White Rim Trail/River Kayak | Canyonlands National Park
On our dual-sport river kayaking and mountain biking trip, we team up with Canyon Voyages to paddle for three days on the calm waters of the Green River before biking the White Rim Trail. This is a great way to see every angle of the canyons, from river to rim. No previous experience is needed to kayak the flat water through these spectacular canyons. Your Western Spirit guides will meet you on day four, when you will trade in your kayak for your mountain bike. This is the quintessential Canyon Country experience.
We will meet at the Canyon Voyages Warehouse and depart for Ruby Ranch on the Green River. There you will receive your own kayak and boating instruction from your river guides. The calm waters of Labyrinth Canyon make it easy to learn proper paddling techniques. We will be covering an average of about 15 river miles each day, helped along by the river current. Along the way we’ll encounter many intriguing side canyons that beckon you to explore further. The first major drainage we’ll come to is three canyons, aptly named Trin-Alcove by the John Wesley Powell expedition.
This morning we will awaken to the aroma of coffee brewing as your guides prepare breakfast. Today, a hike to the saddle of Bowknot Bend is a trip highlight. We will discover evidence of previous cultures which inhabited these canyons centuries ago, especially the Fremont people who existed here from about 900 to 1275 AD. In addition we’ll see evidence of the early trappers and miners that were here in the 1800s as well as more recent historical signs of the mines and camps from the uranium boom of the 1950s.
We will spend another incredible day on the Green River surrounded by the deepening canyon walls in ever changing hues of red, brown, and yellow—accented by impressive buttes, mesas, and spires. If time allows we will do a hike up Horseshoe Canyon on our way to camp a few miles above Mineral Bottom, which is our take-out point.
After breakfast we will float down to Mineral Bottom, load up the gear and meet the biking group on the Mineral Bottom road. You will bid farewell to your river guides and trade in your kayak for a mountain bike. For the first few miles of riding along the river, we will have views of Upheaval Dome, a controversial geologic formation. From here we ride to Hardscrabble Bottom where we will begin a two mile, 400 vertical foot, steep climb up Hardscrabble Hill. Looking down one can see the White Rim Sandstone which we will be following for the next three days. A hike out to Fort Bottom Indian ruin is well worth it. This ruin is situated on a big horseshoe bend in the river and commands an excellent view of the surrounding country. From here, it is all downhill to our camp at Potato Bottom. Our camp lies beneath towering walls of Wingate Sandstone on the banks of the Green River. The river is a short walk from camp and provides great swimming opportunities. TOTAL MILEAGE: 13 miles
This morning, we begin riding on the White Rim layer which rises abruptly from the river. After a few miles, we will have the opportunity to visit a second Indian ruin. This ruin is situated in an alcove and blends in so well that it is difficult to spot. From here we contour around numerous side canyons to the Holeman Slot Canyon, where we may stop to hike. Hiking into this canyon is very technical and requires some interesting moves. The hanging gardens, pools of water, and narrow canyon walls make this hike one of our favorites on the White Rim. After passing Candlestick Tower, we begin an 800 foot climb to the top of Murphy Hogback. Some of the pitches are steep and tricky. As we ascend, we leave the White Rim layer for awhile and travel through the chocolate colored Moenkopi Formation to the top. Murphy Hogback is situated high above the White Rim and provides outstanding views of the Green River, The Maze and Needles districts of Canyonlands. TOTAL MILEAGE: 21 miles
From camp this morning we immediately drop back down to the White Rim layer. This descent is somewhat technical for the first several hundred yards and riders should use caution. Once we’re back on the White Rim, we climb gradually up to the base of Junction Butte which is the approximate half way point of the tour. From here there is an optional spur ride to White Crack. If time permits we’ll pedal out to the promontory where we will see giant, free standing pillars of rock and the gorges where the Green and Colorado rivers join together. A rich concentration of worked stone in this area serves as a reminder of past populations. This area is also prime bighorn sheep habitat and perhaps we’ll see some of these elusive climbers. This afternoon we will ride around Monument Basin, a spectacular canyon of the White Rim. Here stands the Totem Pole, a 300 foot tall sandstone pillar. Leaving this impressive area, we will continue on around Buck Canyon to our camp for the evening. TOTAL MILEAGE: 27 miles
We begin the day riding around the head of Lathrop Canyon and continue on to Little Bridge Canyon and Musselman Arch. This arch is a fascinating example of what the combination of wind and water erosion can do given millions of years. At the Colorado River Overlook one can look down to the goosenecks of the river and up to Dead Horse Point. After riding high above the river, we will leave the White Rim and begin the two mile climb which gains 1,200 feet of elevation back up to the Island in the Sky. Riding up these switchbacks is well worth the effort because the view keeps getting more spectacular. From the top of the switchbacks we will ride to our lunch spot and enjoy one more scenic view before we meet our shuttle. TOTAL MILEAGE: 18 miles
Itineraries are subject to change due to weather, road conditions, rider safety and other factors which may affect the logistics of the adventure.
What to Expect on the River: Each day after breakfast you will pack up your camp gear and we will get on the water around 9:00 AM. We’ll be covering an average of about 15 river miles each day, which is fairly easy since the river current will be helping! Each morning your guides will bring out the maps and have an orientation talk letting you know what to expect for the day. We will have some great hiking opportunities and your guides will show you how and where to pack items you will need to have handy for the day.
Riding Surface: Four wheel drive jeep roads: packed sediment, sand and slickrock.
Overall Rating: Introductory/Intermediate
Technical Difficulty: Moderate, some steep climbs and rocky sections.
Physical Difficulty: Moderate
Altitude: 4,000 - 6,000 feet
For travel logistics and a packing list, please download the complete trip itinerary.