White Rim Road

The White Rim Road is a jeep road running through the Island in the Sky region of Canyonlands, along a bench mostly of white sandstone that separates the island — a raised plateau at about 6000′ — from the Colorado and Green rivers at 4000′ or so. Along with some dirt roads outside the park and a few miles of pavement, the road forms a circuit of about 100 miles. On Sunday and Monday I biked a variation of this route, going through Long Canyon and the Potash road along the Colorado to bypass the closed-at-the-time Shafer trail which is the normal start of the trip, dropping into the white rim from the Canyonlands visitor center. This increased the ride length to about 112 miles.

These were long days, though by starting early and finishing late I was never too pressed for time and was able to get a lot of sightseeing and some light hiking in. Most people spend more time on the route, either driving or mountain biking with a support car or three. Biking the road self supported I didn’t have this option, and since there are no water sources on the trail two days is about the upper limit on time without taking several gallons of water along. I packed nearly two gallons on the bike’s frame and despite temperatures in the 60s went through nearly all of it.

From the initial drop into Long Canyon until the climb out of Horsethief 90 some miles later, the scenery was spectacular throughout. Cliffs, canyons, towers, mesas, buttes, plains just filling your vision at all times. Many times hard to focus on the road, which is fortunately smooth and easy for almost the entire route.

Especially nice was to follow the Colorado along, then join up with the Green, heading upriver from the confluence of the two. Next week I’ll be floating this section of the Green down to the confluence, to see this same country from a different angle.

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