RV.Net Open Roads Forum: White Rim Trail - Canyonlands - May 2010

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 > White Rim Trail - Canyonlands - May 2010

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nedrierson78

Minneapolis, MN

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Posted: 05/24/10 07:31pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Below is a short review of our recent drive through the White Rim Trail in the Canyonlands National Park just outside of Moab, UT.

We drove it in our 2003 Chevy 2500HD with a hardside TC on the back. Upon checking in, the park rangers were not sure if we would make it through the trail. The higher sides of the hard sided camper was where the concern was. The ranger wasn't sure if we would make it.

We decided to give it a try. Our reservations had us driving the trail in the clockwise direction. A note here...I wish we had decided to drive the trail in a counter clockwise direction. This means we would have entered at the horse thief trail and exited at the Shafer Trail. The most technical part of the route would have been early on in our trip, rather than at the end.

We entered through the Shafer Trail.

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Shafer trail. Quite a fun way to start the drive, but a very easy entry to the trail. The trail gets much more technical than this.
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Popular photo showing the trail from above the Shafer Trail.
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Shafer trail switchbacks.
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You do meet quite a few vehicles on the trail. Take your time and look ahead. There are quite a few one way places on the trail. Look as far ahead as you can, and plan for the unexpected vehicle to be around the corner. This being said, there are quite a few areas that you just won't be able to see another vehicle until it is too late. Somebody will have to back up.
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Musselman arch. A fun sideshow on the trip.
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The trail is pretty rough. You don't drive more than 5 mph on most of the trail. One of the biggest problems with the hard sided truck camper is the high center of gravity. The smallest rock or bump caused the camper to rock side to side. You all know this. Many times we had to stop completely to stop the rolling.
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Airport tower. We camped just under the tower at Airport camp.
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The campsites are by reservation only, and fill up quickly. When we checked in all were taken (except ours). Our first camp was at Airport. You will find that the campsites are spread apart and very well marked. Nothing is provided except rocks. Bring everything and pack it all out. Nothing at the camp sites. You need to bring whatever you need. The rocks were handy.
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Sunset at Airport camp looking straight west.
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As you drive the trail follows the White Rim rock formation. At times, you are driving over the overhang. It's quite an experience.
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Lunch. With a view.
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Coming up on the first big technical challenge of the White Rim road. Murphy's Hogback. In this pic, you can see a BMW X3 just starting up in the lower right. It was steep, and clearance was a concern. Needed to be in 4x4 low for this. Make SURE your camper is tied in VERY GOOD!
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Looking back down Murphy's Hogback after we made it up...now we have to go back down. If this would have been wet, it would have been impassable.

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At the top of the decent (north side) there is quite a rock step you have to negotiate. I placed a bunch of rocks near the rock ledges, but it was still a harry experience. I had the wife out front spotting with a 2-way radio. If you do this trip, bring a set of 2-way radios and use them often with your spotter. We would not have made it if my wife had not been out front spotting. We met another couple that had damage to their camper. The wife was not willing to get out of the vehicle and spot, therefore they damaged their side window.

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Just before the decent on the north side of Murphy's Hogback. The photo does not do the decent justice. It's steep.

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Clearance. The biggest problem with the hard sided truck camper. We made it, but with inches to spare.
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The overhangs are the worst part.
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The Green river.

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Between Potato Bottom and Hardscrabble campsite. This is a very technical spot. More technical than Murphy's Hogback. Make sure you are ready for this. Have your camper tied down... This is very steep and tight.
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More clearance issues. You need a spotter.
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Hardscrabble campsite B. Great site. Access to the river just behind the photo location. Driving from Airport to Hardscrabble was 12.5 hrs.

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Day 3 on driving north from Hardscrabble campsite. This is very tight. This was the tightest spot on the trip. The Green River is on our side, and the overhang is on the other side. You will have inches to spare on both sides. Don't screw this up or you will end up in the river.
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Very tight here.
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Exiting the park at the end of the trip.
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Climbing out the west end of the trail at Horse thief trail.

Overall the trip was quite an experience. I did a lot of research here on RV.NET as well as other sites. I found the trail to be TWICE as hard as I was expecting. Driving this trail with a hard sided truck camper was very hard and grueling. I would NOT do it with a dually or a long bed truck. Next time we drive it we will rent a jeep or a dirt bike in Moab and do it in one day. The trip took us 2.5 days because we had to limit our speed due to the high CG of the camper.

Hope our trip review helped any of you thinking of travelling the White Rim Trail. Feel free to PM or email for more information.

* This post was last edited 05/24/10 08:11pm by nedrierson78 *   View edit history

Capt Eddie

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Posted: 05/24/10 08:10pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Most of your pictures did not come thru. What kind of camper and truck did you use? I spoke to soon. There is no way I could get through there.

Dome

Southwest Washington State

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Posted: 05/24/10 08:15pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I saw then all.

nycsteve

NY

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Posted: 05/24/10 08:19pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Great report and pictures. This would be one I'de pass on . My camper is taller , I might not fit under some off those overhangs and Ide probably chicken out . Beautiful country, exciting trip.
Steve





sirdrakejr

Las Vegas, Nevada

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Posted: 05/24/10 08:50pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Great pictures!! And you had to go there, WHY?? [emoticon]
Frank


2011 Palomino Maverick 1000SLLB on a 2004 Dodge Quadcab CTD Ram3500 SRW long bed equipped with Timbren springs, Stable Load bump stops, Rickson 19.5" wheels/"G" range tires and a Helwig "Big Wig" rear anti sway bar.


sstan

Northern California

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Posted: 05/24/10 08:55pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

sirdrakejr wrote:

And you had to go there, WHY?? [emoticon]
Frank


Have you ever heard the expression "If I had to explain you wouldn't understand" ? [emoticon]

Briand

South of Denver

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Posted: 05/24/10 08:58pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Well done. If you ever go to dead horse point, you'll know why he went.


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nedrierson78

Minneapolis, MN

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Posted: 05/24/10 09:07pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The route was amazing. I don't regret the trip. Next time we do it in a 4x4 Jeep, but I'm glad we finished it in the TC.

Briand

South of Denver

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Posted: 05/24/10 09:37pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Pretty cool you made it in a camper. Looks like a soft side would clear pretty readily.

If you go out in a jeep go to hells revenge. Pretty easily doable by someone that has a spotter and there are always plenty of vehicles to watch. Great views and you get a glimpse of the confluence.

There are a couple of side tracks. Hell's Gate is one.

Me in one of my old "projects" coming out of hells gate.
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-edit- no idea why so much white space.

seldomseensmith

Flagstaff, AZ

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Posted: 05/24/10 10:26pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Nicely done - there have been a few other intrepid RV.Net TC members who have made the trip, mostly in pop-ups. Even with the lower profile it's a rugged trip. Thanks for sharing your adventure!


The Road Goes Ever On



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