San Rafael Swell

Within the region, you will find endless opportunities to ride, climb, camp, hike or paddle.




The Swell, located in Emery County, is 80 miles long and 35 miles wide, which is roughly 130,000 square miles. You will find endless opportunities to ride, climb, camp, bike, hike or paddle here.

Formed roughly 50 million years ago when volcanic activity deep below the surface pushed a huge chunk of land upwards, the San Rafael Swell or “the Swell” as the locals call it is a magical wonderland. From fossils to rock art, slot canyons to grand canyons, there is plenty to do and explore in the Swell! 

In addition to tourists and outdoor enthusiasts, this area is popular with geologists, scientists and paleontologists because it’s rich in history and unique geology. Rock formations here range in age from 100 to 230 million years old! And the Swell is home to Utah’s largest herd of desert bighorn sheep, peregrine falcons, wild horses and burros, mountain lions, mule deer, and pronghorn antelope. We hang with the best… zooming out from the Swell a bit, you will find the Colorado Plateau with the greatest concentration of National Parks in the Country, making the Swell a perfect basecamp for exploring all that Utah has to offer. This guide will give you an introduction to the area attractions and help you plan your visit. If you are looking for more information, visit our website at, or give our visitor centers a call at 435-564-3427 for the John Wesley Powell River History Museum or 435-381-5252 for the Museum of the San Rafael.

The San Rafael Swell is one of Utah’s fastest growing tourist destinations. The majority of the area is open to the public as adventures are left only to the visitor’s imagination. The Swell’s 2,000 square miles of public land is known for its scenic sandstone formations, deep canyons, desert rivers and expansive panoramas.


Highlights include:

The Wedge Overlook
One of Utah’s most breathtaking scenic vistas, gives visitors a view of the “little Grand Canyon”


Buckhorn Wash

Take a trip through history and explore petroglyphs, the Swinging Bridge, a dinosaur footprint, and infamous outlaw Matt Warner’s signature.


Off Roading

Take a ride on the Devil’s Race Track, traverse Fixt It Pass, and discover sandstone arches carved by winds through time. 


the swell, the wedge


The Swell is located south of the Carbon Corridor. Heading South on Highway 10 there are multiple roads that fork off to various destinations in the Swell.


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