Tour de Swell

Saturday & Sunday, March 29-30, 2014

I recently realized that I hadn’t been out to the San Rafael Swell in quite some time and felt it was time to get back again. Diane had never been to the Swell before so I thought it would be nice to give her an overview tour of the northern Swell this weekend. She would get to see some new sights and I would get to revisit and rephotograph some sites I have been to in the past. We left Grand Junction early on Saturday morning and made our way west through Green River before passing through the San Rafael Reef and climbing onto the San Rafael Swell.

Our first stop was at the Skeleton Shaman pictograph panel, which also happens to be one of my favorites.

13524574985_f75e1493f6_c.jpg

Locomotive Point sandstone.

13591828233_4bbc235b65_z.jpg

Another damaged but interesting pictograph panel next to the Skeleton Shaman.

13592283774_dc63549e5c_z.jpg

We stopped to check out Dutchman Arch.

13591844175_d7943e47e9_z.jpg

Diane poses on top of the arch.

13541324785_8a276a2a20_z.jpg

We also visited the Feet of Sinbad pictographs. This one looks like it would probably be quite an amazing panel if the top half hadn’t broken off.

13592384843_dd1e548a34_z.jpg

Driving through a tunnel under I-70.

13524493913_756f82d4c6_z.jpg

Next we followed Buckhorn Draw Road to the San Rafael River and stopped to checkout the old Swinging Bridge.

The San Rafael River. It’s on my list to float one of these days if I can catch it when it’s running high enough…

13541733224_e7e739ef84_z.jpg

Diane and I crossing the Swinging Bridge.

13563869213_d22cf1edb0_z.jpg

Of course we had to stop and checkout the large pictographs at the Buckhorn Wash Panel.

13591981435_c8c0543c6e_z.jpg

Then we hiked to the Cattle Guard Panel.

13541531115_3c13e85a2b_z.jpg

View down Buckhorn Wash.

13592081243_5d6417fe0c_z.jpg

We stopped to visit the popular dinosaur track.

13541827023_d474e9e7f6_z.jpg

I’ve been through Buckhorn Wash plenty of times over the years but have never took the time to check out the MK Tunnels before…so we did that.

13564056934_ec2f405cb0_z.jpg

Next we drove onto The Wedge and setup our camp for the evening.

13541829195_95c465c51e_z.jpg

Then we drove up on Cedar Mountain to check out the view from the overlook since I had never been up there before. The overcast sky didn’t cooperate today.

13592102125_4264584298_z.jpg

We visited a few petroglyph panels at the base of Cedar Mountain along the old railroad grade before returning back to camp.

A cool petroglyph panel at the base of Cedar Mountain.

13563945195_79402a8419_z.jpg

Silent Sentinel

13585214703_05fb3dcf91_z.jpg

45 Degree Rock

13592214965_a93f8d17f0_z.jpg

Cedar Mountain view.

13585292513_09a91d9deb_z.jpg

An 1886 inscription at Railroad Rocks.

13592289805_b1773fa2aa_z.jpg

Driving along the old railroad grade.

13591767073_12e402a59e_z.jpg

When we returned back to The Wedge the evening light started filtering down through openings in the clouds. I grabbed my camera to take advantage of the beautiful light. I ran into my friend Dave at the Little Grand Canyon Overlook, which was a nice surprise.

I climbed down to a white sandstone dome below the main overlook. This is the view looking back up at Diane.

13592426575_49db878817_z.jpg

Beautiful light across the canyon.

13594354234_15ce6c6882_z.jpg

San Rafael River below.

13594048405_385711d3b9_z.jpg

Amazing light in the Little Grand Canyon.

13564613264_e470efcfce_z.jpg

Did I mention the light was pretty nice this evening?

13594185205_9d60b6a392_z.jpg

We had camped at The Wedge so I could try and photograph the sunrise in the morning, but unfortunately the sky didn’t cooperate. When my alarm went off on Sunday morning I looked outside and saw that the sky was overcast so I went back to sleep for a little while longer. After waking up a little later we got our camp packed back into the Jeep we set off to do a little hiking and visit a few rock art sites.

Petroglyphs over pictographs.

13591558973_1e9a8862cb_z.jpg

Barrier Canyon Style paintings viewed through a small arch.

13564303973_516e705d7b_z.jpg

Diane suggested I take a photo through the smaller hole in the sandstone.

13525020944_76ef7f37ed_z.jpg

One more view of this cool pictograph panel.

13591382335_ec4b71a729_z.jpg

Wavy Arms Guy

13591627214_bd5eaf5b3d_z.jpg

Red Sheep Panel

13591157485_e43f902462_z.jpg

Driving along the Molen Reef.

13524796865_1d5881da16_z.jpg

Shadows on the Molen Reef.

13591073995_54c31a26b7_z.jpg

View over Spotted Wolf Canyon through the San Rafael Reef on a dusty day.

13591025774_4040384956_z.jpg

After having a late lunch at Ray’s in Green River we made one last detour on the way home to find a few new pictographs in the Book Cliffs.

While we were at the top of a large talus slope searching for pictographs some stormy weather started rolling in.

13590488415_2259c6e940_z.jpg

13590384345_3807ee317c_z.jpg

We did find a few new pictographs.

13585716004_ed33079f5a_z.jpg

13585443815_8a6b48b43c_z.jpg

Right after taking that last photo the wind really picked up and there was some pretty close lightning, so we hiked back down to the Jeep. It started to rain a little as we started to drive away. We had to dodge numerous tumbleweeds blowing across I-70 as we finished the drive back home.

>> Tour de Swell Photo Gallery


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *