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
Lightly Modified 4X4 (Small Lift and Larger Tires)
White Rim Trail is not particularly technical. The trail has small rocky stretches with mild climbs and descents. But don’t be fooled by its low rating. The journey is long and isolated and will be far more stressful to the driver than the vehicle. Additionally, the trail may be impassible due to rain, snow, and increased water levels at Upheaval Bottom at Waypoint 55.
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The hardest part of the trail that you
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Typically, more rock or undulated road surface. Potential rocks and/or tree stumps less than 12" tall and/or vertical ledges less than 12" tall and/or near vertical ledges or waterfalls less than 24" inches. Tire placement becomes more difficult. Can be steep.Read More about our Rating System
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.
White Rim is not an overly technical trail, but what it lacks in challenging obstacles it makes up for in long, strenuous driving. You will likely want to be in 4 wheel drive the whole time, and you will use low range several times throughout your trip. Bring plenty of fuel as even the shortest route, entering on Shafer Trail and exiting through Mineral Bottom Road, is over 90 miles of off-road driving, and you still need to make it to Moab for fuel. Completing the trail in one very long day is possible, but two days is much safer.
Flash floods may occur under certain weather conditions, and snow may close the route during the winter months. The water crossing at Upheaval Bottom fluctuates throughout the year. It may be too deep to cross at certain times. Even if it looks shallow enough, be sure to check the river bottom, as it is mostly sediment and clay, and can have poor traction. Recoveries on the White Rim Trail START at $1000, and can quickly get much higher in cost. A radio or satellite communicator would be a great item to bring, or better yet, go in a group. Proper recovery gear, including traction aids, shovels, and tow ropes or winches, should also be brought along.
Despite being in a National Park, do not forget that you are in the desert, and you may not see other travelers along the trail. Summer temperatures can easily reach 100°F during the day and fall to 50°F at night, and winter temperatures can be at freezing temperatures throughout the entire day and night. Bring enough food and water to make it through your trip; the park recommends drinking one gallon of water each day you are on the trail. During winter, all vehicles should carry chains. The White Rim has an abundance of wildlife, some of which can be dangerous to you and members of your group. Maintain a proper distance to keep yourself and the wildlife safe.
Last, remember that White Rim is a part of the Canyonlands National Park. Be respectful of the environment and stay on the designated route. Leaving the trail in your vehicle or on foot can damage the ecosystem, and ruin the scenery for others. Do not remove anything from the park, including rocks, bones, and plant life. White Rim is a fantastic trail, and it is in a national park. But do not take this trail lightly. Have a great time, but be prepared for the worst-case scenario.
1. Trailhead (0
The trailhead of White Rim is reached after completing either Shafer Trail or running Potash Road in reverse. Though Potash is less intimidating, it will take more time to reach the trailhead of White Rim than taking Shafer. Shafer gives you the advantage of being able to stop by and speak with the park rangers to receive current trail conditions, as well as to obtain your permit if you have not already. There is a vault toilet at the trailhead, and Shafer campsite can be found approximately one mile down Potash Road on the left. The next vault toilet is about 12 miles away.
This is not a well-defined hiking trail, so you'll have to look for the rock cairns to make your way to the edge of the canyon. The end of the trail offers a nice view of the Colorado River. Continue straight to stay on the White Rim Trail.
3. Narrow Cliffside Section (1.6
This cliffside drives lasts for about a mile and can be a bit intimidating, but no more so than Shafer Trail. Still, if it's too much for you, it's best to turn around. The White Rim won't get less intimidating.
4. Colorado River Overlook Trail - Continue Straight (3.12
This short hike leads to another view of the Colorado River. Continue straight to stay on the White Rim Trail.
After the pullout, it's a short hike to Musselman Arch. The arch is named after Ross Musselman, a rancher from Monticello. Musselman was an early promotor of Moab and all its natural beauty. For the safety of your group, do not attempt to cross any arches in the park. Shortly after the Musselman Arch, the trail gets a bit rough providing a taste of what's to come. Continue straight to stay on the White Rim Trail.
This is the beginning of Buck Canyon. You get to drive right along the edge. Continue straight to stay on the White Rim Trail.
16. Blind Crest (14.08
This climb is very short, but you cannot see if someone is on the other side. Take it slow. This won't be the only blind maneuver you will experience on White Rim.
17. Descent And Climb (14.45
This rocky descent and climb isn't too challenging.
18. Dip Into Wash (16.41
The trail dips down into a wash with Buck Canyon still on your left.
19. Buck Canyon Cliffside Wash (19.49
After a brief dip, you'll cross over a wash as you pass another finger of Buck Canyon. Afterward, the trail becomes reasonably flat for 1.5 miles, though the occasional bump will keep you from going too fast.
20. Blind Crest (21.07
This blind crest is short but still makes it difficult to see oncoming traffic.
This hiking trail is over 5 miles long and climbs 1,500 feet before reaching pavement in the Island in the Sky District. The trail was made as a WPA (Work Projects Administration) trail to employ workers during the American New Deal. For this reason, it is sometimes referred to as the Government Trail. Continue straight to stay on the White Rim Trail.
The Gooseberry Campsites have a vaulted toilet. The next toilet is about 10 miles away. Continue straight to stay on the White Rim Trail.
23. Hidden Shelf (24.05
There is a small shelf just before the sandy portion. It doesn't pose any challenge, but if you go blasting through, you'll definitely feel it. There is another brief flat stretch to follow.
24. Monument Basin - Continue Straight (26.68
If you're traveling in a group, this is a great spot for a photo. Wait here while they go ahead, driving along the lip of the canyon. Continue straight to stay on the White Rim Trail.
25. Short Descent (27.79
The trail takes a short 20° dip.
26. Short Descent (28.51
Another short 20° dip in the trail.
27. Lonesome City - Continue Straight (28.58
Nearby is likely the location of Lonesome City. In the summer of 1954, three men had set up camp while constructing roads for use in uranium mining. There is a faint hiking trail that travels west for about a mile, before reaching the roads that would take you to the mining claims. The trails are difficult to find, so the exact location is unknown. Continue straight to stay on the White Rim Trail.
28. White Crack Camp Intersection - Continue Straight (30.87
The trail to the left goes 1.4 miles to the White Crack Campsite, arguably the best campsite on all of the White Rim. There's also a short hike at the location as well as a vaulted toilet. The next toilet is about 8 miles away. Continue straight to stay on the White Rim Trail.
29. Vertigo Void - Continue Straight (33.69
This is another popular stop along White Rim. Many travelers will crawl to the edge of the undercut rock, lying on their stomachs and looking over the edge. Continue straight to stay on White Rim Trail.
30. Switchbacks (34.56
A switchback section starts here beginning with a short climb.
31. Switchbacks Continue (35.87
The switchbacks continue, as the road gets a bit more rough.
This hiking trail is 2.7 miles long ending at the intersection with Murphy Hogback Hiking Trail. You can make a loop that's about 10 miles long with the Murphy Hogback Hiking Trail, or hike to the pavement after 4.7 miles. Bikes are not allowed. Continue straight to stay on the White Rim Trail.
33. Murphy Hogback Climb (38.18
Murphy Hogback will no doubt be one of the most intense parts of your White Rim experience. This rocky climb seems to go on forever, all the while driving along a steep drop off. At the top of the climb, you'll make a right turn to the Murphy Hogback Campsites. Make sure no one is coming down before starting the climb because there isn't enough room for two vehicles. 4-low should also be considered mandatory here. Strap in, hold on, and enjoy the ride!
34. Murphy Hogback Camp A & B - Continue Straight (38.52
After completing the Murphy Hogback climb, you'll be rewarded with a nice rest area, including a vault toilet at the first of the Murphy Hogback campsites. Continue straight to stay on the White Rim Trail.
The second hiking trail near Murphy Hogback is 4.3 miles long and intersects with both Murphy Wash Hiking Trail and Murphy Point Hiking Trail. This is the other end of the 10-mile loop with Murphy Wash Hiking Trail from Waypoint 32. It's a 4.8-mile hike to the pavement in the Island in the Sky District. Continue straight to stay on the White Rim Trail.
36. Murphy Hogback Camp C - Continue Straight (38.78
This is the final campsite in the Murphy Hogback area and also the last vault toilet for 10 miles. Continue straight to stay on the White Rim Trail.
37. Rocky Steps (39.57
Shortly after the Murphy Hogback Campsites are a few rocky steps. With proper clearance, they are easily driven over.
This is a great spot to take a break and enjoy a nice view of Candlestick Tower. Continue straight to stay on the White Rim Trail.
39. Second Candlestick Tower Viewpoint - Continue Straight (42.59
Another great spot to observe Candlestick Tower, this time stopped along Soda Springs Canyon. Continue straight to stay on the White Rim Trail.
40. Bumpy Canyon Drive (43.22
A bumpy stretch of the trail takes you back along Soda Springs Canyon.
41. Turk's Head View - Continue Straight (46.22
Directly to your left and across the Green River is Turk's Head, with the petroglyphs and ruins visible on the other side of the river. There are several wider sections coming up allowing you to pull over and walk to the rim for a better look. Continue straight to stay on the White Rim Trail.
42. Blind Crest (47.04
There is another blind crest with a small shelf at the end.
This lone campsite is in a nice location across from Stillwater Canyon. As with all campsites, you will find a vault toilet here. Your next one will be in about 10 miles. Continue straight to stay on the White Rim Trail.
On the left you'll find Holman Slot; a small slot entrance into Holman Canyon. While you can't venture too far into the slot, it does make for a nice side adventure. Just make sure you can get out before going in. On the right is Wilhite Hiking Trail. The trail is just under 6 miles long and climbs about 1,500 feet where it ends at Island in the Sky pavement. Continue straight to stay on the White Rim Trail.
45. Rocky Section (56.35
After this rough section, much of the remainder of White Rim will be along the Green River.
46. Narrow Road Above The Green River (58.49
The track here is narrow and passing will be difficult. But the views of the Green River below are worth it.
47. Potato Bottom Camp A - Continue Straight (59.11
This is the first of the Potato Bottom campsites. It boasts a large tree for shade and its own vault toilet. Continue straight to stay on the White Rim Trail.
48. Potato Bottom Camp B & C - Continue Straight (59.76
These are the last two campsites of Potato Bottom. The next vault toilet will be in about 4 miles. Continue straight to stay on the White Rim Trail.
49. Hardscrabble (60.25
This is the beginning of Hardscrabble; a series of narrow and steep switchbacks. 4-low is highly recommended here for both vehicle performance and to keep from speeding around blind corners.
50. Pullout - Turn Right (60.95
A pullout offers a sweeping view of the Green River. Afterward, turn right to continue climbing the Hardscrabble switchbacks.
There is a small pullout where you can park if you'd like to hike the Fort Bottom Ruin Trail. The trail goes for about 1.5 miles before reaching the Fort Bottom Ruin, an Anasazi structure believed to be about 1,000 years old. You can continue the hike another 0.7 miles to Outlaw Cabin, which was built in 1895. Continue straight to stay on the White Rim Trail.
52. Hardscrabble Camp A & B - Continue Straight (63.39
The Hardscrabble campsites can be reached by turning left at the intersection. These campsites share a vault toilet. The last toilet on White Rim is a little over 2 miles away. Continue straight to stay on the White Rim Trail.
53. Small Tight Switchbacks (64.13
This stretch of narrow trail is more stressful for full-sized vehicles.
Upheaval Canyon Hiking Trail is 3.7 miles long and intersects with the 7.9-mile long Syncline Loop Hiking Trail. It's a 5.3-mile hike to reach the Upheaval Crater and a 6.9-mile hike to pavement. The crater is believed to have been caused by a meteorite strike. Continue straight to stay on the White Rim Trail.
55. Upheaval Bottom (64.76
This is the most likely place for you to have trouble on your journey, and also where you might need to turn around. This tributary feeds into the Green River. Depending on the time of year and recent rainfalls, it can be quite deep. Be sure to check the water depth for yourself before determining if you should attempt crossing it. The river bed is not always suitable for crossing either, as it is comprised of slick clay and silt. Bring traction aids, or better yet, another vehicle in case you end up getting stuck.
Due to all of the concerns presented at this obstacle, you'll need to make some decisions before heading out. Contacting the park rangers and getting current conditions of the water crossing before embarking is a smart move. If you attempt to complete White Rim in one day and find Upheaval impassible, you will be in for a long and dangerous drive at night to get out. If you are unsure about Upheaval, running White Rim in reverse may be a better choice as it's easier to turn around after 21 miles (including Mineral Bottom) than after 70 miles (including Shafer). Last, for all reasons mentioned, the crossing at Upheaval is a great excuse to reserve a campsite and make this a multi-day journey with some friends.
When you do cross the river, you will want to hug the left side to reach the opposite bank at Waypoint 56.
56. Upheaval Bottom Crossing (64.87
After crossing the river once, you'll have to do it a second time. Don't worry though, the second crossing is much easier, shorter, shallower, and has a better river bed.
57. Taylor Canyon Trailhead - Turn Left (65.41
Taylor Canyon is another out-and-back offshoot of White Rim, similar to Lathrop Canyon. Turn right at the intersection to take it, or to reach the campsite which is a 4.6-mile drive up the road. Turn left to continue on the White Rim Trail.
58. Labyrinth Camp - Stay Right (65.53
The Labyrinth campsites and their vault toilets are the last on White Rim. Turn left for the campsites, or stay right to continue on the White Rim Trail.
59. Narrow Cliffside Stretch (65.75
This is the final intimidating part of White Rim (before exiting onto Mineral Bottom) because it is narrow and has some rocky outcroppings. But it's still a fun drive. Don't worry, you're almost done!
60. Canyonlands Boundary/Gate (67.9
From this point on you are officially out of Canyonlands National Park. If you saw minivans at Labyrinth or Taylor Canyon, they most certainly entered the park from here.
61. End (71.85
You did it! You've officially completed the White Rim Trail! Granted, you still need to turn right onto Mineral Bottom Road to get back to Moab, but Mineral Bottom's switchbacks are less intimidating than the ones you did on Shafer Trail. Now, the only question you have to ask yourself is, when will you be coming back?
There are twenty individual campsites throughout ten areas along the White Rim Trail. Each area has a vault toilet. The sites are usually spaced far enough apart to stay out of earshot and visibility from each other. Each site can accommodate up to 3 vehicles and 15 people. Campfires are not permitted. There is no potable water at the sites, so bring an adequate amount. Remember that while on the White Rim Trail, all travelers must stay at designated campsites only. Even if stranded along White Rim, dispersed camping is not allowed. Island in the Sky District takes reservations up to 4 months in advance. Additionally, Canyonlands National Park is a dark sky location, with no light pollution. On clear nights, you can expect amazing views of the stars.
White Rim Trail campsites:
- Waypoint 1: Shafer
The Shafer campsite is not actually on White Rim, but instead about one mile up Potash Road. There is one site, and it is surrounded by canyon walls that can be gorgeous during sunrise and sunset. Unfortunately, it has its drawbacks. Being so close to the end of Shafer trail and the trailhead of White Rim, many other travelers will pass by, making use of the toilets, and using up the toilet paper. You may also have drivers pass by early in the morning or late at night, and their headlights and engine noise may be disruptive. But, if you are looking to start White Rim early in the morning, spending the night before here may be a good choice.
- Waypoints 12 and 13: Airport
There are four campsites in front of Airport Tower: A, B, C, and D. The spacing between the sites is generous, giving you and your group plenty of privacy, making these sites a great choice for travelers in large groups. Sites A and B share a toilet as do sites C and D. Sites B and C are closer to the road but also closer to the toilet. Users of sites A and D will be in for a hike to use their shared toilets. Unfortunately, the wide-open space also means no shade at all. They can be windy at times. The campground is also very rocky, which will be of no consequence for those camping in or on their vehicles. Tent campers could be in for a rough night.
- Waypoint 22: Gooseberry
Gooseberry has two campsites: A and B. Site A provides a little shade thanks to some juniper trees. It is close to the edge of the canyon, so be sure to make camp during daylight hours for safety reasons. Site B is larger and provides more privacy and is also closer to the shared toilet. Both sites can be windy.
- Waypoint 28: White Crack
White Crack is known as one of, if not the best campsite in all of Canyonlands. It’s a single site with amazing views and pure solitude. There is also some shade provided by a small patch of trees. The site is reached after driving along a 1.4-mile spur off Waypoint 28. This is the southernmost point you can drive in the Island in the Sky District of the park and is about halfway through White Rim. If there is any negative point to this site, it is that there is a small parking area near a hiking trail, where other travelers may stop by. But, they should all be gone by sunset. Because of all this site had to offer, it is often the first booked site. If you want to stay here, reserve it as early as you can. Even at 4 months out, which is the earliest you can reserve the site, it is often the first campsite taken.
- Waypoints 34 and 36: Murphy Hogback
Immediately after completing the demanding climb of Murphy Hogback, you will find Murphy Hogback Campsites A, B, and C. Situated atop the mesa, sites A and C offer incredible views but at the cost of potential wind. Site A is about as close to the cliff edge as you’re going to get at any site, so set up your site when you have adequate sunlight. Site B will have less wind exposure than A and C and is close to the Murphy Hogback Hiking Trail. The toilet is shared between sites A and B, though it is closer to A. Site C has a few trees as well and its own toilet and boasts an amazing view after a short walk from the site. All of the sites are well spaced, despite being somewhat close together. While it is great to relax at camp after tackling the climb, you’ll likely have many other park-goers taking a break there as well after completing the climb, or stopping to scope out the descent, if traveling in the other direction. This also means the toilets may be more used than most.
- Waypoint 43: Candlestick
With Candlestick Tower dominating the skyline, this single campsite is located across the road from Stillwater Canyon. It’s not likely to be busy, so you’ll have the view of the canyon all to yourself at sunset. The site is wide open with ample space and has its own toilet just a short walk away.
- Waypoints 47 and 48: Potato Bottom
Depending on the time of year and a little bit of luck, the sites of Potato Bottom can be great. Site A has a tree large enough to easily shade one or two vehicles, making it a wonderful retreat from the sun. It has its own toilet, but it’s also the closest one to the road, so it may be used by others as well. This site is also the most likely to be muddy after a rainfall. Site B has trees as well, and is a little further off the road, giving you a little more privacy. It shares a toilet with site C and will be a little less muddy. Site C has lots of trees, is the most private, and the least likely to be muddy after rain. Despite being close, accessing the Green River from the camps is difficult. Even if you do make it to the river, don’t expect any beaches to relax on. These sites can be buggy from late spring to early fall, and even the least muddy of sites can still be bothersome. Despite being some of the few sites without expansive views, the cliffs to the east will light up red at sunset. These campsites are a bit of a gamble, but during the right season and weather conditions, they’re certainly worth it. Additionally, both Potato Bottom and Hardscrabble are reasonably close to the water crossing of Upheaval Bottom, allowing you to scope it out the following morning and, if need be, turn back.
- Waypoint 52: Hardscrabble
Just like Potato Bottom, the campsites of Hardscrabble are located along the Green River. There are 2 sites, A and B, each with some trees and their own toilet. The toilet for site B is a bit of a distance away, but the site is close enough to the river that you may be able to find a path through the brush and enjoy a small beach. Both sites can also be muddy after rainfall. Just like Potato Bottom, Hardscrabble is close to the water crossing of Upheaval Bottom, allowing you to scope it out the following morning and, if need be, turn back.
- Waypoint 57: Taylor
This single site is found about 4.6 miles up Taylor Canyon Road, and well away from White Rim. Along with views of the nearby Moses and Zeus rock formations, you can expect to have a peaceful, quiet night. During the day though, it can be a busy area with hikers and climbers passing through, who you can watch take on the nearby pinnacles. The site might be a bit cramped for 3 vehicles, but it’s flat.
- Waypoint 58: Labyrinth
Sites A and B of Labyrinth are the last two designated campsites along White Rim. B is the nicer of the two, with more level ground and is situated above the river with better views. There are no trees. Both sites share a toilet. After another 2.4 miles, you officially exit the park at Waypoint 59. From that point on, dispersed camping is allowed, if you can find it.
If you plan on running the White Rim Trail in the most common direction, clockwise/east to west, you can reach the trailhead via either completing Shafer Trail in full, or by running Potash Road in the reverse direction.
If you choose to run White Rim in counterclockwise, you must enter via Mineral Bottom Road to Waypoint 20.
Gorgeous trail that should be on everyone’s bucket list. Even planning a trip for May in November all the campsites were already booked so beware if that’s your intent. I was able to get a day pass so I came in via Shafer and drove about half of it, turning around before the hogback. Good thing I wasn’t planning to do the whole trail after all since the park service said it’s impassible at upheaval wash right now. Returned via Potash for an amazing day.
Ran the White Rim clockwise, entering via Potash Road as Shafer Trail was closed due to snow/ice. There was a lot of rain the day before, but the weather was clear both days we were on the trail.
As described, the road is not very technical, but there are a number of moderately frightening parts with dangerous drop offs within a few feet of the road. We were able to run the entire road in 2WD in our 2006 Toyota Sequoia (2" lift on 33" KO2s), even going up Murphy Hogback and Hardscrabble. Despite the recent rains, there was no water crossing at Upheaval Bottom; only one or two little puddles. We were expecting a lot more mud all along the trail, but it seems to dry up rapidly.
Parts of the trail are very rocky; we aired down to ~25 PSI which helped smooth things out, but could have probably gone a tad lower for our own comfort.
Views were incredible the whole trip. We camped at Whitecrack, and while it was cold and windy in the evening, the wind seemed to die down at night. If we do the trail again we'd probably spend two nights, and do more day hikes and exploring along the way. One night felt a little rushed.
The road was in the best condition we have ever seen it. We also took time to do the two main side trails, spending a total of three days on the trail. This should be on every off-roader's/Overlander's bucket list. It really is one of the most breathtaking places that you will ever visit.
Did the White Rim from 10/25-10/27. We did it backwards (starting from Mineral Bottom) and camped the first night at Murphy A. The first day was relatively easy; in fact, the whole trail was pretty tame for the most part. 4wd was not even totally necessary in my opinion, I used 4lo for the big hills (Hardscrabble and Murphy) but otherwise 4wd didn't seem super necessary. Aired down to 20 and that was perfect for a smooth ride. Back to the first day: there was a decent amount of mud but nothing even close to impenetrable. Hardscrabble was a decent descent but nothing too crazy. Murphy A/C are the best campgrounds on that side in my opinion. Second day we went to Gooseberry B (I think A is better) with a stop at White Crack. That day was also pretty chill. The last day we came out on Potash (Schafer was closed for maintenance) and I think this was the hardest day, only because there was more slick rock and it was a bumpier ride but nothing that a stock clearance car couldn't handle. Overall an awesome and pretty mild trail, I would definitely do it in at least 2 days, I was glad we did it in 3 overall. Weather was cold but nice except for one night when we had some inclement wind/rain.
Done after a major flooding and restoration of parts of the west end of the trail Hardscrabble ascent and descent were laden with large boulders and washouts making this part of the trail harder than the moderate rating. Lockers highly recommended.
open via Potash or Shafer Trail Road only; closed via Mineral Bottom Road. Expect delays and large equipment on the west side as road crew makes repairs (October 11-14 and 17-20). Exercise caution and expect more difficult than normal driving conditions due to mud and washouts
An absolutely incredible experience that everyone should do. I will do this again as well. We ran the trail in reverse, starting by going down the Mineral Bottom Switchbacks and ending at the Schafer switchbacks. Our permit was for the Labryinth campsite so we had a really short first day and a really long second day on the trail. However, even with Saturday mountain bike traffic it is definitely doable in one day, even with taking time for lunch and pictures. As we went down the Mineral Bottom Switchbacks we got pounded by a monsoon thunderstorm. This part of the trail can be snotty and slick when it was as wet as it was but was no problem for the vehicles we had with mud tires and 4WD.
Starting out at around 8am the next day, the first obstacle we encountered was the wash crossing. This was very soft and muddy, but nothing a little throttle couldn't take care of. The next obstacle after that was Hardscrabble Hill (going down in our direction) and I saw no issues at all. I don't know if the NPS ran a tractor over it after the review on 9/17/22, but any vehicle with 4Lo will easily make it down this. The only other part worth mentioning in all the miles is the Murphy Hogback. Going in the direction we went, there's a steep yet short climb to the top of the hill where the campsites are, and then the descent is no problem at all in 4Lo. Just stop at the top and make sure no one is coming up. That would be a problem
All in all, this is an easy trail, just super long. However, it is worth every minute and every mile
Truly an incredible trail! Epic views in every direction and the trail is technical and fun. The stars were indescribably beautiful. Spent two nights along the trail.
Shafer trail to Gooseberry camp took 4 hours with multiple stops for vistas and short walks. This section of the trail is in very good condition and easy.
Gooseberry to Hardscrabble camp took 6 hours with just a couple stops for vistas. Fairly straightforward and easy til the Murphy Hogback climb, then it gets more technical. The Murphy section is steep and rocky but nothing a stock vehicle in 4lo couldn’t easily do. Full size vehicles will feel a bit big. The potato bottoms were very muddy but not a problem. Recent rain would definitely change that status quickly. Now for Hardscrabble Hill. From the NPS website “Due to recent storms Hardscrabble hill is passable to modified 4wd vehicles with experienced drivers and spotters”. Here’s my take on it…..This section of the trail took some damage from a storm about a month ago. There are many deep washed out ruts requiring high clearance or stacking rocks if you don’t have the clearance. Expect steep, narrow and washed out shelf sections with loose rocks, deep ruts, and tight corners. The North side of the hill has the most damage. Vehicles with 4lo and high clearance only. I took the trail clockwise and definitely think that is the easier direction. Upheaval wash was muddy but not a problem. Rain would change that very quickly. The rest of the trail was mellow and easy. Hardscrabble camp to the top of mineral bottom took a little less than 2 hours.
I don’t know if this trail was rated a 3 only if the wash is full but it is now a solid 3 or 3+ even when dry due to the trail damage. If you’re comfortable on 4’s and up, then this will be fun and no problem. If 3’s are your max, then this will be a challenge but still fun. I’m gonna say this trail rating is spot on but it is definitely harder than it was before the trail damage.
We had a permit to run White Rim Trail on August 27th and 28th, seven days after what is now called Moab's 100 year flood. The National Park Service was excellent at communicating both by phone and email. We were told to expect washouts, water crossings and impassable water conditions at Upheaval Wash. Even though I wheel a full size Chevy Silverado we decided to go for it fully prepared for it to be an out and back for us. I am so glad we did not waste our permit. The trail turned out to be everything I hoped it would be. The first 35 miles were as easy as they should be. Mostly graded road. It did not get interesting until Murphy Hogback. Even there it was not a big deal. Being in a full size rig we do spot each other a lot. There were a few narrow washouts but nothing we were not comfortable with. Ironically, at the top of Murphys I hit a cell signal and got an email from NPS saying Upheaval Canyon was passable for modified vehicles and experienced drivers. The day before our trip a NPS Ranger told us a lot of permit holders canceled because of the flood conditions. Therefore it was almost like having a National Park all to ourselves. We camped at Hardscrabble B Saturday night. It was awesome. The next morning started off with Hardscrabble Trail section. Now we were finally doing some 4wheeling. Classic Moab red rock trail with mind blowing scenery. Enough obstacles and narrow washouts to be careful with in a full size rig but no problems at all. The big surprise was upheaval wash, when we got there it was DRY! We barely got mud on the tires. We were able to complete the entire trail. This was a great trail run. It exemplifies why Moab, UT is the 4wd mecca of the United States. It is some of the most beautiful country I have ever seen and you can off road it at all levels. I would say the rating of 3 is spot on. We did it with washouts after a giant storm and still had no difficulty. But I am always hesitant to give ratings. I have wheeled Jeeps and trucks for many years, YMMV. But even after all the flood hype it was still a 3 for us. I highly recommend this trail.
"Recent storms have caused heavy rain and flooding in the park. This may impact your trip, particularly if you plan to venture into the backcountry.
Waypoint 55: The White Rim Road at Upheaval Wash (between Hardscrabble and Labyrinth) is impassable. Expect deep mud, soft sand and heavily eroded sections between Potato Bottom and Mineral Bottom.
For those with backcountry reservations, please call the Backcountry Permit Office as recent washouts and road conditions may impact your trip.
Call 435-259-4351 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Stay safe out there!"
Photo: NPS/Angela Sowa
Just finished the trail over a period of 2 days and 1 night. Trail was a solid 3 with some sections that are slightly harder. We took a 3rd gen Tacoma with stock suspension and 32" tires. The truck handled it with no issue. We stayed at Murphy A and it offered great sunrise and sunset views. There was also enough of a breeze to stay comfortable. We didn't have any adverse weather, water crossings to deal with, and the sandy/muddy areas weren't too deep. So the time of year you go may affect the difficulty of the trail. Surprisingly there were not a lot of people on the trail. It felt like we were the only ones out there most of the time.
What a great trail, you experience a little bit of everything. The landscape and views were amazing. We ran it in a stock ‘21 Rubicon and didn’t have any issues.
Murphy’s was daunting both up and down and the switchbacks were a thrill.
We did it in 2 days and camped at Murphy’s site B. All in all couldn’t be more thrilled with the adventure.
I think a 3 is a bit optimistic for some people whom may be newer to driving off-road. We did the run in 1 day with a LR3 lifted on 33" KO2. There were some scary climbs, but nothing the LR3 could not do (did not even chirp the tires hehe). Make sure you air down, and it will be ok!
Offer water to passing cyclists! We ran into one whom had a tumble down hardscrabble and spilled half of their water.
In my mind, this is the mothership of all trails. Three days is about perfect for it with hiking and offshoots. The Western half takes more time, keep it in mind when planning the camping spots. White Crack is the best one (hard to get though) - it sits about a mile away from the road, so it's remote and private.
From the NPS: White Rim Road 4WD: open, expect winter conditions - snow and ice can create hazardous driving conditions on some terrain. Ice may remain in shaded sections long after it has snowed. Anticipate some rough sections, washouts, and areas of rockfall that must be negotiated after summer storms. Murphy Hogback and Hardscrabble Hill are currently not recommended for 4WD vans and similar vehicles due to erosion impact. A recent rockslide on the Lathrop Road to the Lathrop Day Use Area has made this road difficult - the Lathrop Road is currently NOT recommended for stock 4WD vehicles or inexperienced drivers.
After months of planning and hype, we finally did the White Rim Trail over the course of 2 days and 2 nights. In short, it was an AMAZING trail, and (in my opinion) one of the most beautiful places I've ever been. To make things even better, over the entire course of our trip along the White Rim, we only encountered 3 other vehicles and maybe 6 people in total. Pretty incredible considering we were in a National Park near peak tourist season.
If you're considering whether or not to do the White Rim Trail .... I would HIGHLY recommend it.
In terms of difficulty, there are a few small challenges, but overall I would say nothing that a stock high clearance 4x4 couldn't handle.
We took the route backwards from Mineral Bottom Road and the views were out of this world. We did it in 1 night, but it took us longer than the 10hrs travel time on this site, if I did it again I would take two nights.
The trail was a solid 3 the way we went with a couple of decent obstacles.
From NPS: White Rim Road 4WD: open, expect rough sections, washouts, and areas of rockfall that must be negotiated after recent storms. Murphy Hogback not currently recommended for 4WD vans and similar vehicles.
With massive damage from summer monsoons, this is much harder than it normally is. I do not recommend this to novice drivers at this time. Please watch the attached video, and especially our part 2 which shows much of the trail damage.
What was supposed to be a two day trip got compressed into one. While it is completely doable in one day, it left little time to explore.
We ran it clockwise and overall it was fairly easy and not too technical of a trail. Ended up with a little more than half a tank of gas and would have had enough if we had needed to reverse course at the end.
There were no deep water crossings at this time, however there were about a dozen mud puddles about 4-6" deep.
Just incredible. Views are among the best for me. Lots of challenges and I continue to appreciate a vehicle with more ability than the driver, although I am catching up. Through a strange turn of events I did this trail in both directions and they are equally challenging. The toughest was following the trail after dark as my time had expired. Light bar and supplemental all were used as needed. Top of steep inclines to immediate turns mean keep safety first.
Wow! What a trip! Completed in my leveled F150 pulling a Boreas XT trailer and a friend’s F150 with a Hallmark slide in camper. Having the trailer made certain obstacles such as the Hogback and Hardscrabble more challenging but everything was doable.
We completed the trail in 2 and a half days and camped in Murphy Hogback A and Hardscrabble A. We loved both of those sites. Murphy has incredible 360 degree views with a spectacular cliff side to sit and look out from. Hardscrabble A was well off the road and right next to the river which allowed for a cooling dip after getting off the trail. No bugs in October but I imagine they could be bad earlier in the year.
We loved this trail and will definitely be back.
This was our second time doing the White Rim Trail, and first time camping out on it. While it is definitely doable in one day, two days is more appropriate, and much more relaxing and gave us more time for exploring.
Though we had no difficulty crossing Upheaval Bottom (Waypoint 56) last year, this time we ran into some trouble, and became stuck for some time. Though we ultimately made it out just fine, we recommend taking the advice we give in our write up to ensure you have a great time, and no problems.
Otherwise, it's a fantastic trip that we recommend for anyone who feels up for the challenge. You won't be disappointed.
This is a fantastic trail that should be on your list of trails to run. I was in Tacoma with a mild lift, 33” tires, and loaded for camping but most stock SUVs and trucks with decent ground clearance should be able to easily run this trail. Things like Subarus might have problems with clearance in some areas. Not to say you couldn’t do it, but you might hear some unnatural noises coming from underneath. There are a few spots that I would recommend 4-low, mainly Murphy Hogback and the switchbacks. Other than that, it’s a fairly straightforward trail with incredible views and camping. The trail is doable in a day but I would highly recommend two days. We camped at White Crack campground and the views overlooking the Needles and Maze districts were incredible.
This is White Rim in a Day. Totally do-able, but intense. The relay came out of my LED wiring harness at some point, so we had to drive back down the hill to Moab in the dark! It was an amazing challenge and inspired up to write up the trail in 2020.
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Jasmine & Jon Hughes
Mapping Crew - Washington
Centered in the pinnacle of the Pacific NW and growing up cruising around the small town of Quilcene, Jasmine grew with a fascination and passion for outdoors and travel, many of those adventures fueled by the family's 1998 Jeep Cherokee.
Years later, photography grew as a way to capture and share the adventures being had. After a road trip from Seattle to San Diego in a 1996 Jetta, a 4WD truck would be the next step in going further in photographing the wild places of the West. In December of 2016, a manual 1989 Toyota Pickup was purchased and those dreams would continue to flourish.
Jon grew up in a small Wisconsin town. In 2004, his parents decided to purchase a new Jeep LJ. They picked the LJ because of the additional room, as it would be used for a road trip to Florida. After joining the navy, the family Jeep followed Jon down to Georgia and became his own. It took him to Virginia, and then Washington. It wasn't until Washington that things started to happen for Jon and his Jeep.
Jasmine, now his wife, got him more interested in hiking, and ultimately overlanding. Over time, Jon and Jasmine realized that they wanted to use the Jeep to tackle harder trails, and spend weekends in ORV parks. It was through this decision that the mostly stock Jeep received a refreshing upgrade after 15 years of driving. Jon usually drives the Jeep when the trail is in question, and to allow Jasmine to document the trails. Currently, Jon has been in 26 states with the Jeep, via family trips and his time in the navy. Jon hopes to travel to every state with his Jeep, including Alaska and Hawaii.
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