Canyoneering the San Rafael Swell

San Rafael Swell

The San Rafael Swell is easily one of the most adventurous spots in Utah. The Swell is massive - 650,000 acres, almost entirely ungoverned, and many parts unexplored by humans. Most people go to the swell for Camping, Picnicking, Canyoneering, Off roading, and Site seeing, etc. There are dinosaur fossils and native american petroglyphs still being discovered in the region.

The San Rafael Swell, is the home of many adventures! One of those adventures being canyoneering. There are many slot canyons of various skill levels that have been explored and descended. There are many other canyons that still have yet to be explored by man kind. The Swell is large and ungoverned so there aren't any rangers patrolling the area, which means you need to be responsible and prepared. There are no towns or services that are close by so plan accordingly. The closest services are Green River, UT and Castle Dale, UT.

The Swell is a high desert climate, the elevation varies from 2000-7000 feet. The best times of year to be there are Spring and Fall. Late summer tends to be monsoon season and brings in storms with heavy rain which can cause flash flooding, so plan your trips out well.

Here are helpful maps of the area.

Practice leave no trace camping and let people back home know where you are going.

Pack List

  • Camping Gear
  • Lots of water
  • Canyoneering gear (Ropes, Webbing, Rappel Devices, Chains and potential bolting gear if its a new canyon)
  • First aid kit
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Activities Survival, Chillin, Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking, Rock Climbing
Skill Level Beginner
Season Spring, Autumn
Features
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife
Swimming Hole

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

LOVE Exploring The San Rafael!

Growing up near here, I have done quite a few backpacking trips, day hikes, and canyoneering in this massive area. It truly is an amazing place. It requires you to be prepared since it is far from amenities. Being so, makes it a wonderful, indescribable experience. If you are an experienced outdoorsman, you HAVE to come here.

Absolutely Gorgeous

I love this place, it's absolutely beautiful. Varying difficulties makes for fun for anyone.

To many people

The swell use to be remote and untouched. but now it is overcrowded and the BLM has closed down everything. Best to stay away.


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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