About the Swell

The San Rafael Swell is a wonderfully unique kidney shaped geographical anticline on the Colorado Plateau in central Utah. The “Swell” is about 50 miles in length and 30 miles in width. Only one paved road crosses through the approximately 600,000 acres, Interstate 70. The East and West oriented freeway carry traffic directly through the center of the Swell, bisecting it into the Northern and Southern halves.


The Northern half of the San Rafael Swell contains many unique features, much more than can be listed here. Buckhorn Wash, accessed by a graded dirt road passable for most vehicles, is a winding fairly narrow canyon bordered on both sides by towering sandstone cliffs. The Little Grand Canyon through which the San Rafael River runs, Cane Wash, Upper, and Lower Black Boxes, Mexican blend, Saddle Horse Canyon, Salt Wash, Black Dragon Canyon, North and South Coal Wash etc… Many of these sites are accessible by most two-wheel drive vehicles, all are spectacular and well worth the effort to visit.


The Southern half of the Swell is adorned with no less stunning features. Along the San Rafael Reef, on the extreme southeastern edge, are numerous peaks separated by narrow slot canyons. Reds Canyon, Eardley Canyon, Eagle Canyon, Copper Globe, Temple Mountain, Devils Canyon and the Muddy Creek Drainage with its winding narrow canyons are among the many sites in this area.