The San Rafael Swell offers a variety of exciting things to see and do for outdoor enthusiasts. Here are some notable attractions and activities in the area:
Goblin Valley State Park: Known for its unique rock formations called “hoodoos” or “goblins,” Goblin Valley State Park is fascinating to explore. Visitors can hike among the strange rock formations and enjoy scenic views of the surrounding desert landscape.
Buckhorn Draw Pictograph Panel: This archaeological site features a large panel of ancient Native American rock art, including intricate pictographs. It provides a glimpse into the region’s cultural history and is a must-visit for those interested in Native American art and history.
Swinging Bridge: Located near the town of Huntington, the Swinging Bridge is a historic suspension bridge that spans the San Rafael River. It offers picturesque views and is a popular spot for photography and picnicking.
Off-Road and ATV Trails: The San Rafael Swell is renowned for its extensive network of off-road and ATV trails. Adventurous visitors can explore the rugged terrain, including the popular “Swing Arm City” area, which is known for its challenging trails and sand dunes.
Muddy Creek: Muddy Creek is a scenic desert canyon that offers opportunities for hiking, canyoneering, and backpacking. It features towering cliffs, narrow slot canyons, and unique rock formations, providing an immersive outdoor experience.
Wildlife Viewing: The San Rafael Swell is home to diverse wildlife, including mule deer, bighorn sheep, coyotes, and various bird species. Wildlife enthusiasts can enjoy birdwatching, wildlife photography, and observing the natural habitats in the area.
Camping and Stargazing: The San Rafael Swell is an excellent place for camping under the desert sky with numerous campgrounds and dispersed camping options. The lack of light pollution makes it ideal for stargazing and observing the breathtaking night sky.
Car: The most popular mode of transportation is by car. Major highways such as Interstate 70 and State Route 10 provide convenient access to different areas of the Swell. Visitors can drive their own vehicles or rent cars to reach various trailheads, viewpoints, and recreational sites within the Swell.
Off-Road Vehicles: Many areas within the San Rafael Swell require off-road vehicles for access. This includes dirt roads, trails, and more rugged terrain. Four-wheel drive vehicles, ATVs, and motorcycles are commonly used to navigate these unpaved roads and explore the more remote parts of the Swell.
Hiking and Backpacking: For those seeking a more adventurous approach, hiking and backpacking offer opportunities to explore the Swell’s remote areas on foot. There are numerous trails and routes that lead to canyons, viewpoints, and other scenic spots. It’s important to be well-prepared with proper gear, maps, and knowledge of the terrain before embarking on a hiking or backpacking trip.
Guided Tours: Some visitors may opt for guided tours to explore the San Rafael Swell. These tours are led by experienced guides familiar with the area, its history, and its geological features. Guided tours provide informative commentary and ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for participants.
Camping: The San Rafael Swell offers various camping options, including established campgrounds and dispersed camping areas. Visitors can choose to camp in designated sites or find suitable spots in the backcountry. Camping provides an immersive experience, allowing people to stay close to the natural beauty of the Swell and explore its surroundings at their leisure.
The road conditions and accessibility can vary depending on weather conditions and the specific location within the Swell. Visitors should check for road closures, obtain necessary permits if required, and be prepared with appropriate maps, navigation tools, and supplies before heading to the San Rafael Swell. The Legend and Lore of the San Rafael Swell Treasure