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Tag: canyons of the san rafael reef

Canyons of the San Rafael Reef

Black Dragon Wash to Ernie Canyon
Friday – Sunday, January 29-31, 2021

Over the past couple of years I’ve spent a weekend in January exploring the canyons of the San Rafael Reef at the edge of the San Rafael Swell just west of Green River. I guess I’ve continued to do this each year because it’s an easy drive from home and it doesn’t really matter if there is snow on the ground or not. Plus, it’s just a great place to explore anytime! With this weekend being the last one in January and the weather looking good, I thought that it would be nice to keep up the tradition and headed back to the San Rafael Reef! As usual, I left right from work on Friday afternoon and drove west on I-70 until I reached the San Rafael Reef. Just before driving through Spotted Wolf Canyon on the interstate, I took a side road to the north and found a place to camp near the mouth of Black Dragon Canyon. For a brief time there was a little light snow that fell, but it didn’t stick and stopped just as quickly as it had started. As soon as the clouds dissipated the light from the Wolf Moon filled the canyon.

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Leap Day at Swasey’s Leap

Leap Day | Saturday & Sunday, February 29 – March 1, 2020

This year Leap Day (February 29th) happened to fall on a weekend, so I thought it would be fitting to finally get out to Swasey’s Leap in the San Rafael Swell to celebrate. Swasey’s Leap (sometimes spelled Swazys) is a narrow part of the canyon near the beginning of the Lower Black Box of the San Rafael River that is only about 14 feet wide and 50 feet deep. The lore associated with Swasey’s Leap is that back in the late 1800’s Sid and Charley Swasey made a wager about Sid’s horse jumping the narrow gap at the top of the canyon. Sid said his horse could make it while Charley wagered his herd of cattle that he couldn’t. In the end Sid made the leap and won the cattle from his brother. From then on, this spot has been known as Swasey’s Leap or Sid’s Leap. Later, a sheepherder named Paul Hansen built a bridge over the gap made of cottonwood logs and an old wagon box, but this old bridge collapsed and fell into the river sometime in 1997. While I have driven out to the end of the Swasey’s Leap Road once before, I never actually hiked out to Swasey’s Leap, so I was looking forward to finally checking it out this weekend!

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Spine of The Swell: San Rafael Reef Wilderness

Uneva Canyon & Three Fingers Canyon Loop
Saturday, January 11, 2020

For the past couple of years it seems like I always end up hiking on the San Rafael Reef at the beginning of the year in early to mid-January, so I guess this year is not going to be an exception! Maybe it’s because it’s an easy drive from home on I-70 and makes for a good day trip when there is snow on the ground in the desert. Anyway, this weekend Diane was supposed to go snowshoeing with a couple of her friends on the Grand Mesa so I planned to take it easy and go on a day trip to the San Rafael Reef on Saturday by myself. Although I have visited the petroglyphs at the mouth of Three Fingers Canyon a few times before, I had not really done much else in the area, so I decided to hike a loop combining Uneva Canyon and Three Fingers Canyon that would take me along the front and the back of the Reef in this area. Just like with the Muddy Creek Wilderness, this area also became an official Wilderness Area last year with the signing of the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act.

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Roaming on The Reef: Hurst Bridge

Backcountry Fest 2019 | Friday – Saturday, April 5-6, 2019

I was originally supposed to spend this entire weekend with Diane in the San Rafael Swell at the very first Backcountry Fest, but then Underoath announced a concert in Grand Junction on Saturday night that we wanted to go to which kind of messed up our plans. Instead of cancelling the weekend trip completely, I decided that I would still head down on Friday evening to meet up and hang out with the group at a campsite near Temple Mountain, and then I would go for a shorter hike by myself on Saturday morning before heading back home to attend the concert later in the evening. Thankfully this event wasn’t too far from home!

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Reef Madness: Cave Canyon & Arch Tower

The San Rafael Reef
Saturday, January 12, 2019

Since Diane took an extra shift at work today I decided to drive over into Utah so I could do a little hiking on the northern San Rafael Reef since I hadn’t been back out that way since last January. I just hoped I wouldn’t lose a wheel on my Jeep this time since I’d be driving down that same road again! When I woke up this morning there was a fresh layer of snow on the ground at my house, so I checked the weather forecast and it looked like the snow ended near the state line, so I continued on with my plans for the day. After leaving home I drove through some very dense fog on I-70 from Grand Junction all the way to the Westwater exit and then through more patchy fog until the Cisco exit. This slowed down the drive considerably, so it’s probably a good thing I wasn’t in a hurry to get anywhere this morning. After passing the Cisco exit it was clear blue skies as far as I could see and it would stay that way for the rest of the day.

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