Canyoneering the San Rafael Swell

Utah San Rafael Swell

Added by George Bruce Wilson

  • 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
Read More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

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



Backpacking, Camping, Chillin, Hiking, Photography, Rock Climbing, Survival

Skill Level:



Spring, Autumn



Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Swimming Hole

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How to Get There

15 days ago

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.

15 days ago

8 months ago

Absolutely Gorgeous

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

8 months ago

10 months ago

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.

10 months ago

10 months ago

This is easily one of the best areas in Utah and overlooked by most. It definitely takes some effort and planning to explore, but you'll avoid the crowds of national parks and see places few others have.

10 months ago

Added by George Bruce Wilson

I am a professional photographer/Film-maker based out of the beautiful state of Utah. I have always loved being able to create. From luxury furniture to adventure films. Creation is a huge passion of mine as well as the outdoors. Anytime I can't mix those two together, I am thrilled! You can find my work at and in social media @threepeakfilms

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