White Rim

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5/5 (42 reviews)
Moab, Utah (San Juan County)
Last Updated: 12/08/2023
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Trail Information

Highlights

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Desert Category Icon Desert
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Mud Category Icon Mud
Overland Category Icon Overland
Sand Category Icon Sand
Scenic Category Icon Scenic
The White Rim Trail is the premier multi-day trail in Moab, Utah. The entire route encompasses over 90 miles of off-road driving. On the White Rim, you’ll get to experience the beautiful scenery of the Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands National Park first hand while tackling the challenging terrain. The trail gets its name from the layer of white sandstone on which it sits. White Rim sandstone is considerably harder than the red Moenkopi Formation sandstone above or the Organ Rock Shale below. The differential erosion creates some of the very unique geological features along the trail. The trail was first created during the 1950s with the intent of mining uranium needed for the production of nuclear weapons for the Cold War. Though uranium was present, the mines produced little compared to others in the region. Thus they were abandoned. But the road remains. White Rim has something for everyone. Besides enticing driving, the trail offers numerous hikes, an abundance of stunning views, and many campsites with absolute solitude. Traveling along White Rim gives a whole new appreciation of Canyonlands and a perspective of the park that can’t be attained anywhere else.

Trail Difficulty and Assessment

Trail Navigation

Important: Always check the Island in the Sky Visitor Center for current conditions before heading out. The route is mostly dirt and sand, with a few small rocky stretches scattered throughout. Notable obstacles include a steep and rocky climb at Murphy Hogback at Waypoint 33, the Hardscrabble switchbacks at Waypoint 49, and the water crossing of Upheaval Bottom at Waypoint 55. You will also come across several blind turns and ascents, as well as plenty of cliffside driving. Expect many climbs and descents, as White Rim’s elevation ranges from 3,941 feet to 5,278 feet, with an overall ascent of 3,036 feet and descent of 3,645 feet. This is a straight-through trail, and the only points of entry are Shafer Trail, Potash Road, and Mineral Bottom Road. For all reasons mentioned, White Rim should only be attempted by SUVs with high clearance, aggressive tires, low range, and either extended range fuel tanks or jerry cans. Locking differentials would also be highly recommended, but not required. Additional recovery gear should also be considered mandatory on this trail. Be sure to check in with the Ranger Station, as a permit is required both for day trips and overnight camping trips. For this reason, it is recommended that you enter via Shafer Trail after stopping by the Ranger Station.

Trail Reviews

5/5 (42)
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Official Crew
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63450
Open
Visited: 12/08/2023
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

The trail has been repaired and is now open.
Trail Review: White Rim - TJ Bosworth
Impassable
Rated 5/5
Visited: 11/27/2023
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

Amazing trail, very scenic and not difficult. I was worried that it would feel packed out there since all the campsites were booked but still felt like we had the place to ourselves. Spent one night at airport D and one night at Murphy Hogback A. We were not able to finish as a massive boulder is completely blocking the trail near the labyrinth section. We had one full size truck towing a 15’ teardrop as well which handled everything just fine up to that point. Definitely will be going back to finish the whole thing once it is open!
Trail Review: White Rim - Cole Phares
Trail Review: White Rim - Cole Phares
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Official Crew
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63450
Impassable
Visited: 11/27/2023
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

Impassable due to rock slide.
Trail Review: White Rim - TJ Bosworth
Open
Visited: 10/06/2023
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

Great trail. Ended up doing this in a single day and took about 11 hours. Definitely could have driven it a little faster. None of the obstacles were too bad. 4 low was all that was needed.
Open
Rated 5/5
Visited: 09/02/2023
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

Absolutely beautiful scenery around every turn. Trail was completely open and bone dry during our trip on Aug 31 - Sept 2 2023. Not sure there is a more scenic trail anywhere. The vehicles in our group (Toyota 4Runner, Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, Ford Bronco Badlands) all handled the dry trail with no issues. 2 climbs (Murphy’s Hogback and Hardscrabble) were steep and fun to crawl up. 100% recommended!
Trail Review: White Rim - James Steel
Trail Review: White Rim - James Steel
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