The White Rim Road, in Utah’s Canyonlands National Park, is a wildly popular mountain bike adventure near Moab. On this 100 mile White Rim journey, you’ll ride below the Canyonlands Island in the Sky mesa through diverse terrain and unique desert scenery. You’ll enjoy biking over sandstone, sand patches and dirt trails with stunning views of red rock cliffs, rugged canyons, arches, rock formations, buttes and the Green and Colorado Rivers.
The White Rim Road
The White Rim Road is on the White Rim Plateau, a layer of sandstone lying between river gorges and mesa tops. In the early 1950s, the White Rim Road was built and used for a short period in time to access uranium. In 1964, the Canyonlands National Park was formed. Luckily, the road was not further developed and now remains a stunning recreational backcountry road for mountain bikers and jeeps.
White Rim Adventure
This mountain biking trip was an all time favorite outside adventure of mine. The biking is fun and rewarding, the views are spectacular, the remote backcountry experience is amazing and the camaraderie you’ll experience with fellow bikers is an experience like no other.
We had a group of 9 bikers. We biked hard, yet took plenty of time for scenery stops and hanging out for lunch and at camp.
Here’s the basic schedule of our incredible trip!
Day 1: 25 Miles
- Started at the Canyonlands Island in the Sky visitor center.
- Rode down Shafer trail.
- Lunch at Musselman Arch – one of the few you can legally walk on.
- Camped at Airport Tower.
Day 2: 27.5 Miles
- Lunch at White Crack – turning point from Colorado to Green River side.
- Climbed Murphy’s Hogback.
- Camped on top of Murphy’s.
Day 3: 25 Miles
- Cruised down the other side of Murphy’s.
- Lunch at Wilhite Canyon – slot canyon to explore below road.
- Climbed up and over Hardscrabble hill and down the other side.
- Camped next to the Green River at Hardscrabble camp for swimming and fun.
Day 4: 11 Miles
- Rode along the scenic Green River to Mineral Bottom.
- Finished up the imposing Horsethief Canyon trail.
- Ended with huge smiles on our faces and a beer to celebrate!
- We arranged for pickups and cut off a few miles of paved road.
You’ll want to plan your mountain bike trip well in advance. You need to reserve for a permit and campsites early. Planning for the support vehicle and gear should be well thought out. Once you are in the backcountry, you’ll need to provide for water, food, camping needs, your basic necessities, first aid supplies and bike repair tools.
Our group had several seasoned White Rim bikers. If this is the first time for everyone on your trip, I would suggest using a guide service. The town of Moab offers many guide outfitters.
The White Rim is suited for all levels of mountain bikers. I would recommend taking 3-4 days to ride, check out the scenery and hang out with friends at the the gorgeous viewpoints and backcountry campsites.
Our group had bikers of all levels. You’ll love the journey whether you are a beginner or experienced rider.
- As a beginner, you will like the diverse rolling terrain. You may need to walk a few sections of the steeper hills. Even if you are new to mountain biking, I recommend being in good physical shape. You will be riding for many hours in diverse weather and it can be tiring.
- Advanced riders can challenge their pace up the hills, cruise with their buddies, spend more time sightseeing and if so inclined, drink a few extra beers. (This was a crucial part of the trip for a most of our fun loving members! Hydration was important!)
A permit from the National Park Service is required for any overnight use of the backcountry terrain. You’ll want to request a permit and reserve your campsites well in advance. Learn more at the National Park Service website.
You’ll need a four wheel drive support vehicle. The support vehicle will carry supplies, food, water, camping gear, clothing and bike maintenance items. You may want to sacrifice extra gear for necessities like food, water and – in our case – beer. The support vehicle is also a necessity for injured riders.
When to Go
I would recommend taking your trip in the spring or fall. Summers are very hot. The Canyonlands National Park is in the high desert. Plan and prepare for diverse weather and temperature changes.
Basic Biking Needs
I recommend having these basics with you while biking.
- Camelbak to hold plenty of water
- Sun Glasses
- Emergency bike repair kit (or stay close to support vehicle)
- Appropriate biking clothes & gear