“A passageway between the divergent White Rim and river worlds of Canyonlands National Park.
— F. Felix
National Park rules apply.
Lathrop Canyon provides the only access to the Colorado River from the White Rim Trail
Canyonlands Islands-In-The-Sky District is a complex landscape that appears very different in character from its three primary levels: mesa (top), White Rim (middle), and river (bottom). Lathrop Canyon is the only route that somehow manages to provide a cliff-free passage between all three (the trail down from I-Sky to the White Rim is hiking, only).
Lathrop Canyon down to the river is a popular side-trip for the jeeps that frequent the White Rim Trail
. It is less so for the bikers, since dropping to the river and returning adds 8-miles of additional riding and 600' of climbing to your day.
The trail is generally moderate, with a few harder spots and some steep sections to exit the canyon on the way out.
The ride is definitely worthwhile if the conditions are not too sandy. The canyon is pretty and varied; the rich riparian vegetation is a nice contrast to the moon-like terrain of the White Rim, and it's easy to access the water for a swim, or to catch a pre-arranged jet boat back to town with your bike.