The San Rafael Swell

Offroad Trails in The San Rafael Swell

A Region within Utah

"The Swell," located in south-central Utah, is a geological upheaval that created a colorful desert landscape with towering buttes and narrow slot canyons.  Encompassing 900 square miles, San Rafael Swell is an outdoor paradise with abundant trails for all types of offroad enthusiasts.  There are numerous historical sites where you can get up close to America's best ancient Native American artwork or step into an old log cabin.  Buckhorn Draw and Black Dragon Wash trails travel into narrow slot canyons with designated sites for viewing the artwork. 

The trail system is vast and divided into two regions by Interstate 70.  The southern area trails are easier and less popular with the average weekend user.  Day trips can include stops at Goblin Valley State Park or squeezing your way through Crack Canyon and Chute Canyon hiking trails along the Behind The Reef trail.  The northern section includes the more difficult and famous 4x4 trails like Eagle Canyon, Devil's Racetrack, and Fix-it Pass; all three have breathtaking views and adrenaline-pumping rock-crawling obstacles.  The far northern region near Wellington, UT, includes an educational stop at Jurassic National Monument, a real-time dinosaur dig open to visitors. 

The winter months can be below freezing during the day, and summer temperatures can be over 100° in the shade.  The vast majority of the region is managed by the Bureau of Land Management, which allows camping up to 15 days.  Several areas are protected and designated as no camping; most of these sites are around ancient artwork sites.  Buckhorn Draw now has paid campsites along this very well-groomed scenic drive.  While other, more remote trails have that private campsite with a canyon view you've been searching for.  The Swell is remote, requiring planning, even for a day trip; venturing into this vast desert also requires a map system you can count on.  Preload the San Rafael regional trails offline before you begin your adventure.

Top Reasons to Explore Here
Altitude Category IconAltitude
Camping Category IconCamping
Desert Category IconDesert
Ghost Town Category IconGhost Town
Iconic Category IconIconic
Mine Category IconMine
Mud Category IconMud
Overland Category IconOverland
Rock Category IconRock
Sand Category IconSand
Scenic Category IconScenic
Snow Wheeling Category IconSnow Wheeling
Wash Category IconWash
Water Category IconWater
The San Rafael Swell includes trail difficulties ranging from