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Sauntering Through The Swell: The Northwest Side

Muddy Creek to the Little Wedge | San Rafael Swell Rock Art XVII
Friday – Sunday, April 21-23, 2023

As I was trying to figure out where I wanted to go this weekend, I realized that I had not been back to the San Rafael Swell since Diane and I did a little mountain biking on the Good Water Rim Trail over the Halloween weekend in 2021, and I thought that this would be a good time to finally get back out there to remedy that oversight. As usual, I left after work on Friday afternoon and headed west into Utah to the northwestern side of The Swell so I could spend the weekend hiking, Jeeping and searching for rock art between Muddy Creek and the Little Wedge. These are some photos from the weekend…

On my way to top off my gas tank in Ferron, I took the Millers Canyon exit and followed the Coal Cliffs and Muddy Creek for a little way. I have never actually driven this road before since the Moore Cutoff Road usually makes more sense to take, so it was nice to see some new country.

Coal Cliffs

Leaving the Muddy Creek and driving up Miller Canyon towards Emery.

Miller Canyon

I passed beneath this hoodoo as I followed the Muddy Creek toward its headwaters on the Wasatch Plateau.

Muddy Creek Hoodoo

After getting gas in Ferron I headed back east down Horn Silver Gulch and found a great campsite above North Salt Wash along the edge of the Little Wedge. Unfortunately, it was a bit too cloudy out for a sunset this evening, so I read for a little while and then went to bed early.

After getting a good night of sleep I woke up to a cloudy sunrise, too. This time a little light got through to add some subtle colors to the clouds.

Morning Jeep

After breakfast I hiked down into North Salt Wash so I could follow it downstream to its confluence with the San Rafael River.

North Salt Wash Canyon

Although it was mostly cloudy out, the sun did peek through the clouds on occasion.

North Salt Wash Light

North Salt Wash View

It didn’t take me very long to reach the San Rafael River, which looked like it was currently at a good level for floating.

San Rafael River

Little Wedge Point

Canyon Junction

Although the hiking in North Salt Wash was pretty easy, there were a couple of beaver dams that made finding crossings of the creek a little tedious, especially since I didn’t really want to get my feet wet.

Beaver Dam

Hiking back up North Salt Wash.

North Salt Wash Upstream

Exploring ledges of The Red Ledges.

Along The Ledge

The Red Ledges in the later afternoon.

The Red Ledges

I spent my second night at the same campsite with a great view over North Salt Wash. This time the light cooperated for a little while.

North Salt Wash

Sunday morning at the edge of the Little Wedge before sunrise.

Edge of the Little Wedge


Rock Art of the San Rafael Swell

Throughout the weekend I found and visited some new rock art sites and also revisited others that were along the way. Here are some photos of the rock art I saw this weekend.

High Pictographs

Faded Red Pictographs

Defaced Petroglyphs

Fremont Figure

Fremont Petroglyph

Rippled Panel

Jumping Sheep Panel

Smudged Pictograph

Colorful Rainbow Pictograph

Three Anthropomorphs


Petroglyph Panel

Outline Pictographs

Moccasin Tracks

Moccasin Tracks II


Spalling Panel

Patch Panel

Rainbow Panel

Quail Panel Lineup

Quail Panel

>> Northwestern San Rafael Swell Photo Gallery

One Comment

  1. Peter B
    Peter B April 28, 2023

    Wow, amazing rock art. Thanks for sharing

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