We have been to the San Rafael Swell more times than I can count. It’s no secret this is one of our favorite places to go since we’ve done multiple blog posts about the Swell and it’s where our site title came from. 😉 It’s where my husband and I fell in love, where we escaped to relax and recharge when we needed a break from our 50 + hour work weeks… and now it’s where we are taking our boys so they can grow up exploring and loving this place as much as us.

The most appealing aspect of the San Rafael Swell that keeps us coming back over and over again, is that you can go for a hike and see something new and different every time.  This area is rugged and wild and there are endless Mesas and Canyons to search and explore. I love that there are places in Utah that can make you feel like you’re on another planet!

We headed out somewhere we’ve never been this trip to explore some new territory we haven’t seen before. When most people think of arches or slot canyons in Utah they probably think of the typical National Parks like Zion and Arches; but there are so many other cool places where you can see and find natural arches across the state! Fun fact: Utah has thousands of arches and most of them aren’t in a National Park! We got really excited to come across our own private arch for the afternoon to rest after our hike and let our boys play in the dirt… it was the perfect giant sandbox for them!

Imagine having a place like this to explore on your own for the day! We even got to stop by a wash filled with rain water to catch some frogs and tadpoles – which our three year old thought was so cool! 🙂 We didn’t come across one other person the whole weekend – we loved it! We say it all the time, but exploring off the beaten path and finding our own remote spots to hike and camp is our favorite way to explore.

When we want to try and find a new adventure spot one of the things we do is look at maps before we go. We know the type of areas we like to explore and now a days you can pretty much walk any trail virtually before you visit. Some of our favorite apps to use are All-Trails, Dyrt (a great app for camp sites – in a campground or dispersed camping) , OnX Hunt (for property lines to make sure we aren’t on private property) and you can even find areas on recreation.gov and google earth. For us, half the fun is researching where we want to go and finding our own perfect spot!

The smoke that has been blowing into Utah from all the wildfires in the west has been unreal! We hoped to escape it completely this last weekend but we still had some hazy views over the horizon, when we usually get bright blue skies when we are away from the city air pollution. This trip our pictures didn’t capture the backdrop and contrast of blue skies and rocky mountains like it usually does… but really photos never compare to seeing it in person. Here’s to crossing our fingers some more storms roll in and blow this smoke out for good!

We know we are extremely lucky to live so close to such a beautiful place where we can load the truck up on a whim and be there in a couple of hours. It’s been the perfect place for us to feed our adventurous spirit! We can only hope the San Rafael Swell will stay the way it is now; vast and untouched for generations to come.

San Rafael Swell, Utah, USA

28 thoughts on “San rafael

  1. Wow, love it! Reminds me a bit of our own Cederberg Mountains here in South Africa … the formations are almost unreal! And yes, camping and getting off the beaten track – that sounds like our kind of getaway 😁.

  2. Ahh, this looks fantastic! San Rafael is one place I really want to get down to. I almost went there in May but decided on Grand Staircase instead, which was also amazing! Looks like a great time! I love the littlest dude in the hat – reminds me of my little brother! 🙂

    1. Ok you definitely need to take a trip down there- it’s amazing and you will love it! Grand staircase is a good option though too- so many cool places in the desert to go explore to! Utah is the best!

      1. I definitely will!! It was recommended by one of my friends, I really love dispersed camping because there’s so much more solitude. The desert is just SO COOL! So many arches all over the place, and fun washes and slot canyons to explore!

      2. Exactly!! Dispersed camping is the best and this is an amazing place for it!! We love to explore the mountains but the desert is definitely where our heart is! It’s such a special place!

  3. What a lovely place with so many happy memories for you and your family. I can easily see why you keep coming back. The landscape looks incredible and definitely looks like you’re on another planet. It’s neat how even though you’ve been so many times, there is always something new to see and experience. It’s been a bad year for wildfires. We’ve been experiencing some smoke and haze from them as well here in Southern Ontario.

    1. The wildfires have been horrible all over! That’s a bummer it’s been affecting Ontario too… I’m definitely ready for them to hopefully all clear out!
      And yes- it’s so fun to have so many places to explore in this area so it feels new each time we go! We’ve created so many memories here we love it!

  4. This place seems ike a neat place to trek in. My uncle is into this places, I have to share it with him.

  5. This looks an amazing place to trek and its fabulous that it holds such special memories for you which you can now share with your boys. It looks reminiscent of the amazing Wadi Rum in Jordan which we visited a couple of years ago.

    1. Oh wow I bet the Wadi Rum would be so amazing!!
      We definitely love it here, and it’s been so fun to share everything with our kiddos and have them love it too!
      Thanks for reading!!!

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