Monday, October 9, 2017

San Rafael Swell, Utah - Camping

Tim and Brett invited me to join them for a quick weekend trip to the San Rafael Swell to enjoy the beautiful autumn weather.  We welcomed the arrival of spring with a camping trip to the same area several months earlier, so it seemed fitting to say goodbye to the warm weather with a similar trip.  We left Salt Lake on Friday afternoon and headed south, arriving in the San Rafael Swell a few hours later, greeted by red and white sandstone cliffs and hints of golden yellow foliage.  Tim and Brett have a favorite camping spot in Buckhorn Draw, and we found the site unoccupied when we arrived.  We quickly set up camp and enjoyed  the rest of the evening watching the shadows and light of sunset move across the canyon walls.

Tim and Brett setting up camp in Buckhorn Draw
My tent in Buckhorn Draw
Camping in Buckhorn Draw
Sunset in Buckhorn Draw

It was a clear, cold night, and our camping area was shaded well into the morning by the surrounding cliffs.  I decided to explore the surrounding area with my morning coffee and chase the sunshine to warm up.  With no wind and no people, the silence was remarkable.  The sagebrush, with its carpet of yellow flowers, filled the canyon bottom and signaled the arrival of autumn.

Buckhorn Draw
The sandstone cliffs of Buckhorn Draw
Flowering sagebrush

After a morning drive on several of the endless dirt roads in the area, we returned to camp with a pile of abandoned firewood that we planned to use that night.  I wandered into a small side canyon above our campsite and found the perfect rock for a nap in the warm sunshine. For me, there is a level of relaxation that only comes from being in the desert.

Side canyon above camp
Side canyon above camp

As the air cooled in the late afternoon, we started our fire and ate dinner while watching the sun set.  Later that night, a nearly full moon rose over the surrounding cliffs, illuminating the canyon in pale, white light.

Evening fire
Tim and Brett prepare their dinner
Vegan dinner prep and beer for me
Tim and Brett
Sunset at our campsite

As we made our way home on Sunday, we made a detour through Joe's Valley, a secluded mountain valley with a picturesque reservoir.  After some harrowing moments in deep mud on the Skyline Drive, we made it down to Ephraim and finally back home to Salt Lake City.  A big thanks to Tim and Brett for inviting me along on a great camping trip to the desert!

Joe's Valley Reservoir
Joe's Valley Reservoir
Tim at Joe's Valley Reservoir