Rodeonexis Photo

Ain’t the San Rafael Swell?

Early settlers who encountered the San Rafael Swell considered it a reef, due to it’s blockage of their trail through the West. Even to this day, it stands as a massive 75 x 40 mile obstacle to through the heart of Utah canyon country.

Though peppered with desert towns such as Green River, Price, Hanksville, and Torrey, the expanses of the San Rafael Swell are mostly uninhabited. Only miles of high desert, sandstone buttes, and sparse cottonwood trees call this arid climate their home. Click HERE for a basic map of the area. On the edge of the steep  anticline which makes up the eastern edge of the swell, a mud-like oasis hides. Goblin Valley State Park plays host to thousands of tourists from all over the United States each year. A couple million years ago, it was an inland sea that stretched hundreds of square miles over what is now central Utah. The ”goblins’ that cover the area were formed by layers of mud that compacted, and eventually eroded into mushroom-esque features. This amazing erosion occurred by harder rocks shielding softer layers underneath.

San Rafael Desert, just to the East of the San Rafael Anticline

Sunrise over the northern edge of Goblin Valley SP, Utah

I couldn’t help post this sunrise photo of Little Wild Horse Butte, and the Henry Mountains in the far distance. I can’t believe so few western travelers, who frequent the likes of Moab and Lake Powell, have never heard of or experienced the Swell! In a sense, I’m happy to carry this well kept secret. A large part of its splendor lies in the fact that it has not been dubbed a National Park, State Park, or even wilderness. Though counter intuitive, special designations can, in some cases, bring trouble to our most beloved regions. Click HERE for a related article: The Best Things in Life are Free? With that said, I’ll leave the droves of yahoos and knuckleheads in RMNP, Canyonlands and Arches, while I explore the badlands, slot canyons, and vast expanses of the San Rafael Swell all by my lonesome.

Check back later this week for more details and images from © Rodeonexis Photography…brought to you by Jeremy Weir

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