GUIDE TO: MOUNTAIN BIKING IN CANYONLANDS NATIONAL PARK
Do you want to do a 100 mile, four day mountain bike trip through some of the most beautiful canyon country in existence? If you answered yes, then a trip on the White Rim Trail in Canyonlands National Park in Utah is an adventure that you should seriously consider. The White Rim is a 4WD (four-wheel drive) road that offers fun riding for all skill levels and endless views of a dramatic, weathered, desert landscape. There are a handful of designated campsites along the trail that offer solitude and the luxury of pit toilets. Executing a trip like this may seem daunting, but with a little planning and foresight you can experience the glory of the White Rim with relative ease. Here are some essential tips for a successful trip. – @benjamin_kraushaar
Permits: Many guiding companies offer fully catered White Rim expeditions. If you can afford to hire a guide service, for nearly $1,000 you can do the White Rim without personally obtaining permits and gear. A much cheaper alternative is to plan the trip without hiring a guide service. The first step in this process is obtaining a permit. There is heavy competition for permits, and securing the dates you want requires obtaining them approximately 14 weeks in advance. If you plan early, you can easily put together a wonderful trip. Click here to access the permitting system and get a head start.
Time of Year: Plan a trip for spring or fall. Doing the White Rim mid-summer would be miserably hot. I have done the White Rim seven times but have always avoided the hottest time of the year.
Vehicle: Ok, so you have a permit! Nice work. Now you must start planning for the trip. The next step is to find a friend with a 4WD vehicle who is willing to drive. Overall the White Rim is relatively mellow but there are a few sections that require 4WD and high clearance. A small truck works great for carrying gear, water and food.
Bikes: Really any mountain bike should be fine for the White Rim as long as it’s in fine working order. Full suspension rides are by no means essential for the trail but do offer some nice relief after a long day in the saddle.
Clothing: Be prepared for all kinds of weather. Although rare, heavy rain storms in the desert can make for a wet and cold experience for the ill-prepared. Be ready to ride in 100 degree heat or near freezing rain. The weather is generally amazing in the spring or fall, but it can also be hazardous.
Water/Food: Having enough water (about 1 gallon per person per day) is one of the most important considerations for the trip. There are no water sources along the trail, so you must bring all your own water. Dehydration is the desert can be seriously dangerous. When riding all day, it is also important to stay properly fueled. A Munk Pack offers a great mid-ride boost!
Have Fun: The most important tip I can offer is to have as much fun as possible. Bring some camp games (bocce ball is my favorite) and a cooler full of cold beverages. Along the trail there are a number of great side hikes as well as a very beautiful slot canyon to explore. Just make sure that you leave no trace, do not disturb any cryptobiotic soil and obey park rules and regulations. We want to ensure that the White Rim remains pristine for people to enjoy for a long time.