Sunday, August 17, 2008

The San Rafael Swell

Little Goblin Valley

Central Utah is a geological wonderland. Most of the traffic is restricted to Zion National Park and surrounding areas. This leaves the rest of it for us to explore.

Navajo Rock ("The Beehive") in the Wedge. Ian and Emily provide a sense of scale.

Our friend Steverino and his family took us to “his desert.” It was magnificent. The scale of it was somewhat smaller than the Zion/Grand Canyon sort of beauty, but nonetheless this was a treat. Frankly, I’m of the sort that prefers smaller scale beauty, which is why I get more excited about a little stream in southwest Wisconsin than I do about the Mississippi.

Buckhorn Wash Pictographs

The San Rafael Swell (locals pronounce it “San Ra-FEL”) is a wonderful upwelling of rock that covers a chunk of central Utah. You get a geological smorgasbord, as you can find dinosaur bones from the Jurassic a few miles from trilobites and mollusks that are hundreds of millions of years older. The trickle of water that runs through the canyons is no larger than a small trout stream but given the timetable it had, it did an admirable job of cutting a spectacular swath through a billion years of rock history. Wading in the chalky San Rafael River was a treat after a day of hiking in the hot sun.

I highly recommend this place to two or three people. The rest of you need to stay away, if you please.

Respectfully submitted,


1 comment:

Silbs said...

Great pics. Thanks.