White Rim Road

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9 minutes, 36 seconds

Whether you are biking or driving, be prepared for your backcountry trip on the White Rim Road in Canyonlands National Park. Helpful tips and advice provided in this video will help you plan your trip and Leave No Trace while out in these pristine areas.

A white Jeep drives along a backcountry road with canyon towers behind it
Driving the White Rim Road

NPS/Rhodes Smartt

The 100-mile White Rim Road loops around and below the Island in the Sky mesa top and provides expansive views of the surrounding area. Four-wheel-drive trips usually take two to three days, and mountain bike trips usually take three to four days.

Under favorable weather conditions, the White Rim Road is moderately difficult for high-clearance, four-wheel-drive vehicles. The steep, exposed sections of the Shafer Trail, Lathrop Canyon Road, Murphy Hogback, Hardscrabble Hill, and the Mineral Bottom switchbacks make the White Rim loop a challenging mountain bike ride, and require extreme caution for both vehicles and bikes during periods of inclement weather. During high water conditions on the Green River, sections of road on the west side can flood, making a complete loop impossible. Check current road conditions.

Things to Know

  • Four-wheel-drive vehicles, motorbikes, and bicycles (including e-bikes) are allowed on the White Rim Road.
  • ATVs, UTVs, and OHVs are not permitted.
  • Generators are not allowed.
  • All vehicles and bikes must remain on designated roads.
  • Your vehicle must have high-clearance, four-wheel drive (low range) on the White Rim Road.
  • All vehicles and motorbikes must be registered and operated by a licensed driver. Motorbikes must be equipped and licensed for interstate travel.
  • Pets are not permitted, even in vehicles.
  • Fires are not permitted.
  • Please ensure all riders possess adequate levels of physical fitness prior to all trips, and are experienced enough to mitigate potential challenges and safety issues should they arise.


All trips along the White Rim require a permit.

Overnight Permits

An overnight permit is required for all overnight trips along the White Rim.

In spring and fall, demand for overnight permits frequently exceeds the number available. If you plan to visit Canyonlands during these seasons, you should make reservations well in advance.

Day-Use Permits

All vehicles, motorbikes, and bicyclists must have a day-use permit for single day trips on the White Rim. Overnight trips do not need an additional day-use permit.

If your trip plan does not pass by a visitor center or requires an early start (before normal business hours), you must obtain a day-use permit online the day before.

Protect Your Park, Protect Yourself

Drive Carefully!
A high-clearance, four-wheel-drive vehicle (low range) is required for the White Rim Road. Towing charges are very expensive. People caught in the backcountry with disabled vehicles can expect towing fees in excess of $1,000.

Come Prepared.
The White Rim Road has long rocky stretches, deep sand, and little shade. Bring at least 1 gallon (4 L) of water per person, per day — more if you'll be active. Plan for a minimum of 10-12 hours of driving or cycling.

Keep off the Arches.
To promote visitor safety and the opportunity to view natural features undisturbed, climbing, scrambling, walking or standing upon, or rappelling off any arch is prohibited in the park.

There is no potable water along the White Rim Road. For mountain bike trips, we highly recommend a four-wheel-drive support vehicle to carry water and equipment.



Bicyclists and four-wheel drivers must have a permit for a designated campsite. There are 20 individual campsites arranged in 10 camping areas. When there is more than one campsite at a location, they are generally positioned to be out of earshot and, as much as possible, sight of each other.

Each campsite accommodates up to 15 people and 3 vehicles. Motorbikes and trailers are considered vehicles for these group size limits. Keep all camp activities within the post that mark the campsite boundaries. Campfires are not permitted.

Camping Area
(traveling Clockwise)
Distance From Visitor Center (miles) Estimated Drive Time from Visitor Center (hours) Number of Sites Toilets
Shafer 7 30 min 1 1
Airport (A-D) 19 1.5 hours 4 2
Gooseberry (A,B) 30 3 hours 2 1
White Crack 39 4 hours 1 1
Murphy Hogback (A-C) 45 5.5 hours 3 2
Candlestick 55 7 hours 1 1
Potato Bottom (A-C) 66 8.5 hours 3 2
Hardscrabble (A,B) 70 9.5 hours 2 2
Labyrinth (A,B) 72 10 hours 2 1
Taylor 77 11 hours 1 1


Check out the campsite map below. You can also print an Island in the Sky district roads and trails map from our publications page.


Last updated: March 29, 2024

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Moab, UT 84532



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