What is the best time of the year to visit?
The San Rafael Swell is a high desert climate so; spring and fall are really the best times to enjoy the most of the areas in the Swell. Although, some areas like narrow and slot canyons can be enjoyable in the summer months. If you don't mind camping in the cold winter is a great time to visit, there are few people that come in the winter. If you do come in the summer make sure to bring plenty of water and wear a hat, the climate is very dry and hot, heat stroke is common.
What is the weather like?
Spring temperatures vary greatly. Summer is hot and very dry. Fall the temperatures moderate slowly cooling till winter comes. Winter the Swell is fairly high and does get cold and snow. But for those who like it all to themselves, this is the best time to go. Few people venture in the Swell between October and March. Thunder storms are always a possibility. Be sure to check the weather before you leave and always check the skies as you enter narrow canyons. Storms that are miles away can cause unexpected flash flooding.
What sorts of things are there to see?
The San Rafael Swell has a large variety of different landscapes from the deep canyons on the, west to the pitched and towering reef on the east. There are vistas such as the Wedge Overlook to narrow slot canyons like Little Wild Horse Canyon. Deep untouched Canyons like Saddle Horse Canyon to the open grass land of the Sinbad country, from the gently flowing stream of the Muddy Creek and San Rafael Rivers to the tortured and twisted lifts of the Reef itself. Spiring towers like Bottle Neck Peak to the endless mesas of Reds Canyon. There are many arches and other unique geographical features. Indian writings can be found in most areas of the swell dating back long before the settlers came. Hundreds of mines dot the entire area, most are uranium mine and none are active (Be extremely careful when exploring near open mines, there is the danger of radon gas explosives and some shafts drop strait down hundreds of feet).
Are there any stores or other services close by?
No. The closest stores and services are in Green River, Castle Dale or Cleveland, none are close so be prepared and extra careful.
Must I have an off road vehicle to see any sites in the Swell?
No. Even though the only paved road in the Swell is I-70, there are many graded dirt roads, they are generally well maintained. Many beautiful areas of the Swell can be viewed from these roads such as Buckhorn Wash , Reds Canyon , Temple Mountain and Mexican Mountain . From These roads lead some of the best hikes in the Swell.
Where can I go to get away from off road vehicles and still see interesting sites?
Most anywhere. The Swell is full of interesting sites and because of the high cliffs towering mesas, narrow canyons, most is inaccessible to any motorized vehicles. Four large areas have been designated Wilderness Study Areas, much of the most scenic country is contained in these areas and no motorized access is permitted.
What sort of activities can de done there?
Hiking, Camping, Use of off road vehicles, site seeing, picnicking all are legal and even encouraged. If you intend to go off main roads, check the San Rafael Swell Route Designation Plan to see what roads are still open first.
Is there drinking water available?
No. Always bring plenty of water.
Are there camping facilities available?
Yes, The Assembly Hall Peak Campground is near the San Rafael River Bridge. The other campground is at Goblin Valley State Park.
Where can I legally use off road vehicles?
Consult the San Rafael Swell Route Designation Plan for open roads.
What is the size of the Swell?
The Swell is about 650,000 square acres.
What is the elevation?
The elevation of the Swell varies greatly from as low as 4500 feet to well over 7000 feet.
How many people live in the area?
0, There are no residents in the San Rafael Swell.
What kinds of animals live there?
Big horn sheep, coyotes, cougars, and wild horses all make the Swell their home.