I70 at San Rafael Swell Green RiverA part of the Colorado Plateau, the San Rafael Swell is high desert country, vastly different from the Sonoran desert of the Southwest. In some sections, it is a sweeping country with towering mesas, buttes, and pinnacles rising from flat desert floors. In other areas, it boasts rolling pasturelands populated with antelope and wild horses; and just around the bend it can become an incredibly wild broken land with streams cutting through slot canyons that open up to panoramic vistas.

There are numerous roads that only four-wheel drive vehicles can negotiate. Spring and fall are ideal seasons to explore this country because temperatures are usually moderate. Summer days can be uncomfortably hot. Winter nights get very cold but winter days are often mild - very pleasant for hiking, biking and jeeping.

The San Rafael Swell is a large remote area in central/eastern Utah that is split in half by Interstate 70. It extends from near Hanksville to the south all the way north to near Price and from Green River on its eastern side for about 70 miles west, encompassing over 2000 square miles. Access is usually made via I-70, or Price for the northern Swell, while I-70 and highway 24 provide access to the southern portion of the swell.

The Swell is very diverse. The eastern and southern reef sections contain many great narrow slot canyons, while the interior of the Swell boasts expansive flat areas, broad canyons, cliffs and towers. There are many remnants of old uranium mines, homesteads and signs of Indian occupation. It goes without saying, but always stay out of and away from any old mines you may come across. They are unstable and may contain deadly gasses.

Due to the remoteness, you should always have extra food, water and fuel when venturing off pavement. Most areas of the swell require a significant drive from pavement to access them.