Press "Enter" to skip to content

San Rafael Reef Trip Reports

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 ...
Read More

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 ...
Read More

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 ...
Read More

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 ...
Read More

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 ...
Read More

Chute Canyon

The Edge of The Swell II
Sunday, January 14, 2018

After spending Saturday exploring northern canyons of the San Rafael Reef, we headed further south on Sunday morning near Temple Mountain and Goblin Valley to hike another canyon that cuts through the Reef. A few years back Diane and I had hiked Crack Canyon and really enjoyed it, so I thought it would be a good day to come back and hike it’s neighbor, Chute Canyon. Typically, these two canyons are linked together to make a nice long loop, but I’m actually glad we hiked them separately so we could ...
Read More

The Edge of The Swell

Northern San Rafael Reef
Saturday, January 13, 2018

After having to cancel my hiking plans the previous weekend, Diane headed back with me this weekend to spend some time exploring a few canyons of the San Rafael Reef based out of Green River. We spent Saturday in the northern section of the San Rafael Reef and started the day by revisiting Cottonwood Wash.

...
Read More
Little Wild Horse Canyon & Bell Canyon

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Years ago I tried hiking into Little Wild Horse Canyon and Bell Canyon, which are slot canyons that cut through the San Rafael Reef near Goblin Valley State Park, but I was chased away by thunderstorms that day and have never returned to try again. Since that time the popularity of these slot canyons have exploded, which is part of the reason I had never bothered to return. I finally decided that it was time to head back this weekend to hike these San Rafael Swell classics. I was hoping that we wouldn’t run into the ...
Read More

Crack Canyon

Saturday, November 7, 2015

On Saturday morning Diane and I left home early and drove west into Utah to go hiking in the desert. Our destination was Crack Canyon in the San Rafael Reef which is not too far away from the much more popular Little Wild Horse Canyon and Goblin Valley State Park. After getting off the highway and following Temple Mountain Road through the reef, we took the Behind the Reef Road to Crack Canyon and drove down the wash to the Wilderness Study Area boundary. We parked here and started hiking down the canyon. It was a ...
Read More

Rock Art Along the Reef

Sunday, January 25, 2015

A few years ago Marty and I had spent our New Year’s Eve along the San Rafael Reef in search of rock art. That day we found some new panels but were unable to find a few others. We decided to head back there today so we could try again. I met Marty in Green River at 7:00am this morning and we took off for a day of hiking and exploring along the San Rafael Reef.

...
Read More
New Year's Eve Along the Reef

San Rafael Swell Rock Art IX
New Year’s Eve | Saturday, December 31, 2011

We finally made it…the last trip of the year 2011! On New Years Eve morning I met up with Marty in Green River so that we could head over to the San Rafael Reef and Desert to search for some new rock art sites.

...
Read More
Northern San Rafael Swell Rock Art

San Rafael Swell Rock Art VIII
Saturday, November 26, 2011

After spending Black Friday in Nine Mile Canyon I spent Saturday searching for and visiting some new rock art sites in the San Rafael Swell. After a quick breakfast in Green River I made my way over to visit the Prickly Pear Flat pictograph panel.

...
Read More
Rock Art Along the San Rafael Reef

San Rafael Swell Rock Art VI
Saturday, July 30, 2011

On Saturday I met up with my friend Kevin for the first time so that we could do a little hiking in the San Rafael Swell and hopefully find a few new rock art panels. Luckily, we did end up finding the panels we were looking for…so here’s a few photos from our day.

...
Read More
Three Fingers to Temple Wash

San Rafael Swell Rock Art III
Saturday, June 18, 2011

This Saturday I was going to meet my friend Philippe from France at Goblin Valley in the evening. That gave me all day to do some exploring on my own along the San Rafael Reef. I started out driving south from I-70 along the Reef to Three Fingers Canyon. I hadn’t been there in a year or two and I wanted to get some better photos of the petroglyphs.

...
Read More
Wild Horse Canyon

Saturday, November 27, 2010

On Saturday, Amanda and I headed west to the San Rafael Swell so we could go for a hike in Wild Horse Canyon. Before reaching our destination, we stopped by the pictographs along Temple Mountain Wash.

...
Read More