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White Rim Road Jeep Rental - Planning How To Drive White Rim Road

White Rim Road Jeep Rental - Planning How To Drive White Rim Road

Airport Tower and Airport Campsites along White Rim Road in Canyonlands National Park

Planning your Jeep Rental to drive White RIm Road? White Rim Road is a classic overland adventure and a route that we get a lot of questions about. And with good reason! A route that travels below the Island in the Sky mesa top of Canyonlands National park, White Rim follows its namesake, the White Rim layer all the way around the park district. With fantastic views of Washer Woman Tower, Monument Basin, Turks Head, Green River, and Candlestick Tower the route has plenty to marvel at. The 100 mile loop is also known to have a few challenges including the Murphy Hogback and Hardscrabble Hill, both of which can be especially tricky in poor weather. With popularity and increasing use, making a plan to tackle White Rim is critical to having a fun and safe journey. For those seeking to experience the trail for the first time planning can be overwhelming. We thought we'd try and help by answering some of the most asked planning questions we get.
1. When is the best time to drive White Rim?
This might be one of the more difficult questions to answer. If good weather is your priority then the spring and fall seasons are prime. But with fair weather comes higher demand. If you plan your travel in this busy time you'll need to plan in advance. Making reservations for your campsites is required and should be done months in advance. If you're planning on a Jeep rental for White Rim you'll want to secure that as well. The off season is also a fantastic time to hit the trail, less traffic means more wildlife sightings and less vehicle noise. On a recent winter trip I only saw one other vehicle over my 3 days of travel. But the summer and winter temperature extremes require a hardy outdoor spirit and an added level of skill and preparedness. The spring and fall can also have weather challenges. In late spring the Green River can rise with the annual snow runoff and make the road impassable at Upheaval Wash. The road is also more prone to damage during the late summer and early fall monsoon seasons. Each time of year has its challenges and all can be luck of the draw when planning. We recommend making plans and reservations 4-5 months or more in advance when possible.
2. Should we drive White Rim clock-wise or counter clockwise?
Most parties drive the route clock-wise. Beginning with a decent down Shafer Trail and coming out via Mineral Road and the Mineral Road Switchbacks. This means you'll be traveling up the more difficult sections of trail, Murphy Hogback and Hardscrabble Hill. As a note, the uphill traveler usually has the right of way. Its personal opinion but I prefer clock-wise only because I feel the scenery continues to get better through the trip this direction. When it comes down to it. The logistics and availability of campsites on particular nights may be what determines direction of travel.
3. How long does it take to drive White Rim Road?
We recommend 3 days of travel with 2 nights of camping out on the trail to make the most of the experience. 3 days allows a person plenty of time to stop and take photos or hit a few hikes along the way. If you encounter bad weather it also allows a bit of time to wait it out or let the road dry up a few hours. The road is 100 miles long and the speed limit is 15mph, but average travel speed is around 7.5 mph.
4. Can I drive White Rim in a day?
The short answer is yes. But its not something we recommend. It makes for a very long day on very rough roads. There are some fantastic out and back day trip options that are much more enjoyable. Remember that if you decide to do a day trip you'll still need to get a day use permit in addition to paying the park entrance fee. You can get day use permits for free at the Island in the Sky Visitor center on the day of travel. Or, you can get one the day before by purchasing online for a $6 administration fee. The number of permits available is limited and you will need one for each vehicle if you are traveling with others. You can find the permits at here. Canyonlands Day Use Permits
Murphy Hogback Campsites looking west from White Rim Road in Canyonlands National Park
5. How do I make reservations for White Rim campsites?
You can check availability and make reservations using as well. The site can be a bit tricky to navigate. Unlike day use permits only the trip leader will need to complete the reservation. Be prepared with vehicle descriptions, tag numbers, and your planned entry and exit points when making the reservation. Group size is limited to 3 vehicles. Campsites are made available on a release schedule. Follow the schedule here to see when you need to pounce on your reservation.
  • Spring permits (March 10 – June 9) open November 10.
  • Summer permits (June 10 – September 9) open February 10
  • Fall permits (September 10 – December 9) open May 10.
  • Winter permits (December 10 – March 9) open August 10.
Permits will open at 8 am MT.
These permits can be in high demand so be prepared to make your reservation ASAP, ideally, as soon as they are released. Or just be flexible and adapt to what is available. Use the link below and remember to select a number of "group members" at the top of the page and select the "Island in the Sky 4wd" bubble below it. The campsites will be listed in a calendar format and are listed in order for clock-wise travel. You can make campsite reservations here. Canyonlands Overnight Permits
6. Which vehicle should we rent for White Rim?
Having a 4x4 is required for any of the permits on White Rim. Our campervan is the only rig not allowed on the trail. All the other rigs work great for the trail. The Jeeps are the easiest to handle and the most forgiving on the trail. If you have questions about a White Rim Jeep rental just give us a call. We can help you determine what vehicle best meets your needs. We can set vehicles up differently to accommodate larger groups or White Rim mountain bike trip support.
Jeep Rentals for White Rim Road
7. Are there any special consideration or regulations to be aware of?
Definitely! White Rim is inside Canyonlands National Park and a very special place that requires special treatment. So you'll find a few extra rules and regulations to follow. Some of those include that dogs are not permitted in the backcountry, campfires are not allowed, travel must be restricted to the roadway, and permits are required. When you arrange your permit please take the time to read and know what is expected of you and your party. The desert ecosystem is fragile and recovers slowly. There is also some etiquette to follow that provides for the best opportunity for all visitors to enjoy the park and their White Rim experience. We highly recommend watching the video below from Canyonlands National Park in preparation for your trip.
If you have more questions or need some help choosing the right Overland rental for White Rim just send us a message through the contact page or give us a call at 970-26-5577. For up to date road conditions visit the park website or call the visitors center at 435-259-4712.
Canyonlands National Park Backcountry orientation and planning video

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