San Rafael Swell Region

Proposed Wilderness in the San Rafael Swell Region

Click on the image above to view a gallery of the San Rafael Swell Region.

Fifty miles long and thirty miles wide, the dramatic geologic formation of the San Rafael Swell is fortressed by a daunting 1,500-foot anticline, the San Rafael Reef, that surges from the desert floor like a sandstone tsunami.

This red wave begins in central Utah, near the town of Price; from there, it and the sea of stone it guards run south along Highways 6 and 24, circumventing the fantastical garden of stone creatures in Goblin Valley State Park before ebbing at Hanksville.

The region is bound on the west by Highway 10 and Capitol Reef National Park, while Interstate 70 bisects the Swell.

Despite the major thoroughfare, either side of the highway remains remarkably remote for miles, protected in slot canyons like the Black Box and The Chute (so deeply incised in Coconino strata that flood debris is wedged some 50 feet above their floors), and atop seemingly unscalable monoliths like the widely photographed Factory Butte.

The Swell holds behind its great red wave the quintessential redrock country. Wether one stands at the Wedge Overlook and peers into the gorge that cradles the San Rafael River, or wanders the Hondu Country -— an area so rarely visited that its ancient tidelands and mudflats are still unnamed — no other region so completely exemplifies the diverse and scenic geology of the Colorado Plateau.

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