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The Wide, Wide West: Utah’s San Rafael Swell

By on July 1, 2019

Each spring, Utah becomes the scene of one of the animal kingdom’s great annual migrations, as thousands of Colorado ski-town locals descend from their snowbound winter ranges in search of warm desert climes. If you’ve been to Moab on a busy weekend in recent years, you’ve do doubt seen this phenomenon, characterized by massive herds of sightseers, mountain bikers, dirt bikers and other off-road enthusiasts.

On our last trip to Moab, my family and I had to drive around for two hours looking for a vacant campsite until we finally found a barely suitable one miles up a dirt road outside of town. Then, when we went for a hike to a swimming hole I remembered fondly from years ago, we were forced to contend with hordes of drunken twenty-somethings carting cases of beer to the site. The whole experience felt more like a college frat party than a hike.…

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3 SITES THAT MAKE THE SAN RAFAEL SWELL

By on June 21, 2019

The Playground Is Open
Find a bottomless basket of rides, climbs, camps, hikes and paddles in Utah’s San Rafael Swell, one of the most uplifting geological uplifts in the world. There are no crowds and no lines, but there are some tough decisions — like what to do first.

In the Swell, located just east of Utah’s center in Emery County, layers of sandstone, shale and limestone jut into the sky to form a scrappy geological theme park. Within this vast expanse, you’ll find rugged ATV trails, off-the-grid camping and plenty of rock-formation eye candy.

Here are three places you must experience while visiting Utah’s arid core:

Goblin Valley


Imagine you’re a cowboy looking for missing cattle, and all of a sudden you stumble into Goblin Valley. Boy howdy, them rock creatures sure ain’t bovine, nohow, no way. Local lore says that’s just how this surreal little horde of gargoyles …

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SAN RAFAEL SWELL

By on April 20, 2019

The San Rafael Swell, a 70 by 40-mile geologic upheaval located in southeastern UT, has been cut, shaped, and formed over thousands of years into a crazy assembly of sandstone buttresses, canyons, and plateaus. The northern Swell, located north of Interstate 70, offers fantastic hiking, backpacking, biking, and camping at all levels of fun.

What Makes It Great
The Wedge Overlook is a good place to begin exploring the northern Swell. The view from here offers a bird’s eye perspective of the Little Grand Canyon, a 14-mile path cut from the Earth’s crust by the San Rafael River that’s regarded as one of the best San Rafael hikes. This 1000-foot deep gorge reveals towering sandstone cliffs that overlook the canyon’s bottom which is lined with cottonwoods, rabbit brush, and greasewood. The Wedge Overlook also offers great views of Sids Mountain, Assembly Hall Peak, and the highest point in the Swell, …

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