Utah’s San Rafael swell

A weekend in early November hiking in Utah’s San Rafael swell, a large swathe of essentially wilderness that lies mostly south of I-70 as you head west from Green River. This is one of Utah’s less well-known areas of canyon country, there are no national parks or monuments and access, although straightforward, requires negotiating lengthy stretches of mostly good dirt roads. The highlight was the Chute of Muddy Creek, which despite its rather uninspiring name is a truly spectacular canyon! (It is damn muddy though, so whoever named it knew what they were doing.) If you imagine a far remoter and only slightly less remarkable version of the Zion Canyon Narrows, you’ll get the picture.


We hiked about 12 or 13 miles out and back from the Tomsich Butte trail head, in the course of which we met no other hikers (in fact, we didn’t even see any other cars on the 60+ miles of dirt roads to and from from I-70!). Substantial stretches of the hike call for river wading, which in November was not too deep (rarely more than knee deep) but cold. Neoprene socks were very helpful! It’s a great hike.


I’m sure there must be other great hikes in the San Rafael swell, and probably also in the Book Cliffs area north of I-70 in the same general area. More exploration here is on my to-do list!

Comments are closed.