Posts From The Road: San Rafael Swell

Passing Through: I-70 runs through the San Rafael Swell, slicing it into a north and south section. Here the highway passes through the San Rafael Reef on the eastern side. Photo by Gary Warren/

Canyons: A maze of canyons run throughout the area of the San Rafael Swell in Utah. The area offers a myriad of activities and opportunities for the outdoor enthusiast. Photo by Gary Warren/

Formerly of Los Alamos

Millions of years ago, a massive geologic upheaval formed a large dome of rocky landscape otherwise known as a “swell” on the surface of the earth known as the San Rafael Swell. The event created canyons and geologic formations that are so rugged but so beautiful. This area in central Utah is some of the most rugged landscape in the world.

While traveling west during a recent trip, we stopped at a series of overlooks on I-70. Seeing the beauty from the Interstate made me want to explore the area more deeply but that will come on another trip. 

The San Rafael Swell offers a variety of outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, rock climbing, camping, river rafting, camping and more. The area is operated by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

There is evidence that areas within the swell the area were occupied by Native Americans and the area was the site of mining in the mid-1900s. In the 1970s, I-70 was built through the San Rafael Swell splitting it into a north and south section.

All of the photos included were taken from stops at the overlooks on I-70.

Editor’s note: Longtime Los Alamos photographer Gary Warren and his wife Marilyn are traveling around the country and he shares his photographs, which appear in the ‘Posts from the Road’ series published in the Sunday edition of the Los Alamos Daily Post.

Rich In Color: The geologic make-up of the San Rafael swell creates a landscape that is rich in color and rugged beauty. Photo by Gary Warren/

Geologic Formations: Rocky canyons and formations created by a geologic upheaval created the San Rafael Swell millions of years ago. The swell is about 40 miles wide and 75 miles long and created some magnificent and beautiful landscape. Photo by Gary Warren/