The White Rim Road ~ Island in the Sky, Canyonlands National Park, UT


The Road down to the White Rim Trail, Canyonlands NP, Island In The Sky, Utah

Occasionally I meet up with a friend of mine (Norm) and we go on a little adventure together, and in October 2013 we decided to do The White Rim Road.


If you’ve ever been to the Island-in-the-Sky section of Canyonlands National Park near Moab, Utah, you may have looked down on The White Rim Road, which is a 100-mile-long unpaved four-wheel drive road that traverses the top of the White Rim Sandstone formation below the Island in the Sky mesa.


We did this in my friends Land Cruiser and it took three days and two nights, with camping by permit only. There are some scary parts (serious four wheel enthusiasts will laugh at that comment, but it’s all relevant), and it certainly isn’t for anyone afraid of heights as you can tell from the above image. That is the Schafer Trail and it’s the road that drops down from Island in the Sky to the White Rim. The rest isn’t that big of a drop, with the exception of coming back up again at Mineral Road which is just as steep. In some sections of the White Rim Road there are some tricky traverses over some hogbacks, and a narrow section along the river. We had a couple of scary moments, one of them which was at Hardscrabble (more on that below).


If you’d like to watch the video I made of this little adventure, click here: (I have some spelling errors in the video, please just ignore them).


Heading Down the Schafer Trail – It’s only wide enough for one vehicle with very tight switchbacks.

Very tight switchbacksWhiteRimOct2013_007


First night in camp, and a View of The Needles Section of Canyonlands National Park in the distance (it’s those pointy rocks that look so small, but are huge when you are at them).


Day two, a very hazy view of The Needles district of Canyonland National Park.


A short but very sweet slot canyon, and some interesting erosion along the White Rim with the LaSal Mountains in the background.

UtahOct2013 (151)WhiteRimOct2013_048Erosion at work along the White Rim Trail.



The Hogback Ridge, and views from camp on night two which was at the top of the hogback.

The Hogback. Our camp for night two is at the top of this. This is a two way road by the way...View from camp Murphy Hogback.Sunrise on day two.


On the final day we had to drive over Hardscrabble, and while we were going up one of these rough, very narrow sections, with a sheer drop-off on one side, the gear on Norm’s Land Cruiser jumped out of 4WD and he started to slide backwards and towards the edge. The road was very gravelly and hard to gain traction and brake on. Norm managed to stop before he hit anything (or went over the edge), but my heart was in my mouth (I was the one closest to the edge, so had a better idea of how steep the drop was and how far down it was). Somehow he managed to get it back into 4WD despite his odd angle, but I decided to walk up the rest of the hill. I admit it, there are times I’m a bit of a wus!

This section was loose gravel/sand, and right below this rim, the Land Cruiser's gear popped out, and we started to slide backwards to a steep edge. Norman managed to stop the vehicle, but I got out!This was on a switchback above where the gear popped out. I'm back in the vehicle, praying that nothing was coming down the trail. There are so many blind bends with nowhere to go.WhiteRimOct2013_075


After hardscrabble there was a drive along the Green River, and in one section there was a solid rock wall just inches from one side of the vehicle and a sheer drop too close for comfort on the other side. I always listen to my gut and it was telling me to go and check ahead before entering that section. There was a tiny pull out, and I asked Norm to pull into it. I got out to go and check the road ahead and to scout for dust from potential vehicles coming the other way, and right at that moment two jeeps came along. Phew! That was close. They told us they hadn’t noticed any dust behind them and they were fairly sure the coast was clear.

The Green River towards the end of the day, and the sun going down.


The last part of this was the drive back up to the Island in the Sky mesa. This is Mineral Road. I had neck ache after looking up at this and hoping very hard that no-one was coming down.

What goes down, must come up. We came up here. This is Mineral Road, the way out, when doing the White Rim in a clockwise direction.Mineral Road, no room for error here.


We made it!


I hope you enjoyed this little adventure… remember to savor the journey, and every now and then do something that is just a little outside your comfort zone…you know…something FUN that scares you just a tad. This is one way to expand your comfort zone and learn to face your fears, both are wonderful ways to enjoy life more fully (assuming you survive). Smile


Until next time,

Roxy ~ A Nomad for Nature



6 responses to “The White Rim Road ~ Island in the Sky, Canyonlands National Park, UT

  1. Pingback: 30 Most Amazing Roads In The World You Should Drive In Your Lifetime·

  2. Well, here goes nothing… we’ll see if it posts
    I honestly think you may be crazy. You are definitely addicted to Adrenaline. Nice piece of writing. Even though I knew it was already over and done with and in the past my gut was literally clenching for you!
    I do hope someday you will quit calling me by my alter ego name…(JK, you can call me whatever you want)
    Peace, Russ~☆


    • Russ, This was only a mild adrenaline rush compared to what some people do. LOL. – So your comment posted, and I have done nothing to fix it (I tried to find a solution to no avail) so I think it was probably just a network issue (or browser) acting up at that time. Weird things happen behind the scenes that I will never understand. Happy Trails….Roxy


    • I don’t believe we are put on this earth to work our entire lives, then die. What is the point of having all this beauty available to us if we don’t get to enjoy it, or only get two weeks vacation a year. In my view, that is just a waste of a life. Life is a struggle anyhow, so I may as well struggle and enjoy it rather than struggle and hate it. 🙂


Feel free to comment, but please be kind; there is no room for hate in my life. Your comment may not appear immediately, so be patient.

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