Buckhorn Draw/San Rafael Bridge
Once the scene of outlaw chases, Buckhorn Draw (a long, steep-walled canyon), is the main northern gate-way to the Swell. A canyon highlight is the interpreted Buckhorn Draw Native American rock art site. These striking figures were restored as Emery County's Utah Centennial Project in 1996. Buckhorn Draw area is accessible from the south from I-70, Exit 129.
Camping facilities are provided at the San Rafael Bridge Recreation Site, adjacent to the San Rafael River. The recreation site is bordered by the lofty escarpment to the north and large buttes to the east and west. Camping facilities at San Rafael Bridge include tent pads, picnic tables, toilets, and fire rings. No drinking water is available. When camping in other areas, please use existing, undeveloped campsites to avoid impacting new areas. No reservations are taken for this campground.
The Wedge Overlook provides a striking view of the Little Grand Canyon, the San Rafael River, and the Sid's Mountain Wilderness Study Area. To protect the fragile resources (notably an endangered cactus species), use of motorized vehicles and mountain bikes is limited to designated roads, and camping is limited to designated sites. To visit the overlook, drive from the town of Cleveland south toward the San Rafael Recreation Site; continue beyond the Buckhorn Reservoir (just over four miles) to the water tank at the Buckhorn Flat Well. After passing the tank, go left at the next intersection and continue six miles to the overlook. An information board marks this canyon rim overlook.
Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry
The Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry
, a National Natural Landmark, is one of the world's foremost dinosaur fossil sources. Recognized as the primary source of flesh-eating Allosaur skeletons, the site features a visitor center, guided tours, dinosaur walks, and a picnic area. The Quarry is 30-miles south of Price. From Highway 10, look for the signs (about 12-miles south of Price), and follow them signs at road intersections. The Quarry operates spring through summer. A visitor use fee is charged to visit the quarry. Visit the website to confirm opening times, dates, and entrance fees.
Cedar Mountain Recreation Area
Cedar Mountain towers over the northern San Rafael Swell and is ideal for getting a 'bird's eye" view. An exhibit at this cliff-top overlook summarizes area geology. Picnic tables and toilets are available. Cedar Mountain is southeast of the town of Cleveland.
Head of Sinbad/Swasey's Cabin
Just off I-70, the Head of Sinbad area invites camping, hiking, and exploring. The elements have molded the buff-colored sandstone into pocketed watchtowers and other fanciful shapes. Members of the Swasey family first grazed livestock in the area in the late 1800's. Today, visitors may see the log cabin that was built in 1921. Listed on the Utah State Register of Historic Sites, the cabin can be reached from 1-70 from Ranch Exit 129.
Head west and south from Exit 129 for four miles. Turn right and continue for 1.1 miles. Turn right again and travel in a northwesterly direction for about four miles. Continue along the road in a southerly direction for two miles. Then, turn right (west) and drive 0.6 miles to the cabin. Site facilities are limited to a toilet.
The Hidden Splendor uranium mine was famous in Utah. Originally named the Delta, it was started by Vernon Pick in 1952. He extracted a million dollars of ore before selling the mine. It closed in 1957 without reaching its estimated potential. The site of the old mine is tucked away in a canyon at the southern end of the Swell. This remote, undeveloped area is best explored on foot. Hidden Splendor is 44-miles south by graded road from I-70 Ranch Exit 129.
Hondu Arch and Tomsich Butte
Hondu Arch is a large natural opening that rests high above Muddy Creek. The abandoned Dirty Devil Uranium Mines at Tomsich Butte were started by W.J. Hanret and John Tomsich in 1951. The undeveloped Hondu Arch/Tomsich Butte area is rich in opportunities for hiking, camping, mountain biking and exploring. To reach this area, drive 29 miles south on graded roads from I-70 Ranch Exit 129.
Goblin Valley State Park/Little Wild Horse Canyon
Goblin Valley is famous for its large collection of fancifully-shaped rock formations. To reach Goblin Valley from Highway 24, turn right at the Goblin Valley turnoff onto a narrow paved road, drive west for 5 miles, then turn left onto a graded dirt road at the signed junction.
Drive south for six miles to the State Park entrance station. Facilities at the park include campsites with tables and grills, drinking water, showers, and flush toilets. An entry fee is charged.
Little Wild Horse and Bell Canyons
South of Goblin Valley, Little Wild Horse and Bell canyons cut narrow slots through the San Rafael Reef. A popular hiking route loop starts in Little Wild Horse Canyon and returns to the Little Wild Horse Canyon Trailhead via Bell Canyon. The hike requires some scrambling over large boulders and squeezing through narrow spots. Do not attempt this hike if there is a possibility of flash flooding. The trailhead, with its bulletin board, parking area and toilet is 5.3 miles south of the Goblin Valley entrance station. The dirt road south of Goblin Valley is rough, sandy, and subject to washouts.
Keesle Country is a maze of canyons in the southwest corner of the Swell. A short hike or horseback ride into this roadless area will provide an introduction to its primitive character. Keesle country can be reached from I-70 Ranch Exit 129. At the turn-off to the Hidden Splendor Mine, turn left and head toward the mine. After a short distance, you will see Keesle Country to the right.
Mussentuchit Sand Dunes
Although these dunes are relatively small in area, they provide interesting riding for off highway vehicle enthusiasts. The undeveloped dune area can be reached from I-70 exit 97. Drive south for 8.2 miles to a junction, then go right (west, then south) 2.1 miles to another junction. At this second junction, go right (south) 1.5 miles to the dunes. Beyond the dunes to the southwest is a remote northern end of Capital Reef National Park. To the southeast are the even more remote upper Last Chance Wash and Moroni Slopes areas.
San Rafael Desert
The San Rafael Desert, accessible from Highway 24 (on unpaved roads), is relatively flat with many areas of low sand dunes. Additionally, a main dirt road heads south into the desert from the town of Green River. Several spur roads lead from this main road to overlooks of the Green River's Labyrinth Canyon.
San Rafael Reef
This spectacular San Rafael Reef dominates the eastern side of the Swell. Erosion has smoothed the jagged, upturned Navajo sandstone face of the reef and cut deep canyons. These canyons are ideal for hiking, scrambling and exploring.
Temple Mountain, located to the northwest of Goblin Valley, is the highest point along the San Rafael Reef. This area was once one of the most active mining operations during Utah's uranium boom days.
Although the mines are now long closed, the numerous roads left behind by the miners provide access for off-highway vehicles riders. Abandoned mines are very dangerous and should never be entered.
Temple Mountain is easily reached from I-70. Drive Highway 24 south, turn right at the Goblin Valley turnoff, and then take the narrow paved road 6.4 miles west to the end of the pavement.