You know about Goblin Valley – we’ve mentioned it once or twice on this blog – but did you know that Goblin Valley State Park is actually part of a larger geological area called the San Rafael Swell? And it’s actually a pretty cool place. It’s a mostly unvisited wilderness full of canyons, pinnacles, monoliths and mesas. Think of the San Rafael Swell as Utah’s secret, unofficial sixth national park. It’s worth visiting, and here’s a couple places you should definitely check out:
Little Grand Canyon (sometimes called “The Wedge”) – you’ve already got a pretty good idea of what to expect here, since the name kinda gives it away. Little Canyon was formed eons ago when flood waters carved their way through a massive sandstone swell. Today, it’s a very impressive 75-mile long canyon that is perfect for hiking, biking, climbing, and camping in. Also, there is a suspension bridge that spans the 160-feet from canyon side to canyon side. It’s called the Swinging Bridge (you can guess why) and it was built in 1937. If you’re going to Little Grand Canyon, do yourself a favor and walk across the Swinging Bridge.
The Rochester Rock Art Panel – this is one of the best rock art “murals” in the state. (And we’ve got quite a few.) It’s a collection of art by different cultures, from different time periods, all densely packed onto one fantastic rock canvas. The central image is of a rainbow – or maybe the sacred Rainbow Bridge, located near Lake Powell – with many figures of humans and animals clustered underneath it. There are also some latter additions by early explorers and pioneers who settled in the region.
That’s just two reasons why you should check out the San Rafael Swell. There’s plenty more. Go explore the wilderness!