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.

Moab: White Rim

I’m starting a climb!

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.

 

 

 

White Rim hillWhite Rim Schedule

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.

 

White Rim: MoabWhat You Need to Know!

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.

Green River MoabTime and Ability Levels

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!)

 

White Rim: View from Tent

View from Tent

Permits

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.

Support Vehicle

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
  • Sunscreen
  • Helmet
  • Sun Glasses
  • Emergency bike repair kit (or stay close to support vehicle)
  • Camera
  • Appropriate biking clothes & gear

 

Share you White Rim experience or ask questions!

7 comments… add one
Kevin Mccarthy

Enjoyed your post on White Rim. Any suggestions on how to hook up with other people or
An existing trip. I will be passing through the area mid late May and would love to do an extended
Trip. I am an experienced rider and a professional bike mechanic.
Thanks
Kevin

Hi Kevin,
It’s a great biking adventure to try, and I hope you can hook up with a group. I don’t have any suggestions other than joining one of the guided tours. I was lucky to join some friends who were experienced with the trip, and we had a designated person driving a big truck to carry our gear.

http://magpieadventures.com/moab-bike-tours/bike-tours/canyonlands-natl-park/multi-day-white-rim/
http://rimtours.com
http://www.bikeraft.com/trips/mountain-biking/white-rim-trail

I hope you find an option that works for you!
Thanks,
~Kari

Alison Birkenfeld

Loved your write up! I am attempting this adventure for next Spring and feel like your schedule was nicely done in terms of spreading it out over 4 days. I talked to someone else that did this in 3. I’d rather take a day longer and enjoy. I may hit you up for questions along the way as I plan this ladies adventure! Thanks for taking the time to write about your trip.
Alison

Hi Alison. How exciting that you are planning a ladies adventure on the White Rim. Many do complete the trip in 3 days. However, I recommend 4 days so you can take more time to enjoy the stunning scenery and relax, cook and spend more time at the campsites with your friends.

Thanks for looking at my website. I would be happy to answer any questions about planning your trip.
~Kari

Ally

Thanks for showing your itinerary. It was helpful to see you had varying levels of bikers in your group. We are planning a trip with different levels of bikers. I am the novice biker, and I am slightly nervous I won’t be able to complete it. Also, do you recommend specific campsites?

Hi Ally! Thanks for reading my website. I would recommend biking a little before your trip. Even if you don’t have biking skills, having some cardiovascular training prior is even more important along with being prepared and ensuring you have plenty of water, sunscreen, food, and appropriate gear. All you need to do is pace yourself and focus on what works best for YOU rather than trying to keep up with more advanced riders. It is perfectly normal on this trip to walk hills and rougher spots. Yet, you will be surprised with how much of the trail you can complete without having to walk your bike. So, focus on your individual challenges during your bike ride and adventure. As far as campsites, everything along the way is absolutely stunning. I loved all the campsites we stayed at; however, I think you will be happy with any site you choose. The focus should be breaking up the trip so your entire group has enough time to rest and play. The trip should be an entire vacation rather than a mad rush to finish.
Enjoy and let me know how it goes! If you have any more questions, please post or email me.
~Kari

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