What is the most beautiful and exciting day you have ever spent on a motorcycle? The answer for me is undoubtedly, the day I rode Moab’s White Rim Trail (WRT). The majestic scenery combined with the thrill of riding along the edge of deep canyons, climbing up rocky slopes or descending steep ridgelines made my ride on the White Rim the unbeatable thrill of all my motorcycling. To Motorcycle Moab’s White Rim Trail you need maps, directions, permits. You will find everything you need to make your own adventure here in the following paragraphs.
The WRT offers many technical challenges and is not recommended for the novice. Experienced riders can ride heavy adventure bikes or smaller dual sport bikes. For GoPro footage of big bikes on White Rim Trail see this YouTube link Big Bikes on WRT I would say I had the most fun on the dual sport bikes because I could go faster and felt more confident. Weather variability will change the kind of challenge you might encounter. We rode the bigger bikes on the day after rain and snow. We found a little mud and ruts for a short distance on part of the trail.
Recently we rode when the weather was warmer and very dry. Consequently, we encountered silty sand and some loose rock. Have an open mind and be ready to push your comfort zone. Then you will have a great ride regardless of the weather.
Riding WRT is an all- day adventure. Restrooms are available periodically but there is NO WATER available. Carry plenty of drinking water as well as food for lunch and snacks. To safely plan fuel range from downtown Moab, a safe recommendation is 150 miles. A shorter dirt route is possible by exiting at Shafer Road. But getting back to town adds highway miles and the total round trip from downtown and using Shafer Road, the shorter dirt route escape, was still 150 miles total after you are back to town. If you are not tired and worn out at the end of White Rim Road, and want to ride more dirt, then bypass Shafer Road and turn right on Cr-142, Potash Road and continue your dirt adventure. Doing this turn gives more dirt miles and takes you back to town, but the total distance is still 150 miles.
If you choose to bypass Shafer Road to enjoy a longer dirt day you will be missing an epic experience. Shafer is truly a one of a kind motorcycle ride and you must return another day to ride this road. It is easy motorcycling and you can do it on a loaded adventure bike. But I promise you a jaw dropping experience as you descend into this beautiful canyon. A google map from downtown to ride down Shafer Road is available by clicking the link at the end of this article.
We have always done WRT in a counter-clock wise direction but it is a matter of choice. Personally, I like it the way we have done it because it would scare the crap out of me to have to go down some of the rocky trails I went up.
Riding the WRT requires advanced planning. You must get a permit. On our last trip, we secured the permit on-line the day before the ride. Every rider must get his/her own permit. Only a limited number of permits are granted each day. We did encounter a park ranger who asked about our permit so I wouldn’t encourage anyone to ride without the permit. For details and to apply for the permit visit the park service at this link National Park Service
You do not need a permit to ride Shafer and Potash Road. But if you venture on to White Rim Road be sure to have your permit. If you find yourself in Moab and cannot get a permit, then you can still ride down Shafer Road and turn left at Cr-142/Potash Road. Shafer is spectacular and Potash beautiful and challenging. A link for driving directions from downtown Moab to the beginning of Shafer Road is at the end of this article.
Our navigation files are available free to share with you. You can view and download tracks and routes at the links below. In an attempt to give you some insight to the kinds of technical challenges you will face on the WRT we have attached some photos of the trail in the slide show. The most difficult moments when I was trying to survive I did not think to stop and take a photo. So magnify the difficulty presented in the shots as well as magnify the scenic beauty because our photos do neither it’s fair justice. It was surreal.
Free downloads to all our navigation files are below. Some versions of Safari will add a txt file extension to your gpx download so it will not open in Garmin. You can fix that simply by renaming the file after download. Go to Finder>Downloads. Locate the file, highlight it, right click, select Rename, just remove the “.txt” so the new name ends in .gpx If Safari asks are you sure you want to change the application that opens the file, click yes.