Monday, May 9, 2011

San Rafael Swell and Goblin Valley State Park, Utah - Camping

I've been suffering from a fairly severe tendon injury in my leg since the Salt Lake Marathon a few weeks ago. This has prevented me from not only running, but also from doing any sort of physical activity. Fortunately, the cold, wet Spring weather hasn't been tempting me to get outdoors and do much of anything. This past weekend, however, was beautiful and my friend Zach wanted to head south to enjoy the warm, sunny desert.

Why sports med doctors hate their patients

We decided to explore the San Rafael Swell near Hanksville, UT since it offered some easy hikes and strolls for crippled me, and some fun slot canyons for Zach to explore while I stayed behind at camp.

We left Salt Lake early Friday morning and drove towards Goblin Valley State Park. We continued past the park and beyond Temple Mountain along Temple Mountain Road until we found a fantastic campsite with a panoramic view of the reef and the swell. We set up camp and headed back to Goblin Valley to spend the afternoon wandering around the strange rock formations in perfect weather.

Goblin Valley State Park

Goblin Valley

Goblin Valley

Milkvetch in Goblin Valley

This trip was all about resting for me, so I really enjoyed that we had such a beautiful camping spot. Even though we were car camping, just being in The Swell gives you a sense of being in the backcountry without a lot of noise and traffic that you would find in a developed campground. Because most of it is BLM land, camping options are limitless.

The Henry Mountains and the reef of the San Rafael Swell

View from our camp spot

Sunset across The Swell from our camp spot


Zach spent Saturday exploring Crack Canyon that cuts into the reef of the Swell. I relaxed at camp with a good book, better food, and plenty of sunshine to enjoy. Later in the day we hit up Hanksville for supplies and to say hello to my good friend Sheldon!

An Epic breakfast

On Sunday, we drove up through the northern section of the swell along Temple Mountain Road. This area was also beautiful, and much more relaxed than the relatively busy Goblin Valley area.

The northern Swell

Bottleneck Peak

Red rock and cottonwood trees - my favorite combo

We stopped at the Buckhorn Wash pictograph panels before heading back to Salt Lake on sunday afternoon. The rock art is estimated to be over 2,000 years old and the pictographs are excellent examples of the Barrier Canyon style of rock art.

Buckhorn Wash pictograph panel

Buckhorn Wash pictograph panel

Buckhorn Wash pictograph panel

Buckhorn Wash pictograph panel