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Recreation Guide to the San Rafael Desert


Map of the San Rafael Swell
Area Maps


Things to See Below I-70
Safety/Off-Road Vehicle Info

"Enjoy - Don't Destroy"
Help Preserve Scenic Wonders

San Rafael Desert from Arch - RKiahaThe San Rafael Swell, 2,000 square miles of public land, is known for its scenic sandstone formations, deep canyons, desert streams, and expansive panoramas.  Aside from Interstate (1-70), only old uranium mines, dirt roads, livestock improvements, and simple recreation facilities are evident.  Visitors should bring maps, as many roads are not signed.  For a list of available maps, click here.

No permits are required for individuals and small groups for non-commercial, non-competitive use.  Outfitters, guides, other commercial users, and competitive event proponents should contact the Bureau of Land Management's Price Field Office regarding permits.

Canyon Country Minimum Impact Practices

1. Tread lightly when traveling, and leave no trace of your camping.  Drive and ride only on roads and trails where such travel is allowed.  Hike only on established trails, on rock, or in washes.  Camp at designated sites or, where allowed, at previously-used sites.  Avoid placing tents on top of vegetation and use a camp stove instead of making a campfire.  Unless signs indicate otherwise, leave gates open or closed as you find them. 

2.  Help keep Canyon Country clean.  Pack out your trash and recycle it; clean up after less- thoughtful visitors, and dispose of human and pet waste properly.

3.  Protect and conserve scarce desert water sources. 

Camp at least 30 feet from isolated water sources to allow for wildlife access.  Where possible, carry your own drinking water.  Leave potholes undisturbed and wash well away from pools and springs.

4.  Allow space for wildlife.  When encountering wildlife, maintain your distance and remain quiet.  Teach children not to chase or pick animals up.  Keep pets under control.

5.  Leave historic sites, Native American rock art, ruins, and artifacts untouched for the future.  Admire rock art from a distance and never touch it.  Stay out of ruins, leave artifacts in place, and report violations.