January 19, 2017

Bikepacking the White Rim

The off-season of a mountain bike guide

The off-season from mountain bike guiding in Moab means a little more time to explore and do bigger rides that the busy guiding season doesn’t allow for. With the season end in sight, my boyfriend Dave and I secured a permit to ride the White Rim Trail in the Island of the Sky district of Canyonlands National Park. The White Rim is an incredibly scenic, rugged dirt road that circles the park. Dave had guided trips on the White Rim numerous times, but had never ridden the whole thing in one ride. I had not been on the White Rim at all. Our plan was to bikepack the entire White Rim as a 100 mile self supported loop over a two-day span.

When we got our permit for early November, we knew the weather could be perfect, or it could be less than ideal. Leading up to the trip, the forecast called for perfect weather…until about 3 days before our departure when the predictions started for significant rain during our trip. We grew a little worried about impassible mud and much colder temperatures than we originally thought. Luckily, the day before we left, a box arrived in the mail with my new gear from GORE BIKE WEAR®. I felt much better about the trip, knowing I would stay warm and dry in my new Power Trail Lady GORE-TEX® Active Jacket if the rain really started coming down.

Dave and Julie at the entrance to Canyonlands National Park at the beginning of their White Rim loop.
Dave and Julie at the entrance to Canyonlands National Park at the beginning of their White Rim loop.

We started our ride early in the morning with a climb to the park entrance. I stayed warm and comfortable Power Trail Lady Windstopper® Softshell Jacket.

Julie at the top of the Shafer Trail before dropping down to the White Rim.

Julie at the top of the Shafer Trail before dropping down to the White Rim.

Looking down on the switchbacks of the Shafer Trail, which leads to the White Rim trail.
Looking down on the switchbacks of the Shafer Trail, which leads to the White Rim trail.

The first day of our ride, we ticked off over 60 miles and were pleasantly surprised to ride through a clear, sunny day with perfect temperatures. We pedaled along through some incredible landscapes of canyons, desert towers and a few views of the Colorado River down below. There are so many side canyons and rock features along the route, it hard to believe most of it was carved by water erosion.

Julie at a stop at Musselman Arch.
Looking down on the switchbacks of the Shafer Trail, which leads to the White Rim trail.

 

Sunset over the Maze District of Canyonlands from Murphy’s campground on the White Rim.
Looking down on the switchbacks of the Shafer Trail, which leads to the White Rim trail.

 

We made it to camp in time to make dinner and watch one of the best sunsets I have seen in a while. After dinner, we curled up in our sleeping bags and slept soundly after a long day of riding. The next morning was a lazy one, with the consideration that we had a shorter day of pedaling. The weather forecast did call for a chance of rain that day, so we decided not to linger too long at camp.

Dave looking out on the Green River.
Dave looking out on the Green River.

The second day included a lot of downhill cruising, which gave time for a few worthwhile side hikes. We visited Black Crack, with a great view of the Green River. We also stopped for some slot canyon exploring at Holeman Slot.

As we pedaled on along the Green River, the weather looked like we might get a little wet. We lucked out with only a few sprinkles and made it back to the car tired, but happy from a great couple of days riding through such beautiful scenery. My GORE Apparel performed flawlessly and my Power Trail Lady Shorts kept me comfortable for the ride. We are already starting to plan our next bikepacking adventure in the desert-stay tuned!

All smiles on the White Rim!
All smiles on the White Rim!

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