San Rafael Swell Country - Emery County, Utah

San Rafael Swell Scenic Drives

Huntington Canyon Scenic Byway

The Huntington Canyon Scenic Byway takes you through the Manti-Lasal National Forest, and eventually tops out at 10,000 feet above sea level on the mountain tops. During the drive you will glimpse coal mining operations, mining towns, and a coal-fired power plant. The drive begins in Huntington, and comes to a cross roads just past the summit. At the cross roads you can choose to visit Fairview in Sanpete County, or you can travel down Eccles Canyon to Scofield Reservoir.  For more information be sure to check out the San Rafael Country brochure, and map.

San Rafael Swell Huntington Canyon Scenic Byway Map

I-70 through the San Rafael Swell Scenic Drive

Interstate 70 was built directly through the heart of the remote San Rafael Swell. The route has multiple beginnings. If traveling east on Interstate 70 your trip will begin at Fremont Junction where you will be headed towards Green River City. There are multiple view areas, and rest areas along the way you can stop at to take pictures or to soak in the beauty. If traveling West on Interstate 70 your journey will begin at Green River City, with multiple rest areas and breath taking views that are only accessible to those traveling West.  For more information be sure to check out the San Rafael Country brochure, and map.

San Rafael Swell I-70 Scenic Drive

San Rafael Swell I-70 Scenic Drive

Castle Dale to I-70 through the San Rafael Swell Scenic Drive

The San Rafael Swell scenic drive takes you through several layers of geology, deep sand stone canyons, and you will drive past several stone ‘castles’. Most people start the drive on the Green River Cutoff road just north of Castle Dale. Following the road will take you past Little Cedar Mountain, and a recent paleontology site where a complete dinosaur raptor skeleton was found and dug up. Once you pass the bathrooms on the side of the road you will come upon the Buckhorn Wash road. Turn onto this road and you will be on your way through a beautiful sandstone canyon, and the San Rafael River. People use to cross the river by driving over the, now retired, swinging bridge. The bridge is still standing and is worth taking a look at what was done using 20th century engineering. Further on this road you will begin to see some of the ‘stone castles’ in the San Rafael Swell. Follow along this road until you reach Interstate 70.

San Rafael Swell Swinging Bridge

San Rafael Swell Castle Dale to I-70 Scenic Drive

Cedar Mountain Scenic Drive

This road climbs gently, first across the plains covered with low brush and grasses and then through a dense pygmy forest of Pinyon Pine and Utah Juniper. Eventually you will reach an altitude of 7,664 feet and a breathtaking vista of the entire Northern San Rafael Swell. This is a truly sublime panorama! Navigation on this road is very straightforward. Once you start on it, the road will lead you directly to your destination. Welcome to Cedar Mountain Recreation Area. Here you will enjoy picnic areas and spectacular overlooks. There is a map at this location to help orient you to the major landmarks of the Northern Swell and vicinity. This is a fantastic picnic area, with fire grates, picnic tables, pit toilets and garbage cans. There is NO WATER available here, however. Walking through the picnic areas and on the short nature trail is especially enjoyable and older children will absolutely love this place! There are also many splendid overlooks to enjoy, with plenty opportunities for landscape photographers.

San Rafael Swell Cedar Mountain Scenic Drive

San Rafael Swell Cedar Mountain Drive Map

Wedge - "Little Grand Canyon" Scenic Drive

Navigation and travel on this road is easy, and the views at the end are highly recommended! As you travel Southward, you gradually gain elevation as you ascend the Northern slope of the San Rafael Swell. As you climb, the vegetation transforms until you are in the midst of a dense “pygmy forest” of Pinyon Pine and Utah Juniper. The forest will cut off all views until you reach your destination. The stunning Wedge Overlook, also known as Utah’s Little Grand Canyon, offers unparalleled views of the San Rafael River’s deep gorge in the Northern Swell! There are picnic tables, restrooms, and camping areas available at this facility, but NO WATER. You have arrived at the edge of Utah’s Little Grand Canyon, with the tiny San Rafael River twisting along the canyon bottom. To the South, across the canyon, is the remote Sid’s Mountain Wilderness Study Area, while the view down canyon towards the Southeast takes in Window Blind Peak and the Southern Buckhorn Wash area. From this point, roads head East and West, providing more spectacular views for either drivers or hikers. Watch for wildlife.

San Rafael Swell Wedge Scenic Drive

San Rafael Swell Wedge Overlook Scenic Map

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