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Storm Aftermath Makes it Impossible to Negotiate White Rim Loop in Canyonlands National Park


A powerful storm that passed over Canyonlands National Park in mid-August washed out a stretch of the Mineral Bottom Road, making it impossible to complete the White Rim Trail. Park officials have no idea when the damage will be repaired. NPS photos by Neal Herbert.

One of the best mountain bike adventures in the National Park System is the White Rim Trail in Canyonlands National Park. However, a potent storm that swept through the park last month has washed out a key section of the route and officials are not sure when it will reopen.

As a result, while portions of the loop are accessible, it currently is impossible to make the complete loop, say park officials. And, they say, access to the Green River for paddlers either looking to put in or take out there also has been impacted by the storm damage.

The storm that hit on August 19 spawned flash flooding and rock falls that either washed out sections of the Mineral Bottom dirt road or blocked it.

"One of the more dramatic washouts occurred on the Mineral Bottom Road switchbacks, where significant portions of the road were obliterated," park officials said. "This damage will affect all groups traveling the White Rim Road or planning river trips that launch or take-out at Mineral Bottom."

At this point, Canyonlands officials say they have no idea when the route will be repaired and, as a result, it currently is impossible to complete the White Rim Trail as a loop.

"The Shafer Trail and Potash roads are open; however the White Rim Road is currently closed to motor vehicles just beyond Potato Bottom. Hardscrabble, Labyrinth and Taylor campsites are not accessible by motor vehicle," park officials said in a release. "There are currently no estimates for when the Mineral Bottom Road switchbacks will be repaired; however, it will likely be several months. We have temporarily suspended making reservations for the White Rim for calendar year 2011."

For now, park officials say anyone with reservations for White Rim permits this fall should contact the backcountry reservation office to reschedule: (435) 259-4351

For paddlers who were hoping to rely on the Mineral Bottom Road to access the Green River, park officials note that other launches are available upstream of the Canyonlands boundary suggest you contact the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, river outfitters, or the Canyonlands Reservation Office for more information on where you can put in.

Elsewhere in Canyonlands, the storm has left many four-wheel-drive roads in the Needles District closed, including Horse Canyon/Salt Creek and Lavender Canyon. Elephant Hill, however, has been reopened following repairs.

In the Maze District, which normally is difficult to reach, park officials say the roads from Utah Highway 24 to Hans Flat or Horseshoe Canyon are very rough, but passable to two-wheel-drive vehicles. The road from Green River to Horseshoe Canyon is being worked on and is not advised for travel. All other roads are open.


Mother Nature does not always play nice! We have a group of ladies from Alaska who had booked a 5-day Oct White Rim. They plan to do an out and back trip instead now. Everyone just has to "go with the flow" and adjust a little. The desert is a beautiful and dynamic place! Nice story Kurt.

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