Planning a dual sport trip to Moab, Utah? Be sure to see the White Rim Trail. This iconic dirt route meanders more than 100 miles through Canyonlands National Park. Permits are required for both overnight and day-use, so get one before hitting the dirt.
White Rim & Shafer Trail with La Sal Mountains in the background
Starting at the gas station at Archview Resort between Canyonlands National Park and Arches National Park the White Rim Trail is a 126 mile round trip when combined with the Shafer Trail. At ArchView you can find fuel, cabin rentals, RV spaces, and a general store.
The White Rim Trail is popular with 4×4’s and mountain bikers, so stay aware when navigating corners with low visibility. Mountain bikers will often take 2-4 days to complete the loop, but motorcycles can make it in one day. If you’re really ambitious you could do the White Rim Sandwich by including the Kokopelli Trail on the front and back end. It’s not for the faint of heart.
We ran the White Rim Trail in a counter-clockwise fashion to get the long stretch of flat dirt on Mineral Bottom Road out of the way first. Your route may vary if you’re coming from Moab via Potash or wish to integrate other sights.
White Rim Trail – Counter-Clockwise
From the gas station near Archview turn off 191 onto the paved highway, 313. Proceed 12.2 miles and look for a green sign and a right turn to Mineral Bottom Rd. Here the road turns to dirt and points west. You’ll cover rolling, open terrain on a well graded dirt road.
Mineral Bottom Rd – graded dirt from 313 to the Green River
After 13 miles of smooth terrain (25.2 total) come to the top of switchbacks leading down to the Green River. This is a good place for a break after the high-speed gravel. Base jumpers sometimes launch themselves from nearby cliffs and can be recognized by the characteristic “whooomp” of the chutes opening.
Heather watching base jumpers launch into the abyss
Descend switchbacks to the Green River for 1.6 miles (26.8 tot) and make a left turn down-river onto White Rim Road.
Numerous switchbacks drop to the Green River
Once down to river level the White Rim Road follows the Green River navigating up and down sandstone ridges, ledges, and sandy washes. From this point it’s 71.8 miles (98.6 total) until the turn off to Potash Road or Shafer Trail. Numerous campsites and pit toilets dot the route. Do yourself a favor and grab a copy of the Latitude 40, Moab Trails West map before departing. The peace of mind from knowing your location will make travel more enjoyable and aid in communication should trouble high-jack your adventure.
Heather navigating a sandy section of the White Rim Trail on her CRF250L
The trick to sand is to keep your weight back, the power on, and the front end light. If your front tires plows, you’ll take a bow.
After miles of sand the trail climbs out of river flood-plain onto hard, white capped sandstone.
Running from the Green River sand monster to rocky, higher ground
The namesake white color of the cliff-forming sandstone
Hill-climbs, sandy off-camber corners, and a few steep descents will keep things interesting.
In some place the “road” is more two-track
Navigating the trail counter clockwise sets up stunning afternoon views of the La Sal Mountains. Lingering spring snow provides sharp contrast to the red rocks.
La Sal Mountain views from the White Rim Trail
After riding much of the loop come to a turn that goes right to the Potash mines and back to Moab or straight to the Shafer Trail switchbacks. Proceed 5.4 miles straight on the Shafer Trail to reach 313.
Base of the Shafer Trail. Switchbacks ahead!
After reaching the top of the Shafer Trail and reconnecting with 313 it’s only 20.4 miles of smooth, silky blacktop to 191, gas, and a bite to eat. Enjoy the ride!
Relaxing end to a wonderful day of riding. Get out there and go!
Name: White Rim Trail
Length: 126 miles when combined with Shafer trail and 313 to Archview
Fees: Yes, park entrance fee is $15 for motorcycles. A permit is also required for overnight and day-use from the National Park Service, but permits are free. Only 50 day-use permits for vehicles (cars and motorcycles) are issued each day.
Description: 2 track, dirt loop of Canyonlands National Park with sandy washes, rocky hill-climbs, and enough breathtaking scenery to fill a lifetime. A must ride.
Camping: Yes, but only in designated sites
Also Explore: Potash Road, Canyonlands National Park, Dead Horse Point State Park, Onion Creek to Castle Valley Loop
Gas: Chevron at Archview Resort near intersection of 313 and 191
Eats: Moab Brewery
Other maps: Latitude 40, Moab West Trails
GPS: Tracks available on the Dispatch GPS Page