SUBSCRIBE | NEWSLETTERS | MAPS | VIDEOS | BLOGS | MARKETPLACE | CONTESTS
TRY BACKPACKER FREE!
SUBSCRIBE NOW and get
2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Also on Backpacker.com


Enter Zip Code

Backpacker Magazine – BACKPACKER.com Online Exclusive

Utah: The White Rim, Canyonlands

A bit of nerve opens up the stunning canyonlands made famous by Wile E. Coyote.

by: Steve Howe

PAGE 1 2

Little-Known Fact: Besides Native Americans, cowboys, river explorers, and uranium prospectors, few were familiar with these remote lands when Canyonlands National Park was established in 1964.

There are few vistas on Earth as humbling as those from Grandview Point in Utah's Canyonlands National Park. The area offers panoramas of rugged canyons, dramatic cliffs, isolated buttes, desert basins, mesas, and lofty mountain ranges. This must be the inspiration behind the Roadrunner cartoons.

What has always amazed me about Grandview Point, besides the scenery, is the multitude of adventure possibilities that beckon. Stand and stare and you can see dozens of potential destinations. Old jeep roads snake between the cliff bands ~ perfect for a mountain bike. And below, running around Monument Basin, is the White Rim Trail, a 100-mile-loop jeep road through the most scenic part of the area known as the "Land of Standing Rock."

When I first saw the trail, I didn't know what to do with it. It was too long and dry to hike, and I wasn't into four-wheelin'. A few years after mountain bikes had begun to gain popularity, I heard about a friend who had ridden the entire loop in a day. Traveling this trail by fat tire sounded interesting, if not a trifle brutal. Before long, I found myself plunging down 1,200 feet of switchbacks on the Shafer Trail, beginning a three-day-two-night ride of the White Rim.

Dropping down the Shafer Trail ~ especially in winter when it's snowpacked ~ is as close as you can get to taking a mountain bike through orbital re-entry. But the scenery soon brought my focus to other things. Below me, the trail stretched off arrow-straight along the White Rim shelf, disappearing into a land of red cliffs and moss-green benches.

Within a couple of hours I'd passed Musselman Arch and Washerwoman Arch, and skirted around Buck Canyon. I rounded Junction Butte and passed the turn-off to White Crack campground at the southern apex of the triangular loop. Within half a mile I rode up against the western edge of the White Rim shelf and there, in the slickrock mounds, I caught a superb view of the crimson sunset.

After sleeping through a night of gusty rainstorms, I was back on the trail the next morning thinking that until this point, gnarly uphills had been suspiciously lacking. But my karmic wheel was about to come full circle. Up, down, up, down, UP ~ when I saw the last steep incline, I hopped off my bike and started pushing.

Descending the north side of the Murphy Trail was just as exciting as plunging down the Shafer Trail had been, but instead of switchbacks it was dead straight, with serious exposure and loose rocks waiting to deflect unwary riders into space. Having successfully navigated the descent, I wanted to sleep next to the Green River, so I pedaled on and spent the night at Mineral Bottom, making camp deep in the tamarisk tunnels.

A monster one-pot meal put me to sleep by 7 p.m., but I awoke for a full-moon midnight walk; a slow, thoughtful shuffling in the desert. The broad bend of the Green shone in the moonlight, banking its way around and off to the south. No movement, no wind, no sound, just the endless patience of the wilderness.


PAGE 1 2


Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip:
Email (req):

Reader Rating: -

ADD A COMMENT

Your rating:
Your Name:

Comment:

My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

The Political Arena
The anti-LGBT movement in a nutshell
Posted On: Apr 18, 2014
Submitted By: Three
The Political Arena
Am I missing something here?
Posted On: Apr 18, 2014
Submitted By: hbfa
Go
View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site MyRockyMountainPark.com.

Follow BackpackerMag on Twitter Follow Backpacker on Facebook
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
City:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
State:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions