White Rim Road is the name of a very scenic yet challenging unimproved road through the White Rim bench lands below the upper plateau of the Island in the Sky District between the Colorado and Green Rivers, in the Canyonlands National Park, in southeastern Utah, USA. If you're afraid of heights, this road will turn your stomach inside out.
How long is the White Rim Trail?
Tucked away near the town of Moab, the loop trail is 123km (77 miles) long inside Utah’s majestic Canyonlands National Park. It loops around and below the Island in the Sky mesa top. The road is mostly unpaved (loose dirt, sandy dry washes and sandstone rock formations) with 7 miles of pavement only. The road was built in the 1950s by the Atomic Energy Commission in search of uranium to fuel the Cold War arms race.
How difficult is the White Rim Trail?
The loop drive is very challenging. A high-clearance vehicle with four-wheel drive is required. The drive features hairpin turns, steep grades and cliffs with no guardrails. The steep, exposed sections of the Shafer Trail, Lathrop Canyon Road, Murphy's Hogback, Hardscrabble Hill, and the Mineral Bottom switchbacks make the White Rim loop a challenging ride, and require extreme caution for both vehicles and bikes during periods of inclement weather. During high water conditions on the Green River, sections of road on the west side can flood, making a complete loop impossible. Under favorable weather conditions, the White Rim Road is considered moderately difficult for high-clearance, four-wheel-drive vehicles. Some spots along the road require some serious navigation. The trail is a moderately rough, but decently maintained 4WD jeep road. Along the way you might need a passenger to hop out and act as a spotter as you make your way around boulders and other impediments.
Can you drive the White Rim Trail in one day?
The drive runs through the stunning southern Utah scenery. The entire length of the White Rim Road is breathtaking in a remote desert location providing expansive views of the surrounding area. The White Rim Road has long rocky stretches, deep sand, and little shade. Bring at least 1 gallon of water per person, per day - more if you'll be active. Plan for a minimum of 10-12 hours of driving; however, if you stop on the way, trips usually take two to three days by four-wheel-drive vehicle or three to four days by mountain bike. It is best attempted in spring and fall. Every inch of the way is surrounded with outstanding scenic beauty. The drive is ideal for adventurers in four-wheel vehicles or mountain bikes, with steep and exposed sections sitting alongside the mesa-like beauty. This multi-day back country epic is the perfect way to explore all that Canyonlands National Park has to offer. Highlights along the route include Musselman Arch, expansive overlooks of the Colorado River, Washer Woman Arch, Airport Butte, Soda Springs Basin, and views of the Green River.
• Distance: Approximately 100 miles.
• Average Time of Drive: 2-3 days.
• Difficulty: Moderate
• Trail Type: Point to Point
• Trailhead: Access from either Mineral Bottom Road or Island in the Sky Visitor Center.
Pic: J Calvert