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Mountain Biking The White Rim Trail

Updated on July 6, 2014

Utahs Premire Mountain Bike Adventure

The White Rim Trail, a jeep road that winds its way through the edge of Island in the Sky Mesa in Canyonlands National Park, Utah, is a premier mountain biking multi day trek. Technically the trail is easy but since it is long and steep in sections, being in good physical condition is a must. Beautiful mesas, desert flora and fauna as well as majestic rock walls, cliffs and canyon views are all a part of the adventurous ride and many side trips to explore unique and remote areas also exist.

I am not a big mountain biker, in fact, I have little mountain biking experience, however I have had the opportunity to ride the White Rim Trail twice. Once in April and once in early June. The pictures on this page come from the June Trip.

General Route Description of The White Rim Trail

Most people take between 3 and 4 days to ride the complete 100 miles of the trek. Along the way there are campgrounds to spend the night at. One or more support vehicles join you which carry the gear, food and water and spare bike parts you may need. Some super fit people ride the whole trail in one long and brutal day.

As you ride, a major climb awaits you each day with a total of 4,000 vertical feet in elevation gain overall. You can ride the trail in either direction but most prefer to ride clockwise, from the Schafer trail around to the Green River. This direction allows most of the sand on the ride to reach you as you are going downhill and not up. As you drop into the canyon on the first day going either direction, its quite a thrill as you go down, down down about 1,000 feet.

Every few miles there is a campground. You must have a permit to camp at any of them and to ride this trail (see below for information on how to obtain a permit.) Some campground are more popular than others and sometimes you need to make reservations one year in advance to get them or to get specific holiday weekends.

What You Need If You Go Mountain Biking at The White Rim

Clothing: Prepare for all types of weather, from brutally hot to freezing cold. Bring rain gear, additional shoes and sandals, warm fleece/jackets, t-shirts and tank tops, long and short pants, a warm thick jacket. Gloves, hats (sun and winter).

Camping: Sleeping bag, tent, ground pad, sunblock, insect repellent, towels, toilet paper (there are bathrooms at each campground but if you have an emergency, between toilets you are expected to pack it with you.), toiletries, flash light, lantern, camp chair.

Cooking: Bring cooking gear - stoves, fuel, pots/pans, utensils etc. as no open fires are permitted. WATER. There is virtually no water along the trail and you are responsible for bringing all of your own drinking and washing water.

Get The Essentials For Mountain BIking Here

Sierra Designs Sirius 3 Three-Person Three-Season Tent
Sierra Designs Sirius 3 Three-Person Three-Season Tent

Sierra DEsigns is a name you can trust in tents. Durable, easy to set up and roomy.

Coleman Quad LED Lantern Special Edition Ultra Bright 190 Lumens, Red
Coleman Quad LED Lantern Special Edition Ultra Bright 190 Lumens, Red

Makes for a great evening playing cards or just chatting after dark.


Excellent Side Trips From The White Rim

Side trips and stop and check out the amazing view opportunities are everywhere.

Some of the more famous include the Colorado Overlook, the Musselman Arch, - A cool thin arch you can walk out onto, Lathrop Canyon (bike 1 mile),White Crack (a fun crack you can jump over - see photo), Murphy's Trail, Whilehite Trail (and the slot canyon opposite it where you can dip down for some canyoneering), and the Syncline Valley Trail.

Most side trails are for hiking only and do not allow bikes. Check for the no bikes symbol if you plan to take a side outing.

A quick tour of the White Rim trail shot by someone insane (and fit) enough to ride the whole 100 miles in one day.

Tips And Precautions

As one would expect in the desert, it can be brutally hot in the desert during summer. Be sure to bring ample water - one gallon per person per day is recommended. Also as mentioned, campsites get booked up way in advance, be sure to make a reservation early.

There are no gas services anywhere in the park and no bike supply shops either. Be sure you have a full tank of gas for your support vehicles and a spare tire that's ready to go as well as all possible spare necessary bike parts.


Want To Go? Find Permit Information Here

Group size is limited to 15 people and 3 vehicles.

To get a permit to stay overnight, contact:

Canyonlands National Park

Attn: Reservations

2282 Resource Blvd

Moab, UT 84532

Include: number of vehicles, number of people, dates and campsites requested (list alternate dates and campsites if possible). The non-refundable fee is around $30 for the reservation but call 435-259-4351 for information as prices may have changed. You'll have to pay additional entry fees when you arrive.

Thanks for Visiting - I would love to hear from you

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    • safereview profile image

      Bob 6 years ago from Kansas City

      Man that looks like fun!

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Beautiful mountain biking trail and well crafted lens. Happy New Year! **Blessed by a Squid-Angel**

    • Magicality LM profile image

      Magicality LM 7 years ago

      Very stunning trail!

    • nightbear lm profile image

      nightbear lm 8 years ago

      Gorgeous lens, I love how you arranged your photos inside the module. The shots are breathtaking.