Utah is full of hidden gems waiting to be found by you in your campervan rental. The San Rafael Swell is one of them. The San Rafael Swell is a large geographic uplift on the eastern side of central Utah only about 3 hours from Salt Lake City. It a vast expanse with minimal development. It is a great place to get away. It is packed with hidden treasures of ancient rock art, gorgeous views, and unique geology including slot canyons and hoodoos. There are no gas stations and limited cell phone service so plan ahead for an excellent adventure. Wandervans recommends bringing a good map like this one from National Geographic to help you navigate.
One of the best known points of interest in the swell is The Wedge which is also known as the "Little Grand Canyon." I was expecting it to be a bit overrated given how much people talked about it. However, when I saw it in person I was taken aback by how impressive it truly was. There are campsites along the overlook as well as along the road leading to the overlook. There are primitive campsites throughout the swell. Please be sure to always leave your site better than you found it.
The San Rafael Swell is full of signs of human history including many ancient petroglyphs and pictographs throughout the swell that were left long ago by many different groups including the Freemonts, Utes, and pioneers. Many of the art pieces are well marked along main roads where you can see them up close with only a little effort. There are also historical ruins and structures through out the swell such as the swinging bridge built in 1937 by the Civilian Conservation Corp. When it was built it was the only bridge over the river and opened up a world of opportunity for Utahans including ranchers.
There are also many slot canyons throughout the swell. It is important to be prepared when exploring these canyons as desert travel can be dangerous and you are not likely to see many other people if you see any at all. Two good resources for researching slot canyons in the area are Visit Utah and The American Southwest.
Goblin Valley State Park encompasses a small piece of the San Rafael Swell. It is much less visited than places like Arches National Park or Canyon Lands National Park which are both within a couple hour drive of the swell. It is an alien landscape the highlight of which are the hoodoos created by erosion. Goblin Valley State Park is unique in many ways. The most memorable of which is the exploration opportunities. While there are trails that most anyone can hike that wind through the hoodoos what makes Goblin Valley State Park unique is the open country policy. Visitors are welcomed to travel off trail to explore the landscape so long as they are conscious to not harm the hoodoos. This can be a wondrous, unforgettable experience especially for children. Goblin Valley State Park also has 7 miles of beginner mountain bike trails, a disc golf course, and is certified as one of the darkest night skies on earth which lets you see more stars than almost anywhere else on earth.
A large part of San Rafael Swell's charm is the lack of specific places to go. It is a vast, unique landscape that provides visitors with endless options to create a one of a kind trip each time they visit. Feel free to contact us with any questions you have about the San Rafael Swell. You can make your reservation here now.