This section of the Green River runs through Gray Canyon which is the last day of our 5-day Desolation Canyon trip. Fun Class I to III rapids will be encountered on this 8 mile stretch. More of a Wilderness canyon, this pristine section of the Green allows viewing of petroglyphs and is home to the occasional big horn sheep, birds of prey and migratory birds. Perfect for floating, kayaking, paddling and water play. Children 5+ welcome! Continue reading “Holiday River Expeditions”
The San Rafael Swell is Utah’s fastest growing tourist destination. Most of this huge area is open to the public and adventures are left only to the visitor’s imagination. The Swell is 2,000 square miles of public land, known for its scenic sandstone formations, deep canyons, desert streams, and expansive panoramas. The Swell is a massive maze of winding canyons, broken fins and buttes in the heart of Utah.
A citizen of Green River was given this newspaper clipping from a family member from a Philadelphia newspaper. Ripley’s Believe It Or Not was able to be contacted and they found that it was published on December 30, 1990. The caption reads, â€œIn Green River, Utah, there is a 25-ft-long wooden building shaped like a watermelon that is center point to the annual Watermelon Day festival.
The La Sal Mountains are Utah’s second highest mountain range. They rise impressively above the red rock canyon country of southeastern Utah. The range contains 6 peaks that rise above 12,000 feet, the tallest being Mount Peale at 12,721 feet. Covered with thick aspen and fir forests and dotted with mountain lakes, the La Sals are a cool oasis within the often difficult environment of the surrounding desert.
Capitol Reef National Park is characterized by sandstone formations, cliffs and canyons, and a 100-mile long bulge in the earth’s crust called the Waterpocket Fold. Erosion has carved the rock into marvelous shapes. Since its designation as a national park in 1971, the majesty of Capitol Reef has been intriguing visitors with its twisting canyons, massive domes, monoliths and spires of sandstone for the past century.
After they were married in 1933, Wayne and Betty Smith settled down to start a ranch in the San Rafael Swell. They chose a site near a spring, which would supply them with water necessary for survival. However, artificial seismic activity in the region, caused by drilling for water, destroyed the natural spring. Wayne and Betty later moved to Green River. Today at Smith’s cabin, there are several ranch buildings and corrals still standing. Though some of the cabins and cattle yards are currently in various states of decay, enough is left of this scenic ranch to give you a feel of frontier life in the San Rafael Swell.
Stretching nearly 200 miles from east to west, the Book Cliffs begins where the Colorado River descends south through De Beque Canyon into the Grand Valley (near Palisade, Colorado) to Price Canyon (near Helper, Utah). The cliffs are largely composed of sedimentary materials. The name comes from the cliffs of Cretaceous sandstone that cap many south-facing buttes that appear similar to a shelf of books. The Book Cliffs are within the Colorado Plateau geologic province.
Nine-Mile Canyon is an outdoor museum. It has some remarkable examples of Indian art and remnants of dwellings that have remained untouched through the centuries. Because of the dry climate and isolation from large population centers or heavy ranching, the canyon remains much as it was hundreds of years ago. The canyon should be shown the respect due to one of the West’s ancient treasures. The panels of rock art are of such remarkable quality and beauty that they have been featured in National Geographic and other publications highlighting the beauty and uniqueness of the art. It is well worth the trip.
Canyonlands National Park , Utah’s second largest national park, is a primitive geological wonderland preserving hundreds of colorful canyons, buttes, fins, arches, spires and hoodoos. The centerpiece of the park are the two great canyons carved through flat layers of sedimentary rock by the Colorado and Green rivers, which meet here in Canyonlands. The park is divided into 4 regions — Island in the Sky, The Needles, The Maze and Horseshoe Canyon — only two of which are accessible by highway. This 572 square miles of Great Basin Desert wilderness contains primarily unpaved roads and undeveloped trails. They are relatively close together, as the crow flies, but direct travel between them is virtually impossible because of the rough nature of the landscape. People who want to explore the park should focus on one region at a time. Park info and map.
If you’ve “been there–done that,” with regard to mountain biking in Moab, then it’s time to venture to the remote San Rafael Swell. Located 15 miles west of Green River and conveniently crossed by Interstate 70, the San Rafael Swell is a redrock wilderness that boasts national-park-caliber scenery but without the crowds. The Temple Mountain area in the southern San Rafael Swell is a hub of recreational opportunities, ranging from mountain biking to “narrows” hiking to off-road vehicle exploring.
This is a working quarry where scientists conduct on-going research. There is a large visitor center featuring many exhibits. Visitor facilities are open daily during the summer and Fri-Sun during spring and fall. They close for the season at the end of October and reopen in early March.
Trailhead Location: About 15 Miles South of Green River
Trailhead GPS: 38°48’20.31″N 110° 2’52.60″W Trail Mileage: Miles of open riding areas Riding Difficulty: Ranges from easy to difficult Temperature Range: 30-100+ Depending on Season
The White Wash Sand Dunes (also known as the Dubinki Dunes or Ten Mile Wash Dunes) are some of the most scenic and enjoyable dunes in the state. To get there, take I-70 to exit 175. Exit 175 is about seven miles west of U.S. Highway 191. From the exit, go south and the road (Ruby Ranch Road) eventually turns to dirt. Continue about 12 miles (be sure to stay to the right about 4.5 miles from the exit, and continue straight at 7.8 miles from Interstate 70). Eventually you’ll hit a ridge that looks down into the basin where the dunes are located. There is plenty of parking and decent places for camping. There are no restrooms and portable toilets are required. ATV flags are also required when riding the dunes. Always be careful when riding dunes and always know what’s on the other side of the dune before going. As is the case with all sand dunes, it’s good to have a GPS unit to guide you back to the truck if needed.
From Green River, UT, take Interstate 70 west approximately 15 miles. Turn south across the highway on a dirt road after mile marker 145, go through the gate (make sure you close it) and go a little over a mile, on the west there will be a place to park off the road and you will see Little Spotted Wolf Canyon about a quarter mile from the road.
Thank you for your interest in the San Rafael Swell Mountain Bike Festivals. From the beginning, the Festivals have been geared to a wide-range of mountain biking enthusiasts – from the novice to the seasoned; from the occasional to the frequent; from the single rider to the family of riders; and from the rider(s) whose sole interest is the picturesque surroundings to the rider(s) whose sole interest is in the merits of the bike. Rides vary in degree of difficulty, each offering a different perspective of the beautiful San Rafael Swell. There really is a ride for every interest.
Sego Canyon is a great adventure the entire family will enjoy. The canyon contains rock art from three different Native American cultures and a very well preserved ghost town. The company store and a boarding house still partially stand in the center of town. There are ruins to many houses scattered through out the canyon along with remnants of the coal mine.
Buckhorn Wash is in the San Rafael Swell in central Utah. The Buckhorn Wash breaks through the Navajo Sandstone and works its way down through towering Sandstone cliffs as you make your way to the San Rafael River. Signs along the drive tell you the names of the different sandstone layers. There are several panels of pictographs and petroglyphs along the road, making the road a delight for sight seers, geologists and anthropologists.
Crystal Geyser is a rare example of a cold water carbon dioxide driven geyser; geothermal activity does not play a role in the activity of the geyser. The ground water near the geyser has significant quantities of dissolved carbon dioxide, along with substantial underground gas accumulations in the surrounding area. Saturation of the aquifer with CO2 creates enough pressure to force groundwater through the geyser and out on to the surface.
The Wild West folklore, legend and history is a rich part of Green River’s past. If outlaws and gunslingers interest you, Green River is a good place to start tracing back the fascinating lore of the region.
Green River is the location of the official John Wesley Powell Museum, chronically the famous explorer’s historical trek down the river. Many artifacts and relics can be viewed in the museum. This collection honors the rich history of the area, and offers the visitor an indepth look into how this land looked during the early days of the west.
Little Wild Horse Canyon is 58 miles from Green River. The Little Wild Horse Canyon/Bell Canyon loop hike is the most popular hike in the San Rafael Swell for good reason. The canyons are two of the best slot canyons in Utah. This hike is suitable for just about everyone. If you enjoy a long walk in the park than you can probably complete this hike with little problem. The canyons can be hiked individually for a short distance or connected together to provide an easy half day loop hike.
Swasey’s cabin was built in 1921 by the Swasey Brothers (Joe, Sid, Charley, and Rod). The Swasey’s started running cattle and horses out of the area decades before they finally built the cabin, usually sleeping in the open or in shallow caves. The Swasey’s are responsible for naming many landmarks in the Swell, including Joe and His Dog, the Sid and Charley pinnacles, Rod’s Valley, Eagle Canyon, Sid’s Mountain, Cliff Dweller Flat, and more. Considered outlaws by many, their exploits were remarkable, including the one that occurred at a place appropriately named “Swasey’s Leap” where Sid, as the story goes, bet his brother Charley a small herd of cattle that Sid, on horseback, could jump 12 feet across the San Rafael River. Of course, the river was at the bottom of a gorge, 80 feet below! Sid was successful, and the cows were his.
Twelve miles north of Interstate 70, a developed BLM campground at Swasey boat ramp includes vault restrooms, trash disposal and fire rings. The white sand beach spans a long bend in the river and is shaded by cottonwood trees. Shallow water gives children plenty of opportunity to frolic in the river, and bighorn sheep frequent the water’s edge. Rapids upstream from the campground provide a kayaking playground. Designated as recreational access with no permits or fees for camping or boating, Swasey’s Beach provides barrier-free access for those with disabilities.
Although officially a detached unit of Canyonlands National Park, the Horseshoe Canyon area could be better described as a little hidden jewel lost in the desert. It’s definitely worth the time it takes to get there. If you already plan on a few days in the Maze, you won’t be disappointed if you spend a half-day of your vacation at Horseshoe Canyon. If you’re going to the Maze from Green River, Horseshoe Canyon is a convenient stop. The Great Gallery is one of four major rock art sites in Horseshoe Canyon, but the fabulous rock art is only part of the attraction. Horseshoe Canyon would be well worth the stop without it. It’s a great day hike in a secluded canyon with majestic cottonwoods shading the sheer sandstone cliffs.
Situated on the banks of the famous Green River, the J.W. Powell Museum is a showcase of the trials and tribulations of the expeditions of Powell as he attempted to explore and record the geology and geography of the area. The museum also covers pre-history and has exhibits about the more current river runners.
Black Dragon Canyon is very popular with rock art enthusiasts. The panel receives its name from a pictograph, which resembles a flying dragon. Pictographs and petroglyphs are spread out along the base of the high canyon walls. Unfortunately, the site has been seriously damage by inconsiderate visitors. DO NOT outline pictographs with chalk for photographing.
The Robbers Roost is positioned between the Colorado, Green, and Dirty Devil Rivers in Utah lies a wild stretch of land that became known as Robbers’ Roost. The area afforded hundreds of hiding spots and was difficult to penetrate, as the only easy access is via the mouth of the Dirty Devil River.
Goblin Valley State Park is 50 miles from Green River.
Goblin Valley’s eminent feature is its thousands of hoodoos and hoodoo rocks, which are formations of mushroom-shaped rock pinnacles, some as high as several meters. The distinct shape of these rocks comes from an erosion-resistant layer of rock atop softer sandstone.
The vast landscape of sandstone goblins may have visitors wondering if they’re on Mars or in Utah. The movie, Galaxy Quest, was filmed at Goblin Valley State Park because of its unearthly scenery. Scores of intricately eroded creatures greet visitors to Goblin Valley. Hike among these rock formations and discover numerous haunting coves. Adjacent to the park, off-highway vehicle enthusiasts will find hundreds of miles of dirt roads to explore.
Rest under a canopy of cottonwood trees or accept the challenge of a nine-hole golf course on the banks of the Green River. Annual events include the 184-mile Friendship Cruise and Melon Days.
The park is also a popular starting point for boaters adventuring through Labyrinth and Stillwater canyons. There is information about Labyrinth Canyon that you should know if you’re planning a float trip; you will also need the Labyrinth Canyon Non-commercial River Trip Permit.
Green River State Park golf course is a golf oasis on the banks of the Green River, with the Book Cliffs towering in the distance. The elevated tees and greens add character to a leisurely round of golf. The course offers fairways lined with mature cottonwood trees and water hazards from the meandering Green River. Surrounded by natural wonder, this nine-hole classic was designed to challenge the experienced player, but remain playable to newer golfers.
Arches National Park is 48 miles from Green River.
A red rock wonderland containing some of the most scenic and inspiring landscapes on Earth, Arches National Park contains the world’s largest concentration of natural sandstone arches. Although over 2,000 arches are located within the park’s 76,518 acres, the park also contains an astounding variety of other geological formations. Colossal sandstone fins, massive balanced rocks, soaring pinnacles and spires dwarf visitors as they explore the park’s viewpoints and hiking trails. Geologic faulting has exposed millions of years of geologic history within the park.