The San Rafael Swell is a land of canyons, striking sandstone formations and breathtaking panoramas. An area covering 2000 square miles, it is located in southern Utah and is divided by I-70. In a part of the country with many National Parks and Monuments, the little known San Rafael Swell area rivals them all in beautiful scenery.
We really enjoyed our site tucked in the canyon. It is one of my favorite camp sites I have ever visited. There were many places to explore and climb around, and we took our chairs and drinks into one of the crevasse “rooms” where it was nice and cool to hang out. Our spot was the second dirt road on the left of Wild Horse road after the state park boundary, and it curved back into a little private canyon. People camped in the nearby spots but we couldn’t see or hear them unless we went looking. My wife wasn’t a fan of the bats at night, but I thought they were great.
Our Explorer got stuck on a rock, but that was my own dumb mistake. All the rock faces in the cliff face watched us work to get it free.
Campground Review: I have stayed at this camping area many times,it’s one of my favorite areas to visit and explore! I camped here over Memorial Day weekend 2019. We were camped down the first spur that is on the east side of the wash. This dirt road goes quite a way along this bluff. There are many options for camping in the nooks and crannies down this first turn past the state park line. If you continue down the little wild horse road, there are just as many options along that road up to the next fence line. Camping is first come first serve and it is a popular destination so get there early for the good digs! There are no amenities here, pack it in pack it out to help keep this area clean and healthy! While visiting this time we did some canyoneering. We rappelled into Goblin’s Lair in GVSP. It is a 95 foot rappel into a large cavern, it’s very fun! This was my first time rappelling with my dog! There is a full service campground inside the state park and they did have fire wood for sale at the visitor center. Make sure you bring wood if you intend to have a fire, there is nothing to gather here. Day 2 we did Ding and Dang Canyons, this is a moderate canyons with some deep water and class 5 climbing maneuvers. You should have experience canyoneering if you choose this route. Park at Little Wild Horse parking lot ( where the pavements) or take your 4x4 down the wash another mile and a half to Ding/Dang parking area. Cool area to explore and camp. I didn’t see any spiders this trip, but in the past I have seen the biggest spider of my life camping here. ( on my tent to boot!) We saw a lot of beetles and lizards!
Gear Review: Morsel Spork XL! https://morselspork.com/ This is a great product! I’ve used a variety of different sporks for camping and this is by far my favorite! It’s so long! They do offer a shorter size, but I recommend grabbing the long spork! It has a squeegee/spatula type coating around the soon end so you can really scrape your bowl clean! Means more food in your belly and less clean up after! Win win! The other end has a fork/knife. The knife will cut things like hot dogs, but I wouldn’t force it to do much more than that. It is the perfect utensils for eating directly out of the camping Mountain House meal pouch!
We found a nice spot for 4 trailers and a few tents. The weather did get winding but the temperature stayed moderate. My kids had a blast hiking in goblins valley. It was nice to visit as place where kids can run and climb without restrictions. Will visit again.
This is a great place to wander primitive unspoiled deserts! Nearby there is commiting trad and sport climbs as well as difficult canyoneering routes. In the badlands south of the San Rafael Swell and near the campgrounds are pieces of petrified wood and agate strewn about. Nearby is the fantastic Goblin Valley state Park where we did the Lair of the Basilisk Canyoneering route. These are primitive sites with no amenities so bring lots of water! The closest towns are Green River and Hanksville
This area has incredible campsites dispersed all over! Our campsite was close to others but far enough away to really feel secluded. Driving in or hike in if your car isn’t four wheel drive equipped. Great spots for climbing, hiking and river swimming. Wedge Overlook is a short drive away and an incredible view! Always worth it!
The swell is beautiful and has miles and miles of open BLM to camp in! Boondock your trailer and you’ll have the place to yourself! Great for ATVs, stargazing, hiking and solitude. Must do spring or fall- summer is too hot. Stream is fun to tube and play in. BLM has no facilities- pack in pack out.
This is a great spot to pitch your tent! This area is quite popular and located just past the Goblin Valley State Park line along Little Wild Horse Road. There are likely over 50 camp sites tucked inside the formations that make up a large hillside on the backside of the state park. There are great views looking across the desert to the San Rafael Reef.
The campsites are identified by a rock fire pit. The ground is level and the sites are separated by the unusual rock formations very similar to those seen within Goblin Valley for probably a mile down the road.
Make sure to bring firewood, there isn't anything to gather. There are no trees. Pack it in pack it out rules apply. If you need to use the bathroom follow common rules, dig a hole, and don't poo in the campsites.