseberry, Airport, Murphy Hogback A, and Potato Bottom camp sites can be seen along the trail. There are also parkings and a cliff along the trail. Near the end of the trail is an information board. This trail connects with the following: Gooseberry Trail, Murphy Hogback Trail, Taylor Canyon Road, Lathrop Canyon Road, Lathrop Trail and Shafer Trail.

White Rim Road Professional Reviews and Guides

"Beginning high on Island in the Sky, this loop of 100 miles can be ridden in either direction. The ride is technically and aerobically moderate (unless you choose, as some gonzo fitness freaks have, to ride the whole thing in a day), yet its distance and remoteness make it a true adventure that should not be set out on as a lark.

The sheer scale of size and distance are an agoraphobic’s nightmare and a big-country lover’s sweetest dream. General location: 35 miles southwest of Moab."

"This extremely long trail can be completed in a single day, but that leaves no time to explore the side canyons or to appreciate the varied scenery. The trail is best completed over two days with an overnight camp. Campsites must be booked in advance with the National Park Service, and a backcountry permit is required. A special permit is not needed to drive the trail in one day, just the normal park entrance fee.

Special Attractions: Long two-day trail within Canyonlands National Park; Access to hiking trails; Wide variety of scenery and rock formations. High-clearance 4WDs are recommended, though most stock SUVs are acceptable. Expect a rough road surface with rocks larger than 6 inches, but there will be a reasonable driving line available. Patches of mud are possible but can be readily negotiated; sand may be deep and require lower tire pressures. There may be stream crossings up to 12 inches deep, substantial sections of single-lane shelf road, moderate grades, and sections of moderately loose road surface."

"Before driving this road you should be sure to spend some time at the overlook points on the Island in the Sky Mesa south of the visitor center. The thread of the White Rim Road can clearly be seen from all of these vantage points, as it winds its way across the White Rim Plateau 1,200 feet below the mesa. The views are extremely impressive, and few observers will not feel a pang of excitement at the prospect of following the road through the canyon below.

The views are particularly striking from the Grandview and White Rim Overlooks at the south end of the Grandview Point, where the White Rim Road skirts around Monument Basin and Gooseberry Canyon above the western side of the Colorado River. The White Rim Road and the White Rim Plateau were both named after a thin but very hard layer of White Rim Sandstone that was deposited some 225 million years ago at the top of a geologic layer called the Cutler Formation. Millions of years later new layers of shale, mudstone, and sandstone were deposited over the White Rim Sandstone; then, after the Green and Colorado Rivers were formed, these softer overlying layers began to erode away."

"The White Rim is famous as the ultimate Canyon Country ride. Though more and more people ride this in one day, they’re missing the point. This trail is about being with friends in one of the most scenic regions in the world."

"This road passes through one of North America’s most spectacular landscapes, an eroded and incised red-rock world that rivals the Grand Canyon. It includes towering cliffs and buttes, the gorges of the Colorado and Green rivers, the pinnacles of Monument Basin, Musselman Arch and desert bighorn sheep. This tour is best in spring and fall."

"An incredible driving adventure along the edge of countless canyons in the shadow of towering buttes and high cliffs. Descend thrilling switchbacks, visit dramatic arches and rock formations, hike to Indian ruins, and camp quietly far away from others.

Most of the trail is easy and relatively flat. Several exceptions include Murphy Hogback and Hardscrabble Hill, both steep, rocky and challenging. You frequently drive near high cliffs and sheer walls. Suitable for stock high-clearance vehicles under normal conditions. Check at the visitor center for possible rock slides or trail blockages. The trail is well marked and easy to follow with few spurs. Watch for mountain bikers."

"The White Rim Trail is the granddaddy of multi-day mountain bike tours in the Colorado Plateau, for in few other places is the sense of open space as lucid and overwhelming. Scenic beauty is everywhere along the White Rim and is largely the product of erosion by water.

To fully appreciate the White Rim Trail means embarking on a three-to four-day trip with stays in designated camping areas along the way. Some elite bikers are quick to boast of knocking off the White Rim in a single day, but they are missing the point. A White Rim trip is more than pounding out an off-road century; you can do that anywhere. You’ll want the extra time to bond with the desert, to feel its pulse, and revere its wonderment. Tread: 10.2 miles of pavement; 12.9 miles of light-duty dirt road; and 77.4 miles of four-wheel-drive roads. Some sections may be harder and slower for a support vehicle than for a bike."

White Rim Road Reviews

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My family and me took this wonderful trail down into the canyon where we were able to get a true sense of scale for the surrounding landscape. Standing on the top of the rim looking down more than 1000ft. is awe inspiring especially when you know you will be down there with only the provisions you bring along. Our family of four boys along with my wife booked a campsite about half way long the trail and gathered provisions prior to ever entering this wonderful 100 mile adventure. The only comforts of life are the pit toilets along the way which are located near the campsites. There is no water along the trail so bring enough for the trip. We did the trail in two days, if I were to do it again I would plan on doing the trial in three days with taking more time for side hikes and picture taking. Our Ford Excursion fit well on most parts of the trail, however there were a couple of switchbacks where I needed to do a three point turn. A standard 4wd SUV with low range is sufficient for this trail. Prior to our departure we inquired about the condition of the trail as there was unusual rain that occurred prior to our arrival and a portion of the trial was closed due to it being washed out. The trail was repaired and perfect for our adventure. Once in the canyon the landscape becomes larger than life. There are times when the landscape becomes mundane especially when you average 8 miles per hour. We saw several mountain bike groups along the way which would also be a great way to see the geography. Most of them had support vehicles making for a great vacation with friends and family who love the outdoors. if you are plan to take on this adventure make sure you purchase any one of several books about the trail as this will give you history and side hike ideas.
Steep decline into the valley and a long trail.... Unless you are planning on camping inside the park, I would just drive in for 2 hours at the most and turn around. We learned the hard way that it was a 100 mile loop...... Beautiful views but redundant through out the trail.
The White Rim Trail is a beautiful ride which is best enjoyed over the course of several days. As the name suggest, most of the ride skirts awesome canyons which has easy to moderate technical sections for mountain bikes and requires 4x4s to have good ground clearance to make it all the way. At 100 miles long, most people utilize the remote campsites and have support vehicles to make the trip quite enjoyable. The campsite do require reservations and I would recommend to break the trip up into three or four days. Big Tip: Bring LOTS of Water! Much more than you think you will need. The loop is virtually inaccesible and very remote. We rode the trip straight through which I would not recommend unless you were in really good condition. It took about 16 1/2 hours and 300 oz. of water per person would be a minimum for 75-80 degree days.

White Rim Road Photos

Trail Information

Canyonlands National Park - Island In The Sky District
Nearby City
Canyonlands National Park - Island In The Sky District
Canyonlands National Park
Local Contacts
USGS Musselman Arch, Monument Basin, Turks Head, Upheaval Dome, Horsethief Canyon, Bowknot Bend, Mineral Canyon, The Knoll
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Jul 2018